Not long ago, I wrote my column about the influence movies had on pet purchases, and how shelters end up bearing the brunt of bad decisions made based on the popularization of certain animal breeds. “Winter Wolves” from Game of Thrones, pocket dogs from movies like Beverly HIlls Chihuahua or the Legally Blonde movies, or even people wanting the same pet as popular social media stars.
Dogs are very interactive, and require daily walks, grooming, a supply of poop bags and backyard pickups and other maintenance that can quickly overwhelm someone who makes an impulse purchase. This is the reason so many of these animals end up in humane society cages or other shelters for adoption. This is unfortunate, as its not the animal’s fault.
Which is why, when I saw reports about the impact the new hit movie Black Panther has had on pet adoptions, I had to write this column.
Black Panther, acclaimed for its strong positive message for the African American community, seems to be inspiring people to adopt black cats. Which is great, because black cats are generally harder to adopt out (with maybe an exception around Halloween).
Whereas dogs purchased on impulse due to popular trends can end up in shelters, cats getting adopted from shelters because of a movie is a very positive thing. And, while dogs can end up being a burden to the point of being surrendered, cats are independent enough to rarely reach that point.
According to reports, many smaller shelters have been wiped out of black cats, to the surprise of the shelter workers. Adoption papers are being filled out with the space “Pet’s Name” as T’Challa, Nakia, Okoye and the like. But some shelter workers are left wondering why someone would want to name their new pet “Erik Killmonger” (for those who have not seen the movie, he is a pivotal character in the movie).
Some ASPCA groups are not reporting spikes in adoptions, so while this may not be a universal trend, the anecdotal reports are encouraging. Anything that can put even one animal out of a shelter and into a home is to be applauded.
A couple of quick tips to new cat owners. First, there is an old adage, “Dogs have owners, Cats have staff”. This can be very true. Cats, while they may not demand your time for walks and play, can demand your attention in providing them with their preferred food, or be finicky about their toilet options.
Finding a food that is both nutritious and is acceptable to your feline’s palate can sometimes be a chore, and many cats prefer being fed a variety of flavours, and only eat when it is fresh. If you cat eats anything you offer, count your blessings. Regardless what your cat chooses, it is important that it is high quality, made by a trusted manufacturer, preferably in North America.
Wet foods, either tinned or frozen raw, are a very important part of the diet, as cats are designed to get the majority of their water from their food. Watch a super slo-motion video of a cat drinking, and you’ll see why, it is almost impossible for them to get enough water by “drinking”. Dry foods, while convenient, may actually dehydrate cats, as they come out containing more water when they went in. This can reduce urine output, which could mean more concentrated urine, and possible kidney/bladder stones, crystals or UTIs.
As to litter boxes, there are automatic options out there, even $500+ ones that self scoop and pump it to the toilet. The one that I use for Streaky is a combination of a screen bottom pan that allows the litter to breathe from the bottom and dry quickly, and a silica gel litter that needs no scooping of urine clumps, and desiccates the feces. Since Streaky is raw fed, his urine output is increased, but scooping is not an issue, and there are almost no feces to scoop. Many of my customers tell me this combination has made being owned by a cat a whole lot easier.
Here’s hoping a lot of households find room for a new T’Challa or Okoye, or even a Killmonger if that’s what it takes to find them a home.