It is something you see all the time. A friend of a friend knows someone whose cat had kittens. The pictures are cute (as kittens always are), and you get overwhelmed by the fact that you can take one home for free!
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Richmond SPCA, I find this concerning on two levels. First, making a lifetime commitment to a pet is never “free.” While you may be able take the kitten home without paying an adoption fee, you will immediately have to pay for the initial veterinary visit, including initial vaccinations, and to spay or neuter the animal. In addition, for the duration of the animal’s life, you will have to pay for his or her annual veterinary checkup visits, food and necessary medicines. In comparison, a kitten adopted from a reputable humane society like the Richmond SPCA will have been examined by a veterinarian, received age-appropriate vaccinations and had spay or neuter surgeries performed prior to adoption. Furthermore, animals adopted from the Richmond SPCA are eligible to receive high quality veterinary care at a low cost through the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital.
Second, as a society, we should not encourage or reward people who are irresponsible in caring for their animals. The kittens offered to me came from a cat whose guardian failed to have her spayed and permitted her to roam freely outdoors, resulting in an unplanned breeding. If we all spayed/neutered our animals, we would have far fewer homeless animals and far fewer orphaned kittens up for adoption. And only by seeking our companions from reputable humane organizations like the Richmond SPCA, will we discourage the irresponsible breeding of animals and strive toward the ideal of a world in which every homeless animal has a permanent, loving home.
Julie Vinyard is a member of the Richmond SPCA's Board of Directors. Her family's pets are all adopted: Thomas, 2009; Waffles, 2011; and Porter, 2013.
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