On November 1, 2012, President Obama proclaimed November to be National Adoption Month. His hope is that many more families will be created and united, and has signed legislation to make adoptions smoother and faster, especially for children in foster care. The President’s efforts should be applauded. But for many of us, adding a human member to the family is not tenable, but perhaps adding a four-legged to the family is doable. National Adoption Month is a a great time to act.
I recently lost my precious ragdoll mix to cancer. After the hardest of my ongoing grieving period ended, I had been hoping to adopt a ragdoll cat, not to replace Chloe (because I realized that was impossible), but because the ragdoll breed is generally snuggly, and what I missed most about Chloe was her habit of sleeping on my head or curling up on my lap (even if a laptop was already there). Ragdolls are expensive cats (around $1,200 per kitten from Chicago area breeders). But with so many pets in shelters, even if one can afford to pay so much for a pet, it seems irresponsible to go that route without a very good reason.
I checked Petfinder frequently, hoping for a kitten (I was open to a non-ragdoll, of course). I didn’t find a kitten, but I did find a young adult ragdoll through a Chicago-area shelter that offers a one-week trial. (When the week is up, I was to either tell the shelter to go ahead and cash my check for the adoption fee or to ask them to pick the cat up and return the check to me). I was glad for the trial because I already had a cat and I wanted to make sure the two could work it out. I’d also not had much experience with boy cats, and for some reason, that was a concern for me.
The check has been cashed, and my family has a new member. His name is William Jefferson Kitten, Willie for short. (He’s charming, handsome, and a gifted speaker, so naming him for Bill Clinton seemed apt). The vet estimated his age at about two years. He was left at a fire station in Chicago and came to the shelter already neutered and, unfortunately, front-paw declawed, which, I admit was a concern. (Chloe also was declawed before she came to live with me, and it was hard to see her suffer stiffness and pain. Declawed cats wind up in shelters more than non-mutilated cats, and [perhaps related] often have litter box issues, but so far Willie is doing fine.)
Shelter pets may have a reputation of being damaged goods, full of baggage. And it’s true that some shelter animals have been mistreated. But with kindness, a little education, and proper care, a shelter pet can become a fabulous new best friend. Willie is curious, playful, funny, and friendly. We are happy to have him, even my nine-year-old tabby Frida, and it seems he likes living here, too.
Won’t you consider giving a four-legged a loving forever home?