The question in the title is asking whether you would adopt a shelter cat slated for euthanasia because he had been evaluated by shelter staff as aggressive and unadoptable.
This is what can happen to rescue cats when they behave badly at shelters. The staff sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for bad reasons label the cat as unadoptable and euthanise the animal. Sometimes shelter administrators tend to label cats as badly behaved a little too easily in order to justify euthanising them because they feel they have too many unwanted cats coming in and not enough adopters to take them off their hands. True no-kill shelters find ways to avoid killing their animals such as getting the cat out of the shelter and with a foster carer where the environment is more feline friendly.
Is the cat genuinely mean?
The point I’m leading up to is this: the first thing is to decide for yourself is whether the cat in question is genuinely badly behaved and difficult and will be a challenge to you. Sometimes cats might acquire a bad reputation as being difficult at a shelter whereas their history before the shelter is unknown but it might be good.
Personal resources and skills
But on the basis that the cat is genuinely mean and difficult, the second question, I think, to ask yourself is whether you have the personal resources, patience, time, energy and a home environment which will allow you to rehabilitate this ‘mean cat’.
And I believe that all mean cats can be rehabilitated with plenty of excellent and patient care. If your response is positive to the second question in the paragraph above then there is no doubt in my mind that you should adopt that cat because as the question states you will save their life.
Saving the life of the cat brings great rewards. You know that you saved the cat’s life. You have invested in that cat from the get-go. You have put your abilities on the line and you are confident enough to believe that you will turn the cat around.
Adopting a mean cat is an act of compassion. Compassion is a great quality. If you have compassion, you will be rewarded. It will boost your self-esteem. It will strengthen your character and make you a better person. These are the best rewards. They are certainly far superior to monetary rewards.
You might be able to call upon the assistance of a friend or an experienced cat behaviourist to help you. You might even seek the assistance of a veterinarian. There’s nothing wrong in seeking the advice of someone you trust in such an enterprise.
This is where Jacob Bear’s story on quora.com comes in and I have to recount it here because he asked the question. He adopted a cat named Wizard who was described as “the meanest cat in our local shelter”.
And the reason why he was mean according to Jacob is because he was hit by a car and seriously injured with broken bones down his left side. He was also blinded in his left eye.
This traumatised him he says. That might not be the only reason why he was difficult. I’m not actually sure that a road traffic accident alone creates a mean cat to be perfectly honest. Because in my experience domestic cats get over that kind of trauma quite quickly but in this case Wizard did not.
The cat had been at the shelter for several months and isolated from other cats because he would fight with them. He was unwanted.
After Bear bravely adopted Wizard, it was very difficult for because he growled and hissed at everyone and chased the family’s border collie. He bit Bear’s hand which became infected and which put him in hospital where he was told he was lucky that he avoided permanent damage.
This is where patience came in. Bear demonstrated that he had the requisite amount of patience and determination.
I will continue with Bear’s words: “But he [Wizard] eventually got used to us, and now he is super-affectionate with my wife and I, and with three younger cats we adopted a year after him. He’s my nephew’s best friend. My niece loves him too, and they cuddle whenever she comes over to visit.”
A good cat underneath
That tells the whole story. Very often – perhaps every time that a domestic cat is aggressive and badly behaved – underneath the ‘veneer of aggression’ which can be intimidating, there is almost certainly a beautiful, calm and loving cat waiting to emerge in the right home with the right people providing the right care. There are many stories which support this assessment.
If you are that person then adopt that mean shelter cat and enjoy the rewards that flow from it.
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