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Caring for Outdoor Cats

The weather is cooling down and the calls are flooding in from community members looking for indoor homes for outdoor cats. Winter is approaching and we absolutely understand the concern. However, we can only take in new cats when space becomes available and we are working through a long waitlist as quickly as we can. Here's the GOOD NEWS: cats can live outdoors safely with a little help from a friendly human!

How YOU can help outdoor cats:

> Build them a shelter! Check out these DIY instructions to build a cold-weather shelter for cats in your neighborhood.

> Check for signs of ownership! Friendly, well-fed cats are typically owned cats who are allowed to go outside. If the cat is in a potentially unsafe situation, move the cat a safe distance away but do not remove them altogether from their neighborhood. Ask around the area to determine if anyone has seen the cat before or knows who cares for it. Neighbors often unknowingly share cats who go back and forth between houses.

> Check for an ear tip! An ear tip - where the top left portion of the ear has been removed - indicates a free-roaming cat that has been spayed or neutered. They often have multiple caregivers and do not need human intervention.

> Fix feral cats! If the cat is feral (unsocialized and won't approach humans) but not yet ear tipped, we recommend utilizing the Trap-Neuter-Return method. Call our Health Clinic for low-cost spay/neuter services! Feral cats cannot be socialized and must live in a safe outdoor environment. We DO NOT take in feral cats for adoption.

> Does the cat appear to be injured or sick? If you find an injured or sick stray cat in Isabella County, call us for further assistance. We will assess the situation and determine if an immediate intake is required. If it is outside of our regular business hours you can keep the cat comfortable until we reopen, or you can call a local veterinary office for advice if the issue is life-threatening.

> Take the cat into your home ONLY if you are prepared to care for them long-term! We have a long waitlist to take in new cats so you must anticipate a waiting period of at least several months before space will be available. In the meantime you can check with neighbors to see if the cat is owned, call us to file a found report, build them a shelter, get them fixed, or try to find them a new indoor home.

With a little help from friendly humans, cats who have adapted to outdoor living can continue doing so successfully! Together, we can utilize humane alternatives to keep healthy cats out of the shelter, while freeing up space for those that need us most.


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