June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, per the ASPCA, so it's a great time to head over to your local shelter and pick up a new feline friend to love. The shelters are full to bursting, now that kitten season is in full swing, so adopters are absolutely required.
But what should you do if you just can't adopt right now?
I know there are many people out there that fall into this category. (In fact, I even wrote a blog post about this particular subject, although my views have clearly changed since I wrote this entry, as I did end up adopting a shelter cat.)
Here's the thing: Even if you can't bring home a new cat to love, you can absolutely have an impact on the lives of all sorts of shelter cats (or potential shelter cats). Here are just 6 ideas.
1. Spay/neuter your own pets
Okay, this might sound a little unusual, but bear with me here.
If you're living with a cat that hasn't been altered, you're running the risk of contributing to the shelter cat problem (see this post for some startling statistics about pet overpopulation). If you alter your pets, you ensure that you won't add kittens to the shelter mix. And that could help clear the path for other cats to head home with the families they need. Altering really, really helps.
2. Participate in trap/neuter/release programs
Is your neighborhood teeming with unaltered cats? You can do something about it. TNR programs always need volunteers to set out traps for unaltered cats. That cat, trap and all, can be delivered to an alter site and returned to the area when the surgery is done. That cat will live out a normal lifespan, but it won't add to the kitten problem.
Donating your time, even once, could help this really vital work to continue. Contact your local animal shelter to get connected.
Taking in a cat can be a 15- to 20-year commitment. Just ask old man Eamon here. He's creeping up on 14 right now, and he's still going strong.
If you'd rather not make that sort of long-term promise, consider fostering a litter of kittens, or foster an older cat in recovery from a medical procedure. Your foster commitment might be complete in just weeks, but during that time, you'll help the cats in your care become more adoptable. Your work can, and will, save lives.
We've all seen the myths that spread about shelter cats. We're told that they're broken or angry or impossible to train. If you have a cat of your own that you've rescued, you can do your part to dispel the myths. Look for ways to respond pleasantly to the incorrect statements you've seen, and do your part to share the wonders that your shelter cat brings to your life.
I like to share photos like this with people who say older shelter cats are grumpy and can't change.
During the few short months that Troy has been here, I've seen his personality blossom. He's a funny, quirky, gentle boy that has adjusted quickly to life with a bunch of cats and two pesky dogs. The idea that shelter cats come pre-programmed is just nonsense. The more we correct that myth, the more cats we can help.
If you just can't open up your home to a cat, even on a temporary basis, open up a few hours of your time to help in the shelter. Clean a few cages, hand out a little food and help cats learn how to trust people. Shelter cats thrive with just a little attention, and every shelter out there needs help. By donating your time, you could make a huge difference in your community.
Shelter cats often come in to the system with injuries or ailments that need amendments. Some have dental disease, some have flea infestations and some have fur issues. If Lucy can get matted like this in 2 days flat, you can imagine how rough some long-haired cats have it when they arrive after months of street life.
Every donation you make helps the staff to provide the care that makes shelter cats adoptable. Even a few dollars per month helps a ton. If you have it to spare, send it along. If you can't make that commitment, consider picking up a few cans of cat food and donating that. Doing something is always, hands down, better than doing nothing.
So those are my ideas! Do you have any others? I'd love to hear them in the comments section!