Surrendering Your Cat
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Please don't throw me away!
You may be under the impression that surrendering your cat to the local shelter will be the beginning of a whole new life with a wonderful loving family. I'm here today to tell you the truth about what goes on every day at shelters around the country. Those in other countries probably operate under the same conditions.
So you've decided you no longer want your cat. You've kept your cat for a couple of years and the newness has worn off or it has had kittens because you were too ignorant to spay or neuter. Or you decided your furniture was more important than your cat's claws. It's time to throw away your cat.
Here's what's going to happen...
First you need to decide whether you plan to turn your cat into the shelter as an "owner surrender" which means a fee may be charged by the shelter or as a "stray" where no fee is charged.
I've rescued many cats that were turned in as "strays" and they smelled of laundry detergent or perfume. This is simply someone lying about the animal to get out of paying the surrender fee. This is horribly callous behavior by the cat's "owner".
Most shelters operate on the principal that a cat surrendered to the shelter by its owner should be either adopted out immediately or euthanized immediately. This is determined by how many cats the shelter is caring for and also the health of the cat.
Stray cats are usually given 3-5 days for an owner to claim a lost pet. After this holding time the pet can be euthanized, pulled by a Humane Society adoption program, or be advertised for rescue or fostering.
During this time the cat will be exposed to all kinds of disease, the stress of dogs barking day and night, and the general torment of being in a cage. Once your cat becomes ill, and it will happen within a week of being placed in a cage, it will go to a sick bay for ill cats. These cats are first on the list to die since they have become unhealthy (at the shelter).
Your cat will wait for you to return to take it home, never knowing you're gone forever. Your cat will go to its death believing that any minute you'll be back because you were always there for it in the past.
Do not blame the shelter employees for the death of your former pet. YOU are the one to blame as YOU are likely the cause for it being there in the first place. This time of year is kitten season and entire litters are being killed every day to make room for the next litter. And it never ends. People give up cats for reasons from allergies to change in lifestyle. Would someone PLEASE explain to me what change in lifestyle is?
Each shelter only has a certain number of available cages. Once these are filled up the decision must be made on which cats to kill. I would hate that job. I can't imagine the torment the shelter employee who has to make that decision feels after caring for and trying to find a rescue for a cat and then having to make the decision to euthanize.
Your dead cat will then be placed in a freezer with all of the other dead cats awaiting whatever disposal system is used by the shelter. If the mental image of this isn't enough to make you change your mind about surrendering your cat, then I'm sorry, you're just not human.
You are the one who refused to spay/neuter. You are the one who wanted a declawed cat and are now upset when your cat refuses to use the litter box because the litter hurts its poor paws. And YOU are the one who should acknowledge the fact your cat has an 80% chance of being euthanized. I realize your cat is beautiful. I've also watched the Rainbow Bridge roster fill up with gorgeous cats. Beauty means nothing in a shelter.
If I had my way I'd require people surrendering their pet to have to view all of the dead cats in barrels or whatever they're kept in until taken away from the shelter.
I know this information is upsetting to a lot of readers. You deserve to know the truth. Take the blinders off and accept what will likely happen. If I can stop one cat from dying in a shelter then I've done my job writing this article.
I had time recently to observe people turning in pets at the shelter where I rescue. I was there from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., which is the busiest time of day since people are off of work and anxious to throw away their cats before spending a relaxing evening at home with the family.
I can tell you it took a lot of effort on my part not to harass these traitors. If not for my role as a rescuer I would have. People were lined up almost out the door with cats, dogs and kittens. All of the animals being turned in while I was there were "found" by the person turning them in. NONE, I repeat NONE, had any remorse. If anything they appeared happy to be ridding themselves of what was probably the family pet.
There is a new program being implemented at shelters around the country. It requires anyone surrendering a pet to make an appointment for counseling.
In Golden Valley, Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society put into place a counseling program on January 1st requiring pet owners to go through counseling. An appointment is required where options to animal surrender are discussed. The Humane Society realizes many people are relinquishing their cats due to financial problems in the family. Many also decide to throw away their pet for behavior problems that could be corrected with a little guidance.
Since implementing this program the shelter has seen a drop in both the euthanasia rate and the number of animal surrenders. Humane Societies are doing everything they can to keep a pet in the home and out of the shelter.
Legend has it that a cat who has passed over the rainbow bridge waits at heaven?s gate for the person it loved the most. Do you believe this legend, readers? I do. I'd really hate to have to face a cat I threw away and explain why I no longer loved it enough to provide a home.
My discussion question for the day is: what is the most insane reason you've heard for surrendering a cat? Mine is "change in lifestyle". I just can't imagine any lifestyle being worth throwing away your cat.