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Finding Homes for Homeless Cats

Surrendering a Cat to the Shelter

The Independent Cat Society is a no-kill shelter, like several others in our area. However, that does not mean that we will necessarily have a better chance at finding your cat a new home than any other shelter. Shelters are scary places for many cats, full of strange new smells, people, and other cats. It can be extremely stressful in a shelter and some cats may have very detrimental reactions to being placed there that can jeopardize their health. This is particularly true with older cats.

With this in mind, while we want to work with every individual that contacts us, we cannot always take in surrendered pets. There are simply too many unwanted pets in our area, and all of the local shelters working together cannot solve the problem without some help from the community.

If you choose to surrender your cat to us, please contact us first. We may be able to help you with additional options, or we may even have grants avialable to help you meet financial needs if this is the reason for your surrender.

Also, please note that a small fee may be incurred when you surrender your cat. This will be discussed when you contact us.

There are some circumstances where a cat may not be able to be accepted into the shelter or placed for adoption.

Again, we will work with you to help you find the best situation for your cat. But we also invite you to continue reading this document, as there may be additional suggestions and resources available there to help you.

Stray Cats

While some stray cats are abandoned by their human families, many are lost.  A little detective work will help determine if the stray you’ve found is abandoned or lost and what your next steps should be.  Meanwhile, keep the cat separated from your other pets to prevent the spread of any unknown diseases.

Is the cat lost?  Is the animal in good condition, well fed, clean, easy to approach? Is he wearing collar or I.D. tags?  Most pet owners don’t use collars and tags on their cats.  If the stray has tags, notify the owner from this information.  The issuer of a rabies or city license tag, whose telephone number is usually on the tag, can also give you the owner’s name, address and phone number.

If the cat doesn’t have any identification: Some animal welfare organizations use tattoos for identification.  Check inside the ears, the abdomen or leg for a tattoo.  If the cat has a tattoo, contact a vet or the local humane society, where they can tell you what organization originally tattooed the animal. They may have records of the owner or adopter. Ask a vet to scan the cat for a microchip, call your local animal shelters and humane societies—some have lost and found services.

Call the national hotline for found pets at 1-800-755-8111. Put up “found” signs in the neighborhood where you found the cat, and at vet offices, grocery stores, pet stores, groomers and shopping areas.  Include a photo if possible.  Watch for “lost” signs.  Place a “found” ad in your local newspapers—many papers will run these ads free.  Check the paper daily for “lost” ads that may describe the cat.  Check with children in your neighborhood.  They are great resources.

If you get a response from your ads, be careful.  Reselling animals for research, baiting fighting or racing dogs and as breeders for puppy and kitten “mills” are thriving industries.  An unscrupulous animal broker may put on a well- polished act as a concerned pet owner who’s lost a beloved companion.  Ask for identification.  When someone calls in response to an ad or posted notice, ask for his name and phone number and call him back, as a precaution. Ask for a detailed description of the animal.  An owner should be able to give you details not mentioned in your ad. Watch for the animal’s reaction when the owner arrives. A reunion of human and animal companions has a distinctive feel to it. Ask for veterinary record, photos, etc.

If you have no response from these steps, you can safely assume that the cat is truly homeless.

What if the stray is sick or hurt? You should take the animal to a vet.  If the animal’s injuries are too severe, the vet may consider euthanasia.  It is better for the animal to die a humane death than to suffer a slow and painful death.

What next? Should you keep the cat? If you decide to provide a home for the cat yourself, don’t expose you animals to the stray until you know it’s in good health.  Keep the animal separated from the other animals.  Your first step is to take her to a vet for a complete exam. The vet can tell you the cat’s approximate age, physical condition and sex.  The vet can also let you know what vaccination and diet the cat needs and when to have it neutered or spayed.  It is a good idea to take a fresh stool sample along with you to be checked for internal parasites.

What should you do if you cannot keep the cat, or you need a home for your cat? If you can’t keep the cat, don’t assume the local humane society or shelter can find a good home for it. Millions of healthy adult cats and kittens are euthanized because there are not enough homes for all of them.

To find the best possible home for the cat, plan on doing some work yourself.  Give yourself plenty of time--finding a responsible home for the cat can’t be done overnight.  It will be easier if you have the cat vaccinated and spayed or neutered first.

Advertise: The best home would be with friends or family members whom you trust.  If their homes are already full, expand you search to you work place, church or school. Ask if anyone know of someone who is looking for a cat.  Post notices on bulletin boards near lunchrooms, in veterinary clinics, pet supply stores and grocery/convenience stores.  Your notices should be neat, specific, eye-catching and uncluttered.  A photo of the cat along with a catch phrase such as “this cat wants you”, will attract attention.  Provide the cat’s name, color, age sex, neuter status and loveable characteristics.  Include your name and phone number and best time to call; giving only a phone number allows you to screen callers before scheduling appointments.

Newspaper ads in daily papers, shopping guides, and neighborhood weeklies can be effective.  Keep your ad brief, yet informative.  Do not use “Free Kitten” or” Free Cat” ads, as they often attract irresponsible or undesirable pet owners; those unable to provide routine veterinary care for the cat, those who would sell the cat to a research facility, those who would use the cat in training dogs for fighting, or those who feed kittens to pet snakes.  A fee of $25.00 or more will help discourage these types of inquiries.  Your offer to provide basic initial vaccinations and neuter may cost you a few dollars, but the investment is well worth it for the cat, and for your own peace of mind.

Interview: The potential adopter’s response to the following questions over the phone will help determine if you wish to set up an appointment for the person to meet the cat. Do you currently have a cat?, If yes, why do you want another cat?  If no, have you ever had a cat before?  If yes, what happened to it?  What other pets do you have, when were your present pets last vaccinated? When were your present pets neutered?  Do you know it could take one or more months for all pets to adjust?  What do the other members of you family think about getting a cat? Do you rent or own?  How does your landlord feel about you having pets?  Do you have children?  If yes, what ages are they and have they ever been around cats?

If you feel comfortable with the answers to these questions, make an appointment (set a specific time) for the prospective owners to meet the cat.  At that time, observe how all of the family members interact with the cat, especially children.  Do they demonstrate respect toward the cat, making a gentle self-introduction by allowing the cat to take the initiative for touching? Trust your intuition- remember not to feel obligated to adopt the cat to the first family or person you interview.

The prospective adopter will want to know all about the cat.  Tell them everything you’ve learned about the cat in your short ime together.  Clearly state any conditions you may require of a potential adopter (indoors only, no declawing, neutering, etc.)

Adopt. A written agreement is common at most animal shelters and it may also work well for you.  Include all conditions you want the adopter to meet in this agreement, a description of the cat, the cate, amount paid for the cat, and your signature and that of the adopter.  Let the potential adopters know you value the cat; and if the situation doesn’t work out for the cat or the people after a period of time (suggest a four-week adjustment period), let them know that they can return the cat to you.  You may want to check their I.D. for current address and take their home and work phone numbers.  Maintain contact with the new adopters to assure yourself that you have found the best possible home for the cat.  After you complete the entire process, you will be better prepared for the next homeless cat that finds you.

If you cannot find a home for the cat: If you have tried all possible means of finding a home for the cat, but cannot, please take the cat to your local humane society or county shelter.  They will hold the cat for several days to allow the owner to claim it, or for it to find a new home.  If the owner does not claim it or it is not adopted, depending on the facility, the animal will be integrated into the population at the shelter, or euthanized.  “Euthanasia” literally means “good death”. Euthanasia is always more humane and preferable to releasing the animal outside to “fend for itself,” or personally killing the animal.

It is unfortunate that there are not enough homes for all animals. Do your part to help stop the tragedy of unwanted animals: Spay and neuter your pets, and encourage your friends and relatives to do the same.

Area Veterinarians

All Creature Features, 219-393-3558
Animal Clinic of Michigan City, 879-0249                            
Animal Care Hospital, 872-9113
Arbor View Animal Hospital, 762-7267                                
Ark of the Dunes Animal Hospital, 926-9797
Chesterton Animal Hospital, 929-5776                                 
Dr. McPherson, Crown Point, 661-8045
Four Seasons Animal Hospital, 663-8387                            
Gast Veterinary Hospital, 759-7387                    
Hobart Animal Hospital, 942-4442                                         
Maple City animal Hospital, 324-0055
Michigan City Animal Hospital, 872-4191                           
McAfee Animal Hospital, 462-5901                    
New Carlisle Animal Hospital, 654-3129                              
Portage Animal Clinic, 763-3311                           
Purdue North Central Emergency Clinic, 785-7300           
Vale Park Animal Hospital, 462-5785
 Valparaiso Animal Hospital, 462-1862 
Westchester Animal Clinic, 926-1194

Indiana Law states that it is Illegal to abandon or neglect an animal. Violators face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.  It is also Illegal to injure or kill an animal.  Violators face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.  If the offender has a previous conviction, he faces up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana Code 35-46-3: Chapter 3. Offenses Relating to Animals.  IC 35-46-3-7: Sec.7. A person having a vertebrate animal in the person’s custody who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally abandons or neglect the animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class B misdemeanor.

IC35-46-3-12.Sec.12 A person who knowingly or intentionally tortures, beats or mutilates a vertebrate animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor.  However the offense is a Class D felony if the person has a previous, unrelated conviction under this section.

Area Shelters, Sanctuaries, and Spay-Neuter Services

Note: Organizations listed in italics are no-kill facilities

Local Indiana:
ABRAangels@gmail.com ,  www.ABRAangels.com    
Cats of St. Francis Rescue, 5017 W. 86th Pl., Crown Point, IN, 219-769-1859, www.catsofstfrancis.org , dmglittergallery@yahoo.com
Castaway Critters, P.O. Box 481, Hobart, IN, 46342, 219-759-2285, www.aspccastawaycritters.com
Fried’ Cat Shelter, P.O. Box 241,509 U.S. Highway 212, Michigan City, IN, 219-874-6932
Humane Society Calumet Area, 421 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321, 219-922-3811, www.hscalumet.org
Humane Society of Hobart, State Road 130, P.O. Box 108, Hobart, IN, 46342, 219-942-0103
Humane Society of Northwest Indiana, 6100 Melton Rd. (U.S. 20) Miller, IN, 46403, 219-938-3339
Jasper County Humane Society, 2430 Clark St. Rensselaer, IN, 219-866-4900
Lake County Animal Control/Shelter, 3011 W. 93rd Ave., Crown Point, IN, 219-769-7016
La Porte County Small Animal Shelter, 2855 W. State Rd. 2, La Porte, IN 46350, 219-326-1637
Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, 722 State Rd. 212, P.O. Box 8651, Michigan City, IN,46360,219-872-4499
Marshall County Humane Society, 11165 13th Road, Plymouth, IN, 219-936-8300
Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 219-299-8027, www.mrwildliferehab.org
Pet Neutering and Adoption Services, Inc. P.O. Box 161, DeMotte, IN, 46310, 987-7297,www.petneutering.com
Porter County Animal Shelter, 2056 Heavilin Rd. Valparaiso, IN 46383, 219-465-3550, pcanimal@porterco.org
Safe Haven, safehaven@netnitco.net, 987-7622
Starke County Humane Society, 0104 W. State Rd. 10, North Judson, IN, 46366, 219-896-5060
Strays in the Garden, P.O. Box 1984, highland, IN 46322, 219-923-6286
Treasured Friends, P.O. Box9234, Highland, IN, 219-381-8562, www.treasuredfriendsrescue.org
Tri-Town Animal Control, 540 Kaser Blvd. Schererville, IN, 219-865-6992
Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership, Fishers, IN, 317-774-8292, www.adoptarpo.org
Animal Rescue Fund, Muncie, IN, 765-282-2733
Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, 3489 E 100 S, Pierceton, IN, 219-267-3008
Cats Haven, 317-638-0699, www.catshaven,org
Cause for Paws, 219-753-5575
Chicagoland Purebred Rescue and Referral, Crown Point, IN , 219-365-0552
Help the Animals, P.O. Box 117, Richmond, IN, 765-962-6811
Home for Friendless Animals, P.O. Box 217,Waynestown, IN 47990, 765-866-1760, www.friendlessanimals.com
Humane Society of Indianapolis, 7929 N. Michigan Rd. Indianapolis, IN,46268, 317-872-5650
I-CAN, (Indiana Companion Animal Network), 317-578-1800
North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter, Battleground, IN , 765-589-8299
Petsconnect@petsconnect.org , 574-282-1225
Pet Refuge, P.O. Box 4534, South Bend, IN, 46634 574-256-0886
St. Joseph County Humane Society, 2506 N. Liberty Dr. Mishawaka, IN, 46545, 219-255-4726
Animal Care League Shelter, 1013 Garfield, Oak Park, IL 60304, 708-848-8155
Animal Welfare League, 10305 Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge,  IL 60415, 708-636-8586; 6224 South Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL,60637, 312-667-0088
Anti -Cruelty Society, 157 West Grand St., Chicago, IL 60610-4274;312-644-8338 (x343 or x 315 for the behaviorist hot line) email to kokura@anticurelty.org or mklett@anticruelty.org
Cat Guardians, 932 East St. Charles Rd., Lombard, IL 630-543-3395
Cats Are Purrsons Too, P.O. Box 59067, Chicago, IL 60659, 773-728-6336
Felines, Inc. P.O. Box 60616, Chicago, IL 60660, 773-465-4132, fax773-465-6454, www.felinesinc.org
Harmony House for Cats, 3809 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL 60618, 773-463-6667, www.hhforcats.org
Heartland Animal Shelter, Northbrook, IL, 847-296-6400
Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets, St. Charles, IL, 630-879-8500
Friends of Strays, Princeton, IL, 815-643-2237, 815-925-7251, bdoty@theramp.net , larryeden@mschi.com
Furry Friends Foundation, 1151 N. State St., Chicago, IL, 60610, 312-397-1001
Lake Shore Animal Shelter, 225 W. Division, Chicago, IL, 60610, 312-409-1162
Pet Adoption League (PAL), P.O. Box 438563, Beverly Hills, IL, 60643, Local contact 219-322-5776
PAWS Chicago, 1110 W 35th St. Chicago, IL, 60609, 773-843-3887
People’s Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) P.O. Box 542, 183rd & 80th Ave., Tinley Park, IL 60477, 708-532-7797
Pet Rescue, P.O.  Box 425, 151 N. Bloomingdale Rd., Bloomindale, IL 60108-0425, 630-893-0030
Red Door Animal Shelter (formerly Chicago Community Humane Center), 7444 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60626, Mailing address: P.O. Box 269119, Chicago, IL, 60626
Safe Harbor, 847-687-2651
Save-A-Pet, Inc. 31664 Fairfield, Rd. Grayslake, IL 60030, 847-740-7788
Society of St. Francis Animal Shelter, 12300 116th St. Kenosha, WI, 53142, 414-857-7260, mailing address: P.O. Box 206 Wadsworth, IL, 60083
TLC Animal Shelter, Lockport, IL, 708-301-1594
South Suburban Humane Society, 1103 West End Avenue, P.O. Box 744, Chicago Heights, IL 60411, 708-755-7387
Strays Halfway House, P.O. Box 68811, Schaumburg, IL, 60168-0811, 847-351-3150
Tree House Animal Foundation, 1212 West Carmen, Chicago, IL 60640-2999, 773-784-5488

Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Services

Independent Cat Society Vouchers: These are available at the shelter on Saturdays from 10 am-4 pm and on Sundays from 1-4 pm. Other hours are by appointment only. Payment is made to the shelter by cash, debit or credit card.   There are two levels of vouchers:
Basic: includes spay or neuter, first distemper vaccine, and a rabies vaccine.
After purchasing the voucher, call one of the vet clinics listed below to schedule an appointment. ICS Spay/Neuter vouchers are only accepted at the following veterinary clinics:
All Creature Features:  219-393-3558, $ 85.00
Gast Animal Hospital:  219-759-7387, $ 105.00
McAfee Animal Hospital: 219-462-5901, 651 Eastport Centre Dr. Valparaiso, In 46383, Basic $115.00, Comprehensive, $140.00
Maple City Animal Hospital: 219-324-0055, 353 Fail Rd., La Porte, IN 46350, $ 116.64 
Westchester Animal Clinic: 219-926-1194, 55 E. US Highway 20, Porter, IN  46304-1397, Basic $65.00
Other Local Options:
Dr. Anderson’s Feline Reduction Center has a clinic on Saturdays in Beverly Shores.  The surgery cost is $50. The rabies and distemper vaccines are extra, while ear cleaning, a pain shot and penicillin shot are included. The scheduling number is 219-861-9006.  Call and leave a message when you want to schedule a cat and the clinic staff will call you back with drop-off/pick-up details
icstnr.@comcast.net: please email for help with spaying/neutering of free-roaming cats
Neuter Scooterwww.neuterscooter.com
Pet Neutering and Adoption- De Motte, IN, www.petneutering.com  
The Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic- Munster, IN www.hsca.umet.org or 219-924-7140. The Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic offers low-cost spay, neuters, and vaccinations for the following groups:  Low income pet owners on government assistance ( such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Unemployment or Disability), Owners of pit bull and pit bull mixes, Residents of Gary, IN, Feral cat caretakers(call 219-924-7140 for information on humane trap rental),Animal shelters, animal controls and rescue groups.

There are also two special programs:
 Low-income Senior Program- Seniors over the age of 65 and on government assistance (other than Social Security) can get their pet spayed, neutered and vaccinated for free!
Spay Your Momma Program- Low-income owners of a dog or cat with a litter can get the mom and her litter spayed, neutered and vaccinated for rabies for free!  Owners must be on government assistance or Social Security.  Call Calumet SNAP at 877-819-3300 for more information.
Chicago Options:
NAWS:  www.nawsus.org or 708-478-5102, (Mokena, IL)
PAWS Chicago: The Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic or mobile unit, www.pawschicago.org  or 773-521-7729
Anti-Cruelty Society: www.anticruelty.org  or 312-644-8338

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