By Akriti Niti Guha
My experience as a Cat Adoption Coordinator in Delhi/NCR
In the past 3 years I have been a part of adoption drives, facilitated adoption screenings and still continue to do so. I wish I could say I feel the same way when I started out as an adoption coordinator. Unfortunately now, adopting a cat/kitten is a fad and I see more and more people interested in adopting but not willing to commit to the responsibility of having a pet. I have gone from being open and believing in second chances to having to follow a strict adoption procedure protocol and the only reason is the rising numbers of abandonments.
Reasons I have heard from People Who Abandon Their Pets
I’ve been volunteering at an animal shelter since I was 8-9 years old and the amount of abandonments I have seen is just heart breaking and there seems to be no end to it. Sometimes people feel abandoning or surrendering their pet is the only solution and I’ve come across the most baffling reasons like :
-“I’m moving to a new city/country and can’t take my cat along”
-“I’ve had a baby and our family isn’t okay with the cat anymore because cat hair is dangerous for the baby”
-“Our new landlord doesn’t allow cats”
-“We can’t manage giving time and attention to the cat and we feel he deserves better”
-“I’m getting married and my in-laws don’t like cats”
In my experience, most abandonments are done by young adults and students who aren’t honest with themselves, their families and the adoption coordinators at the time of the adoption. These are lives we’re dealing with here and it’s about time people started treating them like that.
We are Disliked for Having Mandatory Adoption Procedures
Volunteers, including myself, face a lot of questions and criticism just because we have mandatory adoption procedures. I want these people to know why we are so involved and why we do what we do. All we want is that cats go to their forever homes, and are not summarily returned or worse, left to fend for themselves on the streets.
The biggest problem is the common misconception about cats and their loyalty towards humans. Contrary to wide belief, cats face separation anxiety and depression when abandoned by ‘families’ and here’s an account of my first hand experience of an abandoned cat who just couldn’t deal with the loss of her family.
Cats Get Deeply Affected by Abandonment Too
I had got a call from a fellow volunteer who told me about Cherry being abandoned by her family who were moving to the United States inn two days. If no foster home was arranged, they were going to put Cherry outside their door and ‘hope’ for her survival.
Mind you, Cherry was an Indoor cat all her life and wasn’t spayed as well. There was no chance of her survival in the streets at the age of 1.5 years. I had no space in my home for keeping more fosters but my heart broke into a million pieces thinking about the scared little girl, alone on the streets outside. I took her in.
I was shocked to learn that her ‘family’ didn’t have a single medical record of hers but “assured” me that the cat is healthy and updated with her shots. She seemed fit but totally devastated when they dropped her off. She would hardly eat, play or do anything really. She would just sit quietly in my closet and look at me with sad eyes.
This poor baby was just so lost and confused. We got her tested, spayed and she recovered from her surgery. After a few weeks she stopped eating food completely, her water intake went down and she started throwing up bile. I was taking her to the vet for glucose drips because her condition was worsening day by day and she just lost her spirit to fight anymore. She finally passed away a day after she was moved to an experienced and loving foster home.
This was my first experience in dealing with a depressed cat facing separation anxiety and sadly, all my attempts at saving her were in vain. RIP Cherry.
Like Cherry, there are hundreds of cats who suffer the same fate just because of people not being able to plan ahead and be realistic and practical before adoption. Recently, in a span of one week there were 11 abandonments reported (I’m not even counting the people who abandon without informing the adoption coordinators)
Points to Ponder Before You Adopt a Cat
So, if you or anyone you know is thinking of adopting a kitten/cat, please make sure they have taken enough time to reflect and discuss the following points :
1. Reason for adopting: Just being an animal lover or cat lover is not a good enough reason to adopt. People need to really think through why they feel the need to have a cat in their life and if it’s more of a “want” rather than something you’ve thought about and are prepared for in the long term.
2. Relocation and Long-term plan: Like I mentioned earlier, relocation to new cities and countries are the biggest excuse for people surrendering their cats. If you have plans to move jobs/cities and travel, please don’t adopt a cat. The alternative to this would be foster cats instead!
3. Discuss with family members/flatmates/partners/spouse beforehand: Getting a cat into the family is a tricky situation. Not all family members may be comfortable around cats. Make sure you talk to them about the feline ways. If they’re not open to learn and listen, drop the idea of adopting a cat until you’re settled enough to live and take care of the cat all by yourself and/or with your spouse/partner.
4.Educate yourself about cat behavior, anatomy and diet: You’d be surprised to know how many kittens are abandoned just because they scratch and bite while playing. There are various ways of keeping your cat’s aggression levels in check. Some of these include providing them with a holistic environment with cat trees, toys, scratch posts and maybe even a playmate. Cats are carnivorous by nature and require meat in their diet so depriving a cat of their needed diet is not done. If you’re a vegetarian, that’s well and good, but please make sure you give your cat a nutrient-rich, non-vegetarian diet.
5.Speak to your staff before adoption: If you’re away for work long hours and have domestic help, make sure you speak to them clearly about taking care of your cat. If your help isn’t cat-friendly, there are high chances of them quitting their job or even worse – your cat facing abuse behind your back.
6. Rented accommodations and no cats rule: If you’re living in a rented accommodation, make sure you speak to your landlord before you move in about having a cat,. Even though it’s legal to have a pet in an apartment/rented accommodation, not all landlords are comfortable with their tenants having cats as pets.
7. Healthcare and finances : Please be prepared to deal with any kind of medical emergencies financially, emotionally and physically. When your cat falls sick you will have to shell out money, time and loads of attention to your cat. Furthermore, you will have to provide your cat with proper nutrition, vaccinations and get them neutered/spayed. Find out from your adoption coordinators and other cat parents of the costs involved, do your research and then make a call whether you can afford taking care of a cat for a lifetime.
8.Time and attention : Even though cats are extremely independent pets to have, if you have a fairly hectic and busy work/social life and can’t take out time to groom your cats and spend time with them, that is not an ideal situation. You need to pay attention to their play, exercise and diet requirements. Only if you think you can meet all these criteria, then think about getting a cat home.
9. Don’t just run after foreign breeds, give Indian Cats a chance too: We get so many custom requests for Persian, Siamese, Rag Doll breeds along with the usual ‘white, fluffy cat’ requests that I honestly feel that if you’re adopting a cat to make a statement, you need to take a minute, pause and think about what you’re doing.
When we see the number of inquiries for pure bred cats as opposed to Indian or desi cats, it’s very disheartening. Purebred cats are high maintenance (monetarily and health wise – they need special care for diet, grooming, exercise especially in our weather) whereas our desi cats are much low maintenance and so much more active, playful and suitable to our weather conditions. We see so many Persian breeder rescues and people who bought a purebred cat from breeders and abandoned them when they learnt about health conditions and the costs involved in treatment.
10. It’s not a good idea to give a Cat to someone as a ‘Surprise Gift’: If I had a Rupee for every time we got a request to get a cat as a ‘surprise gift’ for their friends & family, I’d definitely be a lakhpati by now.
The person adopting needs to go through the adoption procedure and we do not support gifting animals. Is this person prepared to have a cat and take care of it for it’s entire lifetime ? That is a decision they need to make, not you.
Would you give a human baby as a surprise gift to someone? Exactly.
Give these Abandoned Cats a Chance by Sharing this Article on Your Social Media
Now, coming to re-homing these cats. Abandoned cats need to be dealt with a lot of love and patience. We must rebuild trust to rehabilitate abandoned cats since they fear that it can happen again. Lift your spirits up and make sure to create a positive and up-beat environment. Talk to them, pet them with love, show them that they can trust a human again and not be betrayed. You’d be surprised to know how much love and positive energy cats can pick up on.
If your heart and home has space for some adorable Purrrminators, please give these abandoned kiddos a chance at having a family who loves them forever. Their details are given below. The embedded Facebook posts are clickable.
- There is a family of five that are up for adoption. There is a young mum, her two kittens and her two infants (the third one in this photo is no more).
Please do share this article with your friends and social networks. If even one cat finds a home or is saved from being abandoned because of this article, then we will be the happiest people in the world!
About the Author
Akriti Niti Guha is a cat slave whose mission is to help foster, rescue, spay and/or neuter every cat in need, across the world. Her efforts are limited to New Delhi/NCR for now, but everything is possible when the feline force is with you. Akriti also runs a mad cap Cat Boarding and foster home and most cats leave her with five-paw ratings. Feel free to check out Purrfection India on Facebook and Instagram or write to Akriti at firstname.lastname@example.org.