Before you go ahead and get a rescue cat, consider all the following points. There are animal rescue organisations in most countries that take in stray cats and find homes for them, after they have had a thorough health check and been neutered, if appropriate. A shocking number of cats need to be re-homed because they have been abandoned or maltreated by irresponsible owners. Stray cats also include those that are lost and whose owners couldn’t trace them because the cats weren’t wearing an effective form of identification.
A rescue cat may be nervous and may need to regain its trust in people before it can become a contented pet. As good as the care in a rescue centre can be, nothing matches that of a good home.
There are many animal welfare organisations that re-home stray cats, usually after a health check and neutering, if relevant. Unfortunately, there is never any shortage of stray and unwanted cats. This is partly because so many people don’t have their cats neutered and unneutered cats reproduce at such a rapid rate, partly because some people throw out a cat that no longer fits conveniently into their lives, and partly because cats can become lost. Microchipping is a safe, nonsurgical procedure and is the best way of preventing the loss of your cat. Using this method, you can make sure your cat does not become lost and join the thousands of cats on the list of animals looking for a home.
Sometimes a stray cat will appear as if from nowhere and attach itself to a chosen household. Adopting a stray cat is not necessarily a bad decision, and there are many tales of delightful strays that have stayed with their adopted family for a happy lifetime. But there are also some inveterate strays, which stay for a few weeks, even a few months, and then leave just as suddenly as they arrived. This can be very upsetting for a family who have lavished care on an ungrateful cat of this kind. If you adopt a stray cat, this is always a risk, but it’s not the norm — and anyway, only time will tell.
Taking in a rescue cat is an act of kindness and is to be encouraged, but it’s not always without its problems. A cat that has been living rough for some time may be hard to train and re-accustom to constant human attention after its stressful period in confinement, particularly if it has been a stray for a long time or if it has been maltreated.
That said, though, there are many rewards to be had from taking in a rescue cat — not only for the cat but also for the carer. Watching a rescue cat become gradually rehabilitated, happy and socialised can be a great joy.
In Britain, the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) re-homes over 35,000 cats every year.
The spring and early summer is a peak time for unwanted and abandoned cats. This is because of the high number of kittens born during the breeding season.
Microchipping and tattooing provide effective identification for cats, should they stray.