Free Cats

by Elisa Black-Taylor

Free cats. We see these words everywhere these days. People advertise cats on Craigslist and in the freebies section of the newspaper. Not only is this dangerous for the cats, it’s also misleading to those wanting to adopt a cat.

Free cat adverts Craigslist

Free cat adverts Craigslist. This is a screenshot.

For one thing, free cats aren’t really free. They come with a lot of “adoption baggage” and that’s the reason I’ve always suggested people adopt from a shelter or rescue. Your typical free cat will need a vet exam, tests for FIV/FeLV and sometimes heartworms. They will need vaccinations to protect their health. Most likely they will need a spay/neuter. All of this is included when a cat is adopted from a legitimate shelter or rescue.

It’s not safe to adopt a cat out to someone not willing or capable to care for it. You never know who will show up for a free cat. It could go to a wonderful home, or a life of hell may await it.

The reason for this article comes from a story Michael wrote regarding the ASPCA offering up the Caboodle Ranch cats next weekend. I wasn’t aware the event had already been scheduled. I have a hard time keeping up with all of the news in the cat world using just my cell phone for internet. I thought this an important topic and wanted to know if everyone else is as concerned as I am.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the ASPCA will host an adoption event next weekend where the cost of taking home a Caboodle Ranch cat will range from free to $10 per cat. All a person has to do is show up and show an ID. And I guess looking like a normal person instead of an abuser is required.

Update – correction: Please see John’s comment below:

“The adopting agencies are not just handing out cats to anyone with a photo ID. The applicants are being screened and interviewed — more rigorously than usual, given the number of Caboodle Ranch supporters who have threatened to “steal” or “kidnap” the cats, or to adopt them under false pretenses so they can be illegally returned to Craig Grant….”

See a page on ASPCA rehoming events for the Caboodle cats.

My main concern is what an abuser looks like. A lot of you may not know I write a lot on dog abuse. MANY of the abusers are members of the police department where they live. Who could look more normal than a police officer? My point is, judging someone by their appearance and not taking an application to check references or do a home visit is very dangerous for a cat.

A lot of people are concerned the Caboodle Ranch people will adopt some of the cats and take them back to the ranch. I think that’s the most dangerous thing that could happen. Not for the reason most of you would think. We went through a feline distemper (panleuk) scare last summer. If any of the Caboodle cats died of this and were buried on the property, the property is still contaminated. Dry conditions allows distemper to live for a year. Wet conditions, such as rain mixing with soil and cat remains could keep the virus alive for YEARS.

So I caution anyone who wants to adopt out a cat using the freebies as well as those of you who adopt this way. Be very careful what you’re doing. Sometimes a bargain isn’t a bargain and sometimes a nice looking person is a seriously deranged animal torturer. The moral is, acquiring a cat is a serious decision regardless.

How do all of you feel about the ASPCA adoption event next weekend? I’m really worried about who will be taking these cats home.


Associated page: Free Maine Coon Kittens.

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Free Cats — 25 Comments

  1. I feel wonderful about the ASPCA adoption events. The events are a blessing to both the cats and the adopters. The animals are ready to go home and will make wonderful new family members to those lucky enough to get them. They’ve received the very best care since they’ve been in the care of the ASPCA, spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated… It is long past time for these wonderful kitties to finally get the loving homes they’ve deserved all along.

    • Yes, it is a relief and it makes people who empathise with the cats feel good that this unpleasant episode (except for the tlc provided by ASPCA) in their lives is about to end.

  2. Hi Elisa,
    Regarding the ASPCA, Cat Depot, and other organizations adopting out Caboodle Ranch cats, there are a few errors in your assumptions.

    The adopting agencies are NOT just handing out cats to anyone with a photo ID. The applicants are being screened and interviewed — more rigorously than usual, given the number of Caboodle Ranch supporters who have threatened to “steal” or “kidnap” the cats, or to adopt them under false pretenses so they can be illegally returned to Craig Grant.

    And as we know, all of the agencies involved are in receipt of lists of high-risk individuals requiring extra scrutiny, or immediate rejection.

    I’m not sure who told you that applicants are receiving less stringent review or aren’t being required to fill out the standard adoption agreements… but that information is incorrect.

    Also, let’s be VERY clear that an adoption conducted by a shelter with years of experience in matching pets with new owners is a far cry from soliciting random abusers on Craigslist.

    • PS: You should remove that incorrect information *immediately* while you verify the facts. Not only does this spread misinformation about the groups involved, but it has the potential to lure animal abusers to the events.

      • Corrected and updated. Apologies. I know how important it is for these adoption events to go well to protect the cats, some of whom have been through tough times.

      • Quit ripping on police officers, you guys. If it weren’t for the bravery of two of them we’d have a lot more than seven people dead from the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek yesterday. One of the officers very nearly gave his life to save others.

        • Fair enough, sorry, I only see the ones on TV and read about ones involved in cat related incidents I suppose, which is probably not a balanced view at all. From personal experience though, I find US and Canadian cops not very welcoming at all. Police in other countries usually don’t make me feel nervous for asking directions, but in the North America it feels alot more ‘us and them’. Like basically its better to avoid them completely. But they have a job to do I suppose and maybe they just get that way after time because of the people they have to deal with. It wasn’t really fair of me.

        • True. Many are great. I have a personal problem with the police which probably stems from the police in the UK. They are always above the law.

          • Once I stopped and asked a Milwaukee cop for directions and he was so happy to help. He kept saying that he was so glad that he could help me out because usually people just see him in their rear view mirror and aren’t too happy about being pulled over. He went above and beyond to help me find where I was going.

            We just had a nasty incident at a temple in the same town where I was having breakfast with my family after church, so that’s what made me react negatively to any hint that police officers would be likely to be animal abusers. So would people in any profession. But it’s still up in the air as to whether one of the Oak Creek officers will survive his injuries. He was shot nine times, but waved fellow officers away from him, to go inside and help other victims first.

  3. Research has shown that the dollar amount an adopter/buyer spends on an animal has no correlation of care they will provide that animal. I volunteer in the animal sheltering system and we get many pure breeds that people spent a lot of money on. Secondly, an animal abuser is not going to go through the stringent process of adopting from the ASPCA when they can get a free pet out of the paper or off Craig’s list. Think about it. These are two different situations. You’re comparing apples to oranges.

  4. It is quite offensive to those of us who live in the U.S. to hear people who do not live here (and many times have never been here) criticizing our country. I would never dream of disparaging your countries. It is rude and uncalled for – and completely unrelated to this post. Our law enforcement officers are very brave professionals and deserve the respect you would expect us to afford yours.

    • Sorry, I would say the same thing about police anywhere. I just don’t trust the police. If they were more open I would. It is a personal thing and not relevant to this post.

      • I cannot imagine why you would not trust the police, unless you had a reason not to. I’ve never had anything short of a great experience with any of them (including my speeding tickets). Always very professional and helpful.

  5. Thank you John. I’m just glad they’re being careful. The ASPCA newsletter made it sound too relaxed. And Dana, I’ve done articles where abusers paid an adoption fee at a local shelter, abused and killed the cat and then returned to the same shelter for another cat. I’m not sure which abuse story it is. If I can find the link I’ll post it.

  6. Here’s the link I was talking about Most of our police officers are great. They will even assist people when not on duty. It’s only a few who are bad. I’m sure if you look hard enought there are abusers in every profession. I just wanted to show you shouldn’t think someone is nice solely by appearance. There probably will be abusers showing up trying to adopt. With so many available its the perfect scenario. The Caboodle adoption event is all over the internet now. I’ve already received 3 notices on it from 3 newsletters. I hope those who would sneak a cat back to Caboodle will read my comment about distemper and other diseases remaining in the ground.

    • I agree, Elisa. There are abusers in EVERY profession, everywhere, all around us. Closer than we’d like to think. Many of us probably interact with them regularly. Even the people who profess to be rescuers are often abusers. Scary, that they are everywhere.

  7. Dana can you or John leave a comment on whether out of state adoptions will be allowed. I know a lot of states require a certificate of health. You two know more about this than I do and this may save someone a trip if you must live in Florida to adopt.

  8. Thanks, Elisa, for making these corrections. The ASPCA and its adoption partners will have thorough adoption processes in place to help ensure that the cats are going to loving homes. This includes completing an application form and having potential adopters meet with adoption staff to answer various questions about their home environment. Some of these cats have special needs, and we will also have a veterinary expert onsite to explain how to care for them.

    Also, to address the other questions about out-of-state adoptions, we welcome potential adopters to come from all over, including states outside of Florida. We encourage everyone to come out and adopt one of these sweet cats! For more info, please visit
    – The ASPCA

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