Dogs may be man's best friend, but cats are the most popular pet in the U.S. Just over 79 million cats live in American households, compared to nearly 70 million dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Unfortunately, the number of cats in animal shelters is also high. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters each year. Sadly, 860,000 of these cats are euthanized each year.
You can do several things to make life better for shelter cats:
- Adopt a shelter cat. With so many shelter cats needing homes, consider adopting your next feline from a local shelter. Go to www.petfinder.com and search in your area for cats for adoption. Shelters and private rescues list cats of all colors, types and ages on the Petfinder site.
- Volunteer. Another way you can help shelter cats is by volunteering. Shelters and private rescues need all kinds of help, including office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events and cat socializing. Even a few hours a month will enable a shelter to provide services for homeless cats.
- Donate. Shelters and private rescues need money. It costs a lot to house homeless animals, and resources are always slim for these organizations. Set up a monthly donation to a shelter or rescue of your choice. As little as $5 a month can make a difference. Consider making donations of dog food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories if you can. You may also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain like Petsmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need to help the cats in their care.
- Use social media. Follow your local shelter on social media and help spread the word about cats for adoption. Share postings about cats for adoption with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The more exposure shelter cats get, the more likely they are to get a home.
- Help ferals. If you have feral cats living in your neighborhood, help them survive and stay out of the shelter. But remember that simply feeding feral cats isn't the best way to help them--you need to have them spayed or neutered too. A feral cat advocacy group can help you trap the cats and take them to a local veterinarian who provides low cost services for feral cat helpers. The vet will spay or neuter the ferals you bring him or her, and may even provide low-cost inoculations. To find a feral cat advocacy group that can help you get started, visit www.humanesociety.org and search for "feral cats." You'll find a list of feral cat advocacy groups in the U.S.
You can also help shelter cats by being a responsible pet owner, and spaying or neutering your pet to help reduce the number of cats needing homes. Consider keeping your cat indoors too, since outdoor cats are most likely to stray end up in a shelter.