Whether feral and unable to live as a house pet, abandoned by their owners or escapees that were never found, many shelters find themselves overflowing with cats. According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, It is estimated that more than 600,000 cats are left at, or brought to Canadian shelters annually. Luckily, things are looking up for homeless cats. Since 1993, CFHS has reported that cat adoptions have increased from 28% to 53% in 2013 with 61% of owners having adopted a homeless cat. These improvements are the result of the great work rescues have been doing in your community. Thanks to the hard work of these rescues, feral cats have a safe place to call home and the adoption rate of homeless cats in shelters has increased by 25% to 53%. But that still means that only 1 in 2 cats ever find their Forever Homes.
With the overwhelming population of homeless cats in need, rescue groups, shelters and sanctuaries have been developed that specialize in cat care. The different types of groups each help cats in different ways:
Shelters, SPCAs, Humane Societies and Pounds: These groups are often government-funded (often at the municipal level) and operate out of a centralized building. When a pet enters their care, shelters will give them the veterinary attention they need, as well as a warm place to sleep, and meals. They are often top-of-mind when someone needs to abandon their pet.
Rescue groups: Rescue groups tend to be smaller organizations run by dedicated volunteers. Fostering often takes place in volunteers’ homes, meaning that these organizations have a finite cap on how many pets they can care for at a time. “Having a network of foster homes allows every cat in our care to be part of someone’s home. It gives a rescued cat a chance to adapt to living with a family, sometimes with other cats, dogs and/or children” says Sarah May from the Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR). When you adopt from a rescue, you will be screened first and a representative may schedule an in-home visit. “Adopters play a crucial role in our rescue work, because for every cat that is adopted from our program, we can save one more” says Sarah.
Both shelters and rescues charge an adoption fee. This helps cover the cost of caring for your new pet, and all the good work that they will continue to do.
Sanctuaries and Feral Cat Care: Feral cats are those who have been born outside and experience little to no human contact. Because of this most are not suitable to be adopted. Many groups across Canada work to address the issues of feral cat colonies and the needs these cats have. These groups work with feral colonies by providing aid and comforts, including food, water, shelter and medical care. They also work to reduce breeding by trapping and spray or neutering before releasing back into the colony. The Richmond Animal Protection Society provides a cat sanctuary in Richmond, BC. “RAPS Sanctuaries provides a permanent home to both feral and unadoptable tame cats. There are currently around 500 cats residing there, although the Society cared for more than 800 cats at one time” says Leslie Landa of RAPS.
How can you help? Not everyone is able to adopt but you can still help cats in need. By donating money for vet care, food, litter and supplies you can help support feral and homeless cats. Leslie from RAPS notes “Monetary donations and monthly cat sponsorships are always welcomed”. You can also volunteer to foster for a rescue, or many shelters and sanctuaries also have visiting hours where you can go to pet, snuggle and give the cats treats. And if you’re thinking of adding a cat to your family, adopting a cat will save a life!
Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS) located in Richmond, B.C. operates both a no-kill animal shelter for the City (Richmond Animal Shelter), as well as Canada’s largest sanctuary for homeless cats. The sanctuary is open to visitors on Sundays. Please visit www.rapsociety.com for more information on the shelter and what they do.
Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR) in Toronto, ON is a registered, no-kill charity run by volunteers. Our mission is to rescue and find homes for abandoned, sick or injured cats from situations of abuse, neglect or imminent euthanasia. For more information on the shelter please visit www.torontocatrescue.ca.