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Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to some of the many questions about cat rescue and adoption.
About the Shelter
How much of my donation goes to the cats?
100% of your donation goes directly to the housing, feeding and health needs of the cats in the shelter. This includes spay/neutering, vaccinations, snap tests and litter. All workers at the shelter are volunteers including the Manager and the President of the shelter. Not one penny goes to any of the workers for their services.
How do I adopt a cat from the shelter?
Give us a call and we will arrange a time for you to drop by the shelter. This will give you an opportunity to visit with all the cats and speak with the shelter volunteers. The volunteers have great insight into the personality of every cat and which one will be a good fit for your environment and lifestyle. And because our shelter is no-cage, you will see them in action. By meeting the cats, you will be able to see which ones that you have chemistry with. After all, the best partnership is when the cat selects you.
How can I help the cats at North Toronto Cat Rescue?
There are many ways you can help:
- Obviously, you can adopt a cat or recommend the shelter to friends or relatives looking to adopt a cat. For every cat that is adopted, one more cat can be brought in from the cold harsh weather to live in the shelter until a loving forever home can be found.
- You can also help by donating: money - see our donation page HERE, or supplies - see our "Wish List" HERE.
- You can purchase our merchandise HERE. Note: We plan to have our own EBay store shortly.
- You can help us fundraise. Many people of all ages have created their own fundraising activities. Check out our website for past successes HERE.
- You can volunteer at the shelter. We need people of all talents: cat caregivers, handymen, drivers, grant writers, etc. Please give us a call to see how you can help.
What is included in my adoption fee?
Not only do you get a great pet, but a healthy one. All our funds go to ensure that our cats get the best quality health care and nutrition available. Every cat that is 6 months or older will be spayed/neutered before you adopt. If the cat is younger than 6 months, then the cost of spaying/neutering will be covered once s/he is of age. All cats are vaccinated, tested for disease if needed (i.e. unneutered males new to the shelter who appear to have been in a fight) and treated with any medication or surgery needed (eye infection, antibiotics, blood tests, etc.)
Do I get a tax receipt for my donation?
Yes. We are a registered charity so we will issue tax receipts for donations of $20 or more automatically. If you require a tax receipt for a lesser amount, please contact us to request one.
Does the shelter abide by ethical animal care regulations?
Yes. We put the needs of our feline residents first. As a registered shelter, we are subject to unscheduled inspections by the OSPCA on a regular basis.
What is the advantage of adopting a cat from a no-cage shelter?
Our no cage policy means our kitties are free to romp and play; they are provided with the opportunity to learn to "play nice" with others, animal and human, and to experience a life style that is as close to the home life they will have when they find their forever homes. Our cats live in compatible groupings, each group having its own room in the shelter. What does this mean to you? It means that it takes less time for them to adapt to their adopted home.
Before You Make the Final Decision
Is it a good idea to get my child a kitten as a gift?
Owning a pet is a big responsibility and you have to remember that kittens grow up and become cats who will be with you for many, many years. If you understand that you and your child are in this thing for the long haul and that it's wrong to just get rid of the cat if you tire of it, then it will work out well. If training a kitten seems to be more work than your family can handle, consider getting an older cat. An older cat will be more settled and you won't have to pull it off the drapes. Don't expect your child to be scooping litter the first day. Children need to graduate to these responsibilities, so start him/her with feeding and socializing. Then proceed to grooming and picking up the cat toys strewn across the floor. Then you can teach the importance of regular scooping of litter. If you present it to your child as helping your kitty stay healthy, they may be more interested in it. Reward your child for participating in these responsibilities too. For more information on this topic, please read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Kitten or older cat?
Do you think a cat would make a good companion for a sernior?
Cats make wonderful companions and bring vitality to a senior, especially one that is confined to his/her home. Cats are also great for lessening feelings of loneliness and depression. Do keep in mind that an older cat, one that is mellow and well-trained is preferrable to a young and playful kitten or a skittish one. You should also consider that cats can live well into their twenties - make sure you have a back-up plan for the cat if the time comes when the older person can no longer care for the cat. It is devastating for an older cat to lose her home, not to mention to find herself homeless or euthanized! To further consider the cat's age please read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Kitten or older cat?
Should I adopt more than one cat?
From the cat's perspective, if it is a kitten, then no doubt, YES! Kittens need each other for socializing and play. There energy is equalled only by their peers and through play, they teach each other the do's and don'ts of cat etiquette. As to the mature cats, some cats are "alpha cats. This means they need to be the only cat in the home, or at best, they may tolerate a submissive companion - it is nice, after all, to have someone help clean your ears! Animals get lonely just like people. If you have a single cat, you need to make sure you give that cat the love and play that it needs to thrive. We have some cats in the shelter that have bonded so closely with each other that we will not adopt one out without the other. If you are looking for more than one cat, you should look into these cats as their transition to your home will be easier for them. Please read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Should I adopt more than one cat?
Should I adopt a kitten or an older cat?
This depends on your lifestyle. Kittens are a lot of work and need a lot of attention. Adult cats are just as friendly and fun but are more secure and adaptable. Just because a cat is an adult, it does not mean that they are lethargic or aloof. For a discussion of this topic, please read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Kitten or older cat?
Can I adopt a cat if I already have a dog at home?
When puppies and kittens are raised together, it is mostly a non-issue. With older animals, it's more about the chemistry. The only exception would be if the dog you have is a hunting dog, such as a Jack Russell, or one that is aggressive towards small animals. Otherwise, cats and dogs have proven to make great companions for each other. Check out our blog on how to introduce these animals to each other: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Can I adopt a cat even though I have a dog?
Does the colour or gender of a cat determine its personality?
No. A cat's personality is not dependent on its colour or its gender. That is why we encourage you to come to the shelter and see for yourself.
Adjusting to a New Home
How do I help my new cat get used to its new home?
It is probably best to bring your new cat home when there aren't a lot of people around to create noise and excitement, and don't let it loose to wander in the whole house when it first arrives. Think about how huge and overwhelming a new house must seem to a small animal - full of strange objects and smells. Decide ahead of time on one room where your cat will stay until it adjusts to its new surroundings. Make sure the litterbox, food and water are easily accessible in that room. After a few days, if your cat seems settled, gradually introduce it to the rest of the house. If you have other cats in the house, you may want to swap the rooms for a brief period so that your other cats are put in the new cat's room so they can get used to the new cat smell and the new cat has the run of the house to find its own special places. A new cat will feel more secure if it knows where all the hiding places are and other cat smells are strongest before she is introduced to the other feline residents.
What do I feed my cat when I first take it home?
Don't change your cat's diet suddenly or you might upset its digestive system. Always ask the current owner or the people at the shelter what kind and brand of food the cat is accustomed to. Use that kind for the first little while and if you want to change the food later on, do it gradually. Mix the two foods together at first, decreasing the old food and increasing the new food a little bit each day until the cat is totally weaned from it and eating the new food. (See more information below under Everyday Cat Care.) Watch the cues from your cat. This process can take a while or happen very quickly. Don't rush the process because it will stress out both you and your cat. For more information on what to feed your cat, read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - What do I feed my cat?
How do I teach my new cat to find its litterbox?
Cats are very fastidious animals and love to be clean. That characteristic, combined with the fact that mother cats are really good at house-breaking their kittens, means that you should not have too much trouble. You really should keep your new cat in one room or a small area of the house to begin with and gradually let it find its way around more and more of the house. Put the litterbox in the room with the cat (preferably where you plan on keeping the box in the future) and as soon as you bring your new cat or kitten home, just put it in the box once to show it where it is, and the cat will be able to find it whenever it needs to. You should also try to use the same type of litter that the previous owner/shelter used. This will make training easier. If you want to change litter, wait until your cat has successfully adjusted to the new surroundings. Then mix the two litters together gradually before you make the switch. Some cats adapt very quickly to new litter and others will not. When change is implemented too quickly, you risk having little messes throughout the house and then you will have a bigger problem getting the urine smell out of your new shag rug. When cats don't use their litter box, it is because they aren't happy with the contents of the litter box and not because they are mad at you for not petting them at 3a.m.
I have other pets in the house. Will my new cat adjust to them?
Like any other adjustment that a pet needs to make, you must introduce the current pets to the new cat gradually. If you don't, the current pets will feel that their territory is being threatened, and they will not take too kindly to the new cat. Also, the new cat will have twice as much to deal with - a totally new, perhaps frightening, home and other animals that are strange to it. If you carefully help the animals adjust, usually they will learn to accept each other, and even become the best of friends (even if one of them is a dog). Remember, though, that the younger an animal is, the more easily it will learn to live in harmony with other animals. If your other pets are mature animals, and have been with you for some time, you might want to consider adopting a kitten, instead of a grown cat. For the first while, you must always monitor the animals when they get together. Sometimes, the older animals may play rough with a new younger one or one may start off very territorial. If there are any instances of fear or aggression, separate the animals immediately and quarantine them away from each other before you try to introduce them to each other again. Don't put one animal in the position of fear and hope that it will dissipate on its own. The first several attempts at integration will set the tone for the entire relationship in the house so you want everything to go as smoothly as possible to minimize stress and fighting. For more information on this subject, read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Should I adopt more than one cat?
Everyday Cat Care
What do I feed my cat?
Proper nutrition is important for healthy, long living cats. Not all catfood is the same. When you go to buy your cat food, make sure you read the label and try to avoid artificial additives and meat by-products (which could be just about anything and not always that edible). It is better to buy good quality cat food rather than trying to save a few dollars by buying the cheapest brand you can find. What you spend on food you will save doubly on future vet bills. Keep a bowl of fresh water out for your cat at all times. Note that most cats are lactose intolerant, so milk is not a good idea. Kittens need to be fed kitten food and will eat probably twice as much as an adult cat for its first year. If you live in a multiple cat home, you may need to feed a new cat in a separate area so that the other cats do not dominate his food. And don't ever feed cats human food. It is not good for them and they will bother you when you are eating your dinner. If they only eat cat food, they will not be interested in human food and you can eat your steak dinner in peace. For more information on what to feed your cat, read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - What do I feed my cat?
Won't my cat be unhappy if I don't let it go outside?
Cats can be perfectly happy indoors, and they will be much healthier and safer if you don't let them go outside.
There are many dangers outside - from disease to wild animals who could harm or even kill your pet, to cars on the roads that your cat does not understand how to avoid. Cats who live outdoors, or are allowed to spend time outdoors have a much shorter life expectancy in general. So many people have tragically lost their pet because they thought they were doing them a favour by letting them out. Do your cat a favour and keep it indoors - and she will happily live her out her full lifespan with you! That said, we must acknowledge that the outside is very interesting and your cat could use your help in providing sufficient activity and stimulation. For information on toys for you cat, check out our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Which toys are good for my cat?
I'm worried about my cat scratching my furniture - Should I declaw my Cat?
NTCR does not approve of declawing, a painful, surgical procedure that has long-lasting effects on cats. It has been banned in Europe for sometime now, as they feel it is barbaric in nature to perform this procedure. Declawing is not just the removal of nails, it is a surgical amputation of the first knuckle of the cat's toe, including bone and claw both. Imagine the pain of 20 such amputations! Once their knuckles have been removed, cats can no longer perform their natural stretching and kneading rituals. They become weaker as they age and may experience debilitating arthritis in their backs and shoulders. Furthermore, cats without claws have lost their first line of defense, and therefore live in a constant state of stress. They cannot fight off other animals or escape quickly from danger. They may also become biters because they can no longer use their claws as a warning. Declawing can also lead to issues with using the litter box. Scratching is natural for cats, but it can be both annoying and destructive. Luckily, scratching behaviors can be modified humanely and effectively. Check out our blog for tips on handling these behavioural issues. Cats instinctively want to scratch to keep their claws healthy. If you keep cat's claws carefully trimmed using the proper equipment, and give the cat its own scratching posts and toys you will be able to prevent it from scratching your furniture. Of course, at first you need to train the cat to choose its scratching posts and not the furniture. But if you are consistent in your expectations and gentle in your reproof when it makes a mistake, both your cat and your furniture will be able to coexist in harmony. Finally, remember, like children animals too affect the pristine and immaculate condition of a home and are not for everyone.
What is the best kind of litter to use for my litterbox?
There are many different kinds of kitty litter in the stores, and most of them are quite good. Clumping litter is the easiest to maintain, because you can scoop all the wet and soiled litter from the box, without having to worry about it breaking up and being left behind to cause odours. If you have adopted a young kitten you may want to avoid using clay litter until it is older and bigger because litter may get caught in its paws and it will ingest the clay if it licks its paws. This clay does not easily pass through the kitten's digestive system and may cause serious health problems. For them, there is natural organic litter available. You can also try corn, wheat or pine litter as you can flush these types of litter down the toilet because they are biodegradable. It is important to start your litter box with the same litter that the previous owner/shelter used to help your cat adjust to her new surroundings. Later, if you choose to change it, do so gradually by slowly mixing the old with the new. This process will help your cat adjust to the new litter and avoid mishaps outside the litter box. For more information on litter choices read our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - What are my litter & litter box choices?
How do I keep the litter box clean and not smelly?
The key to avoiding kitty litter odour is to scoop out the wet or soiled litter regularly - preferably twice a day. It will only take a few minutes and you can put it out with the kitchen recycling. Periodically you should completely empty the litter pan and clean it thoroughly with a disinfectant. If you keep your cat's litter box clean and dry, you will find that the cat will always want use its litterbox and you will not have 'house-training' issues. In addition, there are products that contain baking soda that are made specifically to control litter box odour. They can be added to your litter box on a daily basis or as needed.
Am I more likely to be allergic to a long-haired cat?
No. It is a myth that the length of a cat's hair is the reason for the symptoms of allergies. It is the dander that a cat generates when s/he grooms that create these reactions. Dander is completely unrelated to the length of a cat's coat or breed. Some cats naturally produce more dander than others regardless of whether they are short, medium or long-haired. The majority of allergy symptoms can be controlled by medication (antihistamines, shots or prescription) or Allerpet (a liquid that you pat on your cat once a week). Most people find that their allergies subside or disappear over time when they have a cat in the home. An effective furnace filter will also help curb the circulation of dander. As well, putting an air purifier or two in your home will remove the dander from the air. There are many options available to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Why should I spay or neuter my cat?
There is a cat population explosion, and currently, the world doesn't need more cats! Females in heat will try to get out for the purpose of finding a mate - upon success, you will have a pregnant cat on your hands. A typical litter can consist of 4-9 kittens. An added 'bonus' to spaying is the elimination of the risk of uterine cancer. An unneutered male will spray to mark its territory, and has a very strong smelling urine. Both un-neutered males and un-spayed females have a stronger tendency to wander. They may get outside and come to harm. Finally, the more unfixed abandoned cats - the more the homeless population of cats grows. Many of the female cats that we have rescued were outside because their owners did not have them spayed and they got out and became pregnant. The owners did not know what to do and did not want to deal with a litter of kittens, so they just abandoned their cat. Spay/neuter will make your cat less anxious without losing his/her fun, sweet personality, and will eliminate the risk of uterine cancer in female cats. Ideally, cats should be spayed/neutered while they are still kittens (around 5-6 months old) if possible. There are usually several low-cost spay/neuter clinics during the year. Check with your vet or local shelter for assistance in finding one and be part of the solution! To read more about spay/neuter, please see our blog article: Top Adoption Questions Answered - Should I spay/neuter?
If my cat is an indoor cat, then it doesn't need shots, right?
Wrong. You cannot guarantee that you will not inadvertently let your cat outside and if your cat is not protected against communicable disease, it will be especially vulnerable to whatever is lurking out there. Also remember that there are laws regarding vaccinations for rabies, whether the animal is kept indoors or not. Additionaly, if you have visitors, whether it be friends with their pets or children, you want to be sure that if your cat nips at them that your visitor will not suffer health problems if the skin is punctured. When you adopt a cat or kitten from us, we make sure that the animal is completely up to date with its shots.
How often should my cat get its shots?
You should really consult your local veterinarian about this, but if your new cat has been fully inoculated, many of the vaccines, such as rabies, do not need to be done annually. They are given every three years.