Helpful hints for adopting a cat that has been at the shelter for more than 21 days
What makes a long-term cat different?
Regardless of the causes of the stay, many of our long-term residents exhibit one or more of the following: lack of interest in environment, including the visiting public, lack of interest in play, increased aggression to people, weight gain or loss, and change in grooming habits, most often in the form of excessive grooming.
Though we do not know whether cats can experience depression as humans do, it is interesting to note that these symptoms look very much like symptoms of depression in people. It is obvious, at least, from external signs that there is a level of frustration and stress experienced, as well as a withdrawal from formerly enjoyable activities.
What about the MCAS cat playroom?
Some of our cats do have the benefit of staying in our, spacious cat adoption room, where they are housed in an uncaged environment. The cat room are beneficial in allowing our cats to retain that "at home" lifestyle. However, not all of our cats are able to transition to the cat adoption room. We simply do not have enough room for all of our cats to enjoy this sort of freedom.
It is deceiving to see our cats lounging around in our playroom - one might think these cats have it made! But remember, the longer any animal stays in a shelter, the more chance the she has to become sick or severely depressed. Plus, for every cat adopted from one of our playroom, another one is waiting desperately to take his place.
What happens at home?
The good news is that a great majority of our long term guests make a smooth transition into their new homes. While the adjustment, especially for shy cats, can take 2-3 months, some adopters see a full "recovery' from the shelter experience within two weeks. Many of the behavior problems observed in the shelter fade into the backdrop as adopter and cat bond with each other over time, and in a home setting.