Adopting A Cat From Far Away

I’ve titled this article appropriately to give the cat lovers here a glimpse of the extremes a cat lover in the U.S. will go to in order to adopt a cat that a person has fallen in love with. Many times the distance between the cat and the cat adopter is hundreds, if not thousands of miles.

In the old days before the internet, someone wanting a cat would visit the local shelter and pick out whichever cat they took a liking to. Things are much different now, and the sky is the limit.

By this I mean there’s a whole other world out there in which to search for the perfect cat. This comes in the form of social media, including but not limited to cat adoption sites such as Petfinder. Facebook also heavily advertises cats on death row either through pages set up by individual animal shelters or by individuals and rescues fighting to save them.

I stay on Facebook a lot. If anyone asks me where I live, I simply tell them “on Facebook.” The effort to save death row cats now can have the excitement of Wall Street. Choosing the cat, arranging transport and getting the cat to its new home is fascinating to watch unfold on the pages of Facebook.

For instance, someone checking out the cats available at the different shelters may become discouraged because the cat an individual wants to add to their family is located hours from where that person lives. Distance doesn’t necessarily stand in the way for today’s cat lovers. Let me give a scenario of how the social media system works.

Mary (easy name to remember) sees the most beautiful cat she’s ever seen while surfing internet sites who advertise cats looking for a new home. Unfortunately that cat is 500 miles from where Mary lives. So Mary gets on the social media site (Facebook, for example) and expresses her desire for that particular cat. This is when things get really interesting online. People see Mary’s post and first reassure her there’s no reason she can’t have that special kitty. Soon Mary is put in touch with transporters who take cats from the shelter to a set location.

With cat adoptions where the cat is literally across the country, a cat may be put on board a plane and flown to it’s new owner. If it’s not a great distance, one or more transporters will coordinate and take the cat wherever it needs to go. It’s amazing how time schedules are set when more than one person will be taking the kitty to meet it’s new family. The government should be so well-timed!

Those not familiar with this way of saving cats may be surprised to learn this doesn’t have to involve a lot of money. For example, there’s a transport that leaves out of the shelter we used to rescue from in Greenville, SC. A few months back they had a transporter going straight up the I-95 corridor from South Carolina to New York. The cost was only $45 per cat. The transporter had a van and could carry 15 cats in one trip.

It really depends on where the cat is, where it needs to go, and how much care you want taken with the cat. Some transports will drive non stop from one destination to another. These charge a bit more because there’s more involved. A “layover” where the cat may have to stay with a foster family for a day or two and then continue on to it’s home is also an option. Some trips are just too much for everyone involved, including the cat, without a break in between. In some cases things have to be worked around the schedule of the person getting the cat to its new home. A lot of part-time transporters also hold down regular jobs.

How do the readers here feel about all the options now available for adopting that special cat, wherever it may be? Do you approve, or do you believe people should stick to adopting locally? Have any of you ever adopted from a shelter far from home?

Transporters, please feel free to leave information on the services you offer and any information a cat adopter should keep in mind when choosing a cat that will require a long trip to it’s new home.


Associated: Shipping cats in planes.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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11 Responses

  1. Elisa says:

    A list of transports can be found under comments on this photo

  2. Dee (Florida) says:

    Great article, Elisa.
    I didn’t realize how popular this is becoming.
    Is there any sort of screening process for potential adoptees?

    • Elisa says:

      I don’t know whether there’s any screening as to the conditions of the home. I do know a lot of questions get asked on a Facebook thread to be s sure the person is serious about wanting a particular cat.

      • Michael says:

        Good, I am pleased to hear that. The trouble is do you totally believe everything everyone says about themselves on FB? Once again it is better to meet a person to assess them. There are a lot of people on FB presenting a parallel personality to their true character through internet social media.

  3. Michael says:

    You’re right — adopting at a distance tends to focus on appearance, which is not really the objective of shelters. The most vulnerable cats should ideally be the first.

    However, if more cats are adopted then it is a good thing.

    One last, slight negative is that transporting cats long distances also carries risk and is stressful but if a life is saved we can’t complain.

  4. Michael says:

    This is an interesting article for me because there are good and bad aspects about this method of adopting a cat.

    To adopt a cat from far away probably means that many more cats get adopted. That is great news. There is much more fluidity in pet adoption these days it seems.

    On the downside, a person adopting a cat far away is selecting the cat from a picture and has not met the cat beforehand. The selection has to be based on the description of character and the photo. That is not too bad but not ideal.

    It is generally agreed that people should visit the shelter and meet the cats before selection. This allows both parties to get to know each other beforehand.

    They say, and there is lots of truth in it, that cats select the human. This can’t take place at a distance.

    I wonder what the success rate is for cat adoptions at a distance? It is probably good but the process is more risky. There might be some failures with the cat being relinquished to a local shelter.

    I like the way Facebook helps in this instance. I am not a fan of FB but it, and Twitter, can do some real good in respect of communication and spreading the word.

    • Elisa says:

      Good point Michael. Many times I’ve allowed the cat to choose me and with the use of social media you’re basing a decision on appearance more than personality. I’ve also had to help out on a few cases where rescues got the cat out of death row jail, only to abandon the cat after transport had already began the journey. But it is an interesting experience to watch unfold.

      • Marc says:

        Elisa – I think a cat adopted is a good thing no matter where or how. If there is love and adoption I can’t and won’t complain. People who go to that extent will take care of the cat being transported nicely.

        I only worry about people who order pure bred cats from a distance. I don’t believe the same kind of love and care is there. Great article – as usual 🙂

        • Michael says:

          Good point. If people adopt rescue cats there is s different mentality from the start which helps. Although some rescue cats are stunning and like pedigree cats. It is these cats that might catch the eye of people searching the Internet. It is still a good thing.

          • Marc says:

            One must differentiate between a good thing and ideal. Although not ideal necessarily in any given circumstance – it’s still a good thing if a cat is adopted when you consider the other options.

            • Michael says:

              Yes, sensible thought. I just did a page on this as a follow up and if internet adoptions and shipping helps save the lives of cats it must be good despite all the imperfections. I’d just like to see us (people) do better and focus on cat character and health and creating a tight relationship with a cat rather than focusing on physical appearance which is often the main reason for adoption.

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