7 Ways to Help a Shelter Cat Without Adopting | Lola The Rescued Cat
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

7 Ways to Help a Shelter Cat Without Adopting

Over the years I’ve often heard people say, “I’d love to help cats in shelters, but I just can’t adopt one.” The idea that adopting is the only way to help a shelter cat is a sad misconception. There are so many ways you can make an impact, and below I share seven of my favorite.

animal rescue

Seven Ways to Help a Shelter Cat Without Adopting

Sign up to be A Transporter

Many shelters and rescues take animals from outside their local area. Offering transportation to assist in getting those animals to them is a tremendous help. Transportation is also often needed to get animals to fosters or their forever homes which may not be right around the corner from the shelter. Depending on the length of the trip, volunteers generally sign up to do a “leg” of animal’s journey that is going through their area. I’ve participated in a few transports and after I was done I felt so good knowing I was getting a cat to a safe environment. My friend has often done transports for dogs (she’s allergic to cats or she would transport them as well) and absolutely loves it

Shelters also often need assistance in driving animals to and from veterinary appointments, You can check with a local shelter to see if they need transporters, or check Facebook for rescues that depend on it.

Sponsor a Shelter Cat

If you can’t adopt, you can help a shelter cat by sponsoring them. Your sponsorship donation goes towards food, supplies, and medical costs. Sponsorships can help the shelter take in a severely ill or injured cat, or special needs cats, that they may not have been able to. In those cases, the cost of veterinary care could be prohibitive, but sponsors can make this happen.

I have three favorite shelters that have sponsorship programs.

Patricia H. Ladew Foundation

I sponsored Lola. How could I resist another Lola? (You can read more about the foundation in my post here.)

7 ways to help a shelter cat
My sponsor kitty was adopted, so it’s time for me to sponsor another. (You can read more about PAWS in my post here.)

Zatz was one of my fave cats at PAWS. She has been adopted! 

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know I sponsor Rose, a special needs cat. Rose is actually my third sponsor cat at Tabby’s. I first sponsored Frannie, a senior tortie who passed away. Then I sponsored Hootz, who passed away unexpectedly. And now Rosie has been a part of my family for the past several years. I truly feel she’s a part of my family because I get monthly updates (written in her own voice), and I get to visit her a couple of times a year. 

Tabby's Place
My beautiful Rose

Seven Ways to help a shelter cat
Rose and her favorite thing in the whole world - a nip nanner!

Sponsoring is one of my favorite ways to help, and I highly recommend it.


Whether you have the time to volunteer on a regular basis, or only a couple of hours a month, there is a shelter that would appreciate your time. Shelters can always use help with cleaning cages, general housekeeping and maintenance, feeding, doing laundry, and many more things.

A fun thing to do is to read a book to a cat! Cats in shelters often need human interaction, and reading to them is a great way for them to learn that humans can be trusted. If you’re wondering how it can make a difference, read this post I wrote about the reading program at Tabby’s Place.

Tabby's Place Paws to Read
Louie loves his story time at Tabby's Place

Many cats in shelters need some practice being sociable with humans and need to learn to interact with us. Spending some time playing with them, petting them, or giving them cuddles is a great way to get them ready for their forever home.

A friendly, calm voice may be just the thing a cat who just recently found themselves at the shelter needs. It can be so comforting, and it can mean the world to them.

Donate Your Talents

Do you have a knack for taking great photos of your cats? A shelter could use your photographic talents to take photos of their cats for adoption events, adoption sites (like Pet Finder), and social media. If you’ve got great computer skills, your favorite shelter may need help with their website. Graphic design is also a great talent to donate. Shelters frequently have special events, and an eye catching graphic just may get them more attention and a greater turn out.

Are you a groomer that supports rescue? Why not donate a few hours to groom cats, or teach the staff and volunteers how to properly groom a cat?

If you’re handy, a shelter may need your assistance in repairs and upkeep. Or maybe you could make some scratching posts, cat furniture, or beds. In Houston, a local carpenter donated his time and made this fantastic catification at El Gato Coffee House.

El Gato Cat Cafe
Catification at El Gato

Shelter staff often do not have the much needed time to devote to social media. In this day and age, social media is such an important outlet to get the shelter and the cats waiting for adoption attention.

My friend Jan volunteers for Abandoned Angels Cat Rescue by helping out with administrative duties. Jan says: 

"I started administrative duties for Abandoned Angels Cat Rescue, a 501c3 nonprofit when I adopted a cat, Shiloh from Lynda who runs AACR. I learned that she was a one woman show and had very limited resources and help from anyone. I had 25 years of professional administrative experience so, I volunteered to create a Facebook page to help get a following, using Shiloh as the “spokescat” for AACR. I also created forms such as adoption and foster applications. Eventually, though other cat Facebook page connections such as Prince Pan Pan, Lola The Rescued Cat, Zoe Blue and others, I helped create and organize online auctions. These auctions raised money that Lynda used to help neighborhood caretakers and fosters with food and saved a lot of cats and kittens by supplying veterinary care for injuries, vaccinations and spay and neuter surgeries. We are now working on other ideas for fundraising this winter. Doing volunteer administrative work for an animal rescue is very rewarding, knowing that every little bit helps and even behind the scenes work can help save lives."

I met Jan through our cats on Facebook, and AACR is a rescue I enjoy supporting. 

Donate Items

Did you just clean out your linen closet and don’t know what to do with those old towels and blankets? Donate them to a shelter! Items typically needed by shelters include:
  • Food
  • Litter
  • Paper Towels
  • Cat toys
  • beds
  • Dish Detergent
  • Laundry detergent
  • Office supplies
  • Feeding accessories
  • Baby Food

To get more ideas, see what  PAWS and Tabby’s Place ask for. Many shelters ask for similar items.

7 ways to help a shelter cat

Shop Till You Drop

If you’re an avid Amazon Prime user as I am, you can help a shelter financially every time you shop. All you have to do is shop through AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

While you’re on Amazon, why not buy some items from a shelter’s wish list? The Ladew Cats have a wish list.  Every item purchased helps a shelter tremendously so they can continue caring for cats.

Get Your DIY On

If you’re crafty (which I am not), you can bring some joy to a shelter cat’s life (and the staff and volunteers, too!) by making things. Our friends Basil and the B Team at Bionic Basil are some of the craftiest cats we know! This past July for Craft for Your Shelters Week, they had a daily tutorial on DIY items to make for shelter cats, including this adorable catnip snuggle buddy. 

craft for your shelters week
Photo by Bionic Basil

To see more of their wonderful ideas, visit their Crafting With Cats page.

Did you know you can make a cat bed out of an old sweater?  Or a tent with an old t-shirt and a hanger? The possibilities are endless.

Support Spay and Neuter

Lola and Lexy chatting about spay and neuter

One of the reasons there is such a need for animal rescue and so many cats needing homes is overpopulation, which is a growing problem. The average cat has two litters of 4 kittens each year. According to PETA, It is estimated that one female cat and her offspring can be responsible for the births of 370,000 kittens in seven years. Annually, about 3.2 million cats enter shelters, and approximately 860,000 are euthanized (ASPCA.) This can be controlled by spaying and neutering. Earlier in the year I wrote about “Why You Should Spay/Neuter Your Cat and How You Can Afford It”, which you can read here

You can help by education your friends and family members about the importance of spaying and neutering their cats. You can also support spay/neuter programs by donating or sharing their information on social media. Reducing overpopulation saves cats’ lives.

You Can Make A Difference

These are only a few of the many ways you can help a shelter cat without feeling obligated to adopt. Let’s not forget that dogs face many of the same issues that cats do in shelters. If you’re trying to get your 10,000 steps in a day, why not sign up to walk a dog at your local shelter? You’ll both get your exercise and enjoy good company. Making a difference in what may seem the smallest way to you can make a huge impact on shelters and the animals there.

Do you have other ideas for helping shelters and rescues? Tell us about them in the comments. And if you volunteer, we’d love to hear about it.


Would you like to comment?

  1. We follow two shelters on our Facebook page and one regularly posts items they need the most. It's helpful because when I go grocery shopping I can toss that item in my cart. We also save toilet paper tubes for the critters, and continue to crochet blankets with thrift store yarn.

  2. I am passionate about TNR & spay/neuter, so I support our local low-cost clinic with volunteer hours and a donation here and there. Plus, I carry their cards in my purse, and hand them out to folks all of the time, especially co-workers.

  3. Yes, everyone can make a difference and I wish everyone would, but those who do are extra special. Your Rose is a special gal too.

  4. Those are great ways to help a shelter, Lola and Lexi, we love the way of adopting and we always bring our clothes to the shelter so they can sell them😺Pawkisses for a Happy Week ahead🐾😽💞

  5. The mom volunteers at one of our local shelters. They need more volunteers. We wish more people would help...even an hour a week can make a difference.

  6. Excellent post with great ideas. You just gave me an idea actually. I am going to donate some of my books to Tabby's Place for kids to read to the shelter pets. I sent some to PAWS already through Kevin of ASVL. How kind of you to sponsor a kitty. XO

  7. There are lots of ways to help a rescue. I love the adoption one. We need to do that here! One of the best I think is sharing online. People forget and think 'how sad' but a share can save a life!

  8. This is such an awesome post! My human's volunteer time involves her therapy work with me, but she still donates lots of things to one of our local rescues. And being an influencer kitty, we have stuff almost every month.

  9. I sponsor the disabled babies at Tabby's Place. It's the least I can do. I gather up things for the cats at my local shelter too. I have filled out an application to volunteer. Here you have to be a City "employee" to volunteer and the paper work is huge I know it will be worth it.

  10. What a great post. Thanks Dawn and Lola. We sponsored a kitty at Tabby's Place and she passed on so we kept our donation going to help anyone who needs it instead of picking a new kitty. We also support Kitty Cottage with donations and Spay and Save any way we can. Dad wishes he could still do the physical things but we help how we can. Purrs to you both and to all the kitties who need help

  11. Great post!

    We try to help animal charities by sharing their posts via social media. We also donate when we can and we shop through Amazon Smile. A few years back we published my rescue story on Amazon and donate all our royalties from it to 3 of our fave charities.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

  12. This is a wonderful post! I'm sharing it everywhere I can think of - thanks!

  13. Thank you so much for all you do to help so many kitties, Dawn, Lola and Lexy! We are so grateful for your friendship, and love that you have a place in your heart for the PAWS cats. Any time you want to visit, just let us know. :)

  14. Excellent ways to help.
    Thank you for visiting us and your lovely comments. Purrs and hugs!

  15. Great list! There are a couple ways to help that I hadn't thought of!

  16. It really doesn't take long to make a difference as you have just shown. Great post there and one that is worth sharing far and wide, and not just for cats either.

  17. All wonderful ideas on how to help. Sometimes humans just need a lil' nudging to get them on the bandwagon of helping kitties in need. Thanks for all you do, Miss Dawn and Lola. Kisses.


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