Cat Friendly Homing trial: Finding alternative homes for cats

As part of our 60th anniversary we’ve been focusing on helping unowned cats. Sounds simple doesn’t it – we hate to see cats suffering on the streets and want to do something to help. So, all we need to do is pick up as many as we can, give them food and lots of love and find them a happy home with people. However, it is seldom that easy!

International Cat Care is developing a new Cat Friendly Homing programme, which tackles the complex problems associated with finding homes for cats which are taken into what may be called rescue, sanctuary or adoption centres – we refer to these as ‘homing centres’, emphasising the necessity to think of them as places of transition for cats, not a final destination.

The Cat Friendly Homing programme aims to develop a set of free tools and training for the thousands of homing organisations around the world that work so hard to help cats – sometimes in the face of overwhelming odds – to home the greatest number of cats without compromising welfare, and to ensure that new owners get a cat which is able to live happily alongside them. In order to do that we need to help these organisations understand which cats can be homed and the causes of stress in confined cats, and provide simple solutions that their carers can implement.

A Cat Friendly Homing Trial is currently being undertaken at the RSPCA Canterbury and District branch where International Cat Care and Cat Behaviour Consultant Vicky Halls have been working with the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to help spot the signs that a cat may not be suited to a typical home environment. The trial involves identifying specific behaviour that indicates the cat is not socialised with humans and finding alternative homes where they can be happy, such as farms, smallholdings and gardens with a shed.

The RSPCA Canterbury and District branch are raising awareness about the need for these types of owners. Beth Hixson, centre manager at RSPCA Canterbury branch, said:

“We have been working with International Cat Care consultant Vicky Halls on this for a while now. The trial aims to spot the signs that a cat is not suited for a rehoming centre or home environment and hopefully they can then go directly to an alternative lifestyle home.

When cats like this come into our centres they are so stressed out and being here is very traumatic for them. Sadly these kinds of cats, who aren’t going to be really friendly and want a fuss when people come to visit, end up being with us for much longer and the right kind of home for them are few and far between.

We want to start building up a list of people who want cats like this and have a waiting list ready for when they come in. At the moment, we have a backlog of cats that would find living in a home stressful, they don’t want to be around people as this triggers stress. What they do need is someone to provide food, water, shelter and veterinary treatment when needed.

I suppose it is quite a selfless ownership as you are unlikely to get much back from this kind of cat but at the same time this could suit so many people who can see the cat as a lodger and may live on a farm, have a shed at the bottom of their garden, a smallholding, an orchard or a stately home with gardens. It could also suit someone who is allergic to cats so couldn’t have them in the home. You don’t need to have acres of land to be able to do it either. If you have a big enough garden with a shed then you could give a needy cat a home.”

Some of the cats who need alternative lifestyle homes have actually come from a multi-animal home so they have lived in a home environment before but what we find is that they are under socialised and so to go from what is essentially a cat colony in a home to a owner-pet situation does not suit them."

Kuching is a six-year-old male. The tabby and white cat has lived in a home previously but he would need lots of space preferably with no other cats around. He prefers to ride solo and doesn’t like human interaction.

Brian is a four-year-old black and white male. He was abandoned outside a vets so little information is known about his past. He likes to be around people but has a low tolerance for being handled. He would like to be someone’s lodger with no other cats around. 

For more information contact the RSPCA Canterbury and District branch on 01227 719113 or email

For more information about Cat Friendly Homing and iCatCare's other 60th anniversary projects, click here.

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