Introducing a new member of the family into your life is always a big step, no matter who that family is. We've passed the first step of deciding what type of animal is best for your home, and if you're here you've obviously a furry feline friend, great choice!
But now is when you make the most decision of the entire process, adopt or shop? Here's the short answer for you: Adopt, adopt, adopt! Let's explore the reasons why...
First of all, let's make one point clear, adopting a cat does NOT mean you'll be getting an older cat, a sick cat, or one that is not right for you. There are around one million kittens being born every year, a mother cat having on average 5 kittens per litter, up to three times a year.
That makes a massive amount of kittens that will be given up to shelters or found as strays, that need warm, loving, forever homes with humans.
However, there will be older cats looking for a home that you might just fall in love with as well, and even if that's an unexpected happening loving an animal is never a bad thing.
In truth, shelters work their hardest to keep the animals they house alive and healthy, however, unfortunately, just like there's not home for all of these cats, there's often not a lot of room in the shelter for then either.
Shelters spend a lot of time letting their animals play together and learn good social skills for interacting with not only other cats, but humans as well, and sometimes other animals. If you're looking for a friendly, well-behaved cat then a well-socialised one is a good place to start.
As well as that, shelter animals are all assessed to be in good health, so there's no way you'd unknowingly adopt a sick or ailed cat. They come de-flead, wormed, microchipped, desexed, and healthy.
All of the start out costs you'd have to pay if you bought an animal are covered with the adoption fee, as well as the fact that shelter animals are temperament assessed, so the staff can match them with good families, and make sure that their personality matches yours perfectly. What more could you want?
Now for the hard stuff... The truth behind pet stores and places selling pets is that these animals are bred for money. They often aren't bred from loved pets or an accidental litter but instead, they come from puppy mills or breeding farms, for people selling these animals purely for profitable gain.
The animals giving birth are overbred and poorly treated, just a factory for babies. Some people think of it like "well they're alive now, they need a home anyway" which is true, but people buying these animals means the demand for pets is still around or rising, and the underground breeders supplying some of these stores will simply pump out more animals to meet that demand.
The animals in mills are often kept in the smallest amount of space possible, in filthy and unsanitary conditions, often just left to live in dirt. The kittens and mothers can be kept in tiny cages with barely enough room to move, let alone let the mother cat have some space and time to eat/relax.
They have no opportunities to walk around, play, explore, or socialise at all, in fact, the mother cats are trapped in with their babies 24/7 until they are suddenly taken away and sold for money, just for the mother cat to either be abandoned or be forced to breed again. And if you think those poor cats get the addiquate health care you're sadly mistaken. Sickly cats don't produce money or healthy babies, so they no longer needed by mills.
Pet stores aren't a great place for pets. They are kept in small pens or cages, often sharing these with other animals or their entire litter, eating and using the toilet in here with no chance to go outside to play or socialise with others.
Cats and dogs in these conditions often don't interact with people other than when they are fed, or when people briefly handle them to pick one to buy. They can get little to no affection or quality time from humans, and this makes animals skittish, scared and inexperienced with socialising with humans, in turn making them a poor choice for a family with young children.
When buying a pet from a store or breeder there is often a steep charge, especially if you are looking for a specific breed or a cat with papers. You'll then have to pay for vaccinations, microchipping, desexing and a multitude of other things for your cat, which raises the cost for you more.
Getting a new cat shouldn't be about the cost associated with it, but unfortunately, it is, a lot of people believe that their expensively bred cat with paper is better than a lot of others but the truth is that even cats with papers can be abandoned when people are done looking after them.
You should always check in with your local shelter to see if there are any cats of kittens of the breed you want waiting for a new home, you'll more than likely find exactly the kitty you're after, at a fraction of the cost, while giving an underprivileged animal a second chance at a good life.
Adopting one cat can the world, how? Firstly, you'll make yourself and your family happier by having a new friend around. You'll have given a cat a new life with freedom, love, toys, and all the food they can eat, something they've probably never experienced before. Then when your friends ask where you got your adorable bundle of fur you can tell them "My local shelter! They were great!".
Studies show that people leading by example can encourage others to follow their lead, so your friends and your friends-friends will be more likely to adopt a cat of their own!
One small cat desexed and out of the shelters is one more cat in a loving home to enjoy a long life, and all cat lovers know that once you have one cat you just can't stop adopting!
Join the almost 3.5 million people talking about adopting on Instagram, and see how important the movement for "adopt don't shop" really is. You could save one of the 3-4 million cats and dogs that are euthanized in shelters every year. That one will cat will thank you for the rest of its life, and make yours a lot brighter.
Whether you want to start with a shy kitten, a sassy ragdoll, an active Bengal, or whatever you fall in love with first you are guaranteed to find a cat that will love you simply for giving it your time and love.
If you do choose an older cat from the shelter you'll have the advantage of having a cat who is already litter trained, ready to make friends, good with other people, and knows to scratch cat posts, and not your walls or the side of your favourite chair, it's just an added bonus!
Shelter cats are some of the most loving cats you'll ever meet, they appreciate everything you for them and, though they can't speak to you, you'll know they're saying thank you. How do I know this? Meet Rusty, my 2-year-old who-knows-what breed that was found abandoned on the side of the road at 5 weeks old.
Lead by example, adopt a cat who needs your love and help dispell the curtain drawn over the world of backyard breeding. It will be the most fulfilling thing you could ever do.
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