Are shelter cats more likely to have a medical problem due to being in a crowded shelter than adopting from a breeder or from a neighbour? The same question can be asked with respect to pet shop cats. If so can adopters sufficiently rely on the shelter’s veterinary care to adopt a cat and take him home without getting an independent opinion on health from a veterinarian hired by the adopters?
That may sound impractical, strange and overdoing it or even insulting. But it depends on how thorough the shelter is with respect to guaranteeing that their cats are healthy. Do adopters expect to find that their chosen cat may have some health issues but accept this? Or do some potential cat adopters avoid adopting from a shelter because they feel, incorrectly, that they cannot rely on shelters to supply healthy, well behaved cats?
When we buy a house we usually have it surveyed by a qualified person to check that there are no hidden problems. When we buy a second hand car sometimes the buyer has it checked over by an expert. Is it wise or is it overdoing it to have a health check carried out before adopting a shelter cat? Buying a house and adopting a cat are different situations but when one adopts a cat it is for the cat’s lifetime. That could be fifteen or more years. This requires commitment. There is an emotional involvement. You don’t want to be landed with large veterinary bills soon after adopting a shelter cat or worse, see you cat become ill and die.
Franny Syufy writing on About.com says that it is likely that a shelter cat has one or more medical problem. She recommends that cats are vetted prior to bringing him home especially if there are cats at home. She says that the best way to deal with this is to make an appointment with your veterinarian for the day your cat is picked up. This implies that the adopter makes arrangements for a veterinary check-up after selecting a cat and signing papers. Is that wise? Is it more sensible to select a cat and then make arrangements for a check the same day (this is impractical, I suppose).
The vet check should be before adopting and signing papers unless the terms and conditions allow for an independent check within a set timeframe and allows the adopter to return the cat if the cat fails the check. I have not read a shelter contract but I’d suspect that they allow a period during which the cat can be returned for good reasons and monies reimbursed.
This no doubt sounds harsh, almost cruel because it might mean a death sentence for a cat. But how else can one proceed? Are new adopters expected to nurse sick cats from day one?
There is also the matter of ensuring that the incoming cat does not transmit disease to resident cats. This is almost the most important reason for an independent health check. It is said that incoming, adopted cats should be quarantined for a set time before integrating him/her with the resident cats.