Cats are not second-class citizens at SHS
By Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society
It’s estimated that 88 million cats share our homes (or allow us to share theirs) as opposed to 74 million dogs. Even though more households own dogs, many people have more than one cat, pushing their numbers up over dogs.
Sadly, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) far fewer cat owners take their cat to a veterinarian than do dog owners. People spend less money on cat toys, food and grooming. Part of the problem may be what some consider the financial worth of the two species.
According to APPMA, people pay an average of $331 to purchase a dog, while only about one-tenth of that is spent on buying a cat. This may be better understood by the fact that 75 percent of the cat owners pay nothing, and one third of owned cats are taken in as strays.
Adoption fees at Suncoast Humane Society are equal at $85, with even lower fees for senior adopters and long-term residents, both canine and feline.
Studies have shown that cats suffer from a public relations problem in many of America’s animal care and control facilities. If this is true, the very essence of the cat may be a contributing factor.
Dogs, with their wagging tails, soulful eyes, and eager-to-please demeanor, endear themselves to us and give them the distinction of being “man’s best friend.” Many cats, however, are much more independent by nature and often have trouble “selling” themselves to potential adopters.
On top of that, many animal adoption facilities seem to feature or promote the dogs more than the cats in adoption advertising such as Pet of the Day, Week, or Month.
Again, this is not the case with Suncoast Humane Society, which strives to advertise and market dogs and cats equally.
Even lost or straying cats get less attention than dogs. Some people do not search for their lost cats, especially cats kept out of doors, as quickly as they do for dogs.
Sometimes they don’t even miss them for days or weeks. When someone sees a loose dog, they immediately become concerned and try to catch it or call an animal control agency to report the incident. If they see a loose cat, they are much more accepting to the theory that kitty is out for a stroll or a hunt and will go back when she/he is ready.
Suncoast Humane Society strives to overcome this second-class pet theory that has been created. Cats and kittens recommended for adoption are presented in a spacious, homey, open-air environment at our animal care center. Many roam free in the adoption cattery, enjoying the many toys provided for them, or simply lounging on the kitty condos, countertops, and pet shelves. All of this says, “Please take me home!” and “What you see is what you will get when I become a member of your family.” Volunteer cat cuddlers receive special training in socializing cats that need special attention, while also working to maintain gentle dispositions of longer-term feline residents.
More cats than dogs are featured at the satellite adoption centers, at PetCo’s and Pet Supermarkets in Englewood, North Port, Port Charlotte and Venice.
It is safe to say that with all the focus on our feline friends, cats will never be second-class citizens during their stay at Suncoast Humane Society. The goal is, however, for them to become first-class citizens in a newly adopted home. Are you ready?