June is National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, so now is the perfect time to bring home a feline friend — especially since it's the height of kitten season.

Approximately 3.2 million cats end up in shelters every year, including thousands born every spring and summer during kitten season. The average adoption rate is 1.6 million cats per year. With so many cats available, one will have the pick of the litter, literally.

Ready to add a cat to the family? Cats are considered fairly independent, so if one desires the companionship of a pet but has a busy schedule, a cat may be the perfect choice.

With the proper amenities, cats are content to be left alone or with another pet to keep them company. Unlike dogs, felines do not need to be let outside to do their business and can live happy and fulfilling lives completely indoors. Basic cat care includes cleaning a litter box (scooping at least once a day), vacuuming some hair and regular grooming.

A cat is happy to sit in a nice window with a view and be entertained for hours simply by watching the birds, squirrels and cars passing by.

Some cats are very loving and cuddly, insisting on sleeping with their human. Others are more aloof and remain rather independent but are always glad for attention.

Friendliness depends on the level of socialization, so not handling the cat will result in him becoming more aloof. All cats enjoy enrichment games such as waving a feather in the air, dragging a string, or using a laser light for them to chase around a room.

Kittens get into everything, just like puppies, so those who do not want to deal with the baby months may want to opt for an adult or juvenile cat. Cats can live upward of 20 years.

Most shelters offer a foster-to-adopt program so potential adopters can have a few weeks to make sure a particular cat is a good fit for a household and lifestyle.

Before bringing a cat home, rule out allergies. Lots of people are allergic to cats, so making sure everyone is the home is allergy free.

The transition into a home for a new cat should be as smooth as possible. Take into consideration where he came from. Was he in a cage in a shelter, did he come off the street, or was he coming from a home environment? Did the cat live with other animals? Was the place noisy or quiet?

A new environment can be stressful. Taking things slowly and easing him into his new routine is the best way for a cat to integrate into a family.

Some cats may be fearful when introduced to a new home — being moved from a kennel to a house is a big change. The new smells and noises and will take some time to get used to.

It's best to initially confine a new cat to one room and slowly introduce him to the rest of the home. Providing him with hiding places such as a cardboard box or open closets will give him safe places to go until he feels comfortable.

It is important not to force a cat to be social and cuddly until he is ready. Rather, coaxing him into play with a toy is a good icebreaker. Once he realizes you are his friend, he will come around.

In most cases, it only takes a cat only a few days to acclimate to a new home, but it can take several weeks.


SATURDAY: Bring your puppy under 18 weeks old to the Louisiana SPCA Puppy Social. It's the time to introduce your pet off-leash to new people and puppies of all breeds and personalities. A Louisiana SPCA professional trainer will be on hand to monitor and modify play skills. Puppy Social is also a great opportunity to ask questions regarding training and behavior. It will be held at 10 a.m. at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Advance registration is required. Visit www.la-spca.org/training to register or email training@la-spca.org for more information.

SATURDAY: From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Animal Rescue New Orleans will hold an adoption event at Tutti Frutti River Ridge, 9029 Jefferson Highway. Tutti Frutti will donate 15 percent of sales to ARNO.

SATURDAY: The first step to becoming a volunteer at the Louisiana SPCA is to attend an orientation taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Preregistration is required at www.la-spca.org/volunteer. For more info email sue@la-spca.org.

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans is holding a volunteer orientation from noon to 1 p.m. Preregistration is required. Register online and get more info on age requirements and volunteer opportunities at www.animalrescueneworleans.org/volunteer.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send info to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net. In St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.