CHAT is proud of its non-destruction policy. Once an animal comes into our care, it will be safe for life. The only exception to this rule is if the animal has no quality of life, because of a terminal illness, or if it is hopelessly injured. Under these circumstances, we would humanely put it to sleep.
Some animals coming into our care are elderly, disabled or have long-term health problems that require prolonged treatment. Prior to the opening of the London neuter clinics, the Sanctuary near Hastings provided a haven for all our 'unhomeable' animals. Many of these are still living at our Sanctuary under our sponsorship scheme, whereby people send money regularly for their food and treats. There are still some cats at the Sanctuary waiting hopefully for someone to sponsor them, so do please see our Sponsor a Cat page on this website for their photos and details.
Long-term and Retirement Fostering
Since the clinics opened there have been many more 'unhomeable' cats coming into our care and the Sanctuary is unable to provide homes for them all. The solution has been found with some wonderful, caring, selfless people taking these cats on a foster basis into their own homes to give them the love and care they deserve. If you live near one of our clinics or Sanctuary, perhaps you might consider being a retirement foster home for one or more elderly or 'unhomeable' cats.
Many people, who would take on elderly cats or those with health problems, may not do so because of the likelihood of high veterinary expenses from the outset. These cats would not qualify for pet insurance. CHAT removes this worry - when a cat is homed on a long-term foster basis, it can be brought to us for veterinary treatment. Since we have our own veterinary surgeons, the cost to the charity is reduced to the lowest possible level. This relieves pressure on the clinics and our Sanctuary in that we do not have to take on more animals than can be realistically cared for, and the cats benefit from the individual care and attention they receive in a home environment.
Throughout kitten season - approximately April to December - CHAT receives countless emergency calls for help when abandoned cats give birth to kittens wherever they can - often in the most dangerous and unsuitable places.
Where possible, we prefer mother cats to be able to rear their kittens in a home environment. Alternatively, kittens have to remain with their mother in a pen with us until they are weaned at eight weeks. However much we play with them and try to keep them stimulated, it is preferable that they are socialised at this early stage of development within a home situation.
In this way, they will receive more handling and have more space to run around. Crucially, since they are not old enough to be vaccinated, they will be at low risk of catching cat flu, which is always a constant risk in rescue centres where a lot of stray cats come in and out. Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a new permanent home that will take on a mother and her kittens, until the kittens are old enough to be homed.
We always place mother cats where they will be allowed to keep one, or even two, of their kittens.
Foster homes are also very valuable in the process of taming feral kittens. Feral kittens need lots of handling and socialising. Although rescue staff do their best to play with these kittens, a foster carer usually has more time to devote to them on an individual basis.
If you think you could provide a short term foster home, please give us a call or email your nearest CHAT branch (contact details here). You will need a spare room to devote to the cat and kittens. This allows the cat peace and quiet and keeps small kittens from straying. It is also necessary to keep them separate from your own pets as a new mother cat is naturally protective of her babies and will not appreciate the curiosity of resident pets. Short-term fostering is offered by our Lewisham, Hastings and Canning Town branches.