If you’re considering adopting a cat this holiday season — or any time of year — there are now several programs that can help you find your perfect pet.

Meet Your Match The ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program evaluates animals in order to help owners bring home their ideal companion. “Meet Your Match isn’t just based on superficial qualities. We go deeper, including asking about the pet’s personality, your personality and other important factors,” says Senior Vice President Gail Buchwald of the ASPCA Adoption Center. Whatever the outcome, the resulting adoption is a win-win for the owner and the pet.

Iams Home 4 the Holidays This program, which helps place needy cats and dogs in loving homes, is one of several pet adoption drives taking place right now. According to The Humane Society of the United States, of the 8 million pets that enter animal shelters and rescue groups every year, approximately 3 million of these healthy and treatable pets are euthanized due to lack of adoption. John Van Zante, spokesperson for the Helen Woodward Animal Center Santa Fe, Calif., who helped start Home 4 the Holidays, says the data in 1998 for San Diego County alone — 40,000 euthanized dogs and cats — led to the creation of the program.

“I contacted all 14 shelters in our region, asking that we be committed to putting our egos in check and to working together to solve the problem,” says Van Zante. “We kicked off the first Home for the Holidays in November 1999.” Since that initial year, millions of pets featured in the program — which runs from November to the beginning of January — have been adopted into loving homes.

PetSmart Charities Your local PetSmart store has a PetSmart Charities Adoption Center, which helps match potential owners with feline companions. “PetSmart charities partners with more than 2,000 animal welfare organizations, which use this space to showcase pets looking for a home,” says PetSmart Charities Communication Manager Michelle Thompson. “To date, PetSmart Charities has helped save the lives of more than 4 million pets through adoptions.” You can visit PetSmartCharities.org to find an adoption event near you.

Before You Begin

While some people think holiday pet adoptions happen on impulse and lead to a high return rate, the ASPCA, PetFinder.com and other organizations work hard to ensure a thoughtful process takes place before any adoption. Such groups also try to help all pets — not just the trendy breeds or photogenic cats. Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of PetFinder.com, points out that “overlooked pets often make great additions to a family, but many people don’t even realize they are discriminating when they begin looking to adopt.”

The Adoption Process

Depending on the program you choose, the process might go as follows:

1. Visit the program’s website, search for pets available for adoption in your area and answer some initial questions

2. Make an appointment to visit a shelter

3. Sign in at the shelter, where you will be able to mention the sort of cat you hope to adopt (age, breed or a specific cat seen on the facility’s website)

4. Answer questions asked by shelter personnel to determine your living situation (e.g., if you have other pets at home)

5. View various cats

6. Pay adoption fee — which may or may not include things such as spaying or neutering, full veterinary exams, necessary vaccines or microchipping

The individual who will be caring for the cat must be present at the time of adoption. If you live with others, make it a shared visit and discuss the matter at length beforehand.

“It’s hard for me to even properly express how much pets add to our
lives,” said Van Zante. “It’s the cat that doesn’t care if you come home tired
and bedraggled after a grueling day on the job.”