Celebrate cats in June
June 1, 2010
Cats are the No. 1 pet in America. According to the American Pet Products Association 2009-2010 survey, U.S. households include 77.5 million dogs and 93.6 million cats. There are more than 100 distinct feline types, 41 of which are recognized as pedigreed by the Cat Fanciers Association. Most popular are the American and domestic shorthair breeds. Although cats can produce 100 different sounds (and dogs about 10), they usually are silent.
Cat breeds were created for a variety of jobs. Particular feline skills include fetching and fishing. The vocal Siamese was a protector, walking walls like sentries and using a piercing meow to warn of danger. The Turkish Van, a swimmer, may have been used to retrieve from water. About 4,000 years ago in Egypt, cats were revered as hunters and worshiped as gods. Centuries later in Europe, cats were feared as evil beings. Through it all, the cat has remained a hard working, loyal and loving member of the family.
There are obvious reasons cats replaced dogs as favorite pets: Less costly to keep, smaller housing area needed and availability. However, as any cat person will tell you, there are many more reasons to keep a cat than practicality. In truth, a cat lover will quickly point out that one is kept by a cat rather than the other way around.
Cats are entertaining with their playful antics. Many have a well developed sense of humor. Cats are affectionate and love to cuddle. Cats are “easy keepers” since they groom themselves. Cats are self-reliant and can be left alone or with another pet during work hours. Cats are naturally housebroken to the litter box. Cats can be kept happy in an apartment or smaller home with simple toys like ping pong balls or home made catnip “mice.” Two cats can entertain each other. Cats can get plenty of exercise living indoors with just 15 minutes of daily interactive human playtime including a hand-held pet laser light or a “cat dancer.” Cats make fine pets for seniors.. Safe on harness and leash, more cats are enjoying the RV life with their guardians. And, as with other pets, having a cat can reduce blood pressure and help prevent heart disease.
Cats usually are longer lived than canines. The average feline life span is 14 to 16 years. Well-cared-for indoor cats live into their 20s. Unfortunately, cats often are not valued as dogs are. The result is that the number of abandoned cats in shelters remains at about 4 million homeless. This number does not include the “porch pets” who are fed but not vaccinated or neutered by people, or the strays who die on streets and alleys at 2-4 years of age.
June is national Adopt-A-Cat Month. It’s time to think about adopting a cat or two. Right now, a variety of cats and kittens in all colors and sizes are waiting for new homes. Each is guaranteed to enrich your life. For questions about information presented here and resources for your next feline soul mate, call (530) 542-2857.
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Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and the Society to Prevent the Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.”
– Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society SPCA.