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Ten great reasons to adopt a shelter cat: Just ask Willie Nelson's family

Penelope. Don't shop when you can adopt.
Penelope. Don't shop when you can adopt.
Paula Nelson

When Paula Nelson found out about Penelope, an eight-month-old cat, "who while in the process of giving birth to her kittens" had been attacked by a dog and suffered a mangled leg and broken jaw, the talented, young musician wanted to make a difference in this animal's life.

Meet Penelope often referred to as "Warrior Kitty." Here she is with one of her kittens. The other kittens have all been adopted and will all be neutered or spayed.
Paula Nelson

Paula, the daughter of legendary country and western singer Willie Nelson, and a gifted musician herself, has been an avid animal rescuer for the last five years. Her ranch on the outskirts of Austin, Texas is home to four goats, two donkeys, four dogs, and four cats; that is until the cat population grew by two new permanent residents on May 9.

Neither Penelope's owner nor the dog's owner had the finances to pay for veterinarian services, and had to consider euthanization for the cat and her five newborn kittens, but in came Austin Pets Alive, a 98% no-kill, non-profit organization to the rescue. Penelope's leg was amputated, and through the generosity of Paula, her sister Amy, and her mother, Connie, the Nelsons' paid for the surgery to repair Penelope's shattered jaw.

And where would one think the five kittens and Penelope would be fostered until they were all old enough and healthy enough to be adopted? If you guessed the Nelson ranch, you are correct. Eventually through social media, Paula found homes for the four male kittens and decided to keep Penelope and her female baby.

Some nine-weeks later, as the kittens prepare to move away to their new homes, and Penelope and her small fry settle in for some special feline frolicking, Paula wants to share at least ten reasons to adopt a shelter cat:

  1. There are so many shelter cats, you get to choose the color, sex, or age. Paula chose special needs kitty Penelope with only three legs. According to Paula, the cat's disability hardly slows her down.
  2. When you adopt a cat, they are already spayed, neutered, vaccinated and assessed as to their behavior. Ears up, ears back, frequent purrs required, or playful only in the mornings; you pretty much have a choice.
  3. At Austin Pets Alive, you can ask for individual help to find a cat who fits your personality. Think of it as 'Matchcat.shelter.'
  4. If you travel a lot like Paula and her family, having multiple cats means less loneliness among your feline friends. And when you come home, according to Paula, there's a lot of kitty hugging going on. (and dogs, goats and donkeys too).
  5. Cats are great companion animals, who according to psychologists and other mental health experts, put you in a better mood and improve mental health by establishing a routine of caring for someone else besides just you.
  6. Cats can be low maintenance for those high maintenance individuals, or just a mellow companion.
  7. You get to set an example for your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers that rescuing a cat from a shelter is a wonderful experience.
  8. You get to show others that the beautiful feline draped across your window sill is just as beautiful and smart as any cat you could find in a pet store.
  9. You reduce the number of cats raised on breeding farms very similar and as heartless as puppy mills.
  10. YOU HAVE SAVED A LIFE and made room for another needy cat.

To learn more about Austin Pets Alive, please click here and follow the incredible stories on Facebook. Help them help more innocent victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment by clicking here.

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