While you’re out chasing holiday bargains this month, make sure you find some bargains for your local shelters and rescue groups too! You’d be surprised what they can use in addition to cat and dog food—also blankets, office equipment, household goods and cleaning supplies, for just a few examples. And for that matter, other animals besides cats and dogs live in shelters and rescues too.
Check those wish lists!
If you check the “wish lists” of any organization that offers assistance to animals, you might be surprised at what you’d find they can use. On almost every list for the shelters and organizations here in Pittsburgh I find such various necessary items as Sharpie markers, paper towels and van maintenance service, things you’d never think of when considering donations.
Donate office supplies = more money to spend on animals
Behind the front lines of rescuing, spaying, neutering, healing, housing and adopting animals, there is an administrative body of some sort even if no physical shelter exists. Records must be kept and stored, publicity sent, checks written and staff and/or volunteers taken care of in some way.
Money is always short at shelters and rescue organizations, so it makes sense that donating items that don’t directly serve the animals themselves either saves money, such as office supplies which are necessary, or just makes the atmosphere more welcoming and healing for both animals and staff, such as a multiple CD player or a DVD player which is not necessary but which plays soothing music or an entertaining animal DVD.
Office basics everyone needs are copy paper, computers and printers, pens, markers and Post-its, and basic housekeeping items include brooms, mops, laundry detergent and paper towels.
Health care items such as gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide, Q-tips and more are used for animals as well as humans. Think of what you’ve seen your veterinarian or vet tech use.
When you donate items such as these, the organization can use they money they would have spent for spay/neuter programs, health care for injured or abused animals and outreach and education programs.
Large animal rescues and farm animal sanctuaries
And don’t forget large animal rescues as well—you may not be able to offer large animal feed, for instance, but they need office supplies, cleaning supplies and van maintenance as much as the smaller shelters, and they also need health care items.
Food and bedding donations
You can always donate the practical things that shelters need in great quantities and use up quickly—mostly food and bedding. All animals need to eat, and shelters will often take opened bags of dry food if your animals don’t like it and you don’t want to send it back to the manufacturer.
If you see pet food on sale, especially canned food, purchase a few cans to donate. Even a half-dozen cans provides meals to older animals, those with special needs or animals who are recovering from serious injury or illness after rescue.
Treats are always appreciated as they can help to train animals who may not have received any discipline, and they can also help a human form a bond with a distrustful animal who was neglected or abused.
In preparation for kitten season, there is always a need for kitten milk replacer formulas.
And don’t forget the wild animals in rehabilitation shelters—they can use things like canned vegetables and baby food, who would think?
Bedding is another constant need. Even shelters which don’t keep animals in cages need comfortable places for them to dig and curl up to sleep, and those animals with special needs or in recovery especially need soft bedding. All of it needs to be frequently washed or even discarded after use because of excessive soiling or contagious disease.
Donated bedding from personal care homes
When my mother lived in a smaller personal care home that didn’t have a laundry or linen service I took as many discarded sheets, blankets, bedspreads and pillows as I could to donate to local shelters. According to code, once items have been stained they can’t be used for human bedding, but once washed they can still be used for animals in shelters, and can even be cut into smaller pieces to serve more animals.
And old fur coats provide great comfort to neonatal or young animals missing their mothers, especially wildlife in rescue and rehabilitation centers.
You can imagine cleaning up after all those animals! If nothing else, a roll or two of paper towels can go a long way, as well as a bottle of bleach, even garbage bags.
Look around your home and check yard sales
That’s just a partial list, and you don’t really need to think of purchasing them yourself. Often you’ll find you have extras of things you don’t need, or, like the bedding from the personal care home, you’ll find things that others are discarding. You can also clean up at a yard sale or especially an estate sale where the house has to be completely cleaned out, and what else to you do with partially used cleaning products? One of my design customers hosts estate sales, and immediately packs up anything along these lines to be donated to a shelter. If you don’t take it there you can always suggest it to someone else who has access to it.
Shelter Wish List
So be creative when you are cleaning out old things, and when you hear of others cleaning as well. Make sure you check the wish lists first to make sure they can use it—and note that not all of them take food that’s been opened.
Imagine if everyone bought and donated a case of canned food and a big package of paper towels—what an impact that would have in saving the shelters money and in helping the economy go round! This holiday season, put at least one shelter or rescue group on your gift list.
Local organizations, causes and rescues
Many individuals and small organizations are providing low-cost spay/neuter and veterinary care, pulling animals off the streets, setting up TNR clinics and many more activities that help homeless animals. A donation of goods, services or cash to one of these can make a huge difference.
Other ways you can help
Amazon Wish Lists
The Amazon Wish List for our group’s foster kittens.
Many rescuers pay out of pocket for veterinary care and food but the costs of raising even the average litter of four healthy kittens is more than many people have, and many rescues have greater needs. Pittsburgh CAT has a number of wish lists that include foods for feeding neo-natal kittens like KMR, and other lists that include the best kitten foods, adult cat foods, food and materials for feral cats, and preferred toys and litter.
2017 Feral Cat Wish List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/10PFDFN1BY55E/ref=cm_go_nav_hz
2017 Foster Wish List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1DJBKJ6Y7IMR8/ref=cm_go_nav_hz
Can’t adopt? Foster! Can’t foster? Donate or volunteer.
There are so many ways you can help cats who need homes and care. You may not have room to adopt another cat, but can foster a cat or kitten for a few weeks. If not that, you can volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate. You do this because you love your cat, and by doing so you help all cats. No matter which of these actions you take, you help to save a life, and make life better for all cats.
- Adopt one of the cats I’ve posted here, or from any shelter or rescue near you, or from Petfinder, to open up a space for another cat to be rescued and fostered.
- Offer to foster cats or kittens for a shelter or rescue near you.
- Volunteer at a shelter or rescue.
- Find a group of volunteers who work with homeless cats and help them with their efforts.
- Donate to a shelter or rescue near you.
If you can foster kittens or adults cats to help prepare them for a forever home, please run to your nearest shelter and find a cat who needs you! Anyone can help with this effort at any level, even if all you do is donate to a shelter or rescue so they can help to pay for the food or medications needed for their foster, or the spay/neuter/veterinary care during a clinic.
Need to know more? Read Fostering for Your Shelter and Fostering Saves Lives
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Rescue, Foster, Rehome, Repeat 2018: Pittsburgh C.A.T. 2018 Calendar
If you’ve been following me long enough, you’ll know that Basil and Bella were both rescued and fostered by me through the efforts of Pittsburgh C.A.T. Hamlet and his sister Ophelia, too, are Pittsburgh C.A.T. cats. Charm and her adorable children were as well, and Alvina, Simon and Theodore. They each came to my household in different ways, with different stories and different needs, but all were rescued and given a new chance at a life in a loving home because of Pittsburgh C.A.T.
Pittsburgh C.A.T. has fostered and found loving forever homes for almost 500 rescued kittens and cats every year from TNR projects, local shelters and right off streets, reducing the population of homeless cats in the Pittsburgh area by thousands each year and spreading education about spay and neuter, feline care and behavior and compassion.
Many of those rescued cats come in with dire medical need from abuse or accidents, chronic or acute illnesses, and near starvation. Healing all those cats and kittens, feeding them and spaying and neutering, keeping up with vaccines and microchips, does not come cheap, but it’s the best way to rescue cats. Pittsburgh C.A.T. is not a 501c3 and can’t apply for grants, so sales of this calendar will help pay for lots of medical car. Help Pittsburgh C.A.T. finish off 2017 and get ready for 2018!
Calendars cost $25.00 each including shipping and handling. After costs Pittsburgh C.A.T. receives $10.00 from every calendar sold, and if you’re local and want to pick it up, they’ll get an extra $5.00!
Read more and see a few example stories, or purchase below!
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!