Although we do rescue some cats who are ill, or who exhibit behaviors that their owners could not effectively manage, the majority of cats in our care are healthy and have no particular behavior “problems.” Here are several of the reasons cats are placed into our care:
- The owner lost his or her home and had to move to a place where pets are not permitted.
- The owner lost his or her job and could no longer afford to keep a pet.
- The owner died or had to move to assisted living, and no family member or friend was willing or able to care for the cat.
- The owner was transferred to a foreign country and could not take the cat.
- A child or other member of the household developed severe allergies or asthma.
- The owner found a new boyfriend and chose to sacrifice the cat to the relationship.
- A breeder stopped breeding cats, for whatever reason, and requested assistance with placing retired breeding cats.
- The cat needed a routine veterinary service for which the owner was unwilling or unable to pay. In many cases, the required care is something as simple as a dental cleaning or a course of treatment for a cold. (We do not place the cat until after nursing it back to health.)
- The cat did not get along with some other family pet. Unfortunately, animals who have long been friends can sometimes become enemies. Just like people.
- The cat was seized by animal control, along with others. In such cases, there are often treatable medical conditions. (We do not place the cat until after nursing it back to health.)
- The owner let the cat outside and never spayed it. The cat became pregnant, and the owner chose not to deal with the consequences.
- The kitten was born to a cat the owner let outside without having spayed it.
Having made these points, I must still quote one of our most experienced foster moms, who explains that “All these beautiful babies come with some sort of baggage.” Even a cat in the best of health does not necessarily approve of change, and to be abandoned by one’s family is an especially dire sort of change. The person who surrendered my cat Rivers described him as “really lovable,” but he was so reserved and depressed-seeming for the first several months that a friend described him as having “all the charm of a concrete block.” He spent most of each day sitting on a window sill, looking wistfully outside–probably wondering when his former family would finally arrive to take him home again. It is no particular wonder that no one wanted to take a chance on him. Eventually I adopted him myself, and eventually he did start climbing onto my lap and kneading on my stomach in characteristic cat-like fashion. We have many stories like this, of cats who came to us confused and upset and took as much as several months to settle down.
In short, adopting a cat from rescue can give you the best of all possible worlds—a healthy, fundamentally well behaved cat and one whose personality you can watch unfold as you demonstrate that, whatever happened in the past, your furry darling is now safely home.