For thousands of years, humans and cats have formed bonds that last nine lives and beyond. Ancient Egyptians held cats in such high regard that they worshipped them as gods; and other feline friends have even been left large inheritances to continue pampered lifestyles. But in the end, these furry creatures provide years of companionship whether they're clad in tuxedos, stripes, solid colors or coats that defy classification.
Right now, plenty of cats are waiting at local animal shelters for their "forever home." During spring and summer months, shelters across the country are inundated with cats and kittens, making June National Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month.
While modern domestic cats may not be worshipped, studies have shown they can provide health benefits for its owner, such as reducing blood pressure.
(CU?and The Inter-Mountain/Carra Higgins)
A longtime friend to felines—At home with one of her “children,” Becky Summerfield shares her love with former shelter cat King Maximillion. King Maximillion lives with Summerfield, her husband and eight brothers and sisters
Randolph County Humane Society shelter manager Kelly Scheidegger explained finding the right furry friend is a matter of personal preference or the cat's. Sometimes people have walked into the RCHS in search of a dog, but walk away with a cat. Some cats literally reach out to their future owners by stretching their paws and tapping heads as they walk by, she said.
Barbara Summerfield is one pet owner whose shelter cats chose her.
"They said take me home," she said. "They adopted me."
Among her nine cats are the shelter adoptees King Maximillion, MeeMee, Mindy, Sammy and Queen Gwenivere, who's currently in foster care at Summerfield's home.
In December, Mindy arrived at Summerfield's for temporary care, but ended up with a loving owner and several brothers and sisters. Mindy is a tabby and considered a "special needs" animal because she's blind. Although some shy away from these special needs creatures, Summerfield says they're really no trouble at all. Mindy won the heart of Summerfield and on Christmas Day her husband told her she could keep the cat.
If it's been a bad day, her cats always find a way to make her happy because they're "just a joy."
Those who may not be ready to commit to a lifetime with a cat could try providing a foster home, like Summerfield and Johnette Totten of Elkins.
Totten doesn't just give temporary care to cats and kittens at the shelter, she too brings them home forever. She explained that cats at RCHS have been in good care before they arrive at your home. They've received some basic shots, litter training and social skills.
Her "big, fluffy and beautiful" gray cat Angelo arrived at the shelter as the runt of a litter and spent time with Totten in foster care. After Totten ensured the kitten received some basic health care and love, she took him back to the RCHS so he could find a family. Angelo didn't have to wait long to find a home. Totten informed Scheidegger she wanted to adopt Angelo, who at the time was called "Angelina Ballerina" because he was thought to be a female. Before Totten made the announcement, practically everyone at the shelter knew Angelo would become Totten's cat.
Before adopting a cat, future owners should consider if they or anyone in their household is allergic and renters should make sure pets are allowed, Scheidegger advises. Many cats that arrive at the shelter have been surrendered because of allergies or living in a residence where animals are prohibited, she said.
Not all cats have the same personality, some are laid back while others prefer a more active lifestyle. Scheidegger recommends that a more relaxed cat may be ideal for seniors. Kittens are always popular, but might not be the best idea for households with young children. Scheidegger said kids don't always know how to handle a small kitten and adult cats can be more tolerant.
Through the rest of June the cat adoption fee has been reduced from $20 to $10 and a second cat is no charge if it's adopted at the same time as the first.
Providing care for a cat is relatively easy. Other than vaccinations, spaying or neutering and proper licensing, cats only require food, litter and some time with their owner, Totten said.
The RCHS is located on Weese Street in Elkins and is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Evening appointments may made by calling the shelter at 304-636-7844. Pictures and information on cats available at area shelters can be viewed anytime at petfinder.com.