Lily Rose was an early story in surrender prevention for me. She was one step from being surrendered back to the shelter where she was adopted when she showed up on my front porch in 2016. She was so pretty and such a nice cat, not at all frightened as if she’d escaped, but I’d never seen her before and most indoor-outdoor cats pass by me more than once in this neighborhood. I had her scanned for a chip and found she belonged to to a neighbor on the next block down.
Lily Rose wasn’t intended to be an indoor-outdoor cat but she’d begun using a crawlspace in the basement as her litter box. Her person couldn’t block her from it, nor could she easily clean it. So out of desperation she began letting Lily Rose outdoors to see if she’d use the outdoors as a litter box. Lily did use the outdoors and apparently happily, but her person really didn’t like her outdoors and she didn’t know what to do. She felt her best option was to take Lily Rose back to the shelter and surrender her.
Litter box use, and the avoidance thereof, is the most frequent reason cats are surrendered to shelters. It was the first topic I began to find a volume of information about in regard to cat behavior years ago when I began to pursue information. I had lived with a few who missed the box or didn’t even try sometimes and I had been so glad to learn why they were acting this way. Since this activity is so common I shared it with anyone else who mentioned feline house soiling, so when I called the neighbor and told her I had her cat and she let me know what was happening, I was ready. We were able to get Lily Rose back indoors and give her a second litter box, and both on other floors than the basement.
Surrender Prevention training
That helped prevent Lily Rose from being surrendered to the shelter, where cats with litter box issues often don’t fare well. I knew the shelter was actually using surrender prevention initiatives at that time, so if the woman had decided to surrender her anyway, she’d get another dose of the same information and that would be a buffer for Lily Rose.
But whether the issue is house soiling or spraying, biting or scratching, aggressive behavior toward other cats or pets, or any other infractions cats can find to confuse and anger their people, the last place they should be taken is the shelter. Cats don’t fare well in shelters because being in strange places and handled by strangers is highly stressful for cats not to mention the noises and smells and often being in a cage. Historically about 75% of all euthanasias in shelters are cats in part because their reaction to their surroundings makes them unadoptable. Part of rescue is helping to keep them out of the shelter by advising their person about the source of the behavior and what they can do to help avoid it, hence the “surrender prevention” training.
Cats don’t come with an owner’s manual, we all come to living with cats from different backgrounds, experiences and familiarity with cats, and often people don’t know who to ask when something comes up. Most people misinterpret behaviors based on human reasons for it, like jealousy or spite, and so react to the cat as if that’s the reason, which it’s not, and their reaction has no effect and often backfires.
This training session was a webinar with slides we could study and an online quiz after the webinar was over. The material covered was focused on working with people, being compassionate and understanding, listening to the whole issue which often involves personal matters, and offering real solutions and support, following up with people and staying with them to answer questions as long as they needed. Most people don’t want to surrender their cats, they love them very much, and are grateful to be able to talk and explain to someone who will understand. Knowing and understanding cat behaviors was a given, of course, because you would need to interpret what the person told you and determine what might be the cause or causes of the behavior and know what to recommend.
The webinar was hosted by Community Cats Podcast and the trainer was Dr. Rachel Geller. If you are interested in the training for yourself or someone else, the website is offered again in May. Visit the Community Cats Podcast website for more information.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
This information is part of what’s available in Great Rescues Day Book!
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned 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:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!