By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice-President
“What greater gift than the love of a cat.”
“Cats are smarter than dogs. You could never get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow.”
Jeff Valdez, television writer and producer
As much as I love my shelter dogs, Maggie and Jack (and I do love them a lot), 35 years ago I had a pet who was so special that, to this day, the thought of her makes me weep.
Poo Cat was a tuxedo cat of advanced years who appeared on my doorstep one bitterly cold December day in 1978 when I was cramming for exams. She quickly settled in and made herself at home, crouching on the table and playing with my pencils while I read, perching on the toilet each morning as I dried my hair, and curling up on the pillow next to me while I slept. Poo Cat was the best friend and companion I could have asked for in those trying times. She asked for little and gave so much.
I love cats, so if cats have gotten short shrift in this column over the past years, it’s only because all of those big and small goofy, funny, friendly, lovable dogs that pass through the Aiken County Animal Shelter take up so much time and energy. They really need our companionship. They crave our attention—all the time.
Cats, on the other hand—eh, not so much. They spend their days quietly surveying the world around them. They don’t ask for much – a little food, a little water, a warm place to sleep and a cuddle from time to time.
Which is why cats make ideal companions for people who work, people who live alone, and people who don’t have the time, space or facilities to care for a dog. They are self-sufficient. They don’t need to be walked three times a day. Give them a barn, and they’ll control the rodent population and live a happy, productive life. Playful and kind, they make great pets for children.
No wonder cats are the most popular pets in the world.
Until recently, hundreds of cats were received at the shelter. Of the adoptable domestic cats, very few are microchipped, and on average, less than 1% of the cats at the Shelter are claimed by their owners. Many of the cats received at the Shelter are feral and unadoptable. As a result, sadly, more cats are euthanized than dogs.
But here’s the good news: through aggressive adoption pricing and the implementation of the County’s new TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program, in January, for the first time ever, the live release rate for cats hit a record high of 93%: of the 79 received, 37 were adopted, 34 were TNR’d, and 3 returned to their owners.
From experience, we know these numbers will skyrocket in the spring and summer months because cats are particularly and prolifically fertile, but still, it’s a start.
Here’s more good news. During the month of February, you can adopt a fully spayed/neutered, wormed and inoculated cat or kitten for only $7. What are you waiting for?
Their lives are in our hands.