Responding to Cat Dumping Threats

Last week, I received a text message asking me to take a friend’s cat or knew anyone who wanted a cat.

His partner wanted to dump the cat somewhere in the country because it stopped using the litter box.

My first reaction was anger. The threat to discard a cat like trash in the middle of nowhere doesn’t align with my values. It’s animal cruelty and may also be illegal.

Cats that have become dependent on humans for food and shelter will struggle to survive out in the wild. It’s like a slow death sentence for them.

When Chester showed up in my yard in January, he was struggling. He was skinny and didn’t have a winter fur coat. Overall, he was struggling to survive. So he was likely abandoned as no one was looking for him.

And some cats will walk miles to get back to their original home.

My sister-in-law thought her cat was lost once. She had taken her cat to her second home in a wooded area, and he was allowed to roam outside. It turned out that Leroy decided to walk about eight miles to their other house, which took him a couple of weeks. And he was very hungry when he returned.

What’s the real problem?

Most people do not decide one day that they are going to dump their cat somewhere.

Instead of focusing on animal cruelty and making horrible attacks on the person, getting to the bottom of the issue is the best way to help the cat.

Here are some reasons that someone may dump a cat:

  • Litter Box Issues
  • Moving
  • Financial
  • Other behavirol issues
  • Unwanted kittens
  • They feel the cat has a better chance dumped than at a shelter
  • Too many cats

The good news is that a better solution can be found for the cat or kittens with a little education and research.

Rehoming as the solution

First, if someone is adamant about getting rid of the cat instead of working issues, responsible rehoming is the best choice. You can see my rehoming tips here.

Rehoming may take time, so depending on the issue, the cat could be placed in a small room or bathroom (with a litter box, food, water, some daily time with humans) while a new home is found.

Why dumping cats at a colony or barn isn’t great

While it may seem like a known cat colony or barn can absorb another cat or litter of kittens, it’s not fair or respectable to those caretakers.

The existing cats may not be open to newcomers. Also, just because you leave a cat near a colony or barn doesn’t mean your abandoned cat will stay there!

As mentioned previously, cats may try to go back to their “home”. There are relocation processes to follow that can help, but it’s not guaranteed. And the barn or colony probably would not be prepared to do the work for random drop-offs.

The cat may become “out of sight of mind” for you, solving your problem. But your problem becomes someone else’s. You probably don’t like problems dumped on you, so why would the barn owner or cat colony caretaker be happy about a new cat or kittens (your problems) becoming theirs to deal with?

Also, if the cat isn’t fixed, that increases the chance the cat will fight with the existing cats. And then there is the cost to TNR the new cat or finding it another home.

Dumping your cat nearby a barn or a cat colony is shifting your problem to someone else!

Violet with her 5 kittens
We suspect Violet was abandoned when a family moved. She eventually brought her kittens to my yard.

But someone will help the cat if dumped in a neighorhood

When shelters and rescues are full, the wait time to surrender a cat or kittens may be longer than you are willing or able to right.

Or the local shelter may be a kill shelter, and you think the cat will have a better chance if dropped off in a populated neighborhood that seems like the people are not poor and would be able to help or take in a cat.

This logic may be true sometimes as I’ve helped many cats in my neighborhood and so have a few friends. However, this is still is shifting the cat owner’s problem onto someone else.

The better option is to rehome the cat yourself or ask a friend or family member to help you. Hopefully, you have someone in your life who will understand and not heap shame on you for having to rehome your cat if you can’t wait for help from a rescue or shelter.

Dealing with other issues

If you are willing to work with the cat for litter box issues, there is probably a solution. The first step is taking the cat to the vet to rule out illness. If the cat is fine, then it’s figuring out the behavior issue. Do you have enough litter boxes? Are they clean enough? Is there an ambush situation happening?

If you are moving and can’t take your cats, plan as far ahead as possible, months if possible. I took in Charlotte when my friend moved, and the home that was lined up for her fell through at the last minute (and then my husband insisted that we keep her).

You can usually find a solution for other behavioral issues by working with your vet or doing some research online. Jackson Galaxy is an expert and provides lots of free information on his website.

If you have temporary financial issues, a local shelter or rescue may provide cat food and litter. Usually, they would prefer to help you keep your cat than surrender it.

If you need to improve your financial situation, you can read through my tips on how to have enough money for the vet.

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About The Author
Heidi has been living with cats since 2003 and sends exclusive count in the weekly Caturday Newsletter. You can sign up for it here. It's free!

2 thoughts on “Responding to Cat Dumping Threats”

  1. My response would be LETHAL to the devils doing this. So I’m sharing your perspective to socials in hope that it will be educational and helpful to the CATS, who would be the only ones I would care about in any situation like this.

    Reply

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