When the weather warms up, the kittens come out.
It’s kitten season at my local animal shelter (Foothills Animal Shelter), a time when the number of animals in their care increases from 300-400 each day and begins to skyrocket toward 600.
Kitten season is fun – it’s always a laugh to visit the shelter to play with the tiny balls of fur with their wide eyes and furious paws that eagerly bat at any dangly item within a foot radius of their cage.
To celebrate kitten season, I did something a little different: I adopted an adult cat.
While kitten season is fun, it leaves a lot of older cats left behind as adopters run to scoop up tiny mewling kittens.
Even though I was well aware of the strange hypnotic power of a kitten, I too fell victim to their charms. I walked right past all the other cats in the kennels, even ignoring a friendly black and white tuxedo cat who immediately dropped down to greet me as I walked by. I gushed over the cuteness of the small balls of fluff just like everyone else, and unconsciously started clearing a space in my house for a kitten inside my head.
I eventually came to my senses, and realized that having a kitten in the same house as a neurotic border collie/Labrador mix puppy probably wouldn’t be my best idea ever. Sighing, I turned and made a half-hearted loop through the kennels, passing the friendly tuxedo cat who again stuck his paw through the bars at me as I left.
For the next week, I continued dropping by the shelter on my way home from work to check out the assortment of cats and kittens. Though I continued to be enthralled by the kittens, my initial excitement continued to fade as I realized that I didn’t need another animal under a year old running amok through my house.
Each day, I walked past the kennel with the black and white tuxedo cat. Each day, he dropped down from his perch to rub his head against the bars and stick his paw out to touch my hand. It was as if he were determined to go home with me.
On my sixth visit to the shelter, I asked a worker why the tuxedo cat was still there. I figured there must be something wrong with him if someone hadn’t adopted him yet. He was too friendly and out-going to be without a home.
“It’s simple,” the worker said. “It’s kitten season.”
That struck home for me. I didn’t see why a perfectly wonderful cat that appeared to be in good health and
good spirits should remain homeless while swarms of kittens were adopted out every day.
The next day, I asked a shelter employee to take out the cat so I could visit with him. That was pretty much all we needed. It was all decided the moment he hopped into my lap and started purring. Even though I told the shelter that I would “think about it”, I knew that I was going to return and take him home.
I returned the next day to pick him up. It may have been my imagination, but I was sure that he looked relieved to see me coming to take him home.
As for the kittens – I didn’t keep worrying about them.
At 5 p.m. on the day I picked up my cat, there were three kittens in the cat condo. At 6:30 p.m., every one of them was gone. I didn’t need to worry about the kittens in this shelter finding a home. While it’s great that so many people want to adopt a kitten, it’s tough to watch the cats left behind, the ones that have sat behind bars for months waiting for someone to take them home.
Every cat deserves a home, regardless of lifestage.
While I can’t help every cat, I feel like I did my part with my new friend, Dex: the black and white tuxedo cat who refused to let me pass him by.