Meowtel, the largest cat sitting platform in the country, investigated the pandemic’s impact on cat rescues. Rescues are overwhelmed with requests to foster or adopt while resources are low to continue helping cats in need.
COVID-19 happened to take its grip on the U.S. during a very important time of year for cat rescuers: kitten season. The number of kittens coming into the system is only at about one-third of what it was last year, despite the cat rescue groups having long lists of hopeful adopters.
“There just aren’t any kittens coming through with all the shelters closed,” lamented Toni Sastek of Toni’s Kitty Rescue in San Francisco, CA. “Right now, we only have about 40-50 kittens in foster care while our list of potential adopters is twice that. We usually have at least 150 kittens in foster homes around this time.” With everyone stuck at home, there are fewer opportunities to come across kittens in the neighborhood and help them while their odds of survival are highest. With reports of wildlife coming back into urban areas, we can only hope that new mothers are extra vigilant of their litters.
The logistics of adopting an animal are presenting new challenges. Shelters are transitioning to virtual adoptions and strict adoption-by-appointment-only routines. Yet this hasn’t come as a hurdle to those who are eager to become a cat parent. Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue, also based in San Francisco, reported that adoptions and foster requests are up about 120% in the last 30 days versus a normal month. “We’ve already had 31 cats and older kittens adopted in the first half of this month,” explained Maria Conlon from Give Me Shelter. For context, they usually see 28 cats adopted out in a normal month.
“We are so fortunate and grateful for all the people reaching out to us to adopt. We are working around the clock to help continue to rescue cats and place our kitties in forever homes,” said Conlon.
Local shelters and rescue groups are how 95% of kitties find forever homes. From there, companies like Meowtel step in to enrich the lives of cats and their parents, even despite these unprecedented challenges for the pet care industry. “Even though demand for sitting is basically nonexistent with everyone at home right now, we’re staying focused on how to add value to our community of cat lovers who are seeking comfort through feline companionship,” says Sonya Petcavich, founder and CEO of Meowtel. “This includes everything from tips on how to cohabitate 24/7 with your cat, navigating the Paycheck Protection Program as a sitter, or even indulging at home with a cat-themed cocktail.”