What drew you to your cat? Out of all of the millions of cats in the world, why did you adopt your kitty?
A new study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior tries to answer the question of why people choose the cats they adopt from a shelter. They surveyed adopters at Loudon County Animal Services in Waterford, Virginia.
Why People Say They Adopt
Unsurprisingly, most people who responded to the survey said that they adopted the cat for companionship for themselves.
What is surprising is the second biggest reason that people gave for adopting: to save the cat. Maybe this should be less surprising since the survey was done at a municipal shelter that at the time euthanized for time, space, and behavior.
Other reasons people gave for adopting were for companionship for their children or for their cat.
Why People Adopt a Particular Cat
The biggest behavioral reason that people said was very important wasn’t a surprise. They said it was most important that the cat be friendly toward the adopter. Friendliness toward children and other cats were also important criteria in deciding to adopt a cat to many adopters. So were the cat seeming to be a playful and happy.
An unexpectedly important adoption factor was the cat’s history or story. Could shelters use information given to them about a cat on intake to help get cats adopted more quickly? Looking at this study, the answer may be yes!
Survey respondents also named seeing toys in the cage with the cat as being a very important factor in making their decision. This is something else that shelters and rescue organizations can take advantage of right away. If people are more drawn to cats with toys, then let potential adopters see them with toys, especially harder-to-adopt cats like adults who adopters favor over kittens.
Physical characteristics such as a coat length or particular gender were less important selection factors for adopters, but those that felt either was important were more likely to prefer short hair or a male cat.
Behavioral Characteristics More Important to Adopters
Overall, the study concludes that behavioral characteristics are more important to adopters than physical characteristics when they are choosing a cat to be part of their family.
How does this agree – or not – with the reason you adopted your cat?
Research and further reading
Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Factors Affecting the Selection of Cats by Adopters
Loudon County Virginia Animal Service Statistics Archives
Image credits: depositphotos/belchonock, c-foto, photo-deti