If you have to re-home your cat try and do it yourself first before going to a shelter. And the vast majority of people who are looking to relinquish their cat really don’t want to.
Matthew Bershadker, the president and CEO of the ASPCA said that:
“…the vast majority of people who are looking to relinquish or re-home their pets really don’t want to, but they feel like they have no other alternative”.
He made this comment, I think, in response to a sad story about the relinquishment of cats by a genuine cat lover, Katrina Glover. At one time she was living the good life in the Bronx, New York. She had eight female cats and she loved them. Unfortunately, however, some or all of them were not spayed.
Somebody found a cat outside in the winter and a friend of hers said that she wanted the cat. Katrina took the cat in until her friend could pick him up. In the meantime Katrina became busy with work and as it happens the cat that she had taken in was an unneutered male. The person who wanted the cat changed her mind.
You can perhaps guess what happened next. The tomcat got her female cats pregnant. She ended up with nine cats, eight of whom were female and four litters of kittens. To compound the problem she lost her job. To compound the problem further her mother died of cancer and she became depressed.
The combination of events meant that she was unable to cope with looking after her cats. But they were her reason for living.
“My cats at some point became the only reason I got up every day”.
Katrina spent all her money on her cats and she ignored herself. She became overwhelmed and there was a possibility that she could lose her home. A friend of hers suggested going to the ASPCA for help.
The ASPCA did indeed help. They provided veterinary care and assisted in the process of surrendering some of the cats. When Katrina called the ASPCA she cried throughout the entire phone call.
This is an example of a person who did not wish to surrender her cats but fortunately saw the light and did so. It does provide an insight into what can happen quite easily when a cat lover becomes overwhelmed by the number of cats in her care. And of course it supports the statement of the CEO of the ASPCA.
The ASPCA state that the most common reason for surrendering pets, at 46% of the surrenders, is health or behavior problems. The former must be to do with money. Perhaps we could interpret that problem as a money problem rather than a health problem. Twenty-seven percent say that family and human health issues are a reason for surrendering their pets, while 18% cite housing issues.
Bershadker says that the pet health issue is, in fact, a lack of access to affordable treatment. Apparently, some shelters work with pet owners to get them over difficult patches by providing veterinary care and advice on behavior problems. They even assist cat and dog owners with housing issues sometimes. With this support many pet owners end up keeping their animals. The argument is that helping cat and dog owners get over difficult times is money well spent because it frees up limited resources for other animals that genuinely cannot stay with their owner or they have suffered cruelty or are victims of natural disasters.
Rehome yourself rather than use a shelter
Bershadker makes an interesting observation. He says that if you have to re-home your cat or dog the best solution is to try and organize it yourself rather than going to a shelter. He argues that using your personal network is the best way forward initially. This is because a pet owner knows her animal better than shelter staff and therefore they know what kind of home he or she is suited to. And of course shelters are stressful and inherently dangerous places in terms of euthanasia and contracting infectious diseases.
To return to Katrina Glover who gave up some of her beloved cats; she says that she thinks about them frequently and says that it was the hardest decision that she ever had to make.
“… You think about the fact that these animals have grown up with you, you watch them from when they were born to the moment they took their first steps to when they started running around. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make.”