What should I look for in a rescue organisation?
In the UK, there is strong charity support for our animals, and thousands are rescued, saved and re-homed successfully. Many of the organisations involved are highly professional and have taken on board the mental and physical health needs of their cats in the way they’re cared for. However, there are some ‘rescues’ or ‘sanctuaries’ where cats are still kept in inappropriate conditions.
A homing/rescue organisation should:
- Only take in the number of cats it can care for properly
- Ensure that cats which are ill or injured have appropriate veterinary care
- Ensure that the cats are not at risk of catching other diseases while they are in the facility
- Ensure that cats are not stressed by the conditions they are kept in or, by the proximity of other cats or dogs. This can lead to behaviour problems and a reduced ability to fight disease as well as increasing the shedding of viruses.
- Ensure the cats are kept in such a way that they can relax and exhibit normal behaviour so that the right homes can be found for them
- Aim to match cats to owners with the aim of long-term harmonious relationships
- Ensure that every effort is made to find suitable homes as quickly as possible for the cats in their care
Many charities have good facilities and resources and keep cats in individual units with a warm sleeping place and a run where they can stretch their legs a bit or see what’s going on. Cats that come in together and seem to get on very well (the one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other, and many a cat from a ‘pair’ blossoms when it’s separated from its companion) may be kept together, but assumptions are not made.
Support homing/rescue organisations which are doing a good job and understand the complexities of disease control and the cat’s wellbeing. Caring for lots of cats, some with very complex needs is not an easy undertaking.
In good homing/rescues, health and wellbeing are understood and staff house the cats in a way that enables assessment of an individual cat’s behaviour and personality as well as health. The aim is to try to match a new owner to a cat as successfully as possible, and this is not always easy. Cats will also be checked carefully for health problems and will ideally be neutered, wormed, treated for fleas and any other conditions that may have been identified.
This is not to say you shouldn’t take on a cat with an illness or disability. If the homing/rescue organisation can tell you about it and what the cat’s needs will be, and is able to give you a full picture on which to base an informed choice, then you can take it on with full knowledge of what needs to be done. A cat needing an owner who is prepared to be more of a carer will be very lucky to find a good home. It all comes down to knowing what you’re taking on. Many people who have the necessary time, energy and compassion get a great deal of satisfaction from taking on a cat that needs help.
Many wonderful cats and kittens come from re-homing/rescue organisations and find excellent homes with caring owners. Find one which is doing a great job and support it however you can.
If you are interested in a specific breed there are breed clubs which have a welfare officer whose job is to try to re-home pedigree cats that are no longer able to stay with their owners. Contact the relevant breed clubs to find out more.