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If you find a stray but cannot keep it, try socializing it before finding it another home. Train it to use a litter box and to be petted and held, since socialized kitties stand a better chance of being adopted.

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Top 7 Ways to Help Homeless Cats This Holiday Season

By Jennifer Viegas

Top 7 Ways to Help Homeless Cats This Holiday Season

Pumpkin, a 12-year-old abandoned cat, was given a new home and a new life after being cared for at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Unfortunately, pumpkin is just one of millions of cats in need. According to the ASPCA, it’s impossible to determine how many stray cats and dogs live in the United States, but estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

This winter holiday season, help reduce that high number with one of these seven steps:

1. Adopt a cat. The No. 1 way to help is to open your home to a cat, even if you already have one or more in your family. Some shelters and organizations offer specials. For example, the Humane Society for Hamilton County in Noblesville, Ind., has operated a successful Purrsdays program, whereby all cats and kittens are 50 percent off on those special days. For a low fee, the owner gets a cat that’s been spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. Executive Director Rebecca Stevens points out that if conditions become overcrowded at her shelter, illnesses can more readily spread. “By reducing the number of cats in our care, our hope is to prevent the spread of illness and cramped quarters for the ones that remain.”

2. Foster a cat. If you haven’t lived with a cat before, or if you just don’t want to take on the long-term commitment of owning a pet now, fostering can be one option. “Fostering can be a great way to determine whether a pet fits into your lifestyle,” says Stevens.

3. Volunteer. During the holiday season, volunteering often takes on a new festive twist. For example, Macy’s and the San Francisco SPCA team up to create the much-anticipated Macy’s Holiday Windows, which feature kittens and puppies for adoption. The partnership has existed for 25 years now.

Says Jennifer Lu, communications manager for the San Francisco SPCA: “The holiday tradition is a wonderful expression of the holiday spirit in San Francisco. Volunteer with the San Francisco SPCA at Holiday Windows and be a part of the magic this season!” She explains that volunteers work over short shifts of about two hours, greeting the public, collecting donations and directing people to the SPCA adoption center inside Macy’s.

4. Donate. Consider making a one-time donation or a sustained financial contribution to your favorite shelter or animal organization. Most can usually inform you how your dollars will be spent to help cats in their charge.

5. Give the gift of adoption. If you know a friend or family member would like to adopt a cat, think about getting an adoption gift certificate instead of an actual kitty. Says Betsy McFarland, senior director of companion animals at The Humane Society of the United States: “The recipient of your furry gift may not be ready for the commitment involved with the lifetime care of a pet. Instead of a puppy (or kitten) among the presents, give the gift of adoption. Many shelters offer adoption gift certificates so the recipient can be actively involved in choosing the perfect pet who will share their home for years to come.”

6. Help via social media. Most major pet food companies have a strong presence at popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes just clicking “Like” or sharing content can help feed homeless cats, since the companies often track such activity and tie initiatives to it.

7. Purchase specially marked packages of pet food. This time of year, some pet food companies are also donating food or money based on sales of their own products. It can be a win-win situation because you would be purchasing cat food anyway, and if the purchase helps to support a charity, the organization gains as well.

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.

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Posted on March 18, 2012

Subhaan says: Buffet was adopted very shotrly after he was featured. What a treat for his new owners. He is a wonderful, playful pooch. Don't those pictures just show it. Cutie!But, if you think he's cute, CHECK OUT HIS SISTER, Beanie who is the LAST of the 12 B' named pups looking for her forever home. Help her find it. Thanks!

Posted on April 30, 2012

Kajjka says: It varies a lot from one sehtler to another, but, most of the time you try to verify through normal conversation that they have the knowledge and ability to properly care for the pet they're interested in. You also try to make sure that their lifestyle matches the pet as well as possible, for instance, you wouldn't want to adopt out a hyper golden retriever mix to a sedentary older couple. You probably wouldn't want to adopt an elderly poodle to a family with really active children as they'll probably do better with a dog they can play with.A lot of the time, people tend to choose a dog they like the appearance of, rather then the one that is the best choice for their family. Granted, they do have to find the pet appealing, but, you want to avoid obvious mismatches.A lot of people will understand and appreciate your help, other people will go online and bash you for not letting them adopt the dog they wanted. Then they'll buy a dog at a petstore from a puppymill and state that you made them do it because you didn't let them have a dog that would have been a disaster in their family situation. It can be an irritating job, but, someones got to do it and you do get the benefit of seeing a great pet get a great new family. But, like any job working with the general public, you'll have to deal with a bunch of people that have done no research at all, kept their last dog on a chain by a dog house till it died and don't believe in vets as if veterinarians are some kind of unheard of abominable snowman..A lot of places though the sehtler manager handles any rejections, but, in some places that's your job.Overall, it's very frustrating and rewarding at the same time.. Was this answer helpful?

Posted on June 8, 2012

Abdul says: she was really sweet and they were conecrned about her when she disappeared so we were just checking on Tilly in hopes that she found a good home. We would love to stay updated because they were hoping good things for her. Unfortunately they are college kids and are not in a position to be a stable home. Anyway, we would love to have an update when you have one.Thanks

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