June is Adopt-A-Cat Month, aptly occurring during the peak of “kitten season,” when animal shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with caring for copious amounts of stray cat litters.
“With such an influx of cats in need of immediate help and a limited amount of space and resources, kitten season can be a difficult time for any shelter,” according to Cody Hoellerman, Animal Friends’ chief community engagement officer.
As a result, now is the perfect time to adopt a kitten or cat from a shelter or rescue.
“Cats are very calming, and there's not a lot of upkeep to a cat because unlike a dog, you don't have to take them out to go to the bathroom,” explained Barbara Slade, president, FosterCat, Inc., an all-volunteer, foster-based rescue that serves Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.
“They're your best friends, they're nonjudgmental and they provide unconditional love,” added Hoellerman, noting that people have witnessed their pets’ devotion especially during the pandemic. “When you come home from work or if you're working from home, they're right there by your side. Opening your house to an animal that is homeless and in need of a family—you can’t beat that feeling.”
Things to Know Before Adopting a Cat
Adopters should consider their lifestyles when choosing between adopting kittens or cats.
Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP) starts adopting out kittens when they are 8 weeks old. “Those guys are super-energetic and fun. They want to play. They’re looking for adventures in their households, so they need someone who’s looking for that kind of activity,” said Maddie Daschbach, HARP customer care manager. “Some people really, really love that; others find it slightly exhausting.”
She added that older cats may have a “go-with-the-flow, kind of couch potato” energy while still playing in spurts. “They’re just not as much of that hectic little kid that’s still learning what everything is,” she said.
Animal Friends, HARP and FosterCat all recommend that clients consider adopting two kittens at the same time.
“Oftentimes, when kittens have a buddy with them, they'll take out their energy by playing, learning and gaining social awareness of each other,” said Daschbach. “Sometimes it's a little less stress on the adopter.”
With Animal Friends’ year-round Twice as Nice promotion, one adoption donation covers two feline adoptions.
Alice Anger recently adopted gray-and-white cat Justice, who was Animal Friends’ longest-term resident, spending 938 days in the organization’s care. “Since having to put my previous cat down last summer, I knew I wanted to rescue an older animal whose owner had died. Their website posted a video and bio of Justice, which confirmed to me that she was the one.”
Due to Justice’s anxiety level, Animal Friends’ employees had to cordon off an office where Justice lived while awaiting adoption. “Justice is very slowly adjusting to her new home,” Anger said. “With patience and time, I expect she will continue to grow in trust and comfort in her new surroundings.”
HARP is promoting its Working Cat program, which matches adopters with community cats that don’t thrive in a shelter environment, but who could help with rodent and pest control in a brewery, warehouse, barn, corporate campus, greenhouse or other environment. HARP requires their adopters to take a minimum of two cats, which helps these cats feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
“It really is a lifesaving program for these guys,” said Amanda Cavender, HARP animal care and community cat manager. “Behaviorally, they can't really go toward the normal adoption track. We've already placed 86 cats since November of 2019.”
Working cats need a safe, permanent shelter, away from busy roads. Adopters must supply them daily with fresh food, clean drinking water and litter. There is no adoption fee for these special cats, who are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and microchipped. HARP also will provide each team with an enclosure, food, bedding, litterbox and litter to get the cats started in their new workplaces.
Adopter Kristen Rohr loves HARP’s program. “Selina and Noxy have been a wonderful addition to the barn. They get along well with the dogs and horses and have provided us with a great deal of entertainment as they've adjusted to and explored their new home.
“It was also great to coordinate with the staff at the Working Cats program throughout the adoption process,” she added. “They are helpful and supportive and clearly believe in and love what they do.”
People interested in “hiring” working cats should complete applications on the HARP website: https://humaneanimalrescue.org/programs-and-services/other-programs/working-cats.
Slade approves all FosterCat adoptions. If potential adopters rent their homes, FosterCat volunteers contact adopters’ landlords to ensure that the properties permit cat ownership. Volunteers also meet with potential adopters during home visits prior to adoptions.
“We do our due diligence on every single cat that is placed. Many of our volunteers who do home visits alert us if anything does not seem right,” she said, adding that all companion animals must have current vaccinations and be spayed or neutered.
FosterCat’s adoption contract stipulates that adopted cats must be kept indoors, and declawing the animals is forbidden. Felines are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, given medical exams and microchipped.
Currently, due to the pandemic, FosterCat is allowing potential adopters to sign foster-to-adopt contracts for a few weeks to establish that the placements are good fits for both the felines and their families. Following the two-to-three-week trial period, if a potential adopter thinks that the match is a good fit, the adoption contract is finalized.
While Animal Friends, FosterCat and HARP cats and kittens are spayed/neutered prior to adoption, it is important to have felines sterilized regardless of where one adopts them in order to reduce pet overpopulation. Spaying and neutering also reduces the risk of certain reproductive cancers, diseases and behavioral issues.
Both Animal Friends and HARP offer discounted spay/neuter surgeries and partner with the City of Pittsburgh to provide free pet sterilization surgeries to city residents. Visit the shelter websites for details.
To view Animal Friends’ adoptable animals and start the adoption application process, visit www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org/meet-animals/adopt.
To learn more about adopting or fostering through FosterCat, visit www.fostercat.org.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HARP is providing adoption services by appointment only. Visit www.humaneanimalrescue.org/adopt for current