Loki has a few words of wisdom for you, gentle readers, as kitten season is upon us.
Spay and neuter your pets. No excuses. There are too many unwanted, homeless, miserable animals in the world and if your pets are not altered, or you know someone with unaltered pets, you are contributing to the problem. To take a phrase from the pro-choice movement: every pet a wanted pet. If you are low income, most areas have funds available to assist you, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Take good care of your animal companions. Bring them in to a veterinarian for a yearly checkup. Brush their teeth. Make sure your pets are eating a balanced and healthy diet and getting exercise. Take careful note of their physical condition and keep an eye on any changes you may see. While you might feel silly going to a veterinarian “because Mr Piggy seems a little down,” you might be catching a serious problem early–and if you haven’t, your vet isn’t going to chide you for being a proactive pet guardian. Pet insurance is available to assist you with the cost of veterinary services at a relatively low monthly premium, and many plans include an annual exam. Remember–animals can’t communicate as directly as we can, and often express pain and discomfort through unusual behaviour.
Are you thinking of bringing a new dog or cat into your life? Awesome! Please consider adopting from a regional animal welfare organization, such as the Humane Society or Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Better yet, adopt from your local animal care and control. You might also think about turning to older animals, who are less likely to be adopted than cute kittens, or (if you have the patience and the resources) special needs animals.
I know there’s a lot of temptation to buy purebred animals, for reasons of status and breed familiarity. But wouldn’t you rather save a life? All of my merry band were adopted through the Humane Society, and every morning I’m glad to share my life with their distinctive (though sometimes frustrating) personalities. Mixed breed animals also tend to be more hardy, less neurotic, and less prone to physical defects than pure breds. And don’t let origins frighten you–Loki was part of a feral litter, and he’s grown up to serene, mellow, and loving. Mr Shadow was abandoned outside someone’s house, and they “decided not to keep him” after one day of disagreeing with the other feline resident of the house. Mr Bell was brought back to the humane society after being “too playful” as a kitten. They might not have papers, and they might not be “worth anything”, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.