Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adopting A Cat? Consider one with "Special Needs"

The month of June is designated as Adopt-A-Cat month.  Most rescues run a variety of adoption drives and specials during this month to help the cats in their care find new forever homes.  However, there is one group of cats that always seem to be overlooked: cats designated as "special needs".

What does "special needs" mean?  The term can cover a wide variety of situations from chronic conditions to physical disabilities, but generally means that that specific cat will need a little extra care.  Adopting a special needs cat can be a very rewarding experience and can provide that cat a much needed home and family.

Many times special needs indicates that the cat will need to be on a special diet.  For example, the cat may have chronic cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder.  Or the cat may be prone to crystals or stones in the bladder.  Both of these conditions make the cat prone to urinary tract infections.  In the case of crystals or stones, if left untreated and unmonitored, it can lead to urinary obstructions.  Fortunately, both of these conditions are controlled through proper diet - usually a prescription veterinary diet - and regular preventative visits to the veterinarian.  The rescue may label these cats as special needs because they will require extra financial investment in the specific food and possibly more frequent veterinary visits than just the recommended twice a year preventative exams.

There are other health considerations and/or chronic conditions that may cause an adoptable cat to be classified as "special needs". These can include weight issues, allergies, and even some mild behavioral issues.  In the latter case, a cat that may appear fearful and highly stressed may calm down once out of a rescue setting and into a permanent home.

Of course, there are cats with physical disabilities that wind up in shelters and with rescues.  These types of disabilities include blindness and deafness.  A healthy cat has three very powerful senses that he uses to get about in the world: sight, hearing and smell.  So even if a cat is missing one, he still has two other to rely on.  This means that this cat will still have a very happy and rewarding life.

If you are considering adopting a cat during Adopt A Cat month - or at any time - take a second look at a cat designated as "special needs."  Find out why the rescue has categorized this way and think about if you are able to meet this cat's needs.  You might find the "purr-fect" match for you.

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