June is National Adopt a Cat Month, sponsored by the American Humane Association (AHA), and on behalf of cat lovers everywhere I want to encourage you to consider adopting a cat from a shelter if you have a place for one in your home and in your heart, and can afford to do so.
It's estimated that every minute, four cats in animal shelters are euthanized in order to make room for a constant influx of new cats being put up for adoption, many of which arrive this time of year, traditionally considered "kitty season." You can find directory information on local animal shelters and specific cats that are up for adoption on the AHA website and also on the ASPCA website.
Adopting unwanted and abandoned pets is not only the right thing to do because it helps save their lives, but it also saves money. Buying a purebred cat can cost $1,000 or more (and many of those don't even come with a tail attached!), whereas adopting a cat from a shelter usually costs under $100 and is sometimes even free. It's little wonder that in the survey I did for my book, The Cheapskate Next Door, "cheapskates" were 100 times more likely to adopt or rescue a pet than buy one from a store--another example of how spending less contributes to the greater good.
All four of the cats my wife and I call "ours" have been either adopted from shelters or wandered into our lives as unidentifiable strays.
There's Blizzard, who showed up as a tiny, half-frozen kitten on our doorstep in the midst of a raging blizzard in 1996. Sunshine had been living in an abandoned car before we adopted him from an animal shelter on the day of the summer solstice a couple of years later. Moxie was put up for adoption by her owners because they decided what they really wanted was a cat without a tail. Go figure, because we love all of her, especially her bushy tail.
And then there's Lucky (full name "Lucky 2B Alive"). In perhaps the only heroic act of my life, I rescued Lucky when he was just a few days old, stranded and injured in the middle of a Washington, D.C. freeway during morning rush hour. I'm absolutely convinced that ever since that fateful day he's brought untold good luck and fortune into our lives by way of returning the favor. Seriously, Lucky is a four-legged lucky charm.
Of course you need to make sure that you can afford the cost of a caring for any pet before you bring one home. But on the positive side of the ledger, consider that there's an increasing amount of research that shows that having a cat or other pet around the house may have significant health and medical advantages, reducing your risks for everything from heart disease to depression.
Okay, for all you dog lovers, just for the record Adopt a Dog Month is October. That's very interesting and definitely worth noting, even though everybody knows that cats are better than dogs.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Yeager
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