These kittens were born at Lake Martin Animal Shelter in December. They, and other felines, tend to be less adopted than canines at the shelter. | Alison James

Archived Story

Catty conundrum

Published 12:11pm Friday, January 25, 2013

The cat’s out of the bag – Alabama ranks in the bottom ten for cat ownership in the United States.

According to a recent publication released by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, Alabama ranked eighth lowest in terms of cat ownership with 27.4 percent of households owning a cat.

The state ranked seventh, however, in dog ownership – 44.1 percent of households own at least one dog.

These numbers are echoed and enforced by the ratio of cats to dogs adopted from the Lake Martin Area Animal Shelter.

“Cats reproduce often,” said Mia Chandler, shelter director. “People think it’s really easy to place a litter of kittens … (but) shelters are

burdened with an influx of cats in the spring.”

But although the intake ratio of cats to dogs is similar, Chandler said the adoption rate for cats is much lower. In 2012, the shelter adopted out 283 pets – 175 were dogs compared to 108 cats.

Chandler said there could be a number of reasons for the discrepancy.

“We primarily want indoor cat only adoptions,” Chandler said. “That does deter some people.”

Chandler said indoor cats’ life spans are typically much higher than those of outdoor cats – 13 years versus 3 years, owing to dangers like coyotes, raptors and cars.

Chandler said they also have to fight the “free to a good home” mentality. Although a number of pet owners are willing to give away cats, Chandler said “free to a good home” cats haven’t been spayed or neutered, haven’t been vaccinated and haven’t had any other surgeries, whereas animal shelter cats have, making them the better choice economy-wise.

Chandler said although cute, cuddly kittens may seem highly adoptable, they become less desired when people factor in the actual care of a cat. But Chandler said cats tend to require less care and attention than their canine counterparts in the pet world.

“They’re low maintenance … it just seems like they would be easier,” Chandler said. “And then, of course, their adoption fee is less.”

And Chandler said cats can be wonderful companions – each one with its own temperament and personality.