How to find Help in your Area:
The best way to find local groups in the U.S. is through Petfinder.
1. Go to Petfinder.com.
2. On the top menu, click on "Animal Shelters"
3. Select "Animal Shelters by Distance"
4. In the "Location" field, type in your zip code and press Go.
A list of groups will appear below.
5. Go through the list one by one and read the descriptions of
the groups. Hopefully, you will be able to find out what sort of cats go into
their program, whether they accept owner surrenders, if they help with TNR, if
they are no-kill, et cetera.
to get a rescue group to help you
One of the most frustrating things about dealing with rescue
groups is that they are hard to get a hold of. They may provide email addresses
and phone numbers, but for any number of reasons (overwhelming number of
requests, for one) do not respond to emails or answer the phone. It seems that
nine out of ten numbers for cat rescues go directly to voicemail. Don't fret!
I learned a few things from my time working for a group with a very high call
Here are some things to keep in mind when seeking help:
1. Be Polite.
- The group will be doing you a favor, not vice
versa. Please never say you want to "donate" a cat.
- Don't talk about your cat as a disposable thing you want
to "get rid of".
2. Have a good reason.
- Having a kid who is deathly allergic to the cat is one
thing, but expecting a baby and being afraid the cat will scratch it is
another. Being homeless is a pretty good reason but you won't get much
sympathy for having moved into an apartment complex where pets aren't
allowed. Please do a web search for pet-friendly housing.
- You have a lifelong obligation to your cat and it should
be taken seriously. The cat's very life depends on it!
Silly excuses for giving up a pet: not enough
time, doesn't get enough attention, new pet, new baby/pregnant, moving,
allergic boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, correctable behavioral problems.
3. Please make sure you've exhausted all other options.
- If you are giving up a cat due to something like allergies
or behavioral problems, make sure you've tried everything there is to deal
with the situation. The internet is chock-full of resources for help with
many issues for which people often surrender their cats.
4. Understand what the group does and doesn't do.
- Many rescue groups and limited access shelters do not
accept owner surrenders except in special circumstances.
- The group may deal with feral cats, but that doesn't mean
they are going to take them off your hands. They may be willing to help
with Trap-Neuter-Return, but unless it is a dire situation they probably
won't be able to take the cats off your hands. You can, of course, ask for
help rehoming feral cats, but rescue groups generally do not have a
long line of caretakers waiting for more cats! You should try to find
someone who is willing to take the cats into a managed colony (for instance,
someone who has a farm or other isolated property) and the group can take
over from there.
5. Be willing to do the grunt work!
- Most groups do not have the people to do a lot of
trapping. They will probably lend you traps and show you how to use them,
and instruct you on where to take the cats for veterinary care.
- If you are concerned about a stray cat or orphaned kitten
-- don't just call a group, rescue it! A good resource for caring for
kittens can be found here. Please
also read our tutorial --
"What to do if you find a stray"!
6. Be prepared to make a donation.
- Funds are almost always low for rescue groups, and many
groups require some sort of donation. Even a small donation is better than
nothing. Please realize that most rescue groups and shelters are not
government funded facilities and the ones that are are still broke! They
rely on public support to stay aloft.
- If you cannot afford a donation, promise one at a later
date, or offer goods or services in its stead.
7. Make sure the cat is ready for adoption.
- A group is much more likely to take your cat into its
adoption program if it is healthy, altered, up to date on vaccines and has
tested negative for FIV and Feline Leukemia.
- Take your cat to the vet before seeking help from a rescue
group and offer to fax over the paperwork.
7. Try, try again!
- If you get an answering machine, do leave a voice message
including your name and the reason for your call, as well as your phone
number stated twice,
slowly and clearly. Some groups do actually answer their phones though, so
you may want to keep trying until someone answers.
- If the group offers an alternative contact method, such as
email, try that as well.
8. Don't advertise that you are asking other groups for help.
- It is easy for someone to subconsciously 'pass the buck'
when s/he knows that the responsibility to help is not solely on him or
her. If you are contacting more than one group, do not send out a generic
email with them all listed as recipients or even CCed. Send individual
9. Accept whatever help they can provide.
- Many groups will be willing to do courtesy listings on
Petfinder. Make sure to scan in some good photos of your cat and write up a
short bio that they can post on the site.
10. Volunteer at a local rescue!
- Build up a relationship with a group by fostering, helping
at adoption shows, et cetera. Then if you ever come across a stray, you may
be able to get it into the program. :)