The myths & truths of no-kill-shelter adoption

Sometimes, no-kill shelters can be mysterious things. And plenty of myths, misinformation and old wives’ tales about shelter residents abound. The simple truth: No-kill shelters save adoptable feline lives. And for each cat adopted, space becomes available to save another lost soul. So let’s cast some light on the lovable cats and kittens in no-kill shelters awaiting homes and dispel the myths.

Myth: Adoption fees are just too expensive.


Adoption fees can be as low as $50 and even less for senior cats or long-term residents. Adoption fees help no-kill shelters offset the cost of vaccinations, medications, spay/neuter services, quality foods and microchipping-costs can reach several hundred dollars per cat. Seeking these services from a veterinarian would run you an average of $300. As nonprofit organizations, no-kill shelters rely on donations and adoption fees to continue to provide care for homeless, adoptable cats. Check the events calendar for adoption events and reduced-fee adoption days in your area.   

Myth: Shelter cats are wild, untamed and feral.


No-kill shelters do not accept wild, feral cats too untamed for adoption. Feral cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and returned to their cat colony. 

Myth: Shelter cats are not well cared for and often sick. 


From day one, well-run no-kill shelters provide every cat with a thorough veterinary exam, vaccinations, medications, spay/neuter and good food. Upon intake, shelters place new cats in quarantine until examined, treated and cleared for socialization. Because they receive regular veterinary care, shelter cats are often healthier than pet store and “free” cats. 

Myth: Owners surrender cats because they are “bad.” 


The top reasons owners surrender their cats are: (1) relocating to housing that does not allow pets and (2) unwanted litters. Other reasons include allergies, changes in household income, lack of time or personal problems, but rarely negative feline personality or behavior. 

Myth: Cats in shelters have little history.


Many cats in no-kill shelters have excellent history and temperament records. Shelter staff and volunteers spend time with each feline, learning its unique personality. Some owner-surrendered cats come with behavior and medical history notes. Because of their knowledge, shelter staff can often point you toward your perfect cat match.     

Myth: Shelters are filled with “damaged” cats. 


Cats find their way into no-kill shelters through owner surrender, kill-shelter rescue and cat colony caretakers. Some may have had an unfortunate past, but none are unadoptable. Via cat rooms, many shelter cats are socialized and receive continual human interaction, turning even shy cats into excellent pets.

Myth: Shelters don’t offer kittens.


Kittens are just as plentiful as adult cats–they’re just adopted more quickly. Some kittens arrive in pairs, many as entire litters. To find a kitten, visit shelters early in the day or ask to be placed on a wait list. 

Myth: Purebred/designer breed cats cannot be found in shelters. 


Russian Blue, Scottish Fold, Munchkin, Siamese and more can all be found in shelters, some with certifications and papers. Being purebred or a designer breed doesn’t keep cats from shelters. You may need to head out of town or look longer, but specific cat breeds can be found.

Learn More About the Movement