A furry and enthusiastic crowd greets Kristine Mayberry when she comes home each evening. Mayberry, the president of Second Chance Pet Adoptions in Raleigh, N.C., hopes others will also enjoy the rich rewards of pet adoption, even if they don’t take in a collection quite as large as her eight cats and elderly dog. “I get much more from them than I give to them,” she says. “There’s nothing like having someone to greet me with unconditional love when I’ve had a really bad day.”

A Great Time for Cat Adoption
This month is the perfect time to consider adopting a cat or help out with the adoption effort, says Mayberry. Shelters and organizations across the country celebrate June as Adopt a Cat Month. With the arrival of spring and summer comes a flood of kittens each year, and heightened awareness of cat adoption helps shelters deal with this influx.

Opening your heart and home to another cat is important even if your local shelter doesn’t euthanize animals, says Betsy Saul, co-founder of Petfinder.com, which maintains a database of 124,000 cats available for adoption. “Cats tend to do fairly poorly in the shelter compared to dogs,” she says. “Some shelters have cats housed across the aisle from dogs, and that can be incredibly stressful. You’ll see them sitting with really squeezed eyes, which is a sign of stress.”

Help Reduce Shelter Populations
Make sure your own cat is spayed or neutered. Supporting organizations that spay and neuter strays will also help control the cat population. Female cats as young as four months can get pregnant, and a female cat can produce up to five litters a year.

Cat owners can take a couple of other steps to reduce shelter populations. First, make sure your pal is microchipped or wears some other form of identification. Even indoor kitties occasionally escape, so it’s important that all cats can be traced to their owners. Second, make sure you and your cat are a good fit. Poor matches between cats and owners can result in cats being returned to shelters.

Find Your Match
Ready to celebrate Adopt a Cat Month? Consider these tips before you adopt:

  • Adopt from a shelter. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals celebrates Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and adopting a shelter cat does offer benefits, says Gail Buchwald, senior vice president for the ASPCA’s Adoptions Center in New York. “One of the most valuable things about adopting from a shelter is getting to make an informed decision,” she says.

Many shelters will attempt to match you with a cat whose personality suits your needs and lifestyle. Shelters also have already evaluated a cat’s health and can save you some money. For instance, the ASPCA Adoptions Center charges no adoption fee for cats ages 3 and older, yet each cat is spayed or neutered, microchipped and up to date on its vaccines. The center charges $75 to adopt cats that are between 1 and 3 years old, and $125 for kittens.

  • Don’t focus on appearance. People often pick cats based on appearance rather than personality. You’ll be happier if you focus on observed behaviors, such as whether or not the cat is a lap kitty or an adventurous pouncer.
  • Take two. Cats do well when adopted in pairs, says Mayberry. If you’re not going to be home all day, it can get lonesome for a single cat. If you already have two cats, consider adopting another. Cats can grieve if they lose their best pal, and a third cat can ease the loss, Mayberry advises.

How to Aid the Cause
Volunteer to help socialize cats at your local shelter simply by petting them, says Buchwald. Make catnip toys or crochet washable cat beds at home, then donate to a local cat adoption organization.

You can use Petfinder’s iPhone application on Facebook to post photos of adoptable cats. Promote individual cats at your local shelter, posting notices with photos in prominent locations around your community.