By Julia Williams
While the Chinese celebrate 2011 as the Year of the Rabbit, the Vietnamese zodiac says it’s the Year of the Cat (Năm Tân Mão ). People born under the sign of the Cat are said to be ambitious, talented, sensitive, compassionate and patient. Not surprisingly, they also clash with those born under the Rat.
Vietnamese zodiac aside, 2011 has also been declared the “Year of the Cat” by Care for Cats, a broad network of feline volunteer advocates in Canada. They plan to advocate for the welfare of Canada’s cats by raising awareness of the value of cats, dispelling cat myths, and addressing important issues such as spaying and neutering to curb cat overpopulation, implementing Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs for feral cats, and increasing shelter adoptions and “return to owner” rates.
As a domesticated species, cats need human care and companionship to not only survive but to stay healthy. According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) the biggest problem that threatens cats in Canada is homelessness. Although it’s impossible to determine how many homeless cats are in the U.S., the ASPCA estimates there could be as many as 70 million. Did that number shock you as much as it did me?
One can surmise then, that the biggest problem for U.S. cats is also homelessness. Considering that a non-spayed female cat can produce one or two litters every year with 4-6 kittens (on average) it’s not hard to see why the number of homeless cats increases every year and more cats flow into already overcrowded shelters and sanctuaries.
8 Ways to Save a Cat
The homeless cat crisis affects nearly every community. The good news is that there are many things people can do to help cats, particularly homeless ones.
Adopt an adult cat from a shelter. Kittens always find homes, but adult cats don’t fare so well. The ASPCA estimates that 5 to 7 million pets enter U.S. shelters every year. About 70% of the adult cats are euthanized, most for no other reason than there isn’t anyone to adopt them.
Foster a cat in your home for your local shelter or cat rescue group. This saves two lives: the cat you foster, who might not survive in the stressful shelter environment, and another homeless cat who can fill the space this frees up.
Volunteer at the shelter as a “cat socializer.” By giving the shelter cats some much-needed love and attention, you help them become more adoptable, and also enrich their lives as they wait for their forever home.
Spay or neuter your own cat to ensure that you’re not contributing to the cat overpopulation problem. Spaying/neutering not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, it can help prevent health issues too.
Help Tame Feral Cats so they can be spayed or neutered to help cut down the cat overpopulation problem. With time and patience, many feral cats can become affectionate family pets that love human companionship and appreciate having a safe and warm home.
Microchip your cat and keep the contact information current. Microchipped cats that accidentally become lost are much likelier to be quickly reunited with their family.
Be a cat advocate by writing letters to your local government representatives urging them to pass legislation that contributes to the wellbeing of cats.
Donate money, supplies or your time to a local shelter or cat rescue group. Your contribution can help these organizations rescue, spay, neuter and find permanent homes for more cats.
Read more articles by Julia Williams
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