June is National Adopt a Cat Month and let’s face it: We love to watch cats whether they’re being silly, adorable, regal, or cranky. Cats are the reason we need the internet. Cat videos on YouTube have been going viral for years and can be just the way to put a smile on your face. Even though many of us are fairly convinced cats are secretly plotting to take over the world, they’re more than happy to live with you and let you be their servant…I mean owner. But regardless of their world domination propensities, here are ten really good reasons to stop watching those cat videos long enough to go get a cat of your own. And who knows, maybe your cat can be the next YouTube sensation!
1. You can save more than one life by adopting a cat
Not only do you save the life of the kitty you adopted, but you can clear a space for more cats to be rescued and sheltered. Unfortunately, shelters have a limited capacity and many pets are euthanized before they are able to be re-homed due to lack of space or resources. According to the ASPCA over 3.2 million cats enter American pet shelters every year. Approximately 1.6 million of those cats are adopted. That means there are plenty who still need to be housed and cared for until they find their forever home!
Consider the adage “the more the merrier!” When adopting a cat, consider getting a bonded pair or two cats (provided you give them time to get comfortable with each other). You can save two lives and your kitty will always have a playmate or snuggle companion when you aren’t home.
Cat fact: Often older cats, special needs cats and kittens, or black cats are considered “unadoptable” and are the first to be euthanized. Consider adopting one of these kitties when you are looking for a new pet.
2. Adopting a cat is a sound financial choice.
When you adopt from a shelter, your new kitty has already been spayed or neutered, given necessary vaccinations, and microchipped. Some shelters will even include a bag of food, collar and id, or pet insurance in the adoption fee. This will help you save in the upfront costs of a new pet. When you purchase a cat from a breeder you must pay for these expenses on your own. Depending on the cat and what type of lifestyle you have, you may also save on any training or house/litter training expenses.
3. There are a wide variety of cats available and their personality is already known.
At most shelters you can find almost any type of cat: young or old, long haired or short haired, in all colors and sizes. If you have your heart set on a specific breed, like a Siamese or Persian, you can also check for breed rescue or cat-specific organizations. These manifold felines spend their days with volunteers, behaviorists, and trainers. Each cat’s needs and personality is studied carefully so that you know what kind of kitty you’ll get. You may want an active playful cat who will entertain you for hours or all you need is a couch potato to join your Netflix binges. Either way, the shelter personnel will be able to help you find your match.
Many pets wind up at shelters due to a change in family circumstances, such as a divorce or a move, rather than through any fault of their own. These pets are happy, healthy cats who are already house trained and accustomed to living with a family. No need to train them yourself, they come ready and happy to fit into your home!
Cat fact: Young cats and kittens can go through personality changes until they are fully grown. A snuggly kitten may not be a snuggly adult. If you want a specific activity level or personality, consider getting an adult cat. If they sit in your lap today, very likely they will be a lap cat for the rest of their lives. Since cats can live upwards of 18 years, you’ll still have plenty of time to love an adult cat.
4. Cats are good for your health, both mental and physical.
According to a study performed by Deborah Wells, owning a cat (or any pet you adopt) can improve your sense of happiness and well-being and can help reduce the strain of stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness. Cats can provide a quiet, soothing presence when we need it most, during times of strain or grief. Other studies have found that having a cat may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. One such study in 2008 showed that having a cat can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 40% by reducing stress and anxiety! We’ve also found that a cat’s purr can help lower your blood pressure, promote bone health, heal ligaments and muscles with minor injuries, and decrease dyspnea. A study by the Journal of Pediatrics published in the National Library of Medicine states that having a cat in the home with children can expose those children to allergens at a very young age, making them less likely to develop allergies or respiratory issues later.
5. Cats are the perfect apartment roommate.
If you live in a small space, like an apartment or condo or even a dorm room (if the school allows it), a cat can be the perfect companion. Most cats instinctively know to use the litter box and scratching posts. They are less likely to track mud through the house or tear up the garbage than dogs. Cats tend to be neat and tidy animals although many do shed so invest in a good vacuum! Cats, with the exception of some long haired cats, require less grooming than dogs. Most cats take care of their own bathing and brushing without any help!
Cats often don’t need as much playtime as dogs and will value their time lounging around the house or just being with you since they sleep up to 16-20 hours per day. They don’t require a lot of space and lengthy walks like dogs do. They can be fairly low maintenance, just make sure of give them plenty of toys and places to climb, like cat trees or window seats. Most cats are independent creatures and can frequently choose to keep to themselves. And when they do want to snuggle, they’re warm, fuzzy, and the perfect size for your lap. While cats are happy to be around their humans, they are able to stay home alone all day unlike dogs. Cats do not require as much constant care as dogs, making them a preferred pet of many busy professionals.
6. Cats are good for your home and the environment.
Cats are good pest deterrents. They help keep control of any mice, rat, or bug populations. While some cats decide they’d rather befriend small animals, most are very good hunters. If it moves, they pounce! Many farms keep barn cats just for that purpose. The Working Cats program helps re-home otherwise “unadoptable” feral cats to work on farms and in businesses as pest control.
Cats also leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet than dogs do. The biggest factor in a pet’s carbon footprint is the amount of food they eat, and since cats eat far less than dogs, they leave a smaller footprint. In this way they are better for the environment than dogs. Just don’t let your house cat outside to attack the local birds!
7. Cats are wonderful companions, particularly for the elderly or other pets.
Calmer cats, particularly those that are older, can make wonderful friends for older adults. Their easy care and peaceful dispositions can be a blessing and stave off loneliness. Cats can also keep other pets company during the day. If you have a cat or a cat-friendly dog you may want to consider getting a playmate or sidekick to enjoy. Just make sure to temperament test both pets and give them time to adjust to each other.
Cat fact: Often cats are more reserved and stressed about their shelter environment. They need routine and a safe environment to flourish. It’s easy to see your future best friend in those cute dogs ready to wag their tail and lick your hand. But consider taking the time to get to know some of the cats in the shelter. They can be just as loving as a dog and lower maintenance!
8. You’ll change a cat’s life forever.
Not only can you be proud that you’ve helped a pet in need and created space for more pets to be helped, but you’ll get a new best friend out of the deal. Cats may be selective with their affection, but once you’ve earned their trust, you’ll have a loyal friend fur-ever. The quote about rescuing a dog can be applied to cats as well: “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”
So are you ready to head out to the shelter to find your forever friend? According to Indiana University Media School, people who watch cat videos were “more energetic, felt more positive and had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness after watching cat videos online.” If that can happen while watching cats, what do you think would happen if you owned one? And if you are unable to, then head on over to YouTube to get your kitty fix and lower your stress levels!