New homes and safe matchmaking make space for more moggies

An Island adoption centre is celebrating the success of a new contact-free way to take in and home needy cats after weeks of lockdown left it no option but to pause rehoming.

Alongside all Cats Protection’s centres and branches, the charity’s Isle of Wight Adoption Centre was forced to close its doors to the public when lockdown came into force, in order to comply with legal restrictions.

While still able to take in emergency cases via the charity’s central triage system, the centre was already close to capacity, caring for 51 cats and kittens from the end of March until early June when a new, safe way to take in and rehome cats was rolled out to the Island centre.

Already, 36 cats and kittens have gone to new families through Hands-Free Homing, with seven others reserved to-date. This has created space for cats on the centre’s waiting list to be brought into care and new cats in need of homes to be admitted to the centre for the first time since lockdown started.

Informed by government guidelines, the scheme sees photos, videos and descriptions of cats available to rehome posted on the centre’s website. If a match is made virtually, a meet-up via phone or video call is arranged by staff from the centre who then confirm suitability with a simple welfare questionnaire and series of checks. Once the adoption fee has been paid, arrangements are made for the cat to be delivered to its new home by Cats Protection staff or for its new owner to collect it, with social distancing rules observed at all times.

Cats available to rehome are all neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. An aftercare package includes follow-up calls in the first weeks to ensure that the cat and new owner are both happy.

The centre is also now able to take cats into care using an appointment system which ensures all safety measures are in place before an owner arrives to relinquish their cat and a space is reserved and pre-prepared for the cat.

Mel Read, Adoption Centre Manager, says: “It was particularly difficult when lockdown started as we were at capacity, apart from the couple of spaces we kept free for emergencies. Our work therefore continued throughout as we’ve had a full house at the centre from the beginning as well as additional cats in foster care.

“Knowing there were cats needing homes and potential new families waiting, but no way to legally and safely unite them was a real challenge. Now we have the best of both worlds; it keeps everyone safe and suitably distanced while ensuring cats are coming into care and being united with new owners as quickly as possible once a match is made.

“We know it has been a real struggle for many during lockdown especially with vets already over-stretched and limited appointments available for neutering. We’re here to help and won’t judge, we know unplanned litters of kittens can be overwhelming and would urge anyone who is finding it difficult to care for a cat or kittens to get in touch. ”

Anyone wishing to find out more about cats in the centre’s care or cat-related advice and assistance should visit its website or call 03000 120 251.