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Help Shelter Cats Even if You Can’t Adopt

By Jennifer Viegas

Help Shelter Cats Even if You Can’t Adopt

Adoption isn’t the only way to help homeless cats. Before you write off being able to help, think about your own unique skills to aid shelter cats. “Our goal is to place animals in caring homes, but there are many ways in which people can support the process leading up to this end goal,” says Jennifer Lu, communications manager at the San Francisco SPCA.

Donate Money
As is the case with many facilities, the San Francisco SPCA is funded solely by donations. But do you know how your money actually helps out the animals? Lu broke down some typical donation amounts and how the money can be used:

$15: a flea treatment for a kitten or adult cat

$50: test for cat feline leukemia or FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus)

$60: full medical exam for an incoming new cat

$90: microchip identification insertion and vaccinations for kitty

$120: cat spay or neuter surgery

Inga Fricke, director of Shelter Initiatives for the Humane Society of the United States, says she was recently touched by stories of young students who requested money to help their local animal shelter instead of accepting birthday or holiday gifts. Once the money is donated, sometimes shelters will offer personal tours or other fun rewards for students.

Donate Services
All sorts of services can be useful to shelters. Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Cypress, Texas, is seeking these donated services: printing, advertising, general contracting, electrical, plumbing, septic, concrete and brick work, landscaping and lawn service. The San Francisco SPCA is even looking for volunteers to staff the windows at Macy’s during the shelter’s big winter holiday adoption drive at the popular department store.

If you cannot adopt a cat but still enjoy spending time with felines, consider offering to bottle-feed kittens, an activity that Fricke says really assists many shelters. Just playing with kitties can work wonders too. “Our cat volunteers spend time with cats and kittens in the shelter to keep them well socialized and accustomed to visitors, which makes them more personable when prospective adopters come to visit,” explains Lu.

Foster a Cat
If you cannot take on the commitment of a full-time adoption, think about fostering a kitten or cat for a limited period of time. “Nearly 1,000 animals a year who are too young or ill to be immediately adopted are cared for by foster volunteers who nurse them and prepare them for adoption,” says Lu.

Contact Local Veterinarians
Perhaps the best way to help reduce the number of homeless cats is to prevent them from winding up in shelters in the first place. Encourage local veterinarians to offer low-cost spay and neutering, and to collaborate with neighborhood shelters. “Some veterinarians participate in free vaccination clinics or refer animal behaviorists that can help to socialize pets that are up for adoption,” says Fricke.

If You Are Allergic to Cats
If you love animals but are allergic to kitties, you can still help to reduce the number of homeless cats and improve the lives of those that are already in shelters. Fricke suggests organizing a food or blanket drive to obtain items desperately needed by animal care staff.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary has everyday-object needs, like cat litter, soap and newspapers, but medical and office supplies are also on its wish list, along with a van equipped with air-conditioning. A representative mentions that “the animals cannot be transported in Houston's sweltering heat without risking heat stroke. We really need another van to safely transport the animals.”

One of the easiest, most effortless ways to help is to do just what you are doing now: Go online. “We and other shelters are embracing social media as a way to promote programs and specific animals,” explains Lu. She asks that you look for your local shelter on Facebook and Twitter to see if they have pages at those sites. If so, with a simple mouse click, you can help to share information about events, fundraising and adoptable animals.

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 April 30, 2012

Nora says: Shirley-Thank you and your neighbor for tainkg responsibility for the well being of the homeless cats in your neighborhood and for posting your story here, so that others might do the same. RMACA has also helped me spay & neuter the cats in our area and I am very excited to find out they will be increasing the ability to provide spay-neuter services to the public.So many people feed a stray, but don't know they can help so much more by getting the cat fixed. Trap-neuter-return is the humane way to insure that litters of stray kittens don't end up at the shelter every spring, tainkg homes away from the cats already waiting to be adopted. Thank you FELINE FIX for providing an affordable HUMANE method to save lives.

Posted on December 14, 2010

dianne says: I am wondering where they are getting prices for spay and neutering. I go to my vet in Gettysburg PA and they charge only $80.00. It's a shame that the Humane Society's don't offer free or really low cost spaying programs so that more unwanted animals aren't born--seems to me that money would be better spent than lining the pockets of employees. If there were less animals in the world there would be less need for all the employees. Yet, they think it's ok to euthanize the animals instead. It's a cost saving issue that should be initiated. Also, I think that breeders should be charged for every puppy they bring i nto the world that are papered and that money could go to the Humane Society to spay animals helping to keep the population in control. although it's nice to neuter males at least if we spay females we won't have to worry about more unwanted litters.

Posted on December 13, 2010

Carol says: I love cats and found the article quite interesting. I adopted a feral mother and 3 of the 5 babies that lived 2 years ago. Mama and 1 have sort of been socialized. On the bed, petting is allowed. The other two show up for dinner and snacks during the day, but no touchy. She had 2 more batches of kittens, 11, in 4 months before I was able to catch her and have her spayed. I kept 3 of her 2nd batch and 1 from the 3rd and last letter. All have been altered and reside with me. I used my regular vet and costs were quite high. Have kept up on shots except for the two I can't touch. Once in the cage was enough for them. Still working on that as both are due. Their food bill is more than I spend on my own but I have a satisfaction that they are not outside to sleep in all this cold weather unless they miss roll call before I go to bed. There are currently 4 cat beds on my bed which leaves me a little space on the king size bed.

Posted on December 9, 2010

GEORGIA says: I HAVE 6 OR MORE SEMI FERRAL CATS THAT LIVE IN MY GARAGE ALL YEAR ROUND AND SOME HAVE BEEN HERE FOR 6 YRS OR MORE. I SPEND MONEY OUT OF MY OWN POCKET TO BUY THEM FOOD. I HAVE ANIMAL PILLOWS, ALSO I HAVE PURCHASED COMFORTERS, BLANKETS AND THROW'S TO BUNCH UP FOR THEM TO CUDDLE UP IN ON THE COLD DAYS AND NIGHTS THAT ARE COMMON HER IN ILLINOIS... I HAVE TRIED TO FIND A "NO KILL SHELTER" TO TAKE THESE ANIMALS AND SOCIALIZE THEM BUT NO ONE WILL DO THAT. I WILL SAY THAT A RESCUE GROUP CALLED CAT NAP FROM THE HEART IN LAGRANGE PARK ILLINOIS HAS GIVEN ME FOOD AND TAKEN 4 KITTENS THAT THE ONE CAT I CANNOT CATCH TO HAVE SPAYED ALL THE OTHERS ARE SPAYED AND NUETERED AS I WOULD OF HAD 11 OR MORE CATS. I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE SOMEONE TAKE THEM AS IT IS DRAINING ME FINANCIALLY AS THE CATS ONLY EAT A LITTLE HARD FOOD AND I GIVE THEM SOFT FOOD AS WELL IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE. ONE OF THE CATS A YR OLD MALE TABBY LIVES IN OUR HOUSE MOST OF THE TIME IN THE WINTER AS HE DOES NOT LIKE THE COLD. I FEEL SO BAD FOR THE OTHERS AS THEY WOULD LIKE TO COME IN BUT BACK OFF AS THEY ARE SCARED...ANY SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW TO GET HELP????

Posted on October 25, 2010

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