Recently, some of my acquaintances decided to add a new Birman kitty to their family.

Birman kittens usually come with a hefty price tag of several hundred dollars and, often, a waiting list for the few available each year. These drawbacks didn’t deter this family in the least. They had their hearts set on a Birman cat, no matter how much they had to pay or how long they had to wait.

As it turned out, they ended up having to travel several hundred miles to find a breeder for this particular specie, and, when they did arrive, the owner brought out, not one, but two of the most adorable little balls of fluff they had ever seen. Of course, they went home with both of them, and a huge dent in their credit card.

Nevertheless, the proud Birman owners have never regretted their decision. The tiny kittens have grown into beautiful year old cats who are a joy to the family. They are lovely to look at, amusing to watch, and so far, very healthy, lively, and affectionate.

If you aren’t in a position to spend hundreds of dollars for your new pet, I have good news for you. There are dozens of wonderful pets at your local animal shelter waiting to be adopted into homes just like yours. They may not be the breed you’ve always dreamed of owning but, I guarantee you, they are just as loving and affectionate as more expensive animals.

Tens of thousands of cats and dogs end up in animal shelters every year. Some have wandered away from home and are picked up while roaming the streets untended. Others arrive at shelters because of cruelty or neglect by an owner. Far more end up homeless because so many animals are allowed to wander and breed indiscriminately.

Make a trip to your local shelter just to see what goes on there. More and more unwanted animals arrive daily, and in comparison, very few people visit who are looking for an animal to adopt. Families seeking pets to adopt, like those seeking human children to adopt, often prefer babies, and the older ones are often passed by, even though they have just as much love and affection to give to their adoptive families as any baby ever would.

We recently adopted a 2-year old cat from our local shelter. We were amazed at the way the small staff managed to find time to speak to each animal, often reaching out to give a scratch or two behind the ears as we passed by, and to check and make sure the cages and kennels were clean and well stocked with food and water.

We were required to have our new cat, Misty, spayed before we could take her home, and paid a fee of $50 for this service. Local veterinarians take turns volunteering a couple of hours each week so that a low-cost spay and neuter clinic which also provides common shots needed by animals, is open at the shelter several afternoons a week. We couldn’t have received better care if we had taken Misty to the highest priced animal hospital in town.

We, like our friends who adopted the Birman kitties, have been totally happy with our choice of a new pet. We were told that Misty was a feral cat, meaning that she had been running wild when she was picked up and brought to the shelter, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that she was very tame and had no trouble adjusting to living in a house again. In fact, she used the litterbox correctly from the very first day – something that wouldn’t have happened if we had chosen a small kitten instead of a mature cat. She is affectionate and amusing, and sometimes has an expression that looks so much like a smile that I think she must be thinking how lucky she is to have found a good home and someone to love her at last.. The arrangement has been a win-win situation for all concerned.

If you are serious about getting a new pet, I challenge you to visit your local animal shelter before you even consider a stop at the pet store in the mall or a private animal breeder. I can almost guarantee you will fall in love with one or more of these lonely little animals who are waiting patiently for you or some other visitor to just give them a chance.

An expensive cat or dog purchased through a well-known breeder may come with a pedigree, but, if what you are looking for is a loving and affectionate pet for your family, who needs a pedigree?

Does Your New Pet Really Need a Pedigree?