You’ve probably seen a lot of posts about cats and kittens needing new homes on our Facebook page of late. That’s because we run a cat rehoming service. And while this is a very worthwhile cause, it’s a cause we wish we didn’t have to participate in quite as much as we do.
You see, while we love having furry little bundles keeping us entertained at Fox Valley Animal Hospital, and we truly love giving cats and kittens new furrever homes, we know that much of the problem is completely preventable. And we’d much rather see less felines needing re-homing.
Let’s talk about cat rehoming so you can understand our position.
First, some cat facts
A single cat can produce as many as 20,000 kittens in a two-year period. That’s if you include their offspring reproducing.
The reason many cat litters are born with different looking kittens is a female cat can be impregnated by multiple males. They are designed to reproduce very efficiently.
Cats always give birth in multiples, so they are at a minimum, doubling how many cats there are with each birth. At maximum, they can birth up to 8 cats.
The RSPCA alone dealt with over 49,000 kitten and cat re-homing cases in 2012-2013 alone. Sadly, 19,000 of those cats had to be euthanized.
Now, some cat de-sexing myths
Surprisingly, people still choose to believe myths over science when it comes to cat de-sexing. Claims such as your cat gets too fat, that they “are not themselves” from a personality or masculinity perspective are utterly false.
Cats also don’t need to have sex prior to neutering or have a litter to be a complete cat. This is simply humans projecting their own feelings onto animal behaviours.
And once and for all, let’s bust the myth that neutering is something vets are pro due to profit. In actuality, if you consider micro-chipping new felines, kitten healthcare and pregnancy assistance, we’d make more money from cats being pregnant than de-sexing them.
But there are significant health reasons to de-sex your cat
For example, de-sexing reduces the risk of mammary cancer that is 90 percent fatal in most animal cases. Uterine infections, cystic ovaries and ovarian and uterine cancer are also removed as a risk to your female cat’s health.
Your male cat’s chances of cancers including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and peri-anal cancer are significantly reduced.
Cats are less likely to roam and get lost or fight and get injured, which in turn means they are at a much lower risk of accidents and injuries involving cars and fighting with other animals.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about side effects such as male cat spray, which is absolutely pungent and ridiculously hard to get rid of from carpets and furnishings.
Now let’s take a look at cat rehoming
At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we stand behind the “adopt don’t shop” ethos. As you can see from the statistics above, there are many thousands of cats that could be re-homed that end up dead. We do our part with cat adoption, and we work with places like The Mini Kitty Commune and the RSPCA .
But even here, there are myths about the psychological states of rehomed cats and their potential for problems. Nothing could be further from the truth because there are always precautions that ensure animal welfare in cat re-homing situations.
For example, in order to rehome animals you have to:
- Provide vaccinations and vet checks for your animals. For an animal hospital, this is simple
- Only house the amount of animals you can handle. This isn’t just about keeping the place clean, either. It’s about ensuring each animal gets sufficient space, attention and care
- Ensure they are of 12 weeks of age
- Worm and microchip the animals
- Actively promote socially responsible pet ownership (in other words, de-sexing, proper care and socialisation)
So you can be assured the cat or kitten is healthy and well cared for.
Rehomed cats and the psychological effects
Kittens that are well cared for are usually fine to find their new home. But what about cats that are older and/or felines that have experienced neglect and abuse?
With rehoming, we know that cats can adjust fairly well based on ordinary circumstances. And that like humans that have experienced extreme circumstances, may need extra TLC and assistance to recover and give full trust again.
What we do know for sure is cats share the same sorts of emotional feelings as us. Continued captivity can be taxing, whether it’s in a caged pound or a breeding farm. How clean, how much enrichment and socialisation, and how well kept will also influence the outcomes for a cat’s mental state. This is why many cat rehoming and dog rescue outfits often place animals in foster care situations with families. Or have them cared for like we do- roaming free as part of the daily operations of the animal hospital to mitigate any negative side effects with affection and play as part of the enrichment process.
Like humans, cats are resilient. And with the right family and the right environment, they can definitely recover from even the most significant trauma. Rescue pets that have had a pretty hard-knock life might take a little bit of extra care, but they are also extremely loyal, loving and appreciative once you’ve bonded.
The Fox Valley Animal Hospital approach to cat rehoming
When a kitten or cat first arrives, they are given a thorough check-up to ensure they are healthy and worm free. We also ensure if they are not micro-chipped, this occurs.
From here, our kittens and cats find themselves nice and snug in our isolation room for 2 weeks. This allows us to closely monitor them for any signs of illness. We also get lots of one-on-one time to assess their individual personalities and needs.
We always try and buddy up kittens so they have constant company. And there is never a lack of human cuddles and attention from our nurses.
We have a specially designed kitty cage in our reception area for our new babies to stay in during the day. At night, we set up a big play room for them to explore. Quite often the nurses will take them home for some extra TLC – and on occasion end up keeping one or two!
We always try and spend as much time in between consults and surgery playing, cuddling, brushing and letting the cats run around. The more we know about our cat re-homing candidates, the better we can match them to the purrfect home.
Once the cats have the medical all clear from Dr Alex and are of a suitable age for adoption, we begin promoting them through our social media.
We always make sure the person who adopts one of our feline friends is ready to be a pet parent.
All our adoption cats and kittens are:
- Fully vaccinated
- Treated for fleas and intestinal worms
As part of preparing home life for our rehomed cats and kittens, we also give:
- A bag of Royal Canin food
- A handmade funky collar
- A ceramic designer bowl
And that final cuddle goodbye before they head off to their new home and family.
So you see, cat re-homing is indeed something we love to do; although part of of our cat rehoming is hoping we need to do less of it in the future through supporting responsible pet ownership and education.