24th – 30th September is Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week, which highlights the plight of those pets who aren’t as adoptable younger and healthier pets. Most shelters are bursting at the seams with animals, and it is usually the cute puppies and kittens who find homes the quickest. But many less adoptable pets are often overlooked but in need of a loving home.
What is the reason these animals are less adoptable?
Most people want young and healthy cats with no underlying health problems or physical disabilities.
It’s also easy for people looking for a new pet to overlook the less-adoptable just because it hasn’t crossed their mind. It is also natural to fear the unknown and worry a less adoptable cat such as one with an underlying medical condition or special needs will be difficult to care for, which is often not the case.
For many, the lure of a kitten is too much to resist, but adult cats have a lot of positives. They are calmer and have outgrown the crazy kitten stage. I personally love older cats because they are calmer.
Integrating senior cats into the home can take longer than kittens who are very adaptable, although that is not always the case. Read here for tips on helping an adult cat adjust to a new home.
The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 18-20 years, so even a cat who is well into adulthood potentially has many more years. Even geriatric cats deserve to live out their days in a loving home.
Shy and reserved cats
Shelters are noisy and stressful environments, and it can be hard for a cat to display his true personality when he is living in a constant state of anxiety. The problem snowballs the longer the cat is there, which can make him retreat further.
Most cats will come out of their shell once they are out of the shelter environment and in a stable home. They just need a chance.
Cats with underlying medical conditions or disabilities
Cats who are positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), blind cats, deaf cats, cats missing an eye, amputees and cats with underlying medical conditions are typically passed over for the young and the healthy.
Not every cat will fit the perfect profile of what is expected of a cat, but they are just as worthy of love and care. Many of these cats are high on the list for euthanasia or wallow in shelters while the younger and fitter find homes.
FIV positive cats can live a full and happy life with just a few modifications and adequate medical care. Many will succumb to other age-related diseases unassociated with FIV.
Most underlying medical conditions can be treated or at least managed. Cats who are physically disabled adapt well. In some cases, it will be necessary to make modifications, avoid making too many changes (for example if the cat is blind), and not let the cat roam free. The potential is there for these cats to live a full and happy life if people will just give them a chance.
In some parts of the world, which includes Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom, black cats are considered to be good luck. Sadly, many other countries give black cats a bad rap in part due to their association with witches in the middle ages. I don’t know why this has stuck, but most other myths have long since been debunked. Nobody thinks that a woman who can swim is a witch, or if she has a wart or birthmark she is a witch, so why have we progressed in so many ways, but the poor black cat is still considered to be bad luck?
Another reason black cats are less adoptable is they are harder to photograph. While not strictly true, it is more difficult to photograph a black cat than other colours, but even in our society obsessed with capturing every moment of every day and posting it on social media, it is a pretty poor excuse for overlooking a black cat. All it takes is some minor adjustments, and you can capture beautiful photos.
The goal of cat-themed days is to bring about discussion and awareness on a range of topics such as preventative health, animal welfare and this particular week think about those less-adoptable, but no less-lovable cats who are often passed over. If you are considering adopting a cat, please give the less-adoptable consideration, you won’t regret it, and you might just be saving a life.
We can also help by spaying and neutering our pets to ensure we are not adding to the cat population; there just aren’t enough homes for cats.
If you are not in a position to adopt a less-adoptable cat, you can still help by fostering, volunteering (which can help to socialise cats) or donating to animal shelters. Every little bit counts.