Boots lived with the same family for 18 years.
Then, on May 5, the black-and-white cat’s life changed forever. His family dropped him off at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after discovering their new home would not allow pets. But at almost 20 years old, would Boots have a chance at a new family?
Five years ago, the answer would likely have been no, said Mike Keiley, director of the Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center at the MSPCA in Nevins Farm. In fact, Boots would have probably been euthanized because of his age and medical problems that required the shelter to medicate him and perform dental work. But the MSPCA’s success adopting out cats in the past five years has made a big difference in the lives of cats like Boots. Since 2010, the number of cats age 9 or older adopted out at the MSPCA has increased from 128 to 346.
Why are more adult cats being adopted? The MSPCA used to adopt out fewer cats daily than it took in, leaving the facility with little space and time to care for and save elderly animals, according to Keiley. Thanks to concentrated spay/neuter events that are impacting the kitten population and a group of cat lovers called the “Cat-vocates’’ who raise more than $100,000 yearly for shelter cats, offsetting medical costs and adoption events, the shelter’s cat population is more manageable.
Boots now resides with Cara Seiffert, 43, a veterinary technician from Lowell, who adopted him on May 28. She had no intention of adopting a cat when she wandered into the MSPCA that day. But Boots caught her eye — and her ear.
“He was just purring away, and I thought, ‘You know what, I don’t care how old he is, he deserves a home,’’’ said Seiffert. “I couldn’t leave him there.’’
It’s an attitude shelters hope prevails during this month of heightened cat adoption awareness — June is National Adopt-a-Cat Month.
There are currently about 120 cats available for adoption at the MSPCA — 23 of them seized from a single household just this week — and about 50 cats available at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
But kitten lovers, beware. You’ll be hard-pressed to find kittens at shelters this weekend. Cats breed in the spring, so kittens are not yet ready for adoption: They must be at least 8 weeks old, said Keiley. So shelters now are full of adult cats, which are at least 1 year old.
With an adult cat, what you see is usually what you get as far as size and personality, said Ami Bowen, director of marketing and development at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, which has shelters in Boston, Dedham, and Brewster. Adult cats tend to blend well with busy families full of kids and other animals, which might be too much for a kitten to handle, she said.
“Summertime is the busiest time of the year in shelters, especially for cats,’’ said Bowen. “You have so many litters of kittens coming in, a lot of stray animals that maybe people didn’t notice or are coming out of where they were all winter, and people are moving, so they have to surrender animals.’’
The ARL adopted out 2,279 cats last year, and she expects the shelter to adopt about the same number of cats out this year, said Bowen, who said the number of cats coming into her shelters has decreased as well. It costs between $100 and $200 to adopt a cat at the ARL, depending on the cat’s age.
“The reason people adopt from a shelter is they want to do something good,’’ said Bowen. “You can feel especially good about adopting an adult cat, because they tend to wait longer, and they need more help finding homes. You definitely get bonus karma points!’’
Meet local cats up for adoption, including kitties you can adopt for free at the MSPCA on June 13: