Community Animals Welfare Society, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization, has a strictly enforced policy that requires all kittens to be adopted in pairs. Their reasoning is that adopting kittens together prevents depression, lack of attention and provides proper social interaction with other felines.
“It really isn’t black and white. It’s hard because we are constantly trying to balance the foster homes and what they want,” Janita Coombs, director of the nonprofit organization Community Animal Welfare Society said. “We don’t have a facility. We are a foster home network and if we don’t have our foster homes we don’t exist.”
Lynn Dolan at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary said “It’s easier for a cat to have a buddy if you work outside of your home for 8-9 hours a day. It’s a nice thing but it is not a necessary thing.”
Coombs explained how protective those who foster animals can be. They want to be sure the cats are put into homes that can provide the same high quality love and care that they gave the animals prior to releasing them for adoption.
“The shame in that is we are about saving as many lives as we can and they are preventing that from happening,” Dolan said.
Lisa Nielson said she walked into an open adoption held by CAWS at Petsmart in South Salt Lake City prepared to adopt a kitten for her daughter who works from home. Nielson walked out and left the kitten she chose behind because she was told she had to take two.
“It’s unfortunate when you are willing and able to adopt a companion but faced with roadblocks such as this policy,” Nielson said. “It starts with one, so why isn’t that enough?”
Fortunately, Nielson chose to look elsewhere and adopted a 5 month old black kitten for her daughter at the Salt Lake City Humane Society of Utah.
“It’s not that they will die without a feline companion, we are just trying to do what is the absolute best for each individual animal,” Coombs said. “There have been times where we get cats returned when they are teenagers and they are messed up. They naturally need siblings or a mother cat.”
Those who are not able to care for two kittens have another option: CAWS is open to allowing kittens to go into homes with an adult cat who may offer the companionship they find key to kittens leading a healthy life.
Some are concerned that the policy is a way to adopt a larger quantity of kittens at one time. “I don’t think that they need to be adopted out in pairs. Cats are solitary creatures and for the most part they are not upset about being by themselves,” Rick Whitty licensed doctor of veterinary medicine said. “I think it might be a situation where they are trying to adopt out cats and probably have way too many. I’ve never heard of any behavioral issues caused by single adoption.”
The majority of rescue groups in Utah allow kittens to be adopted individually and do not see a problem with it.
Anastacia Stevens, an employee at The Humane Society of Utah said “In the next 2 months we will be so overwhelmed with kittens we will not know what to do with all of them.” Stevens had never heard of the policy CAWS implements and said there are too many kittens in need of homes to enforce it at the Humane Society.
Dolan said “It’s too bad that they let their fosters dictate what they are supposed to be doing to save lives.”