At Meowtel, we care about all the cool cats and kittens in our local communities and we were curious to see the impact which the shelter in place orders have had on cat rescues and adoptions in California. What we found is that rescues are overwhelmed with requests to foster or adopt while resources are low to continue helping cats in need.
COVID-19 happened to take its grip on the U.S. during a very important time of year for cat rescuers: kitten season. The number of kittens coming into the system is only at about one-third of what it was last year, despite the cat rescue groups having long lists of hopeful adopters.
“There just aren’t any kittens coming through with all the shelters closed,” lamented Toni Sastek of Toni’s Kitty Rescue in San Francisco. “Right now, we only have about 40-50 kittens in foster care while our list of potential adopters is twice that. We usually have at least 150 kittens in foster homes around this time.” With everyone stuck at home, there are fewer opportunities to come across kittens in the neighborhood and help them while their odds of survival are highest. With reports of wildlife coming back into urban areas, we can only hope that new mothers are extra vigilant of their litters.
The logistics of adopting an animal are presenting new challenges. Shelters are transitioning to virtual adoptions and strict adoption-by-appointment-only routines. Yet this hasn’t come as a hurdle to those who are eager to become a cat parent. Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue, also based in San Francisco, reported that adoptions and foster requests are up about 120% in the last 30 days versus a normal month. “We’ve already had 31 cats and older kittens adopted in the first half of this month,” explained Maria Conlon from Give Me Shelter. For context, they usually see 28 cats adopted out in a normal month.
“We are so fortunate and grateful for all the people reaching out to us to adopt. We are working around the clock to help continue to rescue cats and place our kitties in forever homes,” said Conlon.
We were able to learn more about one of Give Me Shelter’s recent adopters, Nichole, who adopted a 10-month old male kitten who she named Beau. Nichole grew up with cats and had been thinking about getting a second kitty. The timing of getting a larger apartment along with seeing the implications of shelter in place alerted her that this would be the purrfect time to adopt. “My boyfriend and I could both be home full-time to bond with the new kitty and make sure the cats were adjusting safely to one another.”
Can you guess how the love affair between Beau and Nichole started? It was all thanks to FaceTime. Nichole was able to watch Beau play and interact with other cats and knew instantly that “he was the one.” The entire process took under 24 hours and even though Nichole was skeptical about adopting without ever meeting Beau in person, it was evident how gentle, sweet, and playful he was via the call.
Local shelters and rescue groups are how 95% of kitties find forever homes. Here at Meowtel, we admire all of the work done by dedicated volunteers and kitty lovers to help felines find the best homes possible, even during such unprecedented times. Keep adopting and keep washing those paws, cat lovers!