Liberty the cat

Liberty

Right now, Animal Protection Association (APA), and all of our animal rescue colleagues in Clark and Floyd counties, are facing a huge issue with the increase in stray and surrender requests. Our phones are ringing off the hooks. Our inboxes are full and so are our social media messaging tools.

People are contacting various shelters around the metro area to get help with a cat they want to surrender or a stray mom and babies living under their front porch. They are put in a never ending loop of calls to this rescue and that rescue. Rescues are full. APA has a strict intake process like most of the rescues in this area. When we’re full…we’re full and we simply can’t take in any more cats.

The #1 reason people call APA is they don’t want their cat to go to a kill shelter. We got an email last week about a cat in Indy needing to be surrendered and they wanted him to go to a no-kill shelter like us.

Adopting an animal is a lifetime commitment

People adopting an animal should realize it is a commitment for at least 10-20 years. When people adopt from us, we have them sign an agreement stating that they agree that adopting a pet is a LIFETIME commitment.

We are getting a lot of calls from people who are moving and can’t take their cats with them. This is particularly prevalent with elderly pet owners moving into nursing homes or downsizing. We are also getting calls to help with the cats of a deceased family member or friend.

We feel so strongly that people should have a plan in place to care for your cat if something should happen to you that we make it part of our adoption application. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 75. Things can happen when we least expect them to and you don’t want to leave the care of your beloved cat to someone who doesn’t know your wishes. Right now we have a 10-year old beauty at the shelter whose owner died without making plans to care for the cat. She is very sad and confused.

As a result of COVID, a lot of people are rethinking their lives and unfortunately the pets don’t always fit into their new life. They want to travel across the country or start a new job, or they’re back in the office full time and the pet is just in their way.

They want immediate surrender and it just does not work like that. First, we have to have a cage for the cat. All new cats coming into APA’s shelter are caged for a period of time until they adjust to the shelter environment. And second, before a cat can come into the shelter, it has to go to a vet to be tested to be sure it isn’t carrying a disease like feline leukemia, which could wipe out the entire shelter. As a result, people are getting desperate and literally dumping their animals.

People should know that dumping your cat is a Class A Misdemeanor under Indiana Code § 35-46-3-7. It can also be a death sentence for your cat. They could starve to death because most cats don’t know how to hunt for food. They are frightened and hungry. They can end up with tons of fleas that will take a lot of their blood and with no food they can’t replenish the blood. Dumping a cat is a horrible thing to do to them.

We had an injured cat that was illegally dumped at our shelter Fourth of July weekend. We named him “Liberty.” Of course we knew nothing about the cat’s medical history, but we quickly realized he had some sort of hip injury. As it turns out, Liberty has a broken hip and he is scheduled for surgery this week. His surgery, and follow up treatment, will run close to a thousand dollars. We would like to thank donors who have stepped up to help with the cost of Liberty’s surgery. We truly appreciate your support.

Pet owners should seek every avenue to keep their pets in their home. Surrendering an animal should be the absolute last resort. Cats who go in shelters definitely suffer. They are going to be in a cage for a while and they’re going to be very angry. We have two 10-year-old cats at the shelter right who are just like that. They growl and hiss and it is very dangerous for the volunteers to try to take care of their cages. The family has young kids and they just don’t have the time for these two cats. The sad part is, the children are receiving a life lesson that it is okay to get rid of pets who have been part of the family for 10 years. The cycle will continue.

We just ask people who are thinking about adopting a pet to remember that when you adopt it’s for life — not until you don’t have time anymore or you’re moving or it’s just not convenient.

It’s not just the surrenders

We are also being bombarded with calls about stray cats and particularly stray mama cats with a litter of kittens. We can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of getting your cats spayed or neutered. A female cat can have babies while she herself is still a baby. We’ve had a few cases like that already this year. One mama still had her baby teeth! If you need help spaying or neutering your cat, please reach out to one of the area shelters for their help.

Denise Koenig is the communications manager for the Animal Protection Association.

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