10 Ways You Can Help Shelter Cats
1. Put a donation box out in your office for gently used collars, cat toys, towels, and other pet items, as well as any new-item donations your co-workers care to make. At the end of two weeks, drop off the donation at your local shelter or rescue group. We guarantee they’ll be thrilled.
2. Share through social media. Check out sites likeShelterMe.com and Petfinder and share an adoptable cat in your area through your Facebook and/or Twitter account. Even if you’re not directly responsible for finding that cat a home, it helps remind people of all the wonderful animals out there in need of a home. Even better? Vow to share an adoptable cat once a week.
Or are you a marketing/social media wiz and want to make a slightly larger commitment? Reach out to a local rescue group (breed specific if you have a passion for a particular breed) and volunteer to manage their social media efforts or write the profiles for their adoptable cats. Words are powerful and a descriptive entry accurately and compellingly “selling” the cats can help them stand out and find a home.
3. Have decent (or down right great) photography skills? Volunteer to take photos of the cats up for adoption at your local shelter. It is amazing what a good photo can do to help boost the odds of adoption. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional photographer. Compared to a dismal kennel shot, any decent photo is a vast improvement and an immense help.
4. Start a Knitting/Crochet/Blanket-Making Circle. Shelters are almost universally in need of blankets to cozy up their cages and provide a bit of comfort to the cats they’re housing. Not down with the knitting needles? Purchase fleece from a discount remnant fabric store and cut it into 3’ x 3’ squares. And voilà, instant blanket! To get fancy on it, tassel the edges by cutting a fringed edge. Fast, cheap, but still cozy.
5. Bottle Drive. Help your local cash-strapped rescue continue doing their good work by collecting the returnable bottles from your condo/apartment building/office and donating the redeemed deposit to a rescue group. Simply put out a bin to collect the bottles (if you’re in a condo, check with your strata first) and put up a sign noting what rescue the bottle deposit will be donated to. Increase your haul by spreading the word in advance—employ your office photocopier to make flyers explaining your fundraising effort. You can amass a couple hundred dollars in bottles amazingly quickly.
6. Feeling crafty? Make quick and easy little toys Shelter workers attest that the presence of some flare (a nice collar or cute toy) can garner a cat the attention he needs to find his forever home. Studies have shown that all-black pets have trouble standing out and are often overlooked in shelters. Black cats also carry the additional burden of being thought by some to be bad luck, thanks to unfortunate superstition. Fight “black cat syndrome,” as it’s known, by making fun little colourful toys to jazz up the cage of a black cat. Get some inexpensive coloured cotton twill and cut it into a small square of approximately 7 x 7 inches. No need to finish the edges. Tuck a little cat nip into the center, tie closed with a bit of string, and voilà, you have a something fun and colourful to draw attention to one of the many black cats in search of their forever homes. Drop off your handiwork at your municipal animal shelter. It’s a perfect Saturday activity, and one that kids can get involved with, too.
7. Play With Cats. Volunteer to play and cuddle with the cats or help clean up. Volunteer help is greatly needed in many overcrowded shelters and your smiling face can make a big difference to both the morale of the cats and the staff.
8. Toy Drive. The next time you’re having a big get-together, like a block party or your annual open house or summer BBQ, suggest your guests bring a toy to donate to homeless animals, if they feel so inclined. It’s a great way to do some good while you’re socializing and most people are more than happy to contribute a little something as it feels good, costs hardly a thing, and takes hardly any effort.
9. One word: Cakewalk. This is great fun at a larger fundraising event. Get your friends, neighbours, church group or book club in on it, and prepare to have a ball. Nostalgia, baking, and the fun of decorating your masterpiece, plus a charitable component? What could be better?
For those unfamiliar with how a cakewalk works, it’s a bit like musical chairs, but without the chairs. Tape numbers on the floor in a circular pattern and set up a table to display all the donated decorated cakes. For each round of the game, be sure you have one person participating for each number taped to the floor. Each person playing buys a ticket (usually, the cost is a dollar or two) to enter the game. Everyone walks around in a circle as the music plays, stopping at the closest number when the music stops. Once everyone is stopped, a number is drawn out of a hat and the person standing on the number that’s been drawn gets to choose a cake. Then start all over with new players. This is frequently the most popular game at any fundraising event and a whole lot of fun, so don’t be surprised if your cakewalk (catwalk?) is mobbed by participants. At the end, donate the money collected to “walk” in the cakewalk to your local rescue. Pretty sweet, right?
10. Foster. Why not open your house and heart to a homeless cat that needs temporary shelter? The time commitment is often as short as two weeks, but it is a tremendous help to rescue groups, allowing them to take in more cats in need of homes, cats that in some cases would be euthanized if the rescues weren’t able to pluck them from an over-capacity kill shelter. And, of course, fostering is a godsend for the foster cats, allowing them to know a home rather than a cage, so their true personalities can shine forth, helping them to find their forever home. In short: small time commitment, huge reward.
Myth 1: All of the pets at animal shelters have something wrong with them
A: Walk into any animal care center and you’ll likely find a variety of dogs from Chihuahuas to Labradors to Beagles. Sadly, many of these wonderful pets are relinquished to animal care centers through no fault of their own One of the main reasons that animals are given up is because their owners are no longer able to provide the proper care; perhaps this is due to financial hardship, a move to a new home, illness or death of the owner, or a change in lifestyle. In all of these situations, the animal is relinquished for reasons unrelated to their health, temperament or behavior. Keep in mind that shelters will not adopt out animals with untreatable or serious behavioral issues.
Myth 2: Going to the shelter or pound is sad and an unpleasant experience
A: We actually prefer the phrase ‘animal care center’ to define shelters in our communities. That’s because many municipalities or SPCAs have redefined animal sheltering with the public and animal’s comfort in mind. At your local animal care center you’ll likely find staff and volunteers working together to rehabilitate sick or injured animals, hosting adoption events or distributing humane education materials. Modern animal care centers are designed with bright, cheerful colors, many with grooming suites to increase an pet’s chance for adoption or play yards used to train and socialize dogs.
Myth 3: They only have cats and dogs.
A: Not so! Many animal care centers have rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, turtles, snakes, and some centers even have farm animals available for adoption! If you’re looking for a companion other than a dog or cat, check your local adoption center, and search online on PetFinder.com or AdoptaPet.com. For the same reasons that dogs and cats end up in adoption centers, other companion animals do as well.
Myth 4: The people at the adoption center don’t know anything about the individual animals, so how can they help me find the right pet?
A: Most animal care centers have several methods of discovering the animal’s true personality and determining what type of home would be best. When people surrender their pets, the shelter staff takes the time to ask questions about the animals personality, behavior, and health. Animals are observed by staff and volunteers during their stay, and often more formal behavior and health evaluations are conducted. And don’t forget to chat with volunteers! Often times it’s the volunteers who have the chance to spend the most time with individual animals and can help match you up with your new best friend!
Myth 5: I really want a purebred, and I’ll never be able to find that at my local adoption center.
A: According to several studies, up to 25% of animals at shelters are purebreds. And owners of purebreds can experience the same hardships that cause them to give up their pets (financial, personal, medical, etc), resulting in purebreds ending up at adoption centers. (And not just purebred dogs, but purebred cats, and exotic animals, too!)