Choosing a Cat or Kitten

There seem to be as many reasons for keeping pets as there are people who do it. And sometimes the reasons will help determine how to go about finding the perfect companion.

Indeed, the word "companion" says a lot about pet owners in itself. Not everyone sees animals in the light of friendship and would never consider allowing an animal to share their home.

This article will not be about "how to choose a cat" according to specified traits, as those lists of desirable features in a new pet are easily found all over the Internet. No, here you will be presented with ownership pointers from the cat's point of view for a change.

Those who see cats only as mousing machines for farms often are surprisingly particular about the cats they want. Recently, we received an "order" at our shelter for such a cat. "We would like a cat that can outrun a coyote, is healthy, and loves to catch mice. We prefer a female, as they are better hunters, but if we get two cats, they can't be from the same family, as we don't want any inbreeding."

Oh dear. Not surprisingly, we declined to "do business" with these folks. We do not sell coyote bait, for one thing, nor do we provide breeding stock. All our animals must be spayed and neutered prior to adoption. And while we do our best to get them the best health care, we can’t guarantee they won’t come down with something later. With sketchy backgrounds, it’s difficult to predict the future health of rescued animals.

Another kind of owner we encounter is the one looking for a cat that "matches the furniture," has no claws, is perfectly litter box trained and is guaranteed never to miss the sand, won't hide in the corners, purrs on demand, and will instantly fall in love with everyone in the house, including the toddler who grabs ears and squeals at 20 decibels, and the dog that barks incessantly and chases the newcomer. We're sure any cat would love to move into a home like that.

Our favorite adopters are those who come to the shelter and ask such questions as, "Who has been here the longest?" "Who needs a home the most?" "Do any of these cats need special care?" They never ask for a particular breed or color, nor do they demand that it be a kitten.

They also make comments like, "Oh, she'll probably hang out in the closet for a while, but that's OK. She'll come out when she's comfortable, even if it takes 6 months." (And sometimes it takes that long.)

We also love it when people elect to let one of the cats choose THEM, as this more often results in a successful adoption.

Bottom line: If you want to adopt a cat with a warranty, call a breeder. Many people may not realize that a rescued or shelter cat can't be guaranteed for anything. We usually do not know their backgrounds. We cannot guarantee they will never get sick. We cannot guarantee they will love you. We strive to help people find pets to fit their lifestyle, but we are not equipped to help anyone shop for an ornamental cat that has to match their furniture, their clothes, their expectations, or their desire to control. For those “customers” we recommend a stuffed animal.

Copyright © 2009 - Dr. RJ Peters 
The Problem Cat