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It’s extremely rare that you ever hear of a dangerous domestic cat, yet so many cats are abandoned. They are abandoned at shelters or are left to roam the street with no place to call home. If they are not spayed or neutered, their kittens are left to do the same, as are their kittens, and so on. Many become overlooked shelter cats.
Of the cats that make it to shelters, many of them spend months, even years waiting in shelters to be adopted, before sadly being put to sleep. Others are put to sleep much sooner, especially if the shelter know they are a type that is usually overlooked. Read on to find out why some shelter cats are routinely overlooked in favour of others.
Reasons Shelter Cats Get Overlooked
There are many reasons why some shelter cats get overlooked. Here are some of the more common ones:
Old cats are often overlooked in shelters because people are concerned that they will only get a few years life out of them, and have high veterinary bills.
According to Tuxedo-Cat.co.uk, both black cats, and black and white cats, are routinely overlooked because they are perceived as being too common looking.
More unusual looking cats are favoured. This means that black cats can expect to spend 30% longer in cat shelters. They also make up the vast majority of the feral cat population.
One of the many reasons that people overlook black shelter cats is superstition. Many people avoid them due to ancient prejudices against black cats which stems from an association with witches.
People also overlook black shelter cats because they want a cat which is more ‘instagramable’. There are countless famous cats on social media platforms now, however the more famous ones typically have an appearance which is unusual in some way (think grumpy cat). Shelter cats which have no outstanding features are more routinely overlooked by people who are overly interested in ‘likes’.
Long term health conditions can sometimes make cats harder to look after. As a result, many cats with conditions such as feline diabetes or joint problems are often overlooked in shelters. Added medical expenses can cause people to actively avoid adopting cats with health conditions. It may be simply because the owner can’t be bothered dealing with the extra work required to look after a cat with health complications, or because of expense. With diabetic cats, insulin shots can be prohibitively expensive for some people.
Why Do Cats Get Abandoned?
Every year people buy or adopt kittens or cats and then decide they no longer want them. They may drop them off in shelters or simply dump them somewhere and let them fend for themselves. Sometimes people re-home their cat themselves, to someone who swears blind they will never abandon the pet. sadly the cat often gets passed between homes and then abandoned. It is incredibly sad, but it’s a story that is repeated countless times around the globe every single day.
Here are some reasons why people may abandon a cat. If you recognise that any of the circumstances below may soon occur in your life, then we recommend you avoid buying or adopting until life has stabilised. You need to be certain you can give a cat a home for life.
As people’s careers progress they may find that they are spending more and more time away from home. With longer hours in the office, and business trips added in, they can feel that they cannot look after their cat adequately anymore.
While cats don’t like being alone for long stretches, using things like an automatic feeder, cat water fountain and a self cleaning litter tray can help keep your cat happy and comfortable for much longer. Using these is an infinitely better solution than abandoning the cat.
2. Relationship Break Ups
All too often pets are the innocent victims when relationships break down. One of three things often happens: both of you want to keep the cat but you can’t agree who gets it so you make a compromise and send it to a shelter; you agree that one of you keeps the cat but the cat constantly reminds you of that relationship so you eventually decide to get rid of it; neither of you feel you can give the cat enough time, so give it to a shelter.
3. Moving House
Maybe you’ve had your cat for years but the time comes when you need to move house. Unfortunately ever single rental property you look at tells you that no pets are allowed…but you don’t have any choice so the cat sadly gets left behind.
4. A Baby
The arrival of a baby marks a big change in priorities. In pre-baby life your cat may have had plenty of attention and love. However, once the baby comes you may feel that you can no longer give your cat adequate attention. Cats and babies can co-exist quite happily, and with a bit of planning your cat and baby will both have all the care they need.
There is also a myth that cats like to sit on babies and can potentially suffocate them. This is nonsense, cats don’t like the unpredictability of babies and will usually stay well clear of them!
As well as feline health problems being a reason people may abandon a cat, our own health problems can lead people to feel they can no longer adequately look after their cat. This may lead to eventual abandonment.
6. Owner Death
The death of a cat owner can be catastrophic for the cats who rely on him or her, particularly if their owner was fairly isolated. It can be weeks or even months before the cats are discovered.
Cats are often the forgotten victims of evictions. When an owner gets evicted cats often suffer too, whether through complete abandonment or from being dropped off at a shelter.
8. Breeding For Money
Irresponsible cat owners who attempt to breed in order to make money are significant contributors to cat overpopulation and abandonment. It is well known that there are not enough homes for existing cats. Breeding further exacerbates the problem.
The same is also true if you fail to neuter your cat and allow it to go outdoors. There is a good chance that sooner or later it will meet a feral cat and homeless kittens will follow.
How To Help Overlooked Shelter Cats
It is estimated that there are around 70 million homeless cats in the world. That number is overwhelmingly huge, but helping just one cat is a huge step in the right direction.
Here are a few things you could do to help prevent cats from being overlooked in shelters, or even abandoned:
1. Get Your Cat Sterilised
Spaying or neutering your cat is the most effective thing any cat owner can do to help reduce the number of overlooked and abandoned cats in the world.
It is possible for cats to give birth to litters of more than 10 – in fact the record is 19! One famous cat called Dusty had 420 kittens over the course of 17 years. The feline population is capable of expanding at a colossal rate if left unchecked. This will inevitably lead to millions more abandoned cats across the globe.
Ensuring that your cat, whether male or female, is sterilised is a great way to help.
2. Don’t Buy, Adopt
When you are looking for a new pet it can be tempting to look online for a breeder to get a cute little kitten.
If you care about abandoned cats, this is a bad idea. It encourages people to breed cats for money, which contributes towards creating more abandoned cats and leaving more cats homeless in shelters. There is already an overpopulation of cats and not enough homes for existing cats.
Adopting a cat allows you to save the life of a cat who may otherwise be put down, which is a great feeling!
3. Choose An Overlooked Cat
So you’ve chosen to adopt a cat – great, but which cat are you going to choose?
Most people who walk into a cat shelter will be drawn to the cutest looking cat, typically one of the youngest kittens, or a cat which has unusual colouring such as a ginger cat.
So while you may be tempted to adopt a cat like that, the most helpful thing you can do is to ask which shelter cats have been there the longest. Adopting a long stay cat is one of the kindest things you can do. This is especially true if the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, as long stay cats are sadly next in line to be put down.
4. Let Other People Know
Share what you have learned on this page with other people. The more people who know about the plight of abandoned and overlooked shelter cats, the more people will take action to help.
Other Overlooked Rescue Shelter Pets
Cats are just one animal which there is an overpopulation of, and whom suffer terribly because of it. Breeding for profit and the non-neutering of animals is a big contributor. There are many dogs and other pets in rescue shelters everywhere. Many are constantly overlooked. There are various reasons for this, which you can find out here. The most overlooked dogs are sadly the most often put to sleep. They are put to sleep feeling frightened, in the distressing environment of a shelter, instead of being where they should be: in a loving home.