DIY Cat Rescue

orange cat

This is a story about a cat who’s no longer wanted. His name is Santee. His people say he’s very lovable and affectionate. Cuddling is just about his favorite thing, and he’s a great lap cat.

So after eight years with his family, where did Santee go wrong? He swatted a young child who was chasing him. Santee was banished to the basement and is now looking for a new home. His people (does it matter that they’re young and in the military?) want to find the perfect home for him. But, they say, they’re “running out of options” and may have no choice but to take him to a shelter, where he’ll most likely be killed.

We could talk about teaching children to treat all animals, including the family cat, gently and with respect. We could suggest that any child who is allowed to chase a cat is sure to get scratched eventually, and that it’s the parents who are to blame, not the cat. And we could mention that if parents can’t teach their children how to play nicely with the cat, the cat will become the child’s self-appointed teacher.

But for Santee, none of that matters now. What matters is that he needs a new home, and his people are unwilling to make the effort to find him one. So they’ve contacted every rescue they can find, begging for someone to take poor Santee off their hands.

They seem to think they’re entitled to this service because they’re young and in the military and stressed. And then there’s the threat: They’ll take him to a kill shelter if one of us doesn’t rescue them.

To those of us who rescue, though, no one is entitled except the cats in our care. Your age, profession and life circumstances are all irrelevant to us. All we’re interested in is saving your cat’s life. And as far as I’m concerned, no one is better able to do that than you. I’ll be glad to help in every way I can, but the cat will be much happier and more adoptable if he can stay with you until his new home comes along.

These are some of the things I’ve learned in 15 years of rescuing cats.

  • A no-kill rescue sounds like the perfect, guilt-free solution if you want to give up a cat. But the sad truth is that most cats are miserable in rescue. That’s especially true of old cats and cats who have always lived in the same home. They’re confused and unhappy about being in a strange place, usually with a lot of other cats they don’t know, and it can take them a very long time to get used to their new lives. Some never do.
  • Your age, life circumstances or the promise of a large donation cannot create room where there isn’t any. Most no-kill rescues are almost always full. The only way we can make room for new cats is through adoptions, which can be few and far between. And when a cat does get adopted, that space is usually filled instantly.
  • Finding a new home for a cat is a lot of work. But with patience and persistence, it can be done. Just be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. And keep reminding yourself that the cat is more adoptable if he’s at home with you instead of with a rescue.

I believe so strongly in DYI cat rescue, I’ve written an article with tips on how to rehome a cat. I also wrote an article about what to do about a stray cat you can’t keep.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what became of Santee. His people didn’t reply when I wrote to them to ask. I just hope he’s with a rescue or in a new home. Ensuring that he’s happy and safe is the least his people can do for someone who was loving member of the family for eight years.


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