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7 Ways to Help Cats in Shelters

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In an ideal world, every kitty would have a warm, loving home. Unfortunately, this is far from a reality. The ASPCA estimates that 3.2 million cats enter U.S. animal shelters annually. That’s a lot of cats! Animal shelters depend on volunteers and donations to keep their kitties healthy and comfortable. Even if you have limited time or resources, there are plenty of ways you can help these cats. Here’s a list of 7 ways to help kitties while they are waiting for their furever home!

1) Volunteer

Volunteering isn’t only restricted to scooping litter boxes! Cuddling cats at a shelter is a great way to help, but there are plenty of other ways to get involved. Many cat shelters rely on volunteers for all aspects of their operations, from feeding cats and scooping litter boxes, to administrative duties and running social media accounts.

You can either volunteer your time or your skills. If you have photography, writing, or accounting experience, you can offer your skills to the shelter. If you are looking for a short-term commitment, you can commit a day to volunteer at events or fundraisers. Shelters are also in need of drivers to transport cats, which can be an on-call or low commitment option. Some volunteering duties can even be done from home! Many administrative roles, such as an adoptions screener or foster coordinator, may allow you to have a flexible schedule and work from home.

2) Foster

Fostering is a fun and fulfilling way to volunteer. For every cat in a foster home, there is an extra space is open in the shelter for another cat in need. It also means that one less cat is confined to a cage while waiting for their new home. Welcoming a cat into your home allows you to build a close and loving relationship with the kitty before they move on to their forever home - it is a positive and rewarding experience for both the foster parent and the foster kitty. It can be hard to say goodbye, but it’s all worth it to know that the kitty you grew to love is going to their forever home.

3) Donate

There are the obvious donations that shelters are always in need of, such as money, food, litter, and other cat care supplies. Many of us overlook the fact that shelters do more than just house animals. They are also in need of items that help them run their operations, such as office supplies, cleaning and laundry supplies, and even electronics such as cameras and printers. A common item on many shelters’ wish list is plain old printer paper!

Donating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of money, there are plenty of acceptable donation items that you might already have lying around your house. You can turn your spring cleaning into an opportunity to help your local cat shelter. Don’t throw away old towels, blankets and linens, donate them to a shelter instead! Most shelters post donation wish lists on their website. Your local shelter might be able to use those blankets collecting dust in the back of your closet, or even the pile of newspapers you toss out every week.

4) Purchase items through Amazon

Turns out your online shopping addiction can help cats! There are two ways that shelters can benefit from Amazon purchases. Some shelters have an Amazon Wish List, where you can purchase items from Amazon to be sent directly to the shelter. Some shelters participate in Amazon’s Associates program. This program allows shelters to earn money from purchases by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Every time you make a purchase using one of the shelter’s affiliate links, they collect a portion of the cost of your purchase. That’s right, you can donate to a shelter by buying things for your own cat!

5) Knit or crochet cat toys and blankets

If you love to knit or crochet, consider donating blankets or mats as a warm bed for shelter cats. That abandoned or failed knitting project might just make a warm sleeping spot for a kitty! If you enjoy knitting or crocheting small projects, you can also create your own toys to donate. Some cat toy knitting and crochet patterns can be found here.

6) Play at

Freekibble was launched by 11-year-old Mimi Ausland in 2008. It is a website that donates food and litter to animal shelters. They have three sections, Freekibble (dogs), Freekibble Kat, and Freekibble Litter. Once daily, you can go to the site and answer a trivia question for each section. Regardless of whether you answer the question right or wrong, Freekibble will donate to supplies to a shelter. With only a few clicks, you can contribute much needed cat food and litter. Play here!

7) Build an outdoor cat shelter

Technically, this isn’t helping cats in shelters, but feral kitties deserve just as much love! Building an outdoor cat shelter is a fun and easy project, and provides a warm and safe shelter for feral cats. It can literally be a life-saver during a cold winter. Although we would love to see these kitties in homes, a warm cat shelter is a better alternative than being out in the rain. Examples of different ways to build an outdoor cat shelter can be found here and here.

Did you know meowbox donates one can of food (or monetary equivalent) for every meowbox purchased? Our One Box Can program allows you to monitor the location and status of your donation. Learn more or track your donation here!

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