The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of slowing down yet and if you’re like me, you’re worried about COVID-19 and cats! Especially how to keep saving community cats during the stay-at-home orders.
Even if you’re not worried about the disease itself, you’re worried about the economy crashing. You’re worried about spay and neuter clinics closing. You’re worried about kitten season. You’re worried about your next paycheck and keeping your own cats. You’re just worried!
I feel you.
First, cats show no evidence of infecting people with COVID-19. In fact, only one cat and one dog to date have even been infected, and only after prolonged contact with an infected owner. There is definitely no evidence they pass it to other humans or animals. I wrote an article on the novel coronavirus and cats if you’re interested.
For all up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus pandemic, please visit the CDC website.
So let’s discuss helping cats, especially community cats, during the COVID-19 pandemic, shall we?
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Don’t Surrender Your Pets
One of the easiest, and most important, ways you can help cats in your community (and the people who rescue them!) is to not surrender your own cat (or dog) to shelters or rescues. Don’t dump them in a field or farm somewhere. Don’t give up, just because of a bit of financial struggle right now.
There are resources out there to help you keep your cats and other pets. There is help for you to feed your pets until you start earning an income again. There IS hope.
I’m not going to tell anyone to never surrender their pets, because there are definitely times when it is the right thing to do! But it should be the last resort, not the first one. Pets are family. They have feelings. They feel abandoned and lonely and scared. The only time it should be considered is if you absolutely cannot care for them at all anymore and don’t see this changing anytime soon. Surrendering an animal should be in the best interest of the animal. And never, ever dump or abandon them anywhere. That is not better than a shelter, ever.
If you need help to keep your pets:
- Local food banks in many areas now often carry cat and dog food to help struggling people feed their pets
- Local humane societies and municipal shelters sometimes have programs to help people keep their pets instead of surrendering them! Contact your local shelters and rescue groups for help.
- Care Credit: for veterinary costs that you can’t afford.
- If you cannot get approved for Care Credit, speak to your veterinarian about making payments.
- Find Help for Veterinary Care at the Humane Society of the United States.
- Find low-cost spay and neuter clinics at PetSmart Charities or SpayUSA.
- Fundraise: GoFundMe or other crowdfunding platforms such as Waggle for veterinary expenses can be shared on social media, through donation jars, and selling crafts for donations. You can also create an Amazon Wishlist of pet food and ask friends and family to help out.
This global crisis will not last forever. It is not armageddon. It is temporary. Until you can get back on your feet, please consider reaching out for help instead of surrendering or abandoning your pets.
If you are one of the lucky people whose job is in no danger from this pandemic, please consider helping friends and family who are now unemployed feed their animals, get flea medication, etc.
Adopters and Fosters Needed Urgently!
If you’re financially stable and forced to stay home, it may be time to consider adopting a new cat or kitten from your local shelters and rescues! If you’re not able to adopt – for whatever reason – please consider opening your home temporarily to kittens and cats who need a foster home!
Shelters and rescues were overwhelmed before the global pandemic. Now that people are losing their jobs, not working, unable to go to spay and neuter clinics, etc., your local shelter will need even more help! This year’s kitten season is going to be brutal without spay and neuter resources available.
Now is the time to adopt a new family member or foster a litter of playful kittens! You’ll be saving lives during your social isolation. Plus it’s FUN! Nothing better than that!
If you’re stuck at home with the kids, now is definitely the time to foster or adopt. Teach your kids the power of rescue and volunteering, the fun and love of an animal, and how vital spay and neuter really is.
Keep Feeding Community Cats!
If you are a cat caretaker of feral or community cats, please continue to care for them throughout this crisis. Just remember to keep practicing social distancing during your outings to feed the cats! If you come down sick, find a replacement able to go out to feed the cats. They rely on you now.
If you’re having issues buying food, there are resources listed above for struggling pet owners looking to feed their pets that caretakers can also take advantage of, such as food banks and Amazon wish lists.
If the low-cost spay and neuter clinics and TNR groups near you are not doing surgeries, just try to do the best you can with socializing kittens during this time. Maybe, you can get them socialized enough for adoption after they start surgeries again.
Do the best you can. Contact local rescue groups and shelters if you need more help than you can find during this pandemic.
Spay and Neuter! Spay and Neuter!
If you are lucky enough to have a low-cost spay-neuter clinic still doing surgeries near you, don’t stop Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) or getting your fosters/pets fixed! Get it done ASAP! Remember to maintain social distancing.
If you’re lucky enough to have a vet open locally who does fairly cheap neuter surgeries, then use that resource for the male cats at least! My vet does reasonably priced neuter surgeries, only a bit more expensive than the spay and neuter clinic a few towns away. A spay surgery would be out of my price range at the vet, but the neuter surgeries are semi-affordable.
If you can’t TNR, just keep feeding and doing what you can. Socialize the kittens, keep them fed, dewormed and healthy.
If you aren’t struggling financially and cannot adopt or foster or TNR, please consider donating to local rescues, shelters, friends and family members’ pets, or even individual cat rescuers. You can also donate to national groups as well.
All donations to a 501(c)3 non-profit rescue are tax-deductible. Donations and gifts of cat food to friends, family and individuals may not be, but by helping them to feed the cats, that is fewer kitty cats going into the shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
People who craft can also make blankets, cat toys, and more and donate those to their local shelters and rescues as well. Spring clean during your shelter-in-place orders, then donate towels, sheets, blankets, plastic totes, and more to whatever local group you feel needs it more.
We can save more cats by working together, even if we are hobbled by this crisis.
I rely on donations myself for my colony and rescue cats during emergencies, too.
Even with social distancing measures in place, you can still volunteer your time.
- TNR groups may need temporary cat caretakers to feed cat colonies.
- They may need trappers to continue TNRing cats up until they are forced to halt spay and neuter surgeries.
- Do you own a vehicle? Rescues and TNR groups may need someone to transport supplies and animals to foster homes or the vet.
- Have a special skill? Accounting, writing, etc? Call and ask if they could use some help!
Call your local animal shelters and rescues and find out if they need help.
Fundraise for Cat Rescues and Animal Shelters!
If you have a lot of time on your hands suddenly, this may be an excellent idea.
- You can create a Facebook Fundraiser or share a PayPal link for your favorite nonprofit/rescue/rescuer and raise funds on social media for them.
- You can create crafts to sell and donate the proceeds to your favorite animal rescue or a community rescuer.
- Sell unwanted items and donate the proceeds.
Take It One Day at a Time!
I am very guilty of stressing out about this pandemic and the economic turmoil it is creating. I keep worrying about next week, next month.
It’s important to remember to take it one day at a time. We can’t predict or control the future. We can only do something about today. So take a deep breath, consider how you want to spend the time you are forced to spend at home, and maybe foster a kitten or four!
Let’s help each other during this crisis. Let’s continue to help save cats as much as we can, or support those who are. We’re in this together. Stay safe everyone. Stay home!
Any other suggestions I didn’t think about? Lemme know by leaving me a comment!