Cat Life

10 Ways You Can Help Shelter Cats

Interested in volunteering some of your time and talents, but simply don’t know where to get started? We’ve got a few fun, easy-to-implement ideas to get the ball rolling!

1. Put a donation box out in your office for gently used collars, cat toys, towels, and other pet items, as well as any new-item donations your co-workers care to make. At the end of two weeks, drop off the donation at your local shelter or rescue group. We guarantee they’ll be thrilled.

2. Share through social media, Check out and share an adoptable cat in your area through your Facebook and/or Twitter account. Even if you’re not directly responsible for finding that cat a home, it helps remind people of all the wonderful animals out there in need of a home. Even better? Vow to share an adoptable cat once a week.

Or are you a marketing/social media wiz and want to make a slightly larger commitment? Reach out to a local rescue group (breed specific if you have a passion for a particular breed) and volunteer to manage their social media efforts or write the profiles for their adoptable cats. Words are powerful and a descriptive entry accurately and compellingly “selling” the cats can help them stand out and find a home.

3. Have decent (or down right great) photography skills? Volunteer to take photos of the cats up for adoption at your local shelter. It is amazing what a good photo can do to help boost the odds of adoption. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional photographer. Compared to a dismal kennel shot, any decent photo is a vast improvement and an immense help.

4. Start a Knitting/Crochet/Blanket-Making Circle Shelters are almost universally in need of blankets to cozy up their cages and provide a bit of comfort to the cats they’re housing. Not down with the knitting needles? Purchase fleece from a discount remnant fabric store and cut it into 3’ x 3’ squares. And voilà, instant blanket! To get fancy on it, tassel the edges by cutting a fringed edge. Fast, cheap, but still cozy.

5. Bottle Drive Help your local cash-strapped rescue continue doing their good work by collecting the returnable bottles from your condo/apartment building/office and donating the redeemed deposit to a rescue group. Simply put out a bin to collect the bottles (if you’re in a condo, check with your strata first) and put up a sign noting what rescue the bottle deposit will be donated to. Increase your haul by spreading the word in advance—employ your office photocopier to make flyers explaining your fundraising effort. You can amass a couple hundred dollars in bottles amazingly quickly.

6. Feeling crafty? Make quick and easy little toys Shelter workers attest that the presence of some flare (a nice collar or cute toy) can garner a cat the attention he needs to find his forever home. Studies have shown that all-black pets have trouble standing out and are often overlooked in shelters. Black cats also carry the additional burden of being thought by some to be bad luck, thanks to unfortunate superstition. Fight “black cat syndrome,” as it’s known, by making fun little colourful toys to jazz up the cage of a black cat. Get some inexpensive coloured cotton twill and cut it into a small square of approximately 7 x 7 inches. No need to finish the edges. Tuck a little cat nip into the center, tie closed with a bit of string, and voilà, you have a something fun and colourful to draw attention to one of the many black cats in search of their forever homes. Drop off your handiwork at your municipal animal shelter. It’s a perfect Saturday activity, and one that kids can get involved with, too.

7. Play With Cats Volunteer to play and cuddle with the cats or help clean up. Volunteer help is greatly needed in many overcrowded shelters and your smiling face can make a big difference to both the morale of the cats and the staff.

8. Toy Drive The next time you’re having a big get-together, like a block party or your annual open house or summer BBQ, suggest your guests bring a toy to donate to homeless animals, if they feel so inclined. It’s a great way to do some good while you’re socializing and most people are more than happy to contribute a little something as it feels good, costs hardly a thing, and takes hardly any effort.

9. One word: Cakewalk This is great fun at a larger fundraising event. Get your friends, neighbours, church group or book club in on it, and prepare to have a ball. Nostalgia, baking, and the fun of decorating your masterpiece, plus a charitable component? What could be better?

For those unfamiliar with how a cakewalk works, it’s a bit like musical chairs, but without the chairs. Tape numbers on the floor in a circular pattern and set up a table to display all the donated decorated cakes. For each round of the game, be sure you have one person participating for each number taped to the floor. Each person playing buys a ticket (usually, the cost is a dollar or two) to enter the game. Everyone walks around in a circle as the music plays, stopping at the closest number when the music stops. Once everyone is stopped, a number is drawn out of a hat and the person standing on the number that’s been drawn gets to choose a cake. Then start all over with new players. This is frequently the most popular game at any fundraising event and a whole lot of fun, so don’t be surprised if your cakewalk (catwalk?) is mobbed by participants. At the end, donate the money collected to “walk” in the cakewalk to your local rescue. Pretty sweet, right?

10. Foster Why not open your house and heart to a homeless cat that needs temporary shelter? The time commitment is often as short as two weeks, but it is a tremendous help to rescue groups, allowing them to take in more cats in need of homes, cats that in some cases would be euthanized if the rescues weren’t able to pluck them from an over-capacity kill shelter. And, of course, fostering is a godsend for the foster cats, allowing them to know a home rather than a cage, so their true personalities can shine forth, helping them to find their forever home. In short: small time commitment, huge reward.

Add A Comment


  • Christine vercellino

    We can all do something for animals to help. Both domestic and wild animals need our voice now more than ever

  • Debi West

    I added my local shelter to my Amazon account for donations every time I buy something. You can add any charity, but I choose my shelter and you can, too!

  • Margaret Ferra

    I was so ready to bring another kitty into our home but get this…and it’s strange. My husband fell prey to kidney failure and is in end stage renal failure…my baby Merlin who had hypothyroidism (only) within days suddenly had a sdma/creatine level off the charts!!! Talk about sympathy pains! He loves his pop sooo much in fact when we rescued him he reached out of his cage and grabbed Joe my husband and wouldn’t let go…needless to say he came home with us.. I am taking care of both have both they’re numbers downs. Joe is on transplant list and Merlin is on a easten herbal supplement that has almost healed him called Nutra Thrive. I wish I could foster but cant. merin loves his blankets so I have a lot in stock some I can even cut up…because of your article I at least can send boxes and blankets to my nearby shelter and Merlin and I will feel like we are doing something. Thanks so much.

  • ARNIE ANd JoAnn Rosenberg

    I donate to the following shelter’s : Arizona Humane Society, Halo, Alley Cat Allies, The Humane Society ( legislative fund ) PETA, North Shore Animal League, LCA, ASPCA, Foothills Animal Rescue, The Fund for Animals, Animal Defense Fund, The Physicians Committee, The Anti Vivisection Fund, and the Human Society ( Global ) . They all receive 25.00 yearly and when critical emergencies arise I will send in whatever I can. All of our pets ( Olive Oil and Mr. Jack were adopted. God bless shelters and the folks who work so hard to keep the little ones going.

    • Ashley Lee

      Hi Arnie and JoAnn,

      Thanks so much for all the support you give shelters! Without help from amazing people like you, shelters wouldn’t be able to help all the animals they do. Thank you!

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