“Until man learns to respect and speak to the animal world, he can never know his true role on Earth." ~ Vangelis.”
By Kristie Bulger
The staff at Newaygo County Shelter do a wonderful job taking care of the animals that end up there. They provide food, water, comfort and sometimes much needed medical attention. For some animals the shelter is the first time in their lives that they’ve been properly cared for and they don’t care where they are. They are happy about everything. But for some animals the shelter is a very scary place. It is loud, smells weird and is filled with strange people and animals. It is especially difficult for animals that have lived a secluded life, such as cats and little dogs that have lived with elderly owners. These littles ones don’t have experience with being handled by strangers or having big dogs barking in their faces. Fortunately, the little dogs usually get adopted quickly because they’re so stinking cute. But for some of the cats, getting adopted takes longer and they’re the ones I’d like to talk about.
Cats are not very flexible creatures. They absolutely hate change. In the wild it is how they protect themselves but in the shelter environment, it is the reason some of them become so stressed. Most of the kittens and young cats adjust in a few days or weeks but the older cats have a much harder time settling into any kind of routine. Even with the staff and volunteers giving them extra love and attention, a lot of cats just do not relax. The ones that are especially heartbreaking are the cats who have lived in the same home for a long time. There are many reasons why they end up at the shelter. Maybe a new baby came along or someone developed an allergy or the owners moved or passed away. Whatever the reason, many of these cats have a very hard time adjusting to the shelter.
When people come to the shelter to meet and potentially adopt a cat, they are naturally drawn to the social, friendly cats. And of course, everyone loves kittens. It’s the reserved cats that sit at the back of their cages that are repeatedly passed over. These are the cats that are stressed out by all that is going on. Their world has been turned upside down and they are suspicious about what is happening. But most of these cats are actually quite sweet once they get out of the shelter environment and into a loving patient home. They may need a little extra time to blossom but most all of our adopters agree that their shy cat was worth the “wait”.
If you look at Slinky in his cage (photo on the left), he doesn’t appear to be a friendly cat….and that is correct. Slinky was very shy and standoffish. Even though Slinky was a young cat, no matter how much time people at the shelter spent with him, he continued to be suspicious. When Lindsey came to the shelter to look for a cat, she decided to give Slinky a chance. I talked to her recently and this is what she had to say: "I picked him because he looked so scared and alone and I figured no one else would pick him because he was not running up to greet you when you came in! The first night we got him home he was in my lap purring! I was so surprised! He comes every time I call his name no matter where he is in the house. He snuggles with me every night and just melts in my arms when I pick him up! He is the BIGGEST mama's boy!”
The photo on the right is Lindsey and Slinky now. I’m not sure which one of them looks happier.
So the next time you’re at the shelter looking to adopt a new feline friend, remember that your next cat may not come running to greet you at the front of their cage. Your Best Ever Cat might sit sulking at the back of their cage, feeling stressed and suspicious. Be like Lindsey. Take a chance on a cat. They need you more than you’ll ever know.
Here’s a link to an excellent article about helping new cats adjust:
And here’s a link to our FB page "Friends of Newaygo County Shelter” where you can see all our available animals:
The adoption fee for dogs is $90.
This fee includes spay/neuter, deworming, heartworm test, rabies & DHLLP shots, flea & tick treatment and license.
The adoption fee for cats is $65
This fee includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, feline distemper combo vaccine, FIV/FELV testing, deworming and flea/tick treatment.
Newaygo County Animal Shelter
78 N. Webster
White Cloud, MI 49349
Monday - Friday 11-1
Appointments welcome and available upon request
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