In just a few short days, kitten season arrived. Kittens are starting to pour into local shelters with a vengeance. Sadly, they often arrive 1 week old and missing their Mom. Fortunately, we have a few nursing Mom cats and they have been amenable to taking on a few surrogate kittens.
With kitten season come the phone calls. Every young couple who are starting out want something that they can share together. Which brings me to the dilemma that I have every year: How long do boyfriends and girlfriends need to be together to be considered a stable relationship for a kitten?
I've wanted to write this post for years, but have worried about offending people. We have amazing foster parents who live together and aren't married. Living together doesn't negate their commitment for each other. I'm not talking about that.
I was speaking with my sons - ages 22 and (almost) 25 years old. They're both single. Apparently, living together is the next step after you've been dating for a while. THEN engagement and marriage.
OK. I'm old. But I'm flexible. I can live with this. But how do I screen adopters? I'm guessing that about 35%-50% of adoption calls that I have received over the past 2 weeks have been from couples that want to adopt and are unmarried but share a home.
This is a problem that I've wrestled with for years. If a couple are 20 years old and have been living together for 6 months, are they less responsible or stable than a 20 year old couple who has been married for 6 months? I guess it all depends on who you ask.
When I'm screening a prospective adopter, I can't ask people who aren't married "How long have you been together?", because I wouldn't ask a married couple that question. I've become sneaky about how I can make an educated guess. But I don't like that either.
So I end up asking about their families. "Have you ever had a cat before?" The answer might be, "Oh yes....my family has 3 cats and Mr. Mittens died last year after 21 years!"
Bingo! That's a family that will pick up the pieces if the couple aren't able to commit for the next 20 years for a kitten. I end up indirectly screening the family to insure the security of the cat! There has to be a better way.
Let it be known that this isn't a moral issue for me. Not in the least bit. I've never turned anyone down for an adoption if they were qualified, loving and committed to loving the cat for the next 20 years. Bottom line is: There are NO guarantees with any relationship - married or unmarried. But I go absolutely insane when I call these couples about spaying or neutering their kitten to find that the kitten is part of a broken home....."ALREADY? I just adopted to you 3 months ago!"
Holy crap. I can't believe how offensive this sounds to me. I sound like I'm 100 years old. I'm going to hit "PUBLISH" on this post and I'd really like to hear what you think. You don't have to comment publicly, feel free to send me an email. I have a feeling there isn't an easy answer. I can't be the only rescuer who thinks about this. Can I? If you can't find this post in a few days, I may have offended too many people. :)