Submitted by countylibrary on

Two major lineages of cats contributed to the furry friends we love today. Cats likely started hanging around farms about 8,000 years ago, where they began a mutually beneficial relationship with humans - providing pest control in exchange for food and shelter. They spread from southwest Asia into Europe. Then a second lineage of African cats dominated Egypt around 1500 BCE, most likely because people enjoyed their sociability and tameness.

Thousands of years later, cats are now among the world’s most popular pets. They have many benefits. Cats can lower stress and anxiety, whether it’s by playing with them, petting them or simply enjoying their company. (One scientific study discovered even just listening to a cat’s purr can reduce stress levels!) Feline companionship is also a great way to combat loneliness. Cats are relatively low maintenance and have long lifespans (16-20 years), making them great companions for people in many different walks of life.

The Burlington County Animal Shelter (BCAS) is a wonderful resource for prospective cat owners. You can visit the shelter in-person or look at a gallery of available cats online. To begin the adoption process, fill out an application and if approved, you get to bring your new furry companion home!

You may want to consider adopting an older cat instead of a kitten. Shelters have a lot of kittens, but they’re popular choices for adoption. Many adult and senior cats spend months inside shelters, in need of forever homes. Adult cats make excellent companions. They’re usually already housetrained too!

The BCAS also has a wonderful but little-known Barn & Outdoor Cat Adoption program. There are many cats that are difficult to place in traditional homes, ranging from feral (wild) cats that can never live indoors, to independent-minded, friendly cats that would be unhappy if forced to live indoors. Barn cats make for great poison-free rodent and pest control! The presence of healthy, fixed cats can also help keep unfixed, unhealthy cats away from your property.

To participate in the Barn & Outdoor Cat program, you provide daily fresh food and water, shelter from the elements and veterinary care when necessary. The BCAS takes care of spaying/neutering, distemper and rabies vaccines, fleas (if applicable) and deworming friendly cats. The adoption cost and shelter services are free!

If adopting a cat isn’t an option for you right now, the BCAS is always looking for volunteers. You can also participate in the Save a Senior program by donating $45 to cover the adoption fee for an approved owner.

Whether you’re a self-proclaimed cat person, have another type of pet or choose to be pet-free, we all can appreciate the benefits of cats in our society. And remember, if you’re interested in adoption, check out the Burlington County Animal Shelter!

Have you ever wondered about your cat's behavior? You won't want to miss our upcoming program, Decoding the Mysteries of Cats: Why Cats Do What They Do. This virtual program takes place on Saturday, August 21 at 12pm on Zoom.