Five charities for cats and cat lovers

The love and attention that you give your cat creates a special bond. Over time, cat lovers learn how to understand their feline friends and enjoy spending time with them as much as dog lovers enjoy the company of their canines.

Unfortunately, not all cats get this love from humans. There are many unwanted, abandoned, neglected and feral cats out there in need of care and places to live. Humans who love cats have established many charities with the goal of giving these cats what they need to have healthy, happy lives whether in a permanent home, at a special facility or as part of a feral colony well cared for by humans who understand the specific needs of each kind of cat.

1. Love a Cat: Based in Hawaii, this cat-centric charity aims to keep the pet population in check by ensuring that feral and abandoned cats are spayed or neutered. In cases where adoption is appropriate, Love a Cat will help to place cats in permanent homes. However, they don’t stop there. This charity stays in touch with those who have adopted, reminds owners when it’s time to have the cat spayed or neutered and will take the cat back if the arrangement isn’t working out for some reason. Any cats who aren’t adopted or whose adoptive parents return them are given a lifetime home with the charity.

If you don’t live in Hawaii but want to help Love a Cat out, the organization’s Virtual Adopter program allows you to “adopt” a cat by donating $5 per month toward feeding and care. The charity also uses regular donations to care for feral cat colonies, groups of animals that aren’t socialized to live with humans.

2. Alley Cat Allies: Alley Cat Allies aims to improve the lives of feral cats by educating the public about both feral cats and feral cat colonies. This effort includes educating veterinarians so that they know how to care for cats that aren’t used to human contact. Public awareness campaigns also include teaching about the importance of having spay and neuter facilities with reasonable prices available.

Alley Cat Allies heads up many programs including trap-neuter-return efforts, a program to help care for cats that live near college campuses and other educational institutions and teaching how to care for feral kittens or outdoor cats that are used to human interaction. Socializing feral kittens allows them to be adopted out when they’re old enough, thereby reducing the amount of cats living on the streets and helping control cat populations with timely spay and neuter efforts.

3. Alley Cat Rescue, Inc.: Started by Louise Holton, who founded Alley Cat Allies, Alley Cat Rescue, Inc. has a similar mission but with a larger reach. In addition to promoting spaying and neutering, including trap-neuter-release for feral cats, this organization also aims to help stray, abandoned and wild cats. It strives to help cats through programs that include local rescue, rehabilitation and adoption efforts in the Maryland/D.C. area as well as national and international programs.

One major goal of Alley Cat Rescue is to reduce cat abandonment by helping people learn to deal with behavioral issues and better understand cat diseases. This education gives owners the tools that they need to care for cats with specific issues and creates a stronger bond between owner and animal.

4. Aslan’s Cats: This upstate New York charity is dedicated to helping leukemia-positive cats live comfortable lives. Part of the organization’s mission is to raise awareness about this often misunderstood disease through public-education campaigns.

In addition to helping cats find loving adoptive families, Aslan’s Cats also provides a safe home for cats with feline leukemia and gets them the veterinary care that they need. Those interested in giving this charity a hand can give a single donation or sign up for a monthly donation schedule. Another option with this and other charities is to browse the organization’s “wish list” and donate items needed to enable the organization to meet its mission.

5: Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation (LDCRF): Because the number of homeless animals greatly exceeds available homes and temporary shelter cages, too many “unwanted” animals are euthanized each year. LDCRF is dedicated to helping companion animals by working with local shelters to find homeless pets loving, permanent homes. Made up of a small staff and a band of animal-loving volunteers, this organization runs ten adoption events every weekend at Petsmart and PetCo locations in the Metro-D.C. area. These events have helped many thousands of cats and dogs live out their lives with people who love them.

You can look at adoptable animals on the LDCRF website or choose to “sponsor” a cat through donations that help with medical expenses. If you’re in the Metro-D.C. area, you can also help out by becoming a foster “parent” for a cat while it’s looking for a forever home.

All of these organizations would appreciate your financial support and, if you have it, your time. Some are specific to certain areas of the U.S. while others have national and even international branches. Getting involved can help save the lives of many cats through rehabilitation, placement and community education. You might even find a cat that you’d like to take care of and who will become a special part of your family for many years.