Tips for when you ask for help from a rescue

We’ve been receiving an increasing number of requests for help from members of the public via our social media channels and our feral/stray community help email (ferals@annexcatrescue.ca). While we are happy that people are reaching out and asking for advice and trying to help community cats, there are some ways in which you could help us help you more efficiently.

1) Do not expect an immediate response. We are all volunteers and most of us have full-time work. A response time within 24 hours is about what we can manage.

a whole neighbourhood rallied around Thor

2) Do expect that we will ask you to help further in the situation. It is not helpful to email us about a sickly cat or kittens IF you are unwilling to put up posters looking for an “owner” or speak with a few of your neighbours or start to feed the cat(s) at certain times.

3) Do include photos of the cat(s) if possible, your major intersection and your phone number. Depending on where you live, we may refer you to a rescue(s) that’s closer. But more importantly, as much as possible, ACR’s volunteer trappers work within specific areas – to save on gas and time.

4) Do not expect Annex Cat Rescue to be able to take in every kitten and cat. While we are pleased we have a good reputation, we simply do not have the financial or the foster resources to accept every cat that is on the street. We usually redirect all healthy kittens 6-8 weeks old to vet clinics, to the Toronto Humane Society and other rescues. This summer has been overwhelming with sheer numbers. There have been times when even the THS has turned kittens away.

5) Understand that sorting out a situation can take time. When someone contacts us about a bunch of unaltered cats and kittens, ACR does not just swoop in with a big net and take them all away on the same day. It’s a little more complicated than that. There are steps to be followed to ensure that we don’t trap any neighbours’ cats, that the trapper will have more success and that there is a plan in place for the cat(s). Unless a medical emergency, a situation can take weeks to resolve with you being in contact with the trappers and helping as much as possible. Also, we have often been juggling up to 5 different situations at a time so you may have to wait.

wait until the kittens are this age

6) If you find baby kittens, please don’t touch them. By baby, we mean newborns or up to the age where they are not up and about like the kittens in the photo above). Mom cat will likely be nearby. Observation is key. Give us a heads’ up by all means so we can get ready but the kittens will have a much higher chance of survival if you leave them with their mom. Your role is to feed mom good quality food two-three times a day at the same times. You feed mom, mom feeds kids. And don’t forget to provide lots of cool water, especially in this hot weather.

7) If a volunteer trapper does come out, please give them a $20-25 donation toward their gas. ACR does not reimburse volunteers for gas for helping a member of the public so they are spending their own money to help you. And thank them – profusely. Trappers are some of the hardest-working people in animal rescue and sometimes have to deal with difficult people as well as heartbreaking situations.

8) Accept that sometimes we will ask you to take the cat to another rescue where he/she may be in a cage. We get many emails requesting our help because someone wants the cat rescued and placed immediately in a foster home and not into a cage. A few weeks in a cage is better than a few more weeks on the street and the cat will be spayed/neutered and adopted out likely within a month.

an unmanaged colony can quickly grow

9) Don’t tell us what you can’t do, but think of what you can do. We get many emails from people who want us to take in a cat because they can’t – due to other cats in the home, allergies, space, etc. – the “I’d like to help but…” emails. Instead, could you find a friend who has a spare room who could keep the cat a week or two? Could you drive the cat to a clinic? Could you make a donation to Annex Cat Rescue and encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same?

This summer we are facing an unprecedented number of cats and kittens that need help. We need people like you to take on a bigger role in their rescue or their continued health if they return to their outdoor homes. It is not enough to just notify a rescue of a situation and walk away.

If you have contacted us and helped with trapping situations in the past, thank you! You make our work so much easier and give us hope for a brighter future when everyone gets their pets spayed/neutered and no one dumps their pets.