The kittens have arrived!
Well, it's May and kitten season is in full swing. A lot of people that hear this are likely to have quite a positive reaction. The cuteness is out in full force, and there is a seemingly endless selection of little furry babies to choose from. Now, I love kittens as much as the next person. For an animal photographer like myself, kittens are among my most favorite models. Having said that, I can't help but feel a small measure of sadness while engulfed in this fuzzy adorableness. I find myself feeling a little badly for all of the adult cats that are sitting by and watching their potential adopters be distracted (understandably) by their little kitten cousins.
No kittens, no problem.
One obvious solution to this problem? If there were more well-run TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs being funded and then put into action, we wouldn't even be talking about this issue. Fearless Kitty Rescue is currently the front runner in a campaign to secure funding to be able to implement just such a program. If feral cats are caught, spay/neutered, and released back where they are found, this will not only keep kittens from existing in the first place, but will keep other feral kitties away from the area (as the newly “fixed” cats retain their territory). While a great solution, the issue is that even when Fearless Kitty wins the grant and is able to start this program, the effects may not be visible for at least a few years.
So what to do in the meantime? Fix your kitty! While many of the kittens that are in the rescues this time of year are there due to feral situations, some are there because cat owners haven't "gotten around" to getting their pet fixed for various reasons:
- Fixing an animal changes its personality. Yes it could - for the better. It stops them from spraying (usually) and makes them less territorial.
- Why bother - my cat is an indoor cat. Indoor cats get out!
- I can’t afford it. Maricopa County has a free spay/neuter clinic held at the county shelter on many Sundays. There are several clinics that offer free or inexpensive services year-round.
- I have no time.” Surely someone can find a spare hour or two on a weekend to get their pet(s) taken care of for free.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, no more excuses!
Is an adult cat the better choice for your family?
Another fundamental issue is that most people don't really realize what they're in for when they adopt a cute little fur-ball. As a photographer, I'm all about the visuals, and there isn’t much more visually pleasing than a kitten or puppy. When choosing a kitty to bring into your family, however, the way a cat looks is far less important than the connection that is made between the feline and their potential human, or whether the animal is the right fit for a household.
At traditional shelters and the city pound, adult cats are more likely to be put down - a sad truth. Luckily, Fearless Kitty Rescue is committed to finding homes for all of its cats no matter what age and no matter how long it takes.
You know, I’ve been told that kittens eventually turn into adult cats. While this could just be some kind of urban legend, below are some reasons someone might consider a "grown-up" cat:
- When you adopt an adult cat, you know exactly what you’re getting: size, coat, color and personality. Adult cats show you their genuine personalities, making it easier to choose one who fits your lifestyle and family. Kittens haven’t yet fully developed their personalities and change rapidly.
- An adult cat is more likely to be trained - yes, they can be trained - to scratch a scratching post, are more tolerant with any kitty litter changes, and can go for longer periods of time between meals, which would fit in better with a family that isn’t around all day.
- It’s not unusual for cats live for 16 to 20+ years. Adopting a mature cat will give you a loving pet for years to come.
- Adult cats have stronger immune systems and don’t succumb to common kitten illnesses.
- Children may find older cats more tolerant and a lot more huggable than a feisty kitten.
- Cats are very entertaining and playful—but more sensible. Unlike a kitten, their idea of play isn’t running over your head in the middle of the night or scaling up your leg when you step out of the shower.
- Getting an adult cat means not having to deal with waking up at 5 a.m. by a kitty that absolutely has to play with you right then.
If you want a kitten, then by all means, go for it, but give the adults at whatever rescue or shelter you go to a second look. They deserve that at least. Hey, you never know, you may end up going home with two great animals. And one might be old enough to show the other the ropes. Every rambunctious kitten could probably do with a little mentoring on what it takes do be a master of napping.