It’s Great When Rescue Cats Get Famous, But What Happens Afterward?


It seems to happen at least once a month: A cat is rescued from a tragic situation, and for a brief while the spotlight of worldwide attention shines upon the fortunate feline who escaped death’s door thanks to the hard work of dedicated rescuers. Whether it’s Freida the “throwaway cat,” Lucky the severely burned orange tabby, Meow the 39-pound cat, or any of the numerous kitties who have benefited from the kindness of caring people, the story is pretty much the same: Donations for the cat’s care pour in, and the shelter receives hundreds, if not thousands, of adoption applications for the celebrity kitty.

And then, a week or so later, the world moves on to the next celebrity news.

Did you ever wonder what happens to the cat, and to the group that rescued her, after the glare of the spotlight has shifted somewhere else?

I’ll give you a hint: The rescue group keeps on rescuing and the celebrity cat hopefully finds a home or gets the long-term care she needs. But there are still dozens, if not hundreds, of other cats in the rescue group’s care, who are also waiting for homes and are in need of medical treatment and foster care.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people from briefly famous shelters and rescue groups say something like, "We’ve gotten tons of applications for the celebrity cat, but there’s only one of her. We hope people will be interested in meeting and possibly adopting some of the many other wonderful cats waiting for their forever homes."

I’ve made a few observations from following several of these stories:

  • Donations made to cover the hero cat’s care are often eaten up quickly, especially if, like Freida, the hero cat has severe medical issues that require costly care at specialty clinics or research hospitals.
  • The desperate need to find homes for hundreds of stray cats still exists, and rescuers quietly continue going about their life-saving business that doesn’t involve the hero cat.
  • The cats in the rescue’s care still need to eat, get vet care, and be transported and fostered.
  • They continue doing fundraisers because they still need money — and I imagine sometimes they get flak for fundraising. Why? Because some people fail at math and don’t realize just how expensive it is to take care of hundreds of cats, even if they’re all healthy (and that’s rarely the case).

With this in mind, I ask you to do a few things the next time you see the story of a fortunate rescue kitty:

  • Follow the group that rescued the cat. The kitty they saved is just one of many in their care, and each one is as precious and deserving of life as the hero kitty. If you follow that group and find you like what they’re doing, consider adopting a different cat from them or donating your time, skills or money to help them out. Encourage people you know to do the same.
  • Let this cat’s story inspire you to help homeless cats in your area. There are many other small groups doing work just as heroic as that of the famous rescue, and they need your support, too.
  • Adopt a special needs cat of your own. Often the care disabled cats require isn’t nearly as much of a burden as you might expect. You’ll be saving a life and giving a wonderful cat an actual home instead of a life in the shelter.

What do you think? Have you been part of a "miracle cat" story? Do you work for a rescue that has been in the spotlight because of a cat who came into your care? Have you adopted a cat from a shelter who became famous because of a heroic rescue? Please share your stories in the comments!

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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