Since it is customary for there to be a photo opportunity and a well-crafted tweet every time a Kardashian sneezes, you can bet that a major event like a cat purchase is going to make waves. So in late December when Kourtney Kardashian posted photos to Instagram of her newly purchased Bengal kitten, lots of fans and foes of the Kardashians came out to voice their opinions. I know, I know — reading comments on the Internet is often one of the most efficient ways to lose faith in humanity, but sometimes I can’t help myself.
So, the rest of this post is not about the Kardashians (for those who were worried). But it is about the amazing number of people who are ignorant of the cat adoption system, as revealed by the comments about Kourtney’s cat purchase. I always assumed people bought because … well, I didn’t ever really know why. But I had no idea why people were opposed to adopting from shelters.
Below are the alarming misconceptions about adopting a cat I saw thrown around in the context of the latest addition to the Kardashian family. (Also, the kitten is super adorable, so it’s a great excuse to share pictures.)
This was the most prevalent defense of purchasing a cat from a breeder or store. I have no idea where they got this idea from, considering how many kittens go through the shelter system, especially in the summer. Anyone who works or volunteers in a shelter knows that litters of kittens are brought in all the time. If it is a kill-shelter, it’s especially heartbreaking when these little guys don’t get adopted.
And while it is true that these kittens are more likely to be adopted than older cats, there is an almost constant influx of kittens, because newsflash: Cats aren’t exactly known for their diligent pregnancy-prevention practices. Go early in the day or something — there will be kittens!
Another defense of buying from a pet store or breeder was the claim that shelters charge "outrageous" adoption fees. The commenter in question mentioned a fee of $95 at a shelter and reasoned that this is essentially the same as buying a cat anyway. It isn’t the same for a number of reasons, primarily because shelters are generally non-profit entities, which are using that money for essential expenses like food, medicine, and shelter for the animals. People don’t go into the shelter business to become fat cats (sorry, I had to).
What’s more scary than this is that someone considered the nominal fee when adopting or purchasing a cat to be “astronomical,” when the basic expenses of caring for a cat for a lifetime are going to far exceed that initial fee within a few months of care. With food, litter, toys and of course veterinary care, cats are not a negligible financial responsibility. This makes me nervous for the futures of these purchased kitties.
Actually, this was not really a trend but just a single commenter, who said that shelters are where you go to get "some sh–tty cat." I don’t even know where to start. If you mean that the cats are sick, spoiler alert: Your currently healthy cat might one day get sick. If you mean that the cats are old, spoiler alert: Your kitten will one day get old too. If you mean that the cats are ugly, spoiler alert: You are delusional, there is absolutely no such thing.
Another cat controversy around the Kardashians (say that three times fast, I dare you) occurred when Kim bought a kitten and ended up giving it away because of an allergy. (Sadly, the kitten later died from a virus.) While I am skeptical about the likelihood that Kim only realized she had a cat allergy in her 30s, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and recognize that some people need a purebred or hypoallergenic cat.
JaneA Kelley covered this extensively in an article in early December, but I thought it was worthwhile to share again that there are plenty of purebred cats in the shelter system. Another thing is that they are easy to find with the marvels of modern technology. The Kardashians primarily live in Los Angeles and a quick Petfinder.com search for adoptable Bengal cats produced the following results:
Granted, a number of these cats are Bengals mixed with other breeds, but my perusing revealed that there are plenty of purebred Bengals out there. Never underestimate the potential for people to consider an animal expendable, no matter how much they spent on it.
Now, this one is difficult, because folks who give away cats and kittens are usually harmless and just trying to find homes either for their cat’s unexpected litter or for a cat they are no longer willing or able to care for. These people often cannot bear the prospect of leaving their pets at a kill-shelter and feel that finding someone to take the animal for free is a kinder alternative.
But the "free to a good home" option can leave some animals much more vulnerable to cruelty and exploitation than many realize. Predators have been known to pick these animals up for torture, laboratory experimentation, and more. This is distinguishable from no-fee shelters, which are more likely to have protocols in place like checking references and doing follow-up on the well-being of the adoptee. There is some controversy and disagreement over the validity of this claim, but it seems to me that even a nominal fee might incentivize people to value their new cat more. And I think having the checks of a shelter in place protects kitty from danger.
Have you ever heard an outrageous misconception about adoptable cats? How do you respond to it? Let us know in the comments.
Read stories of rescue on Catster:
About the author: Alana Massey is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY with one cat named Keith and a number of inanimate objects that are far less exciting. She writes about animals, fashion, celebrities, feminism, and religion. She is a graduate of NYU and Yale Divinity School, where her favorite thing to do was talk about St. Francis of Assisi.