September is Happy Healthy Cat Month, and the CATalyst Council wants you to consider heading to the shelter and adopting your solo feline a friend.
From the campaign website:
Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a another cat. They love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom. Visit your community animal shelter and see what feline friends they have to offer.
That’s a recommendation seconded by veterinary behaviorist Sharon Crowell-Davis, professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine – Athens, in an interview with Steve Dale:
“Living with other cats is stimulating and overall a very good thing,” says veterinary behaviorist Sharon Crowell-Davis, professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine – Athens. “Preconceived ideas about cats being solitary are simply not true. Cats are social and enjoy the company of their own kind. We’ve shown in our research of feral and stray outdoor cats that they often form complex social groups. They groom one another, pay attention to one another and play together; they wouldn’t do that if they were solitary.”
Crowell-Davis says people all too often have a single cat, and eventually decide to get a second cat when that single cat is five or six years old. And all that time that cat hasn’t been exposed to other cats.
“A cat who isn’t accustomed to its own kind becomes socially incompetent as an adult,” she says. “But then, if a child grows up without going to school and being deprived socially, wouldn’t the same thing happen? Social behavior is greatly learned.”
Crowell-Davis is among those who encourage shelters to adopt litter mates in pairs or even three at a time, depending on the existing pets in the family. She says ideally, people should adopt a Queen (mother cat) with two of her off-spring. “Our research indicates those kittens will grow up to be confident and stable, assuming the mother is reasonably confident and stable.”
Of course, not all cats are destined to get along with other cats. But one thing they all need is regular veterinary care. Because cats are statistically far less likely to be taken to the veterinarian than dogs are, and cats who aren’t taken to the veterinarian are also more likely to be surrendered to a shelter, the CATalyist Council has also created the CATalyst Connection, a project seeking to strengthen the relationships between animal shelters, private practice veterinarians and pet owners. Designed to encourage shelter pet adoption and regular veterinary care for cats, the campaign has been implemented in states including Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maryland, Kentucky, New Jersey and Oregon.
Get more tips on making your cat happier and healthier here!