Friday, February 18, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Make New Friends

Friends are a great addition to anyone's life, and the best friend of all is one that can guarantee unconditional love and acceptance. Animals are the perfect example of this. They don't judge us when we have a bad day, or tsk when we sneak that extra helping of ice cream or cookies. And after a long day, there are few things more rewarding than a purring bundle of fur sitting on your lap, or even just near you on the couch.

Making New Friends Method 1 - Adopt a Cat
If you are considering adopting a cat, consider adopting an older cat instead of a kitten. As anyone can tell you, rescue organizations are in the difficult situation of having to turn away cats that are found and/or need to be surrendered. In a few short months, "kitten season" will begin and organizations will be inundated with litters and litters of kittens.

There is no denying that kittens are adorable and are a blast. But they are babies, and like any baby, they require a great deal of attention and energy. Because many people who are looking to adopt a cat want a kitten, older adult cats are often overlooked and stay in shelters longer. And yet, for many families an adult cat would be a better fit.

Adult cats will most likely require less energy in caring for them as they are already up to date on vaccines, neutered and litter box trained. Since cats generally reach their social maturity around 3 years of age, you will already have a good idea of an adult cat's personality. An adorable kitten could grow up to be a grumpy adult. In addition, you won't have to "kitten proof" your house, watching them constantly to make sure they don't try to eat every foreign object they come across. And if you already have a cat in your home, an older cat introduced properly will present less stress as they come in cautiously, unlike kittens who seem to have no fear in new territory.

Making New Friends Method 2 - Foster a Cat
If adopting a cat is not feasible for you right now, consider fostering one. One of the greatest needs many rescue organizations face is the space to help all of the cats who need them. If a rescue does not have a physical facility, the number of cats they can help is limited to the number of foster volunteers they have.

Fostering is not for everyone, especially if you are prone to bonding with every cat you meet! Giving up the cat to her new permanent home can be heart wrenching, even while you have the satisfaction of knowing you gave her the time she needed to find them. Additionally, some rescues cannot financially support all the day-to-day needs, relying on their fosters to provide food, litter, etc. If you already have other animals, you will need to make sure they are fully vaccinated, and that you can keep your foster and your family animals separate.

While fostering is a crucial part of most rescue organizations, think carefully before diving in. Do your research, both in terms of general requirements for fostering and the specific requirements of the rescue you are interested in helping. Discuss the options thoroughly with family and with the rescue, and make your decision from there.

Making New Friends Method 3 - Volunteer
If you cannot adopt or foster right now, consider volunteering with a rescue organization. Rescues that have a physical facility, or shelter, generally need volunteers to help with the care of the animals in their charge. These needs can range from social interactions with the cats to physically keeping the shelter clean.

Even organizations that do not have a physical facility have need for volunteers. Many need people to help participate in events, providing support at information tables or fundraisers. Do you have a particular skill such as photography? Offer to take photos of the cats in their care to help get them adopted. Even purchasing food and other supplies, or a straightforward cash donation can help rescues continue their important work.

Volunteering with a rescue organization can help you meet some amazing cats who will greatly benefit from your help. You will also have an opportunity to meet some amazing animal-loving people, and you never know who might become your new best friend.

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