Porky & Buddy’s Pet Health: Free Cats

Dear Porky & Buddy,

I just read that the Humane Society is giving away its adult cats. I DO NOT APPROVE OF THAT! Everyone knows that people do not value what they do not pay for, that is why adoption fees are charged. What are they thinking? Tell them to stop.


Dear Karen,

Where to begin? If you would like to adopt an adult cat and insist upon paying the fee, we suspect that the Humane Society will take your money if that will make you feel better. It will certainly make that adult cat feel better.

But what you need to know is that the Humane Society embarked on this special fee waiver program to try to find more homes for adult cats after careful research about the impact of not charging adoption fees on the quality of adoptions. And it turns out that it’s a myth that people who don’t pay a fee will value their new pet any less.

In 2006, ASPCA Senior Director of Shelter Research and Development Emily Weiss, Ph.D., CAAB, conducted a study comparing the attachment levels of adopters of cats in fee based adoptions vs. free adoptions. The resulting data, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, indicates that eliminating adoption fees does not devalue the animals in the eyes of the adopters. The success of the ASPCA’s free adult cat promotion events suggests that such programs could “dramatically impact the lives of thousands of shelter cats who would otherwise reside in a shelter for months or be euthanized.”

In the case of the Humane Society with its fostering program, adult cats are not in danger of being euthanized, but their long stay in foster care means that another cat cannot be rescued. Adoption fee waiver programs also encourage the adoption of more than one cat, and that is always a good thing. And remember too, that the Humane Society is not “giving away” cats. All potential adopters go through the normal screening process to ensure that the adopter has the time and means to care for a particular pet, and that it will be a good match.

The truth is, it can be difficult to find homes even for very young cats once they hit adolescence, and the Humane Society should be commended for looking for creative ways to find more homes. Plus you probably know this as well as we do, but with the price of cat toys, there is no such thing as a free cat!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.