If you love cats (and we don’t imagine you’ll read beyond this first sentence if you don’t), there are lots of fun ways to volunteer to help them live happier and healthier lives. You don’t have to do all five things. Just pick one and you will be on your way to helping cats in your community.
- Foster and bottle-fed neonatal kittens. What could be more rewarding than bottle-feeding orphaned kittens? Between February and September, there are usually hundreds of orphaned, neonatal kittens showing up at animal shelters and animal control facilities who would not survive if not for volunteers willing to foster and bottle-fed these babies until they are weaned and old enough to get adopted into new homes. Animal groups provide everything you need to get started. Families make great neonatal volunteers. They can rotate the feeding schedule, so everyone has a turn.
- Foster a cat. Kittens are great, but older cats are sublime. Animal shelters and rescue groups are always looking for volunteers to foster these awesome creatures. Sometimes, they need volunteers to foster a feline for a short time until there is space in the shelter; other times, the feline may need a little quiet time away from the shelter to recover from an illness, injury or surgery. Whatever the reason, your home can become their temporary respite until they are ready for adoption.
- Feed and fix a community cat. If you have been feeding a community cat, kudos to you for helping. If you feed them though, you need to fix them. Otherwise, they may have two or three litters this year — or become the neighborhood Tom cat getting the other community cats pregnant. Before that happens and you have dozens of mouths to feed, visit the United Spay Alliance’s Spay-Neuter Referral Programs to find a low-cost spay-neuter clinic near you or a mobile clinic coming to your neighborhood. Ask these clinics for special pricing for feral/community cats. Oftentimes, they have lower prices for feral cat caretakers, and sometimes they have funding to provide low-cost or free services. The clinic will fix and ear tip the cats so everyone in your neighborhood will know these feral/community cats are fixed.
- Become a feral/community cat caretaker. Most people come by this volunteer opportunity by accident when they start feeding a few felines in the neighborhood. Their kindness ensures cats aren’t starving and getting into people’s trash bins looking for food. Feral/community cat caretakers are a humble group and their day-in and day-out efforts often go with little appreciation. They feed and TNR (trap-neuter-return) cats in their neighborhood, often at their own expense. If you become one of these caretakers, be sure to join your local feral cat groups to find like-minded compadres and learn more about being a caretaker.
- Volunteer to help a feral/community cat caretaker. Because feral/community cat caretakers feed their colonies 365 days a year, they are always needing volunteers who can help feed their colonies when they are out of town, on vacation, sick, or indisposed in some way. Feral/community cats depend on their caretakers and will arrive at the same feeding spot every night waiting for them to arrive. You can make sure they do by filling in when they can’t be there. This is a part-time volunteer gig helping full-time caretakers. Contact your local feral cat group for more information on how you can help.