I want to help cats. How do I do it?

I am sat here typing this and I have little idea about how to answer the question that I have posed in the title. Well, actually, I have one or two ideas but I can’t just look up a directory headed “Volunteers Needed at These Cat Rescue Organisations”. I wrote this page on Oct 12, 2013. I am republishing it with a couple of minor amendments. I’d like to air the topic again. Also, some useful comments have been added. Back in the day readers used to comment much more. Times have changed. If you want to advertise for volunteers, please feel free.

Cecelia Theis
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cecelia Theis’s lonely vigil looking after her beloved feral and stray cats under TNR program. Screenshot.

A recent post about a lady who established a cat rescue operation at home but failed, in some ways, gave me the idea for this post. She wanted to help cats in need and started a full-blown rescue operation but could not cope. Could she have helped cats in a different way? A more manageable way that was legal and more sensible? I think that could have been the answer for her – to find a better outlet for her desire to help unwanted cats. Perhaps, the solution was not to set up a cat rescue organisation in her own home in the suburbs but to find organisations where she could indirectly help cats.

There are quite a lot of ladies who look after community cat colonies and they are in danger of provoking the wrath of neighbours, some of whom will object. Even doing something like that can be difficult, perhaps impossible.

Just starting

Although there are individuals who simply just start by trapping feral cats and taking them to shelters or veterinarians for a check-up and sterilisation. Sometimes they socialise feral cats. There is a lady in Australia who does this. I had a long chat with her on the phone and recorded it. See link below. It seems that the focus on helping must be feral and stray cats. These are the abandoned ones. They need to be in homes.

I would quite like to help cats. I am retired and work on this website but it would nice if I got out a bit more and met like-minded cat loving people. But where are they and do they need me?

UK

Cats Protection

In the UK, the one organisation that springs to mind immediately is Cats Protection. You can apply to be a cat fosterer. Rightly so, the standards are high and you’ll need some facilities. Personally, I don’t think you can be a cat fosterer from a small two bed flat in a busy city when you already care for a male cat. The obstacles are substantial. I would have thought a freehold house with a garden in the country or a small town would be far more suitable. Also, there is not a demand for fosterers in every area. However, Cats Protection would be an excellent way to help cats in England provided you have the setup, time and abilities to do the work.

As I recall you have to have your fostered cats in cages at all times. You can’t let them run around. I found that odd initially (if you don’t have cats). But it must be to ensure that the fostered cat or cats don’t escape and disappear. This might be a distinct possibility as they are in a strange place with strange sounds.

There are other cat rescue organisations that require fosterers (both are based in London):

  • Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT)
  • Battersea Dogs and Cats HomeΒ  — “We have an urgent need for volunteer cat fosterers who can provide a safe and calm foster home for pregnant mums and their kittens.”

I am sure there are others.

RSPCA

You can become a volunteer at an RSPCA center. Of course, the RSPCA deals with all animals so it is not just about helping cats. As an outlet for a person’s desire to help cats it does not tick all the boxes. This page on their website has a list of vacancies and one them is “Community Cat Champion”. This is an interesting role based in Birmingham. It about “Talking to people and explaining the benefits of having their cats done” (neutered). The RSCPA train you. Nice work but it seems that this vacancy is no longer open.

If I am honest, this is slim pickings. There is not much out here.

Christy the face of TNR

Christy the face of TNR. Photo: Darren McDonald. Source: Sooke News Mirror

USA

People think that feral cats are a problem in the USA so volunteers to manage feral cat colonies are welcome. The Humane Society of the United States provide some very useful information on ways to successfully manage feral cats. It is not just about feeding them. People who feed feral cats are kind-hearted people who I admire but it can create problems. Feeding should be combined with TNR. It is best to join a local organization which is involved in TNR programs. HSUS has a nice page on this subject.

In some places there can be heated debates about TNR programs and volunteers. There are quite a lot of people who disagree with TNR. They want feral cats eradicated and not treated humanely.

Cat Shelters – Animal Shelters

I am finding it hard to track down cat shelters that are looking for fosterers. I know that Elisa fosters cats or did foster cats from Grenville Animal Shelter. There should be opportunities for people wishing to help cats if they seek out their local shelter and make enquiries.

Singapore

Yes, Singapore has their Cat Welfare Society. Wonderful, and they need volunteers. One of the roles appears to be a front-line role: Community Cat Caregivers/Mediators. An on-the-ground at the sharp end job. Ideal for a real cat lover who wants to get stuck into the reality of cat welfare.

Australia

Based on Cat Havens request for volunteers, I’ll presume that shelters in Australia look for volunteers from time to time.

Cat Haven Australia Cat Rescue

Cat Haven rescue, rehome and raise awareness about cats in Western Australia. Volunteers have to be over 18 years of age, fit and commit to one 3-hour shift per week.

There are lots of good reasons to doing voluntary work at animal shelters.Β  Here’s three: (a) meeting like-minded people (b) getting career experience (c) helping animals so you feel good and they live a better life.

VolunteerMatch.org

This is a website where organisations can advertise for volunteers and volunteers can find opportunities. It appears to be worldwide but mainly focused on USA opportunities. Website.


Notes:

  1. This page contains external links, which sometimes don’t work. Sorry but people delete pages and even websites sometimes.
  2. If you know of some other ways people can help cats, please leave a note below. Thanks.

Below are some more pages on volunteers.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

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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23 Responses

  1. tamara beinlich says:

    Hey Mike I sent you a email about Stephen Kings “Evil Thing” Molly his corgi. It’s from Blue…. @hotmail. I’ve sent other emails but maybe they go into your junk box.

  2. Marion says:

    Have you thought of helping out at a CP shop if one local, transporting cats to and from vets for local CP, being a cat cuddler if homing or adoption centre anywhere near, I would contact all local organisations and pose them the same question as you have here. Education officers are sought by lots of branches too so you may enjoy that sharing knowledge of cat care etc with lots of materials available to you, CP even have a learn online portal for volunteers to gain lots of extra knowledge and skills.
    Of course there is lots of ways to volunteer from home but as you say you want to get out and meet like minded people I haven’t covered them πŸ™‚

    • Rose says:

      Marion what can you do from home?

      • Marion says:

        lots of admin roles can be done from home, phone calls, databases, computer and website stuff, social networking, newsletters, depends on the branch really but always worth asking one of our admin volunteers recently moved to Huddersfield but still volunteers for us πŸ™‚

        • Rose says:

          Thinking about the old dears I care for sometimes when I go in they say they feel useless everybody needs to feel valuable.

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            Rose can they knit? Babz has a few older ladies who come to our charity Coffee Mornings, knit small blankets for cat beds and they are always much appreciated especially with Winter coming.
            One old lady knits tiny squares and Babz stitches them together for her, a labour of love lol but it’s so worth it because it makes those ladies feel useful and their faces light up when we praise their help.
            Of course there’s the problem of where to get the wool but most charity shops have it cheap.

            • Rose says:

              What a fabulous idea thanks just right for the old dears who can’t get around much lol now I will have to go in search of lots of wool no doubt lol.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks a lot Marion. Very helpful comment and it has got me thinking. Ideally I would to work with like-minded people. I would like to be with people and to meet people. I think it is good for one to do that.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        You’d be good on a fund raising stall for Cats Protection Michael, nearly everyone coming to the stall ‘talks cat’ just like we cat people do in the pet food aisle at the supermarkets.
        It’s great fun, we love our tombola stall days.

        • Vicky says:

          Rose, many branches have their own admin officers who deal with neutering vouchers and adoption forms etc.

          I love my volunteer work with Cats Protection, fostering is one of the best things I have ever decided to do.

        • Michael says:

          Gosh, I’d talk cat all day πŸ˜‰ I’d bet I’d learn something too.

  3. Dee (Florida) says:

    It seems that there is so much less of a need to rescue where you are, so hands on opportunities are slim.

    Michael, you have such a big heart and are so knowledgeable about cats that I can see you writing a book and/or doing public speaking about cat care.

    How to make that happen? I’m no expert at that; but, it seems to me that writing a book (even a small one) would offer the opportunity to draw “cat people” to book signings at book stores where you can give mini lectures and answer questions. You may “take off” from there.

    And, ofcourse, Ruth AKA will have to do the book illustrations.

    Whew! Now that I have planned your future life (and Ruth AKA’s), I guess I need to get back to my own. LOL!

    • Michael says:

      πŸ™‚ thanks a lot for that comment, Dee. That is too nice of you. I’ll think about it. I quite like the idea of doing something with schools.

      As for hands on cat help in the UK, there is not a huge amount opportunity. The opportunities I mentioned are probably the obvious choices. You’ll have to be in the right location.

      • Dee (Florida) says:

        Schools are a good idea; but, how easy would it be to get in there? A science class may be feasible.

        I’m, also, thinking about eldercare, ie. assisted living and nursing home facilities. There are lots of visitors and I don’t think it would be hard to be one of their “programs”. How would Charlie feel about being around people?

        Just thinking…

        • Michael says:

          I remember Martha Kane in Malta doing an educational session in a local school, a good school, about animal care etc. The children loved it. That is the kind of thing that appeals to me. The objective: to improve cat caretaking. Charlie is impressive with his three legs but too nervous and a bad traveller.

          I would actually love to do a tour of America! πŸ˜‰ Preaching why declawing was bad and how to respect cats. Dream on….

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            They could do with a Michael Broad over there in the USA, a cat loving passionate anti declaw advocate!
            I wonder if we could clone you, because you can’t go yourself and leave Charlie bereft πŸ˜‰

          • Marc says:

            I need to answer this question for myself here in Switzerland. It’s quite possible that in some years down the line I’ll move somewhere else that I can help. The more time goes by the more it’s clear to me that this matters most and should be what I am doing with my time.

            • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

              Both you and Michael are a wonderful help to cats because of your kind donations to cat charities but you would get great satisfaction at the actual physical part of it. I loved it when I was younger. Babz and I can’t do as much now she has joint pain and I’m getting too old, for us to climb on rooftops and down wells or stand all day with a collecting tin. But we can fund raise and collect cat food etc and we can do a lot on-line educating about cat welfare.
              Everyone helping in any way at all is very valuable, we all just have to do what we can.

              • marc says:

                Thanks Ruth – you are very kind. I’d like to be more hands on though. I feel like I can make just about any cat feel comfortable and I’d love to work with cats just helping clean the litter boxes and giving them food and above all, playing with them. I think I’d be really put to use then.

            • Michael says:

              I think I might end up in old age in a detached house in the country with a large enclosed garden and a limited number of rescue cats. Just a thought.

              • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

                A good thought Michael and you could still run PoC from there πŸ™‚

                • Michael says:

                  Yes, it would actually make running PoC easier because I’d have all the cats to write about. The ups and downs. The highs and lows. I have had that idea in my mind for years. Perhaps in a few years time. I am still in London, where prices are too high to do that.

              • marc says:

                Sounds like paradise to me. You should do it! I’m definitely going to at some point!

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