Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Rescue Centres & Cat Rehoming
(page updated Wednesday 1 April)

The current Coronavirus situation is challenging for all of us, including rescue centres. On this page we will aim to provide the most current information and advice that we can.


cat, computer and cup of tea

Cat Chat

All members of the Cat Chat team work online from their own homes, therefore our website and services will carry on as normal. It may be that rescue centres will need our help even more in the current situation, and we will be there to help them in whatever ways we can. Find out how you can help your local rescue organisations during this crisis period here: How You Can Help

Rescue Centres

Whilst all the rescue centres are of course continuing to look after all the animals in their care, most are unable to adopt animals out during the current restrictions, and are only taking in new animals if it's a genuine emergency. Due to current coronavirus prevention measures, please do not visit rehoming centres in person, but instead make contact by phone or email: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres. See also 'Adopting a Cat' and 'Surrendering a Cat' below.

In the current situation, rescues are unable to safely carry out homechecks or to deliver cats, and also people can't currently come to meet the cats due to travel restrictions and social distancing rules. Rescues also need to limit their chances of exposure for the safety of their own staff and volunteers, to ensure they stay well to care for the animals they have. Most rehoming centres are welcoming contact (by phone or email) to express an interest in adopting when the current restrictions are lifted.

Rescue shelters across the country are bracing themselves for a potential, additional influx of cats due to their owners going into hospital for prolonged periods due to Covid-19, and also any economic impact resulting from the crisis. In addition 'kitten season' has already started, with stray mums & kittens needing urgent care. As every rescue space is needed more than ever in this most challenging time, rescues are only admitting new cats in emergency situations, such as sick strays or pregnant cats. Please bear this in mind when contacting rescue centres during this difficult period. If you would like to help, please see the 'How You Can Help!' section below.

Adopting a Cat

If you have been thinking about adopting a rescue cat, you will most likely need to wait until the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted, as most rescue organisations are unable to adopt animals out at this time. If you have seen a particular cat on Cat Chat who you are interested in, or if you just wish to enquire about adopting a cat, contact the shelter to express your interest. Whilst they are very unlikely to be able adopt out cats at this time, most shelters are keeping a waiting list of 'interested' people wishing to adopt, for when their rehoming activities resume. Depending on their resources, some shelters may just ask you to call back once the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

So please do still check out the Cats for Adoption on our site, but bear in mind this will probably be on a ‘look now – adopt later’ basis. Please do not visit rehoming centres in person at this time, but instead make contact by phone or email: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres

If you had already reserved a cat prior to the current restrictions, it may be possible that you could arrange an appointment with the shelter to collect your cat, provided they have a way to safely do this under the current distancing restrictions.

Surrendering a Cat

In these challenging times, every rescue space is needed more than ever, and the availability of staff and volunteers is reduced. Therefore, many rescue centres are currently only admitting new cats in genuine emergencies, such as sick strays or pregnant cats. If you need to rehome your own cat, please first consult our rehoming advice page to see if rehoming can be avoided, or at least delayed.

If you have no alternative to rehoming your cat, please be aware that many rescues are only taking new animals in if it is an emergency, and for all other situations will be operating a waiting list. Please do not visit rehoming centres in person at this time, but instead make contact by phone or email: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres

Cats Protection

Cats Protection rehoming statement: "During this developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Cats Protection is taking extra precautions to keep our cats, volunteers, employees and the public safe. This currently means that some activities, including the homing of our cats and fundraising events have been put on hold. We will only be able to take in cats for rehoming in emergency circumstances at this time. Further details are available on our website: www.cats.org.uk/coronavirus and this will be updated as new information becomes available."

Blue Cross

Blue Cross rehoming statement: "With the exception of horses, we can’t accept further rehoming applications at this time. Following the government’s stay at home advice, we’re focusing all our efforts on the welfare of the pets in our care. We will not be finding small pets, cats or dogs new homes for three weeks while these measures are in place. We can’t accept new pets other than pets admitted through our hospitals and Pets into Care. It is critical that we keep our people safe as well as the pets in our care. Thank you very much for your continued understanding and support.www.bluecross.org.uk/coronavirus-rehoming-statement

RSPCA

RSPCA rehoming statement: "Due to the UK Government announcement our network of animal centres, wildlife centres and charity shops must close to the public until further notice. Although we remain committed to looking after all of the animals in our care, from 25 March no animals can be sent out on adoption or fostering. No animals can be admitted from the public, this includes wildlife.RSPCA Coronavirus latest updates

Support Shops

Since the latest government guidance, all charity support shops have had to closed due to the threat of coronavirus. This, coupled with the fact that all the usual fundraising events are having to be cancelled, will mean that rescue centres and rehoming groups - particularly the smaller ones - will be seriously struggling for funds to care for the animals they already have. See 'How You can Help' below, or contact your local rescues to ask what help they need.

Charities with support shops may be eligible for grants to help them over this time: Grants info for charities with shops

Be Prepared

Whether you are in an 'at risk' category for Covid-19 or not, it is sensible to have a pet care plan in place for if you become unwell. Appoint a friend or family member who could care for your pet(s) if you become too ill to do so, or if you were taken into hospital. This could mean seeing to their needs in your home, or taking them into their own home temporarily. Ensure that you have at least two weeks' supply of pet food, litter etc ready, as well as any medications (and instructions) in case of the need to relocate your pet. Also please ensure that your cat is neutered and microchipped. In case boarding becomes necessary, ensure your pets' vaccinations are up to date.

If you or anyone in your household feels unwell or has symptoms which might potentially be due to coronavirus, find information and guidance here: NHS website: Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Self Isolating with pets

If you are self isolating, include pet food in your online shopping, or use one of the many online shops specifically selling pet supplies. Alternatively, contact friends, family members or neighbours by phone or email, to ask if they could bring supplies to your door. You may also find that some local independent grocery stores will deliver, particularly in this current situation. If you are an older person, help is also available from Age UK. If you are ill yourself, deliveries should be left outside your door. For hints and tips on Self isolating with pets, both cats and dogs, see the 'Self Isolating?' links below. 

Pets and Coronavirus

Some good news at least: Veterinary and scientific experts worldwide agree that COVID-19 can NOT be transmitted from you to your pets, or from your pets to you. The World Health Organization said "there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.”  New York State Veterinary Medical Society said: “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the coronavirus.” Please be assured that Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) is NOT linked in any way to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) in humans. So, Stay Safe, Keep Well, and Fuss Your Cats!

How You can Help!

Funding: We asked a number of rescue centres what kind of help they need most at this time, and the main worry for them is quite simply funding. Fundraising events have been cancelled and support shops have had to close due to government measures to restrict the virus, plus the loss of income in the form of adoption fees. For many of the smaller organisations in particular, this loss of funds will have a huge impact, as vet bills and animal care expenses still need to be met.  If you are able to help your local rescue organisation with a donation, that really is the best way you can help right now. You can find details of rescues near you on our Shelter Listings (NB: To donate to a specific shelter, please donate to them directly, not to Cat Chat, thank you!).  

Food & Litter Donations: Donations of pet food & litter may also be welcomed by your local rescue organisation, but please check with them first if, where and how they are able to accept in-person donations as this will be restricted during the current crisis. Some rescues have an 'Amazon Wishlist' where you can buy petfood and petcare items on their behalf, which are then delivered directly to them; shelters will usually advertise this on their website or facebook page. 

Food Banks: When shopping, please consider buying an extra box, packet or tin of pet food to donate to your local food bank (most supermarkets have a food bank donation box). There will be people on the lowest incomes already struggling who might otherwise feel they must relinquish their cat to a shelter if they can no longer feed them. As shelters don’t have extra space now since no adoptions are taking place, this could result in cats abandoned to the streets.

Neutering: The other way you can help ease the pressure on rescue centres is to make sure your cats (both male and female) are neutered. The fewer unwanted kittens that need to come into rescue over the coming months, the better.  However, due to the latest government guidelines, many vets practices are only offering medically essential appointments, which may not include neutering. If you have an adult cat who is not yet neutered, and if you can't find a vet to carry that out at this time, we would advise that you keep them indoors until such time as they can be neutered or spayed, so that they don't add to the cat population. For details about neutering and low-cost options visit our Neutering Information page.

Emergency Grant Funding

Emergency grant funds are being set up all over the country to help support smaller charities and not-for-profit organisations through the current crisis. If your organisation is struggling financially due to loss of income due to coronavirus, we recommend searching online for funds in your local area. Your local authority should also have details of what emergency funding is available. The government is also set to announce funding support for charities hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden will be announcing money for charities this week, (source: The independent). Other funds we are aware of are:

UK-Wide: The CAF Coronavirus Emergency Fund. To help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 are available: CAF Emergency Fund
UK Wide: Charities with support shops: Grants for charity properties in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount: www.charitytaxgroup.org.uk/coronavirus-information-hub
UK Wide: Civil Society list of funding available to charities during the Covid-19 pandemic: www.civilsociety.co.uk/charity-funding
Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire (west of M6): Steve Morgan Foundation fund, to support charities and not for profits in their remit: Steve Morgan Foundation emergency fund
Tyne & Wear and Northumberland: Community Foundation: Supporting local charities: www.communityfoundation.org.uk

Further Information

NHS advice: NHS Guidance - Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Age UK, help for older people: www.ageuk.org.uk
Cat Owners Advice (International Cat Care): Covid-19 Advice for Cat Owners
Self Isolating? PDSA Advice on Self Isolating with Pets
Self Isolating? RSPCA Advice on Self Isolating with Pets
RSPCA services: www.rspca.org.uk/coronavirus
Cats Protection services: www.cats.org.uk/coronavirus
Blue Cross rehoming: www.bluecross.org.uk/coronavirus-rehoming-statement


Keep Safe • Stay Well • Fuss Your Cats!