At Cat Depot Sarasota, feline friends young and old are being adopted at a rapid rate. On average, the shelter adopts out 1,300-1,400 per year. In 2020, the shelter took in 1,393 cats and successfully adopted out 1,311. New cats come in each month, with 22 currently up for adoption.
With February being National Cat Health Month, we gathered some tips on how to keep your kitties happy and healthy from Cat Depot adoptions manager Lisa Voigt.
When first adopting your cat, maintain their diet with good quality food, recommended by a veterinarian.
Transition to new food slowly, to prevent stomach upset. Cat Depot sends kittens home with a small bag of Hills Science Diet formula, but any veterinarian-recommended food is good.
Keep cords and small objects off the floor and don't let your kittens play with ribbons or yarn, which can be dangerous.
"It's always thought that cats can play with ribbon or yarn, but it's actually really dangerous," says Voigt. Cats can ingest and choke on string, or become entangled in it. "If they have string toys, keep them put away when not in use," she adds. She suggests plastic spring toys that are safe for cats to chew on, as well as plenty of scratching posts.
Cats should never be declawed.
De-clawing a cat involves removing a portion of the paw that's similar to a human's knuckle, which causes growth issues and pain. To keep your cat's claws healthy, encourage them to scratch on designated toys. "If you want them to stop clawing furniture, stick double-sided tape to it; cats hate the feeling of stickiness on their paws," says Voigt.
Introduce new cats to other pets slowly, keeping them separated for the first 10 days.
Then slowly introduce them by letting them look at each other through a glass window or smelling each other briefly. "Owners can always call us if they need advice on how to do this smoothly," says Voigt.
Give new cats time to adjust/have their alone time.
Many cats are independent creatures and enjoy exploring on their own. Even though owners are home a lot more now, it is important to a cat its space. "Look for body postures that indicate it wants to be alone—hissing, pulling ears back, etc.," says Voigt. "Never pick a cat up until you know for sure it likes to be touched and cuddled."
Take cats to the vet on a yearly basis.
"We strongly encourage owners to take cats to the vet on a yearly basis, or as needed," says Voigt. "At these yearly check-ups, tests can be run and crucial vaccines administered." Many cats suffer from illnesses like kidney and thyroid failure in their old age, so it's important to see a vet regularly.
During the height of the pandemic last year, Cat Depot had a shortage of adoptable cats because so many people wanted a new pet to keep them company. One hundred cats were adopted in April and May alone, and about eight cats were available on the shelter's adoption floor during the state-wide shutdown, as opposed to the typical 20 or more available.
"No one wants to be alone during this time," says Voigt of the rise in adoption.
Voigt has also noticed a significant drop in the number of cats returned to the shelter, indicating owners are bonding on a deeper level with their newly adopted friends.
Before the pandemic, people could meet and adopt a cat within the same day. Now, they must fill out a questionnaire describing their ideal cat and current living situation.
"This ensures the right cat is going to the right home," says Voigt.
For more information on adoption from Cat Depot, click here, or call (941) 366-2404. Cat Depot is located at 2542 17th St., Sarasota.