Adopting a rescue cat that is 3,000 miles away

Is it practical and sensible to adopt a rescue cat, which by chance, is 3,000 miles from where you live? Is it a folly to try to do this or is it heroic? An heroic effort to adopt an unwanted cat at any cost, almost. What an effort! How commonplace is this in America?

There would have to be a gigantic transportation effort. It is the sort of transportation challenge that many cat breeders don’t entertain mainly because it is too stressful and hazardous for the cat and what about the cost? Also arguably there is no need for this sort of long distance transportation because there should be someone who is local or certainly within a reasonable distance. For rescue cats that doesn’t apply, it seems. Are there guidelines on cat transportation amongst cat rescue organisations?

long distance rescue cat adoption
Long distance rescue cat adoption. Map from Wikimedia Commons (modified)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Well, a person living near the Pacific coast in California tried to adopt a rescue cat that was with a foster carer in North Carolina, which is the other side of the United States, almost 3,000 miles away. In this instance the kitten/cat was flown from Gaston County, North Carolina to LA, California (note: the cat was actually flown from Wilmington, North Carolina – sorry but not much difference). The last leg of the journey to Santa Rosa, California was probably planed to be by road.

The super long distance adoption failed when the 8 month old kitten, Cali, escaped the transportation container at Santa Clarita which is a suburb of Los Angeles (correction: Cali escaped a property where the person transporting the cat was staying – a “condo”). Cali had been transported across the entire breadth of America from East to West but tragically the last leg could not be made because she has gone, lost and cannot be found.

Tell me, was this:

  • (a) an adoption too far, too difficult or too risky or
  • (b) a tremendous effort that unfortunately failed to place a vulnerable and precious rescue cat in a good home in sunny California?

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72 thoughts on “Adopting a rescue cat that is 3,000 miles away”

  1. My cat of 6 years died tragically Jan 12. 2014. It was devastating. The next morning I went on Facebook to look at the photos I had posted of him. At the top of my news feed was a cat so identical to him I had to look several times. My cat tended to over groom and often his tail and back end were missing fur. So was the cat on my news feed. I clicked the photo. For more info only to find out she was all the way in St.Louis MO. She had ended up in the shelter after her owner died tragically. We had both lost companions. I simply commented how I wished I could make her mine under her photo. OPKIT saw this and sprung into action. In a week Sophie was here in my house in Florida all the way from St. Louis. Sophie had so many changes and so much traveling it took her some time to adjust. But I can tell you she is happy and well adjusted. Without OPKIT I would not have my So-So pretty girl.

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  2. Hello. I am the founder of OPKIT, the group that rescued Cali, and I just saw this conversation. It has come to my attention recently that there is some confusion over what exactly happened to Cali, and since the transport company that lost her is not named in the article, but OPKIT is, some people are confusing us with them, and I want to set the record straight. First of all, Cali had no chance to live if she had not been rescued, and if this adopter had not stepped up, she would have ended up in a gas chamber, which is a barbaric and horrible way for an animal to die. This adoption was her only hope. Long distance adoptions happen all the time in the U.S., and many times people who live in areas that do not employ such horrible methods to euthanize animals feel compelled to want to help the ones in those shelters, even if they are thousands of miles away. The shelter that Cali was in is a particularly bad one, one of the few left in the U.S. that still uses the gas chamber. The group that transported, and lost, Cali, The Underground Railroad Rescued Kitty Network, transports many cats, usually without incident, and the person who was supposed to keep Cali overnight took her outside in a harness and leash because Cali would not use the litter box right away. Cali then slipped her leash and ran away. It was an incredibly stupid and senseless thing to do. For the first few weeks after her escape, several people from the URRKN and OPKIT were out there on a regular basis, searching, but she has still not been found, and at this point is doubtful that she ever will be.

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    • Thanks, Jamie, for a very interesting and helpful update and additional information. The outcome is a shame. A lot of effort went into helping Cali. I admire you guys a lot for the work you do.

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    • The search is still ongoing, with local people using a livetrap and trail cam in the yard of a homeowner, in an area where Cali may have been seen. And there are many volunteers checking local shelters and rescues, Craigs List, etc many times a day. Another point of clarification: Cali was flown, IN CABIN, by a lady from CA who had to fly to NC on business. She carried with her one rescued cat TO NC (who is very happily in his new home), and I handed Cali over to her to fly back to CA. Cali was able to ride with her carrier up on the empty middle seat and was given treats and talked to and petted all the way across the US. I really appreciate the concern everyone has about costs and stress to animal, and the availability of cats locally, but sometimes you just look into one’s eyes and you can’t look away.

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  3. I agree on the expense to drive a cat somewhere, but on a plane there are passengers so the cat really doesn’t add any expense.

    And why hasn’t anyone asked me how I ended up networking and looking for a misplaced pig πŸ™‚

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    • I am curious about the pig, Elisa, but not surprised. I was participating on a thread recently about “odd” (to outsiders) rescues and I think we all decided the person who rescued a grasshopper with a broken leg was the winner.

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