Deciding to add a cat to your family is an important decision that warrants plenty of thought and planning. It’s exciting, of course, but we can’t forget that cats are long-term commitments. Their needs go beyond food and a place to sleep, and finding the right cat for your family might take time.
Many people are attracted to kittens, especially the ones that frolic and tumble and cuddle. Young, friendly adult cats are also likely to find good homes. But while you’re thinking about the kind of cat that will fit in best with your lifestyle, don’t forget about the ones that don’t stand out from the crowd. Cats with special needs are just as deserving, loving, and companionable as all the others.
Whether they have a physical disability, require regular medication, or experienced past trauma, special needs cats are often forgotten and ignored. Here are the top five reasons why a special needs cat might be exactly what you’re looking for.
1. Make a Real Difference and Save a Life
When you adopt from an animal shelter or take in a homeless animal, you make a positive difference for that one animal and several others. Every time a rescue animal is adopted, the shelter receives the monetary support they need to continue saving lives.
At the same time, resources are made available to help even more animals in need. When you adopt a special needs cat, those benefits are matched by the knowledge that you are truly making a difference for a cat in need.
Every cat at the shelter deserves a good home, but some cats have better chances of leaving the shelter than others. Those playful kittens and social adults probably don’t have long to wait behind a kennel door.
It’s the cats that require more attention, care, and commitment that are at risk of either euthanasia or spending months in a shelter environment that is not ideal for their well-being. When you offer a special needs cat a loving home, you give them a chance they might not otherwise get.
2. Be Inspired
There are several words that could describe a particular special needs cat, but none are more appropriate than the word, “resilient.” Regardless of the cat’s specific needs, animals that overcome physical or emotional challenges are always inspirational.
You can look at a cat with a medical condition and see how even though they’re in pain or restricted in some way, they still find ways to enjoy life. They purr, snuggle, and play with toys. Special needs cats form friendships and generally enjoy themselves as long as their needs are met.
When life gets hard or we’re faced with our own physical or mental disabilities, a special needs cat can be a powerful influence. Not only do cats provide invaluable companionship and love, they can also inspire us to keep going and to focus on the positive. Letting a special needs cat into your home can change your life as well as theirs.
3. Feel a Powerful Bond
While every bond you share with an animal is special, there is something about special needs cats that makes a friendship even more meaningful. Maybe it’s the fact that they are more dependent on us, or it might be because they sense our compassion and empathy. Whatever the reason, adopting a special needs cat is often the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
As with any new pet, forming a bond with a special needs cat might take time. Many of these cats have experienced past trauma. They could be understandably afraid, nervous, or wary. But when you take the time to earn their trust, they often embrace their new life with genuine joy and affection. These feelings of connection with a vulnerable being are soothing to the soul.
3. Learn Something About Yourself
We often don’t know what we’re capable of until after we’ve already crossed our perceived limits and jumped our supposed hurdles.
You might think you don’t have the heart to care for an animal with a disability or the strength to support a cat that struggles in some way. It’s important to note that adopting a special needs cat isn’t right for everyone, but it can expose strengths and emotions you didn’t know you have.
Even people who have had other pets in the past are surprised by the powerful emotions they feel for a special needs animal. Allowing yourself to love an animal that is vulnerable and dependent has a way of opening you up and exposing personal characteristics that might have otherwise remained hidden.
4. Become an Advocate
With an estimated 3.2 million cats living in U.S. animal shelters right this second, there is an extreme need for people willing to adopt. Every single one of those cats deserves a good home, but it’s the special needs cat that often suffers the most.
They’re the ones that potential adopters walk past because they’re deemed to be too much work or too much of a commitment. Some people simply don’t think they’re capable of providing a special needs animal with the care they require. And while it’s a win every time an animal leaves a shelter, it’s an even bigger occasion when that animal has some kind of disability or restriction.
By accepting a special needs cat into your family, you instantly become an advocate for all cats with similar impairments. You have an opportunity to show your network of friends, family, and social media followers that special needs cats are just as wonderful as any other animal.
It’s your chance to inspire others and spread a positive message. Your personal experience with your cat could be the push someone else needs to follow in your footsteps and save yet another vulnerable life. It’s a snowball effect that could go on to make a big difference for countless other cats.