Animal Writes
27 June 2001 Issue
Kittens are magic but...

written by Violet Winegarden, founder, Happy Cat Haven 

Every Spring the Haven is visited day after day by adults and their children wanting kittens. These people walk by many beautiful needy cats who were kittens last year - some being kittens just 5 or 6 months ago. The visitors do not even glance at these loving creatures, while signing their names on a waiting list for kittens!

Bad enough that so many people allow their pets to breed and breed again thus flooding our communities with a plethora of felines, but it is also wrong to want 'kittens only' when it is a fact that last year's kittens have filled the rooms of animal welfare groups to overload. Many of these innocent tame and loving cats will be killed to make room for the (also) innocent kittens born this year! What an ugly death inducing circle we humans have created by our selfish wants!

Admittedly if you have an adult cat at home and want a friend for them, a kitten is sometimes easier to introduce but when you realize how very important it is to provide a home for an adult cat (so that it has a home and thus a life) your efforts will feel very worthwhile.

Visitors here will often say, "oh my present cat many not even accept a kitten and certainly not another cat." I have no reply - no words at all as I look upon some 40 or more cats, male and female, living together in harmony in our adoption room. Sometimes, by way of reply, I take these visitors into our "forever" room where some 15 once abused cats are snuggled together on the bed or sitting, silent and content on the wide sills...there is a boss cat here and that is accepted by all in that particular room with seldom a challenge issued.

Back in the adoption room, with cats coming and going constantly, one cat or another may decide to "take over" the room. This causes all to feel on edge. In addition, incoming cats who have just been neutered and are upset by their changing hormones - this is when the water spray bottle is kept in full view but never used unless blood may be shed. Instead, we talk gently to the cats in our normal quiet voices, actually telling them about their situations and our expectations - stopping our cleaning routines often to gently hush a cat or pet a cat, always walking between the cats who are wanting to challenge another. On occasion in the morning there will be a fair amount of hair on the floor where a night time encounter has taken place, however when quiet words are spoken, any aggression can be reduced.

In a home situation, sometimes it is wise to keep the incoming adult in a bedroom with its own litter pan, water bowl and food dishes for a week or so. The home cat and the newcomer may then sniff one another under the door and even touch paws in their efforts to satisfy their insatiable curiosity! When the door is opened and the entire house is available for the new cat to explore, a fight is hardly worth the effort. Instead, a few hisses and growls may be heard. Very soon - in a week or so - these two cats will be happy campers and bonding!

We humans have a desire to interfere with a cat's way of dealing with changes in their lives. I feel that a watchful silence is the quickest way to help create friendships between felines. In other words, let us humans just mind our own business for a change thus allowing our cats to go about theirs.

Yes, kittens are magic and have their place in the scheme of things. However, when you adopt an adult cat your are not just giving a cat a home, you are very probably giving it a life as well.

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