Finding Homes For Homeless Cats
What to do when you find a homeless stray cat --
or you need to find a good home for your cat.
While some stray cats are abandoned by their human families, many are lost. A little detective work helps determine if the stray you've found is abandoned or lost and what your next steps should be. Meanwhile, keep the cat separated from your other pets to prevent the spread of any unknown diseases.
Is the cat lost?
Is the animal in good condition, well fed, clean, easy to approach? Is he wearing a collar or I.D. tag? Most pet owners don't use collars and tags on their cats. If the stray has tags, notify the owner from this information. The issuer of a rabies or city license tag, whose telephone number is usually on the tag, can also give you the owner's name, address, and phone number.
If the cat doesn't have identification:
- Some animal welfare organizations use tattoos for identification. Check inside the ear, the abdomen or leg for a tattoo. If the cat has a tattoo, contact a vet or the local humane society. They can tell you what organization originally tattooed the animal -- they may have records of the owner or adopter.
- Ask your vet to scan the cat for a microchip identification tag to determine the owner.
- Call your local animal shelters and humane societies -- some have lost and found services.
- Call the national hotline for found pets, 1-800-755-8111.
- Post "found" signs in the neighborhood where you found the cat, and at vet offices, grocery stores, pet stores, groomers and shopping areas. If possible, include a photograph of the animal. Watch for "lost" signs.
- Place a "found" ad in your local newspapers -- many papers run these ads free.
- Check the paper daily for "lost" ads that may describe the cat.
- Check with children in your neighborhood. They are great resources.
If you get a response from your ads, be careful. Reselling animals for research, baiting fighting or racing dogs and as breeders for puppy and kitten "mills" are thriving industries. An animal broker may put on a well-polished act as a concerned pet owner who's lost a beloved companion:
- Ask for identification. When someone responds to an ad or posted notice, ask for his name and telephone number and call him back, as a precaution.
- Ask for a detailed description of the animal. An owner should be able to give you details not mentioned in your ad.
- Watch for the animal's reaction when the owner arrives. A reunion of human and animal companion has a distinctive feel to it.
- Ask for veterinary records, photographs, etc.
If you have no response from these steps, you can safely assume the cat is truly homeless.
What if the stray is sick or hurt?
Take the animal to a vet. It the animal's injuries are too severe, the vet may consider euthanasia. It's better for the animal to die quickly and painlessly at the hands of a caring vet than to suffer a slow and painful death.
What next? Should you keep the cat?
If you decide to give the cat a home, don't expose your animals to the stray until you know it's in good health. Keep the animal separated from the other animals. Your first step is to take her to a veterinarian for a complete examination. The veterinarian can tell you the cat's approximate age, physical condition, and sex. He/she can also let you know what vaccinations and diet the cat needs, and when to have the cat neutered or spayed (if it hasn't already been done.) It's a good idea to take a fresh stool sample along with you to be checked for internal parasites.
What should you do if you cannot keep the cat, or you need a home for your cat?
If you can't keep the cat, don't assume the local humane society or shelters can find a good home for it. Millions of healthy adult cats and kittens are put to sleep because there are just not enough homes for all of them.
To find the best possible home for the cat, plan on doing the work yourself. Give yourself plenty of time -- finding a responsible home for the cat can't be done overnight. It will be easier if you have the cat vaccinated and spayed or neutered first.
Advertise. The best homes are with trusted friends or family members. If their homes are already full, expand your search to your place of work, church or school. Ask if anyone knows of someone who would like to adopt a cat. Post notices on bulletin boards near lunchrooms, in veterinary clinics, pet supply stores, and grocery/convenience stores. Your notices should be neat, specific, eye-catching, and uncluttered. A photograph of the cat along with a catch phrase such as "this cat wants you," will attract attention. Provide the cat's name (if you have selected one), color, age, sex, neuter status, and lovable characteristics. Include information on how you can be contacted (i.e., name, phone number, and best hours to call). Putting your address on any notice seen by the public is not recommended; giving only a phone number allows you to screen callers before scheduling appointments.
Newspaper ads in daily papers, shopping guides, and neighborhood weeklies can be effective. Keep your ad brief, yet informative. Do not use "Free Kitten" or "Free Cat" ads, as they often attract irresponsible or undesirable pet owners; those unable to provide routine veterinary care for the cat, those who would sell the cat to a research facility, those who would use the cat in training dogs for fighting, or those who feed kittens to pet snakes. A fee of $25 or more will help discourage these types of inquiries. Your offer to provide basic initial vaccinations and neuter may cost you a few dollars, but the investment is worth it, for the cat, and for your peace of mind.
- Interview. The individual's responses to the following questions over the phone will help determine if you wish to set up an appointment for the family to meet the cat:
- Do you currently have a cat? If yes, why do you want another cat?
- If no, have you ever had a cat before? If yes, what happened to her?
- What other pets do you have?
- When were your present pets last vaccinated?
- When were your present pets neutered?
- Do you know it could take one or more months for all pets to adjust?
- What do the other members of your family think about getting a cat?
- Do you rent or own? How does your landlord feel about you having pets?
- Do you have children? If yes, what ages and have they ever been around cats?
If you feel comfortable with the answers to these questions, make an appointment (set a specific time) for the prospective owners(s) to meet the cat. At that time, observe how all of the family members interact with the cat, especially children. Do they demonstrate respect toward the cat, making a gentle self-introduction by allowing the cat to take the initiative for touching? Trust your intuition - remember not to feel obligated to adopt the cat to the first family or person you interview.
The prospective adopter will want to know all about the cat. Tell her everything you've learned about the cat in your short time together. Clearly state any conditions you may require of a potential adopter (i.e., neutering , indoors only, no declawing, etc.).
Adopt. A written agreement is common at most animal shelters, and it may also work well for you. Include all conditions you want the adopter to meet in this agreement, a description of the cat, the date, amount paid for the cat, and your signature and that of the adopter. Let the potential adopters know you value the cat; and if the situation doesn't work out for the cat or the people after a period of time (suggest a four-week adjustment period), let them know that they can return the cat to you. You may want to check their I.D. for current address and take their home and work phone numbers. Maintain contact with the new adopters to assure yourself that you have found the best possible home for the cat. After you complete the entire process, you will be better prepared for the next homeless cat that finds you.
If you cannot find a home for the cat: If you have tried all possible means of finding a home for the cat, but cannot, please take the cat to your local humane society or county shelter. They will hold the animal for several days to allow the owner to claim it, or for it to find a new home. If the owner does not claim it or it is not adopted, the animal will be euthanized. "Euthanasia" literally means "good death." Euthanasia is always more humane than and preferable to releasing the animal outside to "fend for itself," or personally killing the animal.
It is unfortunate that there are not enough homes for all animals.
Do your part to help stop the tragedy of unwanted animals:
Spay and neuter your pets, and encourage your friends and relatives to do the same.
|Animal Clinic of Michigan City, 879-0249
|Animal Care Hospital, 872-9113
|Arbor View Animal Hospital, 762-7267
|Ark of the Dunes Animal Hospital, 926-9797
|Chesterton Animal Hospital, 926-5776
|Maple City Animal Hospital, 324-0055
|McAfee Animal Hospital, 462-5901
|Michigan City Animal Hospital, 872-4191
|New Carlisle Animal Hospital, 654-3129
|Trail Creek Animal Hospital, 879-8241
|Vale Park Animal Hospital, 462-5785
|Westchester Animal Clinic, 926-1194
Indiana Law . . . .
. . . .states that it is ILLEGAL to abandon or neglect an animal. Violators face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
It is also ILLEGAL to injure or kill an animal. Violators face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. If the offender has a previous conviction, he/she faces up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Indiana Code 35-46-3:
Chapter 3. Offenses Relating to Animals
IC 35-46-3-7: Sec. 7. A person having a vertebrate animal in the person's custody who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally abandons or neglects the animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class B misdemeanor.
IC 35-46-3-12: Sec. 12. A person who knowingly or intentionally tortures, beats or mutilates a vertebrate animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor. However the offense is a Class D felony if the person has a previous, unrelated conviction under this section
Area Animal Shelters, Sanctuaries & Spay-Neuter Services
This list is as current as possible - last updated February 2003.
See http://www.petfinder.org/ for a current list of shelters in your state.
Organizations listed in italics are "no-kill."
- Humane Society Calumet Area, 421 45th Avenue, Munster, IN 46321; 219-922-3811, http://www.hscalumet.org/
- Fried's Cat Shelter, P.O. Box 241, 509 U.S. Highway 212, Michigan City, IN 46360; 219-874-6932, http://www.friedscatshelter.org/
- Humane Society of Hobart, State Road 130, P.O. Box 108, Hobart, IN 46342; 219-942-0103, www.humanesocietyhobart.org/
- Jasper County Humane Society, 2430 Clark Street, Rensselaer, IN; 219-866-4900
- Lake County Animal Control/Shelter, 3011 W. 93rd Avenue, Crown Point, IN 46307; 219-769-7016
- LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter, 2855 W. State Rd. 2, LaPorte, In 46350; 219-326-1637
- Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, 722 State Road 212, P.O. Box 8651, Michigan City, IN 46360; 219-872-4499
- Marshall County Humane Society, 11165 13th Road, Plymouth, IN; 219-936-8300, www.mchsshelter.org/
- Mixed-Up Mutts, 1108 Indiana Ave.,LaPorte, IN 46350, 219-326-8887, members.petfinder.org/~IN61/
- Porter County Animal Shelter, 2056 Heavilin Road, Valparaiso, IN 46383, 219-465-3550, members.petfinder.org/~IN27/Publication1.htm
- Starke County Humane Society, 0104 W. State Road 10, North Judson, IN 46366; 219-896-5060, http://www.petfinder.org/shelters/IN92.html
- Strays in the Garden, P.O. Box 1984, Highland, IN 46322; 219-923-6286
- Treasured Friends, P.O. Box 9234, Highland, IN 46324, 219-934-9938, www.petfinder.com/shelters/treasuredfriends.html
- Tri-Town Animal Control, 540 Kaeser Blvd., Schererville, IN; 219- 865-6992
- Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership, Fishers, IN, 317-774-8292, http://www.adoptarpo.org/
- Animal Rescue Fund, Muncie, Indiana, 765-282-2733
- Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, 3489 E 100 S , Pierceton, IN 46562, 219-267-3008
- Cats Haven, P.O. Box 30206, Indianapolis, IN 46230, 317-638-0699, http://www.catshaven.org/
- Home for Friendless Animals, (317) 876-1754
- Humane Society of Indianapolis, 7929 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis, IN 46268; 317-872-5650
- North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter, Battleground, IN; 765-589-8299 or 765-497-3141
- Pet Refuge, P.O. Box 4534, South Bend, IN 46634; 219-256-0886
- St. Joseph County Humane Society, 2506 N. Liberty Drive, Mishawaka, IN 46545; 219-255-4726
- Animal Care League Shelter, 1013 Garfield, Oak Park, IL 60304; 708-848-8155
- Animal Welfare League, 10305 Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge, IL 60415, 708-636-8586, 6224 South Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60637, 312-667-0088
- Anti Cruelty Society, 157 West Grand Street, Chicago, IL 60610-4274; 312-644-8338
- Cat Guardians, 932 East St. Charles Road, Lombard, IL; 630-543-3395
- Cats Are Purrsons Too, P.O. Box 59067, Chicago, IL 60659, 773-728-6336
- Felines, Inc., P.O. Box 60616, Chicago, IL 60660, 773-465-4132, fax 773-465-6454, http://www.felinesinc.org/
- Harmony House for Cats, 3809 N. Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-463-6667, http://www.hhforcats.org/
- Heartland Animal Shelter, Northbrook, IL, 847-296-6400
- Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets, St. Charles, IL, 630-879-8500
- Friends of Strays, Princeton, IL, 815-643-2237
- Furry Friends Foundation, mailing address: 1151 N State St., Chicago, IL 60610, 312-397-1001
- Lake Shore Animal Shelter, 225 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60610; 312-409-1162
- Pet Adoption League (PAL), P.O. Box 438563, Beverly Hills, IL 60643, Local contact: 219-322-5776
- PAWS Chicago, 1110 W 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609, 773-843-3887
- People's Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), P.O. Box 542, 183rd & 80th Ave., Tinley Park IL 60477, 708-532-7797
- Pet Rescue, P.O. Box 425, 151 North Bloomingdale Rd., Bloomingdale, IL 60108-0425, 630-893-0030
- Red Door Animal Shelter (formerly Chicago Community Humane Center), 7444 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60626, Mailing address: P.O. Box 269119, Chicago, IL 60626
- Save-A-Pet, Inc., 31664 Fairfield Rd., Grayslake, IL 60030, 847-740-7788
- Society of St. Francis Animal Shelter, 12300 116th St., Kenosha, WI 53142, 414-857-7260, Mailing address: P.O. Box 206, Wadsworth, IL 60083
- South Suburban Humane Society, 1103 West End Avenue, P.O. Box 744, Chicago Heights, IL 60411, 708-755-7387 (PETS)
- Strays Halfway House, P.O. Box 68811, Schaumburg, IL 60168-0811, 847-351-3150
- Tree House Animal Foundation, 1212 West Carmen, Chicago, IL 60640-2999, 773-784-5488