Whether you are starting a new project or running an existing one, there are skills and knowledge in management, planning and organisation that will be critical for good cat welfare. You or your group or organisation will, for example, need to be able to develop plans, manage resources and people, collect and analyse data, understand cause and effect of what you are doing, have access to up to date information, be able to work collaboratively, be able to communicate with the public and to promote cat welfare. This may all sound very daunting, but taking the time to do these things will make a great difference.
Are you starting from scratch?
If you are starting to deal with a problem for the first time, then working as part of the bigger picture and answering the questions posed in that section will form the basis of your plan, whether you are going to introduce a TNR programme, a homing centre or work with your community, for example.
It is important to consider all of the following in your plan.
- Do you have a clear goal and an intended outcome? This may be:
- Fewer cats on the streets
- Fewer cats in homing centres/find homes for more cats
- Reduce euthanasia rates
- Reduce culling by local authorities
- Stop cats reproducing, ie, neuter more cats
- Improve the physical health and mental wellbeing of cats
- Reduce damage to wildlife
- Do you need permission or do you need to work with other organisations to achieve your goals?
- Has anyone else tried to do something? If so,
- What did they do?
- Was it successful?
- What can you learn from this?
- What resources do you need?
- How much money?
- How many people?
- Do you need buildings or somewhere to work from?
- What equipment do you need?
- What veterinary expertise do you need?
- What is your timeline?
- When will you start?
- What will need to happen and when?
- How will you measure success? You will need to have some key pieces of information that you can use to compare over time, eg measuring population before and after TNR.
- Do you have a system to keep information about what you do?
Issues you may also need to consider:
- Is there a supply of pet cat homes in your area? There is no point in creating a homing centre if you do not have homes for cats
- Do local veterinarians have the skills and resources to support your plan?
- What is the legal situation regarding your planned intervention?
- Are there any social, religious or cultural issues that may impact on your plan?
- Are you familiar with best practice in cat welfare, regarding:
- High standards in homing centre management
- Good veterinary care
- Knowledge of latest information on cat care and behaviour
- Understanding of TNR programmes
- Using tools such as Cat Friendly Homing
Are you developing an existing cat welfare programme?
If you have been managing a TNR programme that doesn’t seem to be having an impact, look at the TNR material on this website to see if there is anything you can implement to improve the programme. You may also need to ensure that any managed colonies of neutered cats are being properly monitored.
|Do the best you can
You may be reading some of the content on this page and thinking ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I wish it was that simple!’ We know that life is complicated and when you are dealing with cats (and people) nothing is black and white. Following Cat Friendly principles is all about doing the very best you can under difficult circumstances. So, if you read something and think ‘impossible!’ then maybe consider what you could do instead that would have a positive impact. We know we cannot achieve perfection as it isn’t a perfect world.
Be pragmatic and be satisfied with ‘good enough’ when the ideal seems impossible.
Looking beyond your own area may also provide clues about where the sources of cats are, eg:
- Are pet cats straying or being abandoned?
- Do you need to focus on offering spay/neutering to pet cat owners?
- Is some form of legislation needed to support your work, eg enforced spay/neutering locally?
- Could you work with other local animal groups to increase overall productivity?
If you are running a homing centre that has become overwhelmed with large numbers of cats resulting in long periods of confinement, outbreaks of infectious disease or a shortage of pet cat homes or you have stressed and overwhelmed staff, then Cat Friendly Homing has many tools that can support you. Understanding the relationship between supply and demand is key – if you keep taking in cats but have very few options to rehome them you will inevitably end up with an overcrowded homing centre. An additional pressure may be that you or other organisations nearby have a ‘no kill’ or ‘open intake’ policy that is having unintended consequences such as severe overcrowding, disease spread, distressed cats etc. Almost all organisations have limited resources and need to make sure that they maintain a balance between meeting the needs of the individual and the needs of the majority of cats in their care.
Working with cats, as you probably already know, is really about working with people, so how we communicate with others and how we can engage them will directly improve our ability to care for cats.