I want to be heroic but not, you know, in an inconvenient way.
November 24, 2013 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I recently lost my cat, and I would like to go to the local humane society to adopt another one. I would like to find a balance between selecting a cat that would both best fit the requirements of our household and one that would probably a lower chance of being adopted. Can you help me identify traits to look for?

The requirements:
-We have 2 children, ages 8 and 11, who know how to behave around animals.
-We have a 2-year old lab/rhodesian (we think) dog who is used to having cats around. With our previous cats, he would respect them indoors, but if they were outdoors, he would chase them.
- We want this cat to be an indoor cat. I started with that intention with my last kitty, but he escaped so much, and was so good at doing so, that eventually we just gave in and let him come and go. I know so well the dangers that indoor/outdoor cats face, even on a quiet street like ours, but I had become complacent because of my (also recently deceased) 20-year old cat, who wanted to stay indoors except for brief sunning forays on our deck. But I'd like to avoid basically causing the death of another cat.**
- My husband has allergies to some cats but not to others. Soft, rabbit-type fur doesn't seem to bother him, while long-haired breeds, or breeds with coarser, dander-heavy fur will make his eyes itch something fierce.
- We would prefer not to adopt a terrified cat, just because of the children/dog factors. We are by no means a chaotic household - the boys don't roughhouse, the dog is content to sleep most of the day - but there are five other mammals in the house, and I imagine that could be overwhelming to a frightened animal.
- We have money to spend on regular pet car and can find or borrow money for emergencies. I do not think we are in good-enough financial shape to take in a cat that we know from the start needs regular medical attention.

So basically, I would like to adopt a cat that might not be readily adopted, but I can't expend the heroic measures needed to truly rescue an animal that will probably face euthanasia. I've come up with the following criteria, but I'd like suggestions or corrections because I'm mostly going off guesswork and experience as a (no-kill) shelter volunteer 15 years ago.

- Cat between 3-6 years old. Older than that, I worry about the likelihood of medical cost. Younger cats I'm assuming are adopted more easily.
- Cat that may be less gregarious, possibly on the left (but preferably, for selfish reasons, in the middle) side of the Felinality Chart. I'm assuming that friendly cats get adopted more often.
- Cats with lower adoption fees and who have been there the longest, since I'm guessing their time is running out.

Is there anything else I should consider. I guess I'm asking how to adopt the most-desirable least-desirably cat, but I want to make sure that I find one that has the best chance of fitting our household while trying to do my best to rescue someone who might be overlooked.

Oh, and I'm also going to the shelter later today, so of course I'm asking at the last minute. Our humane society has a list of adoptable cats, and while you can only tell so much from descriptions, I'm wondering about the following cats: Ginger, Tiger, Dexter, Max, Melon, and Caleb.

**I know I'm not waiting a respectable amount of time to replace my cat (I feel disloyal or doing so), but I miss having a cat around so much, and I hate the idea that another cat might be euthanized while I deal with my emotions.
posted by bibliowench to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I feel like you're overthinking this. I would just worry about finding an adult cat that won't trigger your husband's allergies and who seems like it will get along with your household, instead of worrying about adoptability.

Euthanasia isn't a tragedy for a cat in a shelter. Cats have no concept of their own death and it's not something they fear or worry about. They do feel discomfort and boredom, which they probably experience daily in a shelter. Shelter workers know which animals will find homes, for the most part, and quick euthanasia for an unadoptable or even slightly-less-adoptable cat is more humane than leaving it for a long time in a cage waiting for adoption.

Find a cat you like. If there are two cats you like, get the uglier one.
posted by cilantro at 10:11 AM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry to hear about the loss of your cat, and congrats on adopting a new one and potentially saving a cat's life!

I think your goals here are really noble (particularly adopting an adult cat who has been at the shelter for a long time). The good news is that an adult cat already has its personality and physical traits, whereas a kitten might develop into something you weren't expecting. (Case in point: we adopted a sweet, tiny grey and black kitten who grew up to be a massive Maine Coon Cat who thinks he's a dog.)

So, find an adult cat that fits your other requirements and whose personality you like, and take it home. Cilantro's advice to pick the uglier cat in case of a tie is not a bad idea!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:15 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: NEVER MIND!

My lost cat (who was indeed lost, but I had given up ever finding him because he always hangs around the house, and I had exhausted all leads), just started scratching at the front door LITERALLY 2 minutes ago!

I'd like to thank Ask Metafilter for its apparently supernatural control over the events of universe. If you'll excuse me, I need to cry and snuggle for a while.

Seriously, that was really fucking weird.
posted by bibliowench at 10:21 AM on November 24, 2013 [91 favorites]

Best answer: First, thank you for adopting. I'm very sorry for your so recent loss, but your cat would love to know you're opening up your heart and home to another cat. An adult, neutered male black or tiger cat who might be a little shy at first is a really great bet, though they tend to be among the last to be adopted. It's terrifically hard for any animal and especially cats to shine in a shelter environment -- if a cat is anywhere near calm and chill, there's your sign.

Cats are harder to adopt out once they are only 6 to 8 months of age.

Find a cat you like. If there are two cats you like, get the uglier one. Or get two cats.
posted by vers at 10:22 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Damn. So glad your cat is home. DAMN THESE TEARS.
posted by vers at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I see your update*. But I already typed this up, so in case other people need help choosing a cat in the future.

Black cats are harder to get adopted. Cats with visible deformities, such as mangled ears (whether from frostbite or fighting), missing limb, broken tails are also harder to find homes for. Some of these can come with increased medical costs, for instance, cancer. Cats with histories of fighting might not be a good fit for your home. But a cat that got hit by a car, patched up by his family and then had to be surrendered because of a move...that might be an awesome cat for you.

Tips for picking new pets:
  • Everyone in the family agrees that it is a good time to get a pet. Barring inability to care for a pet, outside opinions about it being too soon are to be discarded.
  • Everyone in the family meets the pet before a decision is made.
  • The pet in question appears to appreciate/like/not have total disdain for the people.
  • In my own preference, the cat willingly investigates/approaches people and is at least curious, if not affectionate. I do not want a cat that is terrified. You might be ok with that, but with kids, it's tough to manage a scaredy cat. (From that chart, I like a side-kick, personal assistant, or love bug, so your mileage is obviously different. The shelters workers will probably be able to help you choose a cat that will have the personality qualities you want. The good news is, it's easier to suss that out in an older cat than a kitten in a litter.)
  • Snuggles are attempted and do not cause breathing trouble for the people.
*Sometimes the answer to cat questions is "because cats are weird" or "because cats are jerks." But man, they are such amazing weird jerks. I love cats.
posted by bilabial at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm marking best answers because I hope this threads help others.

I asked my husband, but he is not amenable to getting a second cat, so we will won't be going to the shelter today after all. I hope whomever we would have adopted finds a home.

Expect a question in a week about how to pacify an angry cat who has found out he is never going outside ever again.

Thank you all. This place is awesome!
posted by bibliowench at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2013 [11 favorites]

SO GLAD that your cat came home!!!

But for others who may have this same question -- I second vers' comment that cats with visible deformities have a harder time finding a home, while not requiring any extra work on your part. Many years ago, we adopted a cat with a very short and sort of weird-looking tail. He was about three months old, and I suspect he did not get scooped up as a little kitten because of that funny-looking tail.

Let me tell you, he was the most awesome cat ever. He died this year, at age 13, of kidney disease. But he had a long and happy life, and brought us great happiness. Also, I actually grew to prefer his funny short tail, and ended up thinking that cats with regular long tails were the ones who looked strange!
posted by merejane at 11:03 AM on November 24, 2013

Cats have no concept of their own death and it's not something they fear or worry about.

That is all kinds of wrong. All sentient beings fear not-being, otherwise they wouldn't startle at scary sounds, hiss or fight. They do not think ahead of it, no, but at its time they fear it all the same.

Also, hugs that your cat came back. I can barely imagine how emotional that feels.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:45 AM on November 24, 2013

Also, agree with above, black cats are always last for adoption.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:46 AM on November 24, 2013

I see you found your cat. Yay! For anyone reading this in the future, there are healthy, adoptable cats euthanized every day in local animal shelters. Adopting ANY adult cat from a kill shelter is saving a life.
posted by snarfles at 12:07 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another comment for others who will read this thread -- not only black cats but torties (tortoiseshell cats) are less likely to be adopted than cats of other colors. Yay for your kitty coming back!
posted by trillian at 12:21 PM on November 24, 2013

Adopting a cat from ANY shelter or rescue is saving a life. At a kill shelter, the cat you adopt, sure. But at a no kill shelter you are saving the NEXT cat's life.
posted by wotsac at 12:22 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Black cats are always last. Calicos and tortoiseshells are usually second to last. Tuxedo cats, grey cats and orange cats are fast, probably in that order (tuxedo is definitely first). Three-legged cats are, surprisingly, fast, though most other deformities are not. Fat cats go fast, but not the huge enormous fat cats where their bellies almost rub the ground.

I'm happy you found your cat again!
posted by jeather at 1:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Black cats are hard to adopt out and so are black and white. The same goes for 6+ aged cats and you really don't have to worry about medical expenses until 12+ unless... But that goes for any age. If a cat seems scared or withdrawn in the shelter it might just be the environment, see if the shelter has background info from the previous owners. So glad that you found your cat and yes it's weird with the timing. From a shelter volunteer.
posted by Ferrari328 at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2013

I just wanted to say that I appreciate this thread because I am debating about getting a cat myself at some point and I'd rather get an older/less adoptable/chill cat than be one of the people who insists on getting a kitten (have lived with 'em, they're fun, but...). So thanks for keeping it going, folks!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:13 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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