It’s often their eyes, jade green or amber gold… Sometimes it’s their friendliness, rubbing against ankles and legs… It may even be their purring motors, soothing and loving as they snuggle into your neck. Whatever the “it” is, cats capture our attention and hearts.
Cats and humans have interacted for thousands of years. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the African wildcat became a frequent and welcome visitor to human habitation, attracted to, and preying upon, rodents that fed on stored grain. Cats also played an important part in Egyptian culture, often being mourned upon demise; cat mummies have been found in huge numbers in this part of the world. Short-haired cats arrived in Italy more than 2,000 years ago and reached England 300 years later. During the Renaissance cats appeared in paintings and literature as objects of affection, raising their status as household companions. Cats were later taken across the Atlantic Ocean to America and spread across the continent.
Although cats often survived simply on rodents during their earlier history, people today care for their cats much like dogs, providing food, shelter, vet care, and affection. Yet, cats seem to be considered more disposable than dogs, with only two percent of lost kitties being reclaimed by their owners. Each year shelters and rescues across the country take in about four million cats; more than 70 percent are euthanized, according to American Humane.
Many types of cats are brought into shelters. Some are purebred, such as Siamese or Persian, while others are typical tabbies. Some are kittens, some are adults, and others are seniors. About 25 percent of cats entering animal shelters are adopted.
No matter the age, type or sex, all cats need compassion and care. From nutrition and attention to exercise and veterinary care, our cats depend on us to ensure their health and happiness.
Caring for cats can be easier than caring for dogs. Fido, for example, needs his daily walk; cats are content with a catnip mouse or scrunchy ball to bat around. Litterboxes serve as lawns, and dry food can be left out for kitty to nibble on throughout the day. However, vet care is just as important as it is for dogs, from vaccinations against diseases like rabies to spaying and neutering to prevent additions to the pet overpopulation problem.
For more information on various cat care topics, visit the ASPCA website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month – many older cats find themselves in shelters and rescues because they are lost or because their family can no longer care for them. Consider giving an older cat a home this month and help alleviate the pressure on our rescues and shelters.
There are many benefits to adopting an older cat, including:
Animal welfare organizations, whether rescue groups such as the many breed rescues or animal shelters in your community and mine, need volunteers. From people to help with fundraisers, to fostering animals that are waiting for new homes, from walking dogs and brushing cats to helping transport pets to their new homes, volunteers provide many and varied services. This month is National Adopt-A-Shelter Dog month, providing a great opportunity to help animals in need in and around our communities.
I enjoy helping animals, but there is a limit to what I can do. Yet, with that limit, I have found a few spaces I can fill. For example, I assist my local humane society with fundraising events, particularly by selling my books and donating a percentage back. I also help transport dogs for various rescue organizations. I’ve transported large, medium and small dogs, and each transport has given me not only great satisfaction in assisting an animal in need, but also touched my heart with the pet’s special story.
Recently, I had the honor of transporting an older beagle named Boone to his permanent home. I often travel to Montana to visit my parents, and I happened to be doing so this particular weekend, with a planned stop over at one of my most favorite places in the world: Yellowstone National Park. Boone's new family lives in Yellowstone, so I was able to transport this sweet, older gentlemen the entire way to his new home. What a joy to bring this lad into the loving arms of his awaiting family -- I know he will enjoy the sights and smells of America's first national park!
Volunteers are vital to rescue and other animal welfare organizations. There are many ways a person can volunteer. Some of these endeavors take lots of time, others take only a few hours a week, and some just a few hours every few months (like transporting). Here are some ways in which you can help animal rescue and welfare organizations as a volunteer:
Why not take this month as attention is turned to shelter dogs and give a bit of yourself to assist in some way? Visit with someone at your local animal shelter or rescue organization and see what their needs are. Perhaps make it a family affair and spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at the shelter or rescue helping with newsletter mailings, dog walking, cat play time, or whatever else the group needs regarding volunteers.
You will be amazed at the difference you can make in the lives of pets who need help by donating just a few hours a week, a few hours a month, or several hours twice a year. Share the love and be part of the positive solution by giving of yourself to help pets still awaiting adoption -- your heart will soar knowing you've helped to make a difference!
Animal welfare groups across the country, including many of the local rescue organizations and animal shelters in my community, celebrate the joy of dog adoption this month. October is recognized as national Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and offers a wonderful opportunity to give a dog a new, loving home.
Promoted by the American Humane Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month brings greater awareness to the plight of homeless dogs throughout our nation. Animal welfare organizations estimate nearly that three to four million dogs and cats enter shelters across the United States annually; nearly half are killed. Adoption saves lives.
If you are considering adding a dog to your household, this is a good time to do so! Dogs are loyal and loving, providing that special ‘sidekick’ for life’s journey. Many dogs enjoy riding in the car, going for walks and hikes, and simply being a part of a family; therefore, they make wonderful companions. And remember the great health benefits dogs can provide: reducing stress and blood pressure and uplifting our moods, among others.
Whether you are single, married, have children, or are retired, there’s a dog to fit every lifestyle. Of course, you need to find the RIGHT dog, and that’s one of the services animal shelters, rescue organizations, and humane societies provide. The staff and volunteers who spend time with the animals know their personalities and may often know the dog’s background; therefore, these groups offer a tremendous service for those hoping to add a dog to their life.
Consider being a superhero today: save a life of and bring home your own special sidekick! Adopt a dog in October during national Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. And even if you can’t adopt a pet, there are many things you can do to show kindness and compassion: support your local pet rescue and shelter organizations with donations not just of money, but also of dog toys, treats, food and even your time. Volunteers are vital to animal rescue organizations and the simple act of walking and socializing a dog can help alleviate a shelter dog's loneliness and help it find a home sooner
Dogs need people – they need our care, compassion, time, and attention. Be a Super Hero this month!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.