Remember the days when you decided you wanted an animal companion in your life, so you strolled down to your local shelter, filled out some paperwork, gave an optional donation, and walked out the same day with the new pet of your choosing, ready to bond and share your space with them?
I mean, you can still do this at the pet shop with hamsters I guess. But the way adoption processes for a cat or dog are structured nowadays, you may as well toss in an application for a chance at a black market immigrant child too. You’ll probably be cleared for the human before the animal enthusiasts deem your application worthy.
Those close to me know I was once the proud owner of a beautiful orange tabby who lived to the ripe old age of 19 years. Last April, he succumbed to a thyroid issue that robbed his ability to see, and finally, eat or walk. I syringe-fed him water during his last days and a final vet visit ended in euthanization.
I was devastated, yes, but I know it was probably time cause my cat was pretty damn old. I’d watched the rapid deterioration of both my grandparents (who’d been old forever because they’re grandparents) when their time was up. One minute they seem just fine, and the next, a simple cold or digestion issue destroys their weak immune system and results in their (timely, I guess) departure. It took until the end of the year for me to finally feel ready to adopt again, with the enlightenment one gains from being a previous pet owner. I wanted two this time. Kip had been a wonderful, vocal cat, who initially meow-meowed-meowed his way through the house, to the point where we wondered if he’d ever shut up and neighbors shoved meat under our door because they thought we housed a starving animal. Two companions would keep each other company and hopefully cut down on this, and I felt a bonded pair of litter-mates would do nicely! The idea of a dog crossed my mind (and I work from home so I’d be in the best position to have one), but two cats are still less work than one dog. I was READY.
Twenty years later though, the adoption game has severely changed with the millennium, and I was not ready for the evolved difficulty in the approval process. It seemed a bunch of self-righteous animal zealots now controlled a huge chunk of the adoptable animal population, only willing to release them to those considered deserving of an pet. Oh it SEEMS great on first thought; we all want what’s best for the animals and making sure potential adopters are responsible and bringing them into a healthy, non-abusive environment is a terrific idea. But it’s that arrogant zealousness to find the “perfect” match for animals that causes “Adopt, Don’t Shop” to fail. Slate actually has a superb article that wonderfully sums up how convoluted the process has become here.
Some rejections have nothing to do with how well you can take care of and provide for an animal. Take a look at one of mine here:
In my personal opinion, it’s pretty damn difficult to neglect a cat. Maybe because I’ve had pets all my life that I was responsible for (hamsters, mice, rabbits, turtles, cats) so it’s a little more ingrained in me that animals need taking care of. Dogs require a bit more effort, but at the bare minimum, you give a cat food and water, change its litter and play with it some. At the bare minimum, someone walking into a pet shelter or rescue organization looking to adopt knows they have to do this. An animal-hater is not going to walk into a pet shelter interested in adoption and pay the fees required, unless some really SICK individual wants to adopt a pet to secretly torture them, but sick individuals will always find ways to do their sick things and I’m pretty sure these guys are in the isolated minority. At the very least, with any adoption, an animal gets taken from a cage or enclosed space in a shelter (I understand foster situations are different, but still) and goes to a home where they get far more attention and room to roam. It is usually going to be a better situation for them to be in. Someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, scrounging for enough money to feed their children or keep the lights on this month, is likely not going to waltz into a shelter and add a new expense of caring for an animal, no matter how cute it is. But still, financials seem to be a huge part of the application process.
References are generally required now, which is fine, however, the world knows how references work. You pick the people who will paint you to be a shining star and say whatever required to make you glow. References are kinda one of society’s biggest B.S. schemes. Even shitty pedophiles have acquaintances who will vouch the high heavens for them if given as references. Mine were apparently asked if I was economically stable enough to own a cat. What, were they going to say NO?
But really, let’s look at the economic status of the nation as a whole. The majority of the U.S. currently lives paycheck to paycheck. They find a way to manage, however, this does insinuate that only the small percentage of wealthy would fit the “perfect appliCAT” adoption (see what I did there?). Most applications ask if you’d be able to afford an animal’s vet bills, but let’s not act like in today’s times, finding affordable health care for HUMANS isn’t a large task in itself already, and many millennials simply go without it!
We’re living though.
Some applications specifically ask how much would be too much a vet’s bill for you. I started putting things like $3000 because I’m not sure what they were looking for. If you can’t afford a $3000 vet bill for your cat, does that mean you shouldn’t be allowed to have one? Because a $3000 doctor’s bill for a human would wipe most people’s savings. Does this mean we should be banned from caring for them? The richest person with an endless supply of fortune could adopt and give a cat a whole wing of their mansion, vet bills pre-paid, and still only be giving the bare minimum: food, litter, a home. Doesn’t mean they’re petting the cat on a regular basis or playing with them, or giving them love. Most hire nannies for their own children, so I’m sure said nanny or housekeeper would be caring for the pet as well. And let’s be real, the wealthy usually don’t saunter into the ASPCA looking to rescue; they find a pedigreed breeder and dole out a handsome sum for a certified, purebred, exotic prize.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t take my last cat in for yearly vet check-ups. I saw no need. He was an indoor cat, had all his shots, vaccinations, and got neutered within the first year of his life. I gave him good quality food and he was not only part of my immediate family, but my extended family too. Once in awhile he got sick, just as we humans do. But most of us know you don’t immediately run to the doctor when you get sick, unless it’s serious. In fact, 75% I’ve run to the doctor for a perceived ailment, I didn’t have to GO. It was something that would have passed and I ended up with a stupid bill, a prescription for some shit I could get from Duane Reade over the counter on my own, and a “This too, shall pass” diagnosis. When he had a REAL issue, I took him. The rest of the time, he got monumental love and support from all of us.
Let’s move from the financial aspect. Many applications ask if I have kids or plan to. Umm…shit, what if I did? It could happen in the future, as I am…an adult woman with working ovaries. Can cats and kids not live together? Do families not have pets? Okay, maybe they’re just screening so they can let you know which of their adoptables don’t do well with children. Understandable! But then they proceed to ask if you DID have a kid, what would you do with your cat? Umm I’d have my kid. And I’d have my cat? “What if you moved? Would you take your cat?” No, I’d leave it in the empty apartment and hope the super overheard the hungry yowls eventually. *Sarcasm alert.*
“Will you ever let the cat outside?” I mean, in a carrier, unless I travel to a family or friend’s house that has an enclosed backyard maybe? What, you think I’m going to walk outside down a New York City block with my cat in my arms? Maybe someone who had a damn good trained cat could do that, like the one who used to show up around Wall Street. But most indoor cats would likely claw the shit out of you if you tried to take them outside in your arms amidst honking horns and barking dogs. Most owners know this. Why the hell would someone who lives in a New York City apartment let their cat outside unless it’s a bodega or apartment complex cat? Common sense. Sure, there’s the cat leash movement going on but I have only come across ONE urban cat-walker in my New York City life. Why are we asking this question like it’s a common thing lol.
“How many hours the cat will be left alone during the day?” Well that’s pretty easy to ascertain if the person has a standard fucking 9-5 job. That they’ll need to have in order to be financially stable enough to adopt the damn cat in the first place and afford those $3000 vet bills, right?
“We require a home visit.” This one may be the most invasive of them all. What’chu mean you wanna come to my HOUSE? And see if it’s SUITABLE for a cat? Some folk are sensitive about their small spaces, or day-to-day messies. What if the “inspector” is a Trump supporter wearing a red #MAGA cap and I have an Obama “Yes We Can” fleece throw on my couch? I’m probably not getting that damn cat.
One place tried to call my apartment management company to verify pets were allowed and ended up getting a new girl that gave her the runaround. I was surprised my management company even answered the phone. You know how hard it is for ME to get ahold of someone there? But trust me, I doubt most New Yorkers would be willing to take in an animal if they weren’t allowed. Especially when it’s rent-stabilized. We ain’t risking that. But what if someone rescued an animal off the street and hid it from their management company? More power to them! We can’t say it doesn’t help the rescue plight.
Through all this, you have the rescues and shelters posting desperate pleas for animal adopters and fosters NEEDED NOW, because the shelters are overflowing, and animals are getting euthanized or remaining unadopted for lengthy periods; all the while simultaneously calling for “A+ adopters ONLY and if you have to ask what it is, you’re not one” (because only the cream of the crop will do and we’re not really here to educate potential adopters >.>) or criticizing potential adopters for having preferences, such as color or age, which is RIDICULOUS! If someone wants an orange cat, let them hunt for an orange cat! If a person loves a certain breed and sees they’re available for adoption with you, what’s the issue? If they prefer a kitten over an adult cat like I do (because I prefer to raise them myself and have an earlier bond), are they less of an animal-lover because of this? And then the raging fan, and I’ll quite bluntly call them “dickriding” comments that back up these ridiculous critiques, solidify the existence of an entire Internet club of perceived cat activists, who must ALL be perfect adopters who take their cats (and they all BETTER have cats lol) for biyearly dental cleanings, consider Fancy Feast actual gourmet cat food, and live for putting down “B-” cat owners on social media.
“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is easier said then done, especially when potential adopters need to pass a figurative bar exam from the gatekeepers to adopt. They are looking for perfect adopters but “perfection” doesn’t exist. I was damn near ready to go through a back-alley CraigsList kitten transaction (because when you want an animal, you WILL get an animal) when a ray of light appeared in my path.
I spotted this adorable little face on the ‘gram. And some brief reviewing revealed he had siblings! I DM-ed them to inquire and messaged with Holland, a sweet breath of fresh air who communicated with life and feeling and energy, unlike many of the of the short, brusque, almost exhausted-sounding responses from the other places I’d looked into. I was directed to their website, https://catcastlenyc.org where I filled out a simple, non-invasive application and saw that part of their goal is non-discriminatory adoption! She sent me pics of the little guy’s siblings and I decided I wanted his brother too, and within two days she showed up at my apartment to deliver the little darlings. While this could also be construed as a home visit, it wasn’t the same in my eyes, because I was already approved for the adoption, whereas other places use the home visit to further render judgment on your approval.
I am now the proud owner of two rambunctious bonded brothers born with little bent tails, who I’ve spent the last week spoiling with holistic cat food, organic rotisserie chicken, more toys on the way, and that cat condo I’ve always wanted. For my cats. >.>’ We’re working on getting them comfortable being held while standing, but for now they crawl into my lap for cuddles, are no longer afraid when the front door opens, and tear around the house chasing and wrestling each other before falling asleep together in a kitty hug. I make them little aluminum foil balls to play with, tossed a blanket on the floor of my closet because I know they like to nap there sometimes, and now have to carefully roll my office chair out because they like to hang out under there while I’m sitting in it at my computer.
I don’t think I qualify as an “A+ adopter,” and I’m not sure I’d even want to. I’m much happier being the imperfect human I am that loves animals and takes damn good care of her pets, happily welcoming a saved life into my imperfect world. I love that Cat Castle NYC deviated from the drill sergeant adoption routine, and equally loved being able to support a warm, friendly, up-and-coming, humble rescue, who really just seem to want to sincerely help connect cats with homes, and not play militant adoption gods who collect multiple applications on single pets in their adoption arena to determine the winner. I highly recommend and encourage other potential adopters who know they’re responsible enough to take an animal under their wing without having a snotty judge referee with a static checklist whether they truly are to check them out!
*See You Space Cowboy*