I have volunteered for cat rescues, and regularly donate to several. But when friends ask me about adopting a cat, I’m more likely to suggest they visit their local animal control facility. “You are literally saving a life,” I tell them. “The cats at the rescues have already been saved from death. There are many more at the shelter that aren’t so lucky.”
Sadly, a lot of people are reluctant to go to animal control. “I can’t stand to see all those faces and know I can’t help every one of them!” they say. It really bugs me to hear that because avoiding an open admission shelter (i.e., a shelter that euthanizes animals) means that no cat at all gets helped.
June is Adopt A Shelter Cat month and I have one message for all those who shy away from their local animal control: suck it up and stop thinking about how you feel. How do you think the cats feel while they’re sitting in cages and stressed out? If you are looking to adopt a cat, the best thing you can do for yourself, and for one absolutely amazing cat, is take a deep breath, walk into the shelter and get him out of there. Nobody else is going to do it. Well, maybe someone might come along … or maybe not. There is a cat in there right this very minute that is supposed to be your cat. You need to be brave and go find him.
Don’t assume visiting animal control is going to be awful. Shelters these days run the gamut, from horrible, scary places to modern, friendly facilities. In the greater Los Angeles area, I’ve been to both types. There are actually some shelters in the U.S. that have gotten their act together so well that they adopt out most of their charges and rarely have to euthanize a pet. And then there are others where a dozen or more cats’ lives hang in the balance every night. Don’t think the employees of the latter facilities enjoy having to make room for more turn-ins. These people passionately hate having to put down healthy pets because there is no room for them. They will be overjoyed if you come in and take a cat home. When you adopt from a shelter, you are saving a life, and making somebody’s day a little less depressing at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.
So if you want to adopt a cat, don’t make any excuses to me, or to yourself. Put aside your own emotions and think about those of the cat you will save. Because I can tell you from personal experience there is nothing better than looking into the eyes of a cat you’ve just rescued from animal control.