The air is brisk, the calendar is full, and somehow it’s that time of year again. For many cats, the holiday season includes warm snuggles by the fireplace, drooling over the smell of turkey dinners and finding stockings extra-full of catnip. For the less fortunate kitties, the holidays can be stressful, cold and frightening. Here are some of our favourite ways you can help shelter cats during the holidays.
Image: Tim Umphreys, Unsplash
1. Consider adopting cats of all ages
Many families and couples may be considering a new pet as a Christmas gift. What could be better than a little furball of love sitting under your tree?! It’s important to keep in mind that a new pet is not just a cute Christmas present, but furever a part of your family. Once those who will be caring for kitty are aware of this responsibility, you can begin to look for your new furbaby. Where do you find a loving kitten or cat in need of a home? Shelters in your neighborhood are plagued with an overpopulation of cats, and adoption will save their lives. In Canada and the United States, over 1.4 million cats are euthanized because too many pets are given up, and too few people consider adoption when looking for a new pet (ASPCA & CFHS). Homeless shelter kittens and cats of all ages are bursting with love, life and are waiting for that special companionship.
2. Foster a cat
Providing a temporary home for kitties is a wonderful way to offer shelter relief or create room for more kitties in need. Fostering rescue cats can save lives as some rescue groups do not have shelters immediately available. Other times, cats can be extremely shy or uncomfortable in shelters and need a proper home to stay happy and healthy.
3. Volunteer at a shelter
‘Tis the season for holiday festivities, but if you’re looking to do something out of the ordinary here’s an idea: grab a friend and call up your neighborhood feline vet, shelter or sanctuary and see how you can become a cat companion or help out. Cat companionship can promote socialization and help in adoption. Shelters are also constantly looking for cars and drivers for rescues, help with cleaning and feeding, and shelter maintenance.
Anna Kumpan, Unsplash
4. Sponsor a cat
A unique and thoughtful gift idea for the cat lover in your life! By sponsoring a cat, you are providing ongoing comfort, care and protection for homeless cats, and it is one of the best ways you can directly help individual kitties.
5. Donate food, toys and blankets
You and your friends may have items in your home that you don’t think twice about, but could make a huge difference to homeless cats and shelters. Donating used blankets, cleaning products, litter, food, scratching posts, toys, gas cards and more can help immensely. If you’re crafty, consider making blankets, bedding or toys from scratch for a fun and charitable holiday project!
For some fun and creative DIY projects, check out Hopper’s list of 22 DIY cat gift ideas.
6. Purchase marked food (or a meowbox!)
Certain brands of cat food and toys that are specially labeled or marked will donate proceeds to shelters in need. Purchasing these items is a good way to contribute by helping organizations get the resources they need. Every month, meowbox donates a can of cat food or dollar equivalent for every box that is sent out, to different shelters all over North America.
7. Promote awareness
Use your resources to share information on adoption and shelters, at the dinner table, in your work place, on social media or at your holiday events.
Sandra Kapella, Unsplash
8. Host a food or donation drive at your holiday party
Throwing a holiday sweater party or a big Christmas bash? This can be a fun way to raise funds, blankets or cans of food by telling your guests to each bring a donation. It can add up fast! You’ll bring attention to a great cause and be able to make a contribution to a local shelter.
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9. Check your car before starting your engine
With temperatures dropping, less fortunate cats and kittens are looking for warm hideouts and sleeping quarters. Often, this can mean kitty could be searching for warmth underneath your car, within the wheel well or even under the hood. It’s a good idea to be cautious and thump on the hood of your car before starting your engine.
10. Spay and neuter your cats
Spaying and neutering not only aid in solving the homeless pet crisis, but also prevent urine infections and breast tumours in cats (ASPCA).
Check out the Humane Society’s guide to find out how you can help community cats in your area. Spread the love and happy pawlidays!
Jeffrey Buchbinder, Unsplash