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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at HPU chapter.

I must admit, when I was younger I didn’t understand the concept of adopting an animal. I honestly didn’t know it was a thing. It wasn’t until two years ago when I adopted my first short-haired calico cat, Griswold, that I truly understood the concept of adopting. If only I knew how happy a sheltered pet would have made me years ago, I would have adopted animals instead of shopped for them. This is for all you animal lovers out there who are indecisive whether to adopt or shop for your “fur-ever” friend. Here’s the story of how I adopted my cat Griswold, and five reasons why everyone should adopt, not shop.

My family and I love animals. We’ve been to the best zoos in the nation, as well as internationally. Our love for animals truly comes from my grandparents who studied zoology. Growing up, my siblings and I have been exposed to that side of the medicine world and we’d visit zoos to study animals. When we’re not at the zoo, we visit local animal shelters to get our daily dose of animals. We never came across the idea of adopting an animal of our own, because of how frequent we travel. It wasn’t until I moved away from home for college when my travels would become less. My first year of college was quiet, so I volunteered at my local humane society here on Oahu. The only way I was able to cope with being away from family was to be with animals, and it worked. I never thought of the idea of adopting an animals while I volunteered there until my sophomore year hit.

It was Easter Sunday in 2016, and my sister and I had just gotten out of mass. Everything was closed, therefore we hit up our local humane society to have a look at the animals. If you’re like my family, even the presence of animals makes us feel much better. It’s a medicine that no prescription can fulfill. We went to look at the dogs, then to look at the cats. Keep in mind that we weren’t a fan of cats at the time, let alone we’ve never owned a cat before. We were looking around, went inside the “cat cage” and this cat approached us voluntarily. It was then, we knew, she’d change our lives forever. This was it, it’s now or never. We adopt or leave. We keep her or she’s gone. We asked a staff member to help assist us, and next thing you know we’ve signed her life into ours and named her Griswold.

With every adoption, there are a lot of papers that go with it including the animal’s history, medical records, as well as brochures how to take care of a sheltered animal. Everything was new to us. The adoption of an animal; the adoption of a cat. We just knew the basics, and it took about two weeks for Griswold to warm up to us and for us to get used to owning a cat. When we left the humane society, we went to Target and bought cat essentials. Then when we got home, we unboxed her and let her explore our apartment while we set up her litter box, toys, bed, etc. Let me tell you, we got extremely lucky with Griswold. We showed her everything once by introducing her to every part of the house one-by-one, and she’d remember it exactly. She doesn’t hiss, scratch, break or destroy anything. I like to make the joke that she was raised by dogs, the complete opposite of what we hear about cats.

She’s still the same as two years ago – your average lazy-cat who eats and sleeps all day. People always ask me, “Why did you adopt a cat?” And that’s where my words tumble. I truly don’t know why specifically a feline, but all I can tell you that it was the best decision of my life. Coming home after a long day to a cat who has devoted all their time just to wait for you to come home is heartwarming. Every morning, she’s my alarm clock and forces me to get out bed to feed her. Every evening, she’s my alarm clock to know when it’s time for me to stop doing homework and eat. Every day, she’s a reminder that I am truly loved and she is loved by me, and the rest of my family.

I never knew I’d like cats, ever. But I’m glad that I do because if it wasn’t for Griswold, I wouldn’t have been open minded to the idea of adopting. If we didn’t adopt her, I’d probably still living my same boring, quiet life with nothing to look forward to after a long day. I also often get asked, “How do you know she was ‘the one?’” Well, it’s simple. You don’t choose the animal, they choose you. That’s how we knew Griswold was “the one.” She came up to us voluntarily, and that’s when we knew that she would love us fur-ever.

I want to advocate to everyone who is deciding between adopting or shopping. Here are five reasons why you should adopt a sheltered pet:

1) You will save a life 

2) Shelter pets deserve a second chance at love

3) Shelter pets are adoptable and safe

4) Humane societies have the largest selection of pets around

5) You as a person will grow with irreplaceable love

From what I’ve learned from Griswold, we gave her a second chance. She was neglected and brought the humane society because she was a burden. Imagine the amount of depression she must have felt. Imagine if she would have been unadoptable and euthanized. And think about all the other animals that are brought in. These sheltered animals have been through so much, so imagine how happy it would be if someone gave them another chance at life; at love again. It’s truly important to adopt an animal. They WILL devote their short lives to love you for the rest of theirs, and that’s something people do not realize when they shop for their furry pets.

If you want to learn more about adoption, simply visit your local humane society. You don’t have to adopt immediately, it’s a huge responsibility. Just know that many animals every year are neglected and need loving homes, and it can start with you. I’d like to dedicate this segment to my cat Griswold. Happy 2-Year Adoption, my furry calico cat.

Guam | Hawaii Pacific University
Katrina Hicks

Northwestern '19