Cat rescue – is adoption an option for you?
A sad fact for cat lovers to contemplate is that, every year, many thousands of cats and kittens are abandoned to rescue centres and shelters across the country. Behind each of these cats is a unique, often heartbreaking story, and while not all have suffered abuse or neglect, they do share one thing in common: the need for a warm, safe and loving home.
For anyone considering welcoming a cat into their home, there are many good reasons to start with this simple question: is a rescue cat the right option for me and my family?
Why are there so many abandoned cats?
There are many reasons why people abandon their cat: perhaps the owner became ill or even passed away, or maybe there was an unexpected change in circumstances that meant they could no longer provide for their pet. Regrettably, in all too many cases the owners have underestimated the effort or expense involved in caring for a cat.
Whatever the reason for abandonment, the result is the same: a huge number of cats in need of a home. The Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home alone takes in an average of nine cats a day, and that’s just one of the many, many cat rescue centres across the country. It’s a huge problem in the UK, and rescue centres rely on the compassion of cat-lovers to provide much needed homes for their guests.
What do cat rescue centres do?
Cat rescue centres do more than provide temporary homes for abandoned cats. As well as feeding and housing their guests, they also ensure they receive medical attention and are free of parasites such as fleas, ticks and worms. But that’s just the beginning – the rescue centre’s goal is to unite each
cat with a new owner that’s right for them. This involves getting to know each cat’s personality (is he shy, outgoing, laidback, vocal, energetic etc) and health details (age, weight, health issues) in order to make the perfect match as quickly as possible. As part of this matching process, most rescue centres now allow you to view guest photos and profiles online, and will then insist that you come and meet your chosen cat in person, just to ensure the chemistry is right!
As the Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home puts it, “Our aim is to match you and your existing pets with a suitable companion using the experience of our expert rehomers.”
What are rescue cats like?
The short answer is: rescue cats are like cats. They can be any age and any breed, or no breed at all. Each one is an individual, and all are on the lookout for a loving home and new humans to spend their time with.
One thing is certain; adopting a rescue cat is a very different experience to buying a kitten from a breeder or a pet shop, or even adopting a rescue kitten. When you buy or adopt a kitten, you know a lot about their medical histories, and often those of their parents. You are also taking on a very young animal that has been well looked after and socialised to spend time with people. She will grow and mature in your home, adapting herself quickly to your personality and way of life – as well as shaping you to hers!
What to expect from a rescue cat
Adopting an adult rescue cat is very different to getting a kitten, because although she’ll still be able to adapt to her new environment, her personality has already been formed. As the RSPCA says about their rescue animals, “They come with a personality ready-made, a past that’s unique to them and a lot of love to give.”
When you take on a rescue cat you need to be mindful of a number of things. Firstly, regardless of your cat’s particular history, she has experienced a major upheaval in her life, which can be traumatic for routine-loving cats. Beyond this, she may also have experienced mistreatment or neglect in the past, which can result in trust issues or difficult behaviour. You will need to approach your new arrival with an open mind and a lot of love and patience – it could be days or weeks before she comes out from under the bed or behind the wardrobe!
But cats are adaptable, just as humans are. They respond to warmth, love and patience by reflecting it back at you. If you decide to adopt a rescue cat, it won’t be long before he or she’s a full, loving member of the family!