Adopt from an Animal Rescue Group!
When I moved to New York City in 2009, I lived in a 500-squre-foot studio apartment that was barely big enough to house me never mind have anyone over for a visit. While I do enjoy the peace and quiet from time to time, it was always depressing when I would come home from work or going out with friends because there was really nothing to look forward to at home but sleep. My depression had also gotten so bad that I was forced to cave on my self-promise never to take medication to feel better.
My parents noticed this change in me and suggested that I get a cat, since I had always had a cat around since I was 9 years old. It sounded like a good idea - my cats only ever made me feel happy and appreciated so why not? I knew I wanted to adopt a cat, rather than buy from a breeder because a) I didn't have the money and b) I could save a cat's life if I did.
I browsed around on Petfinder.com, and I thought Scottish Folds were the coolest cats ever; they're adorable and sweet but unfortunately are extremely rare. As fate would have it, there was 1 Scottish Fold up for adoption in New York City - he was white with peach-colored markings, 5 years old, declawed (at the time I only thought that meant he couldn't scratch my furniture), no health issues but need to be an only cat, and needed to be adopted by someone who had plenty of experience with cats but currently didn't have any. It was perfect!
After visiting the poor guy in the cramped office of a pet store in Hell's Kitchen, two interviews to ensure that I was a sane person and $100 later, Tigger...who I later re-named Wally...came home with me to my tiny studio apartment in Jersey City.
Wally was taken in by a rescue group in New York City called the Urban Cat League, and NOT from an ASPCA Animal Shelter. Thanks to my good friend Asli, who has worked animal rescue for years, I could fully appreciate just how much love, blood, sweat and tears goes into a successful rescue organization. If Wally had ended up at the shelter, he would have been adopted out the same day without any background checks or thought. It took the Urban Cat League three months and 52 interviews with people all over the country to finally adopt him out to me. For me, the breed was just a perk - I was depressed, I had a ton of experience with cats and just really wanted a companion who would be genuinely glad to see me when I came home from work. The dedication of animal rescue workers is to be greatly admired - these people volunteer for the love of animals and not for their own self-interests. This is precisely what I love about animal rescue groups, and why you should consider supporting them first before checking out the animal shelter. Both have similar missions - but the rescue groups need the most help.
Wally has been with me nearly 6 years now - more than half of his life - and his transition into the cat he is now has been incredible. When I first brought him home I couldn't try to pick him up without getting bit and hissed at. They told me he would never be a "lap cat," but as the photos below show, this was clearly incorrect. I no longer am on any medication and my depression is getting much more manageable.
I guess you could say we healed each other.
Please support your local cat rescue groups: they need all the support and help they can get, and they do wonderful work!