May 3 is National Specially-Abled Pets Day (formerly Disabled Pets Day)! I’m so happy that I get to write about this nationally-recognized day, since cats with special needs or handicaps are often the most difficult to place in loving forever homes, and according to PetFinder, can wait up to four times longer to be adopted. This need not be the case, however, because there are some really great things about having a kitty who is a little bit different! Special needs cats can live full and happy lives, and if they were born with a disability, they may not even realize that they are any different than other kitties. So, if you are thinking about adopting a cat, please consider adopting a cat who may be “specially-abled”. These cats may be blind or without an eye, deaf, missing a limb, or living with some sort of other condition that makes them different. Why should you think about inviting a specially-abled cat into your home? The reasons are numerous:
- These cats are survivors. Some people might think that specially-abled cats are weak or not as capable as other cats. If anything, their handicap makes them MORE capable! Think about it: these cats have had to overcome some sort of condition (either from birth or from an injury/disease) and learn how to adapt to a new way of life. These cats have figured it out – they are smart, strong, and in it to win it. They don’t give up!
- Disabled cats aren’t necessarily more difficult to take care of. Cats are excellent at adapting to new situations. If you adopt a cat who is blind, their other senses can “fill-in” for their sense of sight, and they will rely on sounds and smells to guide them. As long as you keep furniture and their resources in consistent locations, they should be ok! This is similar to cats who are deaf, who use vibrations to tell where noises are coming from. Their other senses step up to the plate to give them important information, too. And tri-pod kitties? Puhleeze…these cats can cruise around and jump just as well as any other cat once they learn how to distribute their weight a little differently.
- NO ONE is purrfect. We all have our imperfections…some of them are just a little more obvious. But does that mean that cats with disabilities are less deserving of love, or are less capable of giving it? Absolutely not. Every cat deserves to be loved, no matter how many legs she has, or how well she is able to see or hear. When you go to the shelter to adopt a cat, you look for a personality match, right? So why exclude special needs cats…they might have just the personality you are looking for.
Your cat could be the next Internet celebricat! Ok, I’m not entirely serious about this one, but special needs and disabled kitties have really been doing some great things for less-adoptable cats out there. There’s Lil BUB (who has her own “Lil BUB’s Big Fund” that helps homeless special needs pets through the ASPCA), Monty (who has a chromosome defect and was adopted from a shelter), Oskar the Blind Cat (and his buddy, Klaus), and many others!
If you are considering adopting a specially-abled cat, you’ll want to do your research to make sure that you are aware of the potential issues and care needs, depending on the disability. CatChat.org has a wonderful article that summarizes some of these considerations for a variety of disabilities, just to get you started. There’s a lot of information out there to help answer your questions, and of course, there are A LOT of specially-abled kitties who are available for adoption. Just search for “special needs” cats online and I’m sure you’ll find some potential furry friends in your area who need a loving home! Purrhaps yours?