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When Jack and Debi Roney of Vienna, Va., decided to get a kitten, they set their sights on a lively, energetic animal. But that was before they met Minnalouche, a calico that a local humane society fostered. "She seemed to need a lot of love and warmth," Debi recalls. "When I picked her up, she snuggled under my sweater. She seemed to really need me."
Feeling needed appealed to the Roneys then, just as it has in the 13 years since they adopted Minnalouche. Steve Aiken, an animal behaviorist from Wichita, Kan., understands why. Adopting from a shelter, humane society or rescue group "means helping a cat who's already there and needs the love of an owner," he says.
The Joy of Adopting
When you adopt a cat, there's the obvious benefit that you're providing a home for the animal. But there are more advantages, including:
Despite the advantages, shelter animals can have higher stress levels. "Shelter cats have been in another home, snatched up and brought to a shelter with the strange sights and sounds of many other animals, and then snatched up again and brought to their new home," says Aiken.
But that's no reason to look down upon the animal. "The idea that a shelter cat has something wrong with it is outdated," says Nancy Peterson, Human-Animal Bond Specialist for The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C. "It's more likely something was wrong with the previous owners -- maybe they weren't as committed to the animal as they should have been."
Making the Match
To make the adoption work, here's what experts suggest:
is a Brookyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer and animal advocate.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: