What To Do With Community Cats When Moving?
Many people wonder what to do with their colony when an unexpected situation forces them to move. The best solution typically depends varies based on the situation. Sometimes, the current caretaker is the only local caretaker, and it seems that there might be no options other than to let cats fend for themselves. Rest assured that there are a number of different steps that can be taken first, and even in a worst case situation, there are ways to minimize the pain for our feline friends as they relearn to fend for themselves.
- Start planning in advance! You never know when an emergency may pull you away, so make sure there is a neighbor, friend or family member ready who can step in and help if needed; it is best, if possible, to have them help with the feeding before there is ever an issue
- Act fast! Time is of the essence when your feeding situation changes, so it is best to begin preparing as soon as possible.
- Community cats often have multiple homes. Many times cat shelters and feeding stations can slowly be moved closer towards a neighbor or family member residence who will be taking over a colony; this helps to assimilate them as easily as possible to the change.
- Work with parents and younger community members if possible. Caring for your cats can help inspire future generations of compassionate animal caretakers.
Reaching Out For Help
- Use Facebook to find community cat groups that may have members who are able to help. Examples include HSHV Community Cats, Community Cats United (which has group for every state and in multiple countries), local animal rescue groups, local pet groups, barn cat groups, etc.
- Try the Nextdoor App. It’s a smartphone app that allows users to connect with other local users to discuss issues in the neighborhood. It can be good for connecting likeminded neighbors eager to help animals. Craigslist is another option.
- Visit the Alley Cat Allies website / Neighborhood Cats website – both these sites have systems for connecting caretakers with local resources.
- NOTE: You never need to share the exact location of your colony online; we recommend just giving the general idea of where the colony is located, particularly on non-private sites, until you have found someone you trust to help you.
If No Help Can Be Found
- If no one is able to step in to assist or the caretaker is forced away last minute, it is best to wean cats off of human-provided food.
- By reducing food slowly, you minimize the impact as cats start to once again readjust to the need to provide for themselves.
- It can be difficult, but it is important to remember cats are good at taking care of themselves and having been doing so for millennia, even in northern climates like ours!