Topics of Frequently Asked Questions:
If you still have questions after reading this page, please feel free to email us directly at ASHAMaryland@gmail.com Remember: the Information on this website is updated as needed and may not be guaranteed. Please check back for updates or changes and feel free to send us an email with any questions.
How much time do I need to spend with a foster animal?
As much time as you can. With that said, the amount of time will vary depending on the energy level and needs of the animal you are fostering. It is ideal to spend around two hours a day socializing and playing with your foster animal to ensure that he or she receives adequate attention and stimulation. Even if that time is spent just quietly sitting in the room with him or her and doing computer work, paper work, or reading while the animal gets used to your presence.
Can I foster cats even if I have a full-time job?
Yes. The foster application is designed as a survey to help the foster coordinator match you with the best animal for your needs and your current schedule. If you have a full-time job, the foster coordinator will match you with a cat who may be OK alone during the workday. You would then just need to provide ample attention to the cat before and/or after your workday.
Can I foster a cat if I don't have a fenced yard?
Yes. We require that all foster cats be kept indoors for the duration of their stay in foster homes, so a fenced yard is irrelevant. If you are interested in fostering a dog, we may require a fenced in yard - it just depends on the dog.
How long will the animal need to be in foster care?
It varies, depending on the condition of the foster animal. Foster homes are generally needed for animals with medical or behavioral issues that are best resolved in a home setting rather than a kennel environment. Different special needs require different amounts of time for healing. We also make sure to set up fosters with animals that best fit the foster family. We understand some individuals or families may have an upcoming trip planned or may only have time during the summer to foster. We will try to make sure to work with in your schedule to find the best fit and make it work well all around.
How often does my foster animal need to go to adoption events?
We only want the animals that are comfortable with going out in public to go to the adoption events. Unnecessary stress on the animals is not something we ever want to put an animal through. When a rescued animal is ready for adoption events we will try to make sure he or she is able to attend as many as possible, thus ensuring more time in the public eye and having a better chance with getting adopted! Currently with COVID-19 we are not planning public adoption events. Our main way of spreading the word about the rescued and adoptable pets is by social media so we ask our foster families to take plenty of cute videos and photos to post on our ASHA Facebook page and please share that with your friends and family too!!
When is my foster animal ready for adoption?
When a rescued animal has been cleared for adoption by the veterinarian (kittens must be over 2 lbs), is fully up to date on all necessary vaccines and vet care, has been tested for FeLV and FIV, passed a stool sample and if age appropriate - is spayed or neutered, he or she will be ready for adoption! Some kitties are able to be adopted out with in days or weeks of intake. Others may take months or years unfortunately; it all depends.
Will I need to give medicine to my foster animal?
Almost all of the animals that we have in our foster program are rescued from off the streets and have been exposed to common animal illnesses. While we do our best to ensure that we are aware of all the conditions that a foster animal may have prior to going to a foster home, many illnesses have incubation periods, meaning symptoms can arise after you take an animal home. So while some animals do not require any medicine, many may need them. If your foster animal needs medications, we can show you how to administer the medications and assist as much as we can. We will not ask you to do anything you are not comfortable with.
Can I let my foster animal play with my personal pets, neighbors pets or friends/families pets?
We highly suggest that the foster animal is kept isolated from your pets for a minimum of 2 weeks before they may be slowly introduced to your pets if no health issues have appeared during the 2-week acclimation period and approval is given by ASHA. If for any reason your personal pet becomes ill while you are fostering an ASHA pet, we cannot provide medical care for your personal pet. While foster animals playing with other pets is often fine, we advise that you consult with your veterinarian before fostering to ensure that all of your personal pets are healthy and up-to-date on all vaccines. Animals in shelters are very susceptible to illness and can carry or catch different diseases such as upper respiratory infections or ringworm. This is why it is critical to wash your hands in before and after leaving the foster cat room. As for possible behavior issues, we try to evaluate the animals we take in as best as we can, but there are many unknown factors and the best bet is to let the foster pet set the pace. Some pets may not be ready for this next step. Also, it depends on the other pets in the household; their behavior with a new animal is unknown and so the interaction could turn aggressive quickly from either animal - it's always best to be safe and not sorry. Thus we typically prefer foster pets stay separated from other pets.
What if I want to adopt my foster animal?
If you want to adopt one of the animals you are fostering, you will need to complete an adoption application and follow the full adoption process. If you’ve already transferred the animal to another foster with ASHA, please contact our foster coordinator right away because once the animal is up for adoption, we cannot hold him/her for anyone, including the current or previous foster parent. Do keep in mind though that we do prefer to see the fostered animals that are happy and thriving in a foster family have that family become their forever family if it is a perfect fit. Sometimes a short term foster arrangement becomes a permanent home; it's what's commonly known as a 'foster failure', and in no means is a bad thing. It just means that the rescued animal has successfully found their forever family!
What if I know someone who is interested in adopting my foster animal?
If someone you know is interested in adopting the animal you are fostering, please contact the foster coordinator as soon as possible, because once the animal is up for adoption, we cannot hold him/her for anyone. However, we do want to accommodate referrals from foster parents if we can. Have the person you know submit an adoption application ASAP once you confirm the animal is still available for adoption. We don't tell the foster families about each application that we receive, only the applications that have gone through the approval process and are ready to meet the animal. So there may be a submitted application that is in the approval process.
Will it be hard to say goodbye to my foster animal?
Saying goodbye can be the most difficult part of fostering, but keep in mind that many more animals need wonderful foster homes like yours. Remember, you are playing a crucial role in helping to Save Them All. Without your help these animals would be stuck in kill shelters and most likely euthanized or fighting to survive while living on the streets. You are their hope; it's because of you and the help you provide that the rescued animals have a chance. You can be proud of every animal you help provide a better life for and a second chance at their much deserved happy-ever-after. We even encourage foster families to ask to keep in touch with the forever families of the animals they fostered, which helps provide a sense of joy and continued connection to the animals they helped rescue.
Who will take care of my foster animal if I need to go out of town?
If you have travel plans while you are fostering an animal for ASHA, you will need to contact the foster coordinator to arrange a temporary transfer of the foster animal to another ASHA foster family until you return. Please provide at least one week’s notice to ensure that we can find space for your foster animal. If your trip is over a holiday, please provide a minimum of two weeks’ notice. You cannot leave your foster animal with an unauthorized person/family member/pet sitter - we will need to approve them via the Volunteer Application process first. We have specific requirements for foster parents, and ASHA will need to make sure that the pet sitters you have in mind fill out and submit a foster application, it is approved, and then have them sign the release waivers for the foster program. I know it sounds complicated but it's for the safety of the rescued animals and for our liability purposes.
What if my foster animal bites me?
If any of your foster pets bite you and break skin, causing you to bleed, you need to report the bite to the foster coordinator or one of our Board Members within 24 hours of when the bite occurred. The law requires that we report all bites. The teeth of the animal, not the nails, must have broken the skin. If you are unsure, then please report the bite anyway. We always want to know when a foster animal has harmed a person or another animal, be it by accident or on purpose. Never fear though, we will never immediately categorize any animal a threat or allow any animal to be euthanized due to one experience or incident. We have had a wonderful record of NEVER having to have any of our animals euthanized due to aggression issues. We make sure to properly assess their behaviors and keep safety of the rescued animals and others our #1 priority. Our requirement to be informed of biting behavior is to ensure that you are OK, to learn why it happened, to try and ensure it won't happen again, and make appropriate changes to see that happen.
What if my foster animal is not working out?
You are not required to continue to foster any animal if you feel it’s not working out. However, we may not have an immediate alternate foster home. We will work on moving your foster animal out as soon as possible, but ask for your understanding and patience. Please call, text, or email the foster coordinator if this situation arises. We will also work with you to try and fix any issues you may have, be it a need for behavior or training modification, medical change, change of accommodations (cage) or more.
Can I foster an animal to fulfill a community service obligation?
Unfortunately, ASHA cannot sign off on court-ordered community service hours for fostering. Community service is supposed to be supervised work, and fostering is unsupervised, since it takes place in your home. If you need community service hours, on-site volunteering is an option at one of our foster families, at adoption events, and fund-raising events.
What disqualifies me from adopting or fostering?
ASHA will not adopt to those who meet the following criteria:
Plans to or has declawed a cat
Allowing the cat or dog outside without proper leash/harness or lots of safe acreage
Current pets aren’t spayed/neutered (unless medically necessary)
Current pet(s) is/are cat aggressive
Unstable living situation (illegal subletting, unsure of where will be living in the near future, lives with unsupportive/unstable housemates, etc.)
Repeat felony offenses
History of animal abandonment/neglect or returning/surrendering multiple pets
Landlord does not allow pets, or additional pets
Vet records for current or previous pets is not regularly up to date or indicates poor treatment/neglect
Insincere motivation for adopting
This is not an all-encompassing list. Each application will be reviewed and every effort to mediate issues will be made in order to provide equitable and fair decisions.
Looking for a local, trusted and caring pet sitter?
We know quite a few people that will happily treat your fur-babies as their own while your away. Pet sitting is available for adopted animals of ASHA. Contact us with more information about your situation, pets and the dates you are in need of and we will put you in touch with our volunteers and friends that can be there when you can't.
Interested in more info? Email us: ASHAmaryland@gmail.com
How do I introduce my new kitty to its new forever home and family?
Remember the first place your new pet should go is to the designated area for introduction. This should be a smaller room with less traffic such as your bedroom, a spare bedroom, an office, or laundry room. His/her water, food, litter, bed, toys and scratching post should all be located in this room for the time being. Place the food and water as far away from the litter box as possible.
Keep him/her in only this room until they are completely comfortable with you and their new area. This will help relieve your cat’s stress and help ease the transition from being in a rescue. Give them time to adjust as some may take only a few days while others may take several weeks. Try to be calm, quiet, and gentle and your pet will quickly grow to love and trust you.
Keep other pets at a distance for at least a few days to over a week and let small children get to know your pet gradually and only under adult supervision.
Only after your new pet is used to their first room should you let them out to adventure and only let them do this on their own terms.
Teach your pet the house rules and routines from the beginning let your cat know what is expected and what to expect from you and others. Be consistent and firm but never yell at or hit your pet when disciplining. An appropriate correction aid can be a water squirt bottle. Above all, be patient! It usually takes 2-4 weeks for a new pet to adjust to your home and family.
Remember, yummy canned wet food is the quickest way to create a bond! Try providing them a small amount of dry and/or wet food 2-3 times a day as meals instead of leaving a large bowl of food out for them to graze. This will train the kitty to relate you to food and they will quickly start looking out for you and searching you out for food.
Where will my kitty prefer to rest?
Provide a heated blanket, mat, or bed for your kitty to cuddle with. Make sure to test this product to ensure it does not overheat before leaving your pet unsupervised with it. This heated bed gives them the perfect spot to call their own and you won't have to worry as much about your furry friend sleeping at unwanted locations. Try to pick a spot that is above waist level so they feel that they have a safe vantage point. A spot by the window with sunshine is always a favorite!
How can I protect my couch from pets?
Drop Cloths! Drop cloths have great qualities and are a fraction of the price of other methods such as couch covers. They are hardy, water proof or resistant, machine washable, hide dirt & grime, and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even a few different textures. I went to my local hardware store (Home Depot) and purchased several 9 ft x 12 ft (about $22 each) two were for the couch, and one to cover the dog bed! Save your furniture and your sanity!
Do I need Flea and Tick preventative?
Fleas can spread disease and cause medical problems such as tapeworms, so it is very important that you start using a preventative immediately. Vets recommends using a monthly flea and tick medication all year round to prevent flea and tick infestation. There are many different types of flea and tick medications so it is best to check with your vet to see which type and brand would be recommended. We use a monthly topical treatment of Revolution for all the animals in ASHA.
Do I need to spay or neuter my pet?
It is imperative that your pets be spayed or neutered for many health reasons. Most of our adoptable pets have already been spayed or neutered. However, if you have adopted a kitten or an unaltered adult cat, we have indicated on your adoption contract the date, time period or age by which the procedure must be done. We take this very seriously. Failure to abide by this requirement will result in legal action and you will be responsible for attorney’s fees and court costs. If it is your responsibility to have the kitten or cat spayed or neutered. You must have records sent to us from the vet documenting that the animal has been spayed or neutered.
One highly controversial topic we hear a lot about and discuss frequently is pediatric spaying and neutering. This is fixing cats and kittens at a young age, usually around 6-10 weeks old. Many studies show that this procedure is safe and the animals do fine, but there are still conflicting studies that show that this procedure has risks and negative consequences. Risks and consequences of pediatric spay/neuter may be: life long incontinence; severe cases of E Coli because their bladder sphincter was never able to mature and close enough to keep out bacteria; missing necessary hormones resulting in the cat needing to be on both a sulfa-based antibiotic, and estrogen for the remainder of their life; hooded vulva which may need corrective surgery; recurring urinary infections; and in rare cases, death. Any one of these health problems would make the kitten/cat virtually un-adoptable since its only the rare family that will willingly adopt a pet with a known health problem that could cost them thousands of dollars. For these reasons, we wait until at least 4 months of age before spaying and neutering.
How do I introduce my new kitty to a multi-cat household?
First impressions are very important to cats. Initial introduction that are stressful or unpleasant may cause long term negative consequences. Do NOT let a new cat move in to your house and let them attempt to 'just work it out' with your other cat(s) on their own.
Instead follow these steps:
Place your new cat in their introduction room. Prevent your previous cats from meeting the new cat until the new cat is perfectly comfortable with their current area and do not react negatively to each odors and sounds of original cats on the other side of a closed door.
Place beds, blankets, or towels with the scent of one cat by the food dish or the bed of the other cat. This is to familiarize the cat with each other's scents.
Allow your new cat some free time to explore your home while you confine your previously owned cat. This helps the resident cat learn to tolerate a new cat in its territory, while your new cat becomes familiar with your home without being threatened.
Set up brief and positive encounters between the cats. Let your cats see each other but do not let them touch. Put them in carriers or on harnesses that you have control of with leashes IF this alone doesn't cause them stress. If carriers and harnesses stress out the cats, use a baby gate in the doorway of the introduction room instead. Give each of them treats, pet them, and talk calmly to them. Make it an enjoyable experience for each cat.
Go slowly. End each encounter before either cat becomes uncomfortable, afraid, or aggressive. Gradually allow the cats to get closer together and you should be able to relax in your supervising as their interactions continue to go well.
Do you have a young child or dog in your home?
Here is how you can make your house more feline friendly. This is a great idea to allow your feline family member special access to a room without keeping the door wide open. Safely limit your child, dog, or even guests access with this simple tool. It will only cost a couple dollars, takes a few minutes to install and can save lives!!
Perfect for a multi animal and/or multi-age family and home. Benfits include:
Keep your dog or child out of the litter box or cat food.
Give your kitty a 'Cat Only' room.
Keep your dog or child contained to one area of the house while allowing your cat easy access to more areas.
Restrict your young child from dangerous areas such as the laundry room, basement, office, bathroom or more while allowing the cat to still have access.
What you will need:
A Drill bit that is slightly smaller than the threads on the 'screw' of the Eyes (I used a 5/32 bit)
Hook & Eye (I used a 4 inch latch)
Pen, Pencil or Marker (Used to mark where to drill)
You can purchase a simple and cheap set (Latch & Eye Hook) at your local hardware store for a few dollars. I went to Home Depot and purchased a packet of two 4 inch Hook & Eyes for about $3. If wanted or needed you can purchase and use a bigger latch to allow more room for the animals’ passage; may be necessary if you’re using it for a small dog or large cat.
I placed mine just under the door handle as my need is to keep my dogs away from the cat's litter box. If you are using this as a child safety feature or for smart but naughty dogs that may try to undo the latch, place the latch up higher at the top of the door. Placing it up high also will keep it out of sight and reduce the risk of children, pets, or yourself from catching your body, clothes or other items on the latch as you/it/they pass through the doorway. (The second one I do will be placed at the top for the out-of-sight and safety benefits).
I placed the Latch part on the inside of the room (photo above is from the hall side) so as one walks by if the door is closed the latch is hidden from general sight. To find where I needed to drill I took the latch & eyes out of the package and measured exactly how far it is from the base of one eye to the base of the other when hooked together. It was about 6 inches. In order to get the maximum space out of the 4 inch latch I needed to place the eyes carefully so they line up, were level and not in the way when the door closed. On the door (hall side) I placed the Eye about a inch in from the edge. On the door frame (inside of the room) I placed the latch also about an inch from the edge.
It took me only 5 minutes and cost only $1.50 for each door!
What is the difference between Indoor & Outdoor cats?
We deal primarily with feral & stray finds. Kittens & cats may be caught off the streets, out of the woods, sewers, etc.. Coming from a life of survival they are mostly feral, however young cats and kittens quickly come around. Many adults do too, it just takes time. The cats and kittens that come around and want to be loved, get attention, and be spoiled by people will then need to be Indoor Cats & Kittens. However there are always a few cats that don't come around and just don't want to have anything to do with people or inside. These cats thrive outside in an area that is safe for them. Barns, farms, rural areas and such are always best. We never want to put them back into a dangerous situation.
Indoor cats CANNOT become Outdoor cats. They do not have the skills that feral cats learn as kittens which would enable survival in the wild. If you know of someone planning to "make their indoor cat an outdoor cat", please email us the location and as much information as you have and we will help as much as we can to prevent the cat from suffering and often times dying in the new outdoor environment.
Why does my cat seem antsy?
Play with and entertain your new kitty cat. Cats are very self-sufficient but if they become bored they may become destructive and unwanted scratching, digging, or rough play may occur. Mental stimulation is very important! Keeping any animal mentally active keeps them healthy and happy!
Do I need to trim my cat's claws? Or brush their teeth?
We recommend clipping your animals' nails on a weekly basis; you do not need to trim them much. Regularly trimming their nails will keep them short and rounded so they can not cause much damage, harm, or destruction. It is also a great training aid to teach your pet to become comfortable with you handling them. Use lots of treats, keep calm and make it a positive experience. If you've never trimmed an animal's claws before, find a tutorial video on YouTube from a veterinary clinic.
Animals have dental plaque buildup on their teeth same as humans. And just as with humans, if their teeth aren't cleaned regularly, gingivitis and other more serious issues can arise which can be life-threatening.
How do I get my cats on a new diet?
While the animals are with us they are typically given canned wet food twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. They always have a fresh bowl of dry food to eat at their leisure, unless they are the type to overeat and gain unhealthy amounts of weight. (The feeding schedule may vary from animal to animal depending on age and diet restrictions.) Use the bag of dry food we provided you with to switch your pet's food gradually to your new food over the course of 7-10 days. For example, make a mixture that contains 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for three days. Then make it 50-50 for three more days, then 75% new food and 25% old food for three more days. If your pet's stool doesn't become too watery with this progression, you can start feeding 100% new food. If diarrhea occurs, keep doing the mix if you have enough of the previous food. If you have no choice but to completely transition to your new food, their bowels should become normal within a week. If your pet has diarrhea for more than a week, contact your vet.
Do I need to license my new pet?
You will need to register your cat with the county government in the you reside in. Typically you will need to complete a standardized form, pay a small fee, and provide copies of your adoption contract and a rabies vaccination certificate if applicable.
Howard County Maryland residents can go to www.myHoward.info to create a user account. Once an account has been established residents can request a new license or renew an expiring one.
How do I make sure my cat uses the litter box?
Immediately upon bringing your new cat home, call the cat to the litter box and use the scoop to scratch the litter to get her/him interested. Encourage your cat to hop into the litter box and praise her/him if he/she does so. Even if your new pet does not potty, she/he is learning that the litter box is a great and clean place to be. Praise your cat if your cat does potty. Cats want to keep clean so litter training should be easy. However cats do have preferences. Some may not like covered litter boxes or scented litter, or perhaps the dust is too much for them. Try a few different brands to see if one works better then the others for you and your kitty. Having a litter box that has high walls to keep the litter in will help keep you happy too. So when choosing your litter box, remember to think about the many aspects of the box, and your cat's litter box preferences too. If your car begins going potty outside the box, they may be in pain when pottying. Contact your vet.
What are my litter choices?
As mentioned before: Kittens under 6 months of age should NEVER have clumping litter. When they clean themselves they may ingest some of the dust which contains the glue that provides the clumping action. Ingesting this dust and litter particles can clog (or glue) up their digestive track. This can prove deadly. Kittens instead should use a clay based non-clumping litter OR as we prefer, a paper/walnut/corn litter. Fresh-4-Life has a wonderful paper pellet option that has no odor, no dust, and is easy to use at a good cost. Adolescents and adult cats can use clumping litter or can stay on the natural litters. Also be aware that many cats can be sensitive to litters that have a scent or are dusty, which can result in them not using the litter box. There are MANY different types of litter (dust free, multi-cat, clumping, catnip infused(be careful they do not eat this type), pine, walnut, shredded newspaper) so try some variety before getting frustrated! Word to the wise: We have gotten many reports that the pine litter has caused many people breathing problems due to the smell - so if you have allergies or any respiratory issues, beware!
NOTE: Your cat doesn't just need a litter box - he/she needs a clean litter box. Your cat will not want to use the box if it smells of urine or feces, so the box must be cleaned daily. On a weekly basis you will need to empty the litter box and clean it with soap and water. Then refill it with a fresh pan of litter. Remember to always have 2-3 inches of litter in the box at all times.
Should I use a special cat litter?
From time to time it may be necessary to use a dustless, odorless, or all-natural type of litter. After a surgery or if they have an injury your vet may advise you to use such litter to protect your pet from possible risks of infection and more. Check your local stores to find a brand or type that your vet suggests using. These special litter types may be more costly than typical litter, but the use of it can help with a quicker recovery.For kitties under 4-6 months of age it is necessary to provide them with NON-CLUMPING litter. The glue that creates the clumping action can cause blockage of the intestines leading to illness and even death.
Where should I put the litter box?
Cats do not like to spoil the areas close to there sleeping or eating areas, so place the litter box some distance away. Choose a private, quiet, and easily accessible spot with plenty of head room for them to stand up in their box. HINT: Don't place the litter box near any vents! You don't want to have the smell travel every time the AC/Heat kicks on.
There are many different types of litter boxes: tall, long, big, wide, small, round, triangular for corners, square, enclosed, open and more! Choose one large enough for the cat to walk in to, stretch out, turn around and stand up in. They should not feel trapped or crowded, unable to scratch freely. Some cats may not use a litter box that is enclosed with a lid. Try providing several types of litter boxes and litter if necessary to find out which type your cat prefers. Cats are creatures of habit. Once you find the kind of litter, type of box, and location in your home that your cat likes, stick with it! As mentioned before, also remember to keep your cat's habits in mind. Tall sided litter boxes are preferred since they help keep the litter in better, preventing a mess for you to need to clean up.
Choose a mid-priced food that lists a single protein (not byproduct) as it's first ingredient - not meal or by-product. Check out www.cat-food.petharbor.com to compare, sort, filter and find the best food for you and your cat.
Try to avoid low-quality dry foods - these are are most likely multi-colored pieces and the ingredients list includes corn, corn meal, or animal by-products as their first ingredients. Brands such as 9Lives, Meow Mix, Purina, Royal Canin Eukanuba/Iams, Hill's Science Diet, and Nutro are low-quality.
High-quality dry foods will be solid colors, their first ingredient will be a solid protein such as Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Beef, and so forth. No by-product or meal.
Wet vs Dry. A cat needs more fluids than a strictly dry food diet can provide. Giving canned food at least twice a day will help provide the ideal hydration and additional nutrition your cat needs. However, providing a moving water fountain can also help with encouraging your cat to drink enough!
Always throw away a wet food meal that is not finished with in an hour and be sure to clean their bowls.
Keep their water bowl clean and filled with clean fresh water.
If you add water to dry food or mix wet and dry foods make sure your pet likes the food, for if they don't, they may just not eat any of it and all the dry food now is wasted.
Use ceramic or metal dishes if possible. They are easier to clean, dishwasher safe and much more sturdy than traditional plastic.
There are many plastic dishes though are great to use, especially the puzzle kind that keep your pets mind working even while eating! However, some cats can develop acne from plastic allergens.
What if I need to return my animal that was adopted from a shelter or rescue?
If you have adopted an animal and find that you can no longer keep it, please contact the rescue that you adopted from. Most have contracts that require adopters to sign a contract that says they have to return animals to them if can not be kept and will result in serious charges if the contract is not followed. Before you rehome the animal, or surrender to a different rescue, get written permission from the first rescue that says you are not obligated to return the animal to them.
If adopted from ASHA: It doesn't matter if it's just a day after adopting, or several years later, the animals must be returned to ASHA if you are no longer able to keep them due to any reason. You agreed to this in your signed Adoption Contract. We take this responsibility very seriously. Failure to abide by this requirement will result in legal action and you will be responsible for attorney’s fees and court costs. We will work with you to try and help you keep your pet out of the rescue and in your home if you find yourself and your family in most any situation. We may be able to offer boarding for your adopted pet depending on your situation and our availability at the time. Also, if you have a friend or family in mind that is interested in adopting the animal, even better! Once the animal is surrendered to ASHA, the friend or family can submit an application and within just a day or two while we obtain the medical status of the animal, we can have the animal re-homed again if all goes well! Even if you do not have a friend or family interested in adopting the animal, we will still do what we must to make room (that never includes endangering the life of any animal) to take back the animal. We will never refuse an animal that was originally adopted out through ASHA! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are Feral Kittens?
Kittens are the inevitable result of not spaying a female cat. In Maryland we typically see litters first appearing around early April or May with about 3-5 kittens per litter. If the kittens are born early in the season, removed from the litter or die, the unspayed cat will likely produce another litter before the end of the year. A female cat can become pregnant at as early as 4 months of age and produce kittens at 6 months. Gestation is only 2 months long.
The sad truth of the matter is that there are not a lot of ideal solutions for feral kittens. Most public shelters will simply kill kittens younger than 8 weeks of age and believe that kittens older than 8 weeks of age are too old to be socialized. Volunteers and fosters in no kill shelters willing to bottle feed and socialize young kittens are few and generally full during kitten season. Kittens that are brought into these programs and bottle fed have a lower survival rate than those fed by their mother.
This is where ASHA has been able to make a difference. We believe that the feral kittens older than 8 weeks ARE still able to be worked with and socialized. We have seen it work, we do it every year, and we have saved hundreds of kittens this way. Catching the mom while still pregnant is ideal, but being able to catch the kittens after they 'leave the nest' is still better then waiting for them to start early making the next generation. Kittens around 6 months old and younger have a great chance of becoming friendly and happy indoors, and well-adjusted and socialized house cats. We see it happen time after time. It just takes patience, love, time, lots of positive interactions and lots of yummy food!
Have you contacted a rescue or shelter that says the feral kittens are too old if they are over 8 - 12 weeks?
Have they told you to just vet them and let them go back outside? If they tell you it’s a lost cause, tell them to shove it. To us hearing this is like hearing that a child is not adoptable after infancy, that they are a lost cause. It's heartbreaking, it’s setting them up for failure, and it’s just not true.
If you see feral kittens of any age we recommend contacting us ASAP!
We have limited fostering resources though so we would appreciate your help rehoming kittens or cats you find, and can support you in socializing and caring for the kittens yourself if you choose to help us help you help them by fostering! Once you have fully socialized them we will work with you to rehome the kittens through ASHA’s adoption resources and processes. If you are unable to foster, and we do not have the resources to take on more animals at that time, we will at least assist you by providing you with more info about other rescues that may be able to help!
Do you know of the mom cat, or have access to her?
Then we do ask you to be the responsible party when it comes to trapping her, then getting her spayed and vetted. We also can assist with this if needed, as well as the rehoming of her if needed, but please make sure to help out with the process as much as you can. One of the worst things that you can do with kittens is separate them from their mother and then not spay her. Not only will you incur the problems listed above but she will go into heat prematurely producing even more kittens. We regularly hear horror stories about neighborhoods being swamped by dozens of kittens each year from a single mother cat who was not spayed but regularly had her kittens removed. Please, whatever you decide, make sure to spay the mother cat.
Please keep in mind that ALL city and county run shelters in Maryland area euthanize excess cats. Avoid taking cats and kittens to county-run shelters whenever possible. Call or email ahead to any rescue or shelter to find out if they are a no-kill shelter.
More about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return)
First thing first with TNR: Check with neighbors, business owners, local Animal Control and the local community to see if any cats are missing, the cat(s) is/are owned, or already managed. You will want to identify any neighbors who may already be feeding and caring for the cats or have indoor/outdoor house cats that you will not want to accidentally trap. While talking to the neighbors and local area, make sure to contact the property owner to obtain permission to trap cats on the property where the cats have been sighted.
Ensure that this conversation covers the end plan; will the cats be returned, or are they just being removed? Talk to the neighbors to see what they think and feel. You will also need to take into account: Is the area safe for the cats to continue living there? Is there any negative community backlash that could harm the cats? Are there any high traffic roads nearby that would be a danger? If they return, who will be the caretakers? Who will provide food and housing for the cats? Who will ensure the cats are vetted yearly and as needed for injuries?
These are just a few of the questions you will need to address before actually trapping the cats. If the cats are in a dangerous situation due to highways or unruly neighbors, then getting the cats trapped, vetted and relocated is necessary.
If you find the kitties are not cared for, not already TNR’ed, and in need of care, your next step should be to talk to the neighbors (aka: local businesses, residents and community) about the need. Address their concerns, ask for support and educate them on the reasons why getting one cat spayed or neutered can save hundreds of future little lives. Reducing the unwanted cat population in their neighborhood should be a great reason to get their support.
Trapping is not an overnight event. It takes time. Set up an established feeding schedule at least 1-2 weeks before you plan to trap. Keep the food in a location close to where the cats have been spotted, and in a location where it’s not easily seen by the public. Keeping the food out of the weather is preferred, but not required. The cats need to be fed at about the same time everyday and food should not be left out for more than one hour at a time. Never leave the feeding area dirty, you don’t want to attract rats, raccoons, or other unwanted wildlife. You also will need to be respectful of the property since it is not yours. Keeping the area clean also keeps it from being obvious to passerby and the public, helping ensure the safety of the cats from unwanted negative attention.
Start keeping track of the cats you see in the area. Keep the neighbors informed with details and even photos of the cats in case any of the cats are escaped house cats or lost. For record keeping purposes, including at the vet's office, give each cat a name. This can be as simple as "Brown tabby with white on chin." Keeping a description of each cat will also help ensure that if a cat does not show up on trapping day, you will know who is missing.
Plan your transportation to and from the vet. Be sure your car can fit as many traps in it as you plan to use. Do NOT use a closed trunk or open truck-bed. (You should try to trap all of the cats at once. Trapping cat by cat is MUCH more difficult.) Line your car with puppy pads, or a tarp with news paper, for easy clean-up. Be sure you know when the drop off and pick up windows at the vet are, especially if you plan to make more than one trip.
Schedule your appointment at the vet. We recommend Spay Now in Laurel as they are local, reasonably priced, manage a trap bank to borrow your traps from and will provide overnight recovery space for your cats upon request if you drop them off Mon-Wed. If you use a different clinic services provided should be: spay/neuter, rabies and distemper vaccinations, ear-tipping (removal of tip of left ear to mark it as sterilized), pain medication and FIV/FELV testing. Deworming, flea treatment, and ear cleaning are also provided by many TNR clinics.
If you plan to trap in the evening, prepare a warm and predator-free place to keep the cats overnight. We recommend covering the floor of your holding space with puppy pads for easy cleanup. If you do not use Spay Now for overnight recovery, this place will also double as your recovery spot. Females should be given 3-5 days minimum for recovery before returning and releasing. Males can be returned and released next day.
When you pick up your traps you'll also need old newspapers and canned tuna or really yummy canned food (fresh chicken and sardines can be helpful too). 24 hours before trapping, withhold food. Water should still be provided. Be sure the neighbors are withholding food at this time as well. Line the traps with newspaper, bait them, and set the traps out about 1 hour before normal feeding time. Monitor traps through duration of trapping and fully cover traps once a cat has been trapped. Place cats someplace climate controlled and safe until their trip to the vet.
When you drop the cats off at the vet for surgery ensure that you have provided the vet with a contact number they can reach you at in case they need to ask questions. They may find a cat that is pregnant, already spayed/neutered, FIV or FeLV positive or such and need to get to a hold of you. If you pick them up same day as the surgery you will need to provide overnight recovery space to your cats in a climate controlled environment. They need 24 hours to work the anesthesia out of their system. The cats should remain covered in their traps during this time. They should also be provided food and water during recovery. If the vet found that any of the females were lactating, those cats should be released immediately and not held overnight. They may have kittens hiding somewhere waiting for mom to come back. If you have decided to return the cats to their original location for release, make sure you do so at the same exact place they trap was set. Try to point the door of the trap towards a safe, quiet area to direct the cat to run off that way, and not straight towards the buildings or roads. Keep the feeding schedule they are used to, though they may not come back for a few days but they will soon return.
For the cats that are in dangerous situations, and can not be returned, then relocating them to a safe area, such as a barn, farm or another colony is required for their safety.
Notes about Safety Concerns
While not common, rabies can be present in any area. Avoid going near any cat that is acting strangely including signs of aggression (when not caged or cornered) or paralysis. Educate yourself about the signs of rabies prior to trapping. Ask for professional trapping advice, and contact the local animal control for help if you have concerns.
Always keep the trapped cat in the live trap and never try to move it to to a cage or carrier. Transport them to the vet in the trap. NEVER try to stuff an unsocialized cat into a carrier or trap by hand. This can result in you getting bitten or scratched and if the cat does not have a rabies certificate the cat is put in danger of being euthanized by local animal control due to the law.
To avoid an escaped kitty, use a double ended hook clasp, zip tie or bungee cord to tie or lash the door of the live trap closed. The last thing you want is an escaped angry kitty.
Avoid feeding and trapping alone, especially after dark. Always use the buddy system and think about safety first. Contact us if you need a helper.
TNR (Trap-Neuter/Spay-RETURN) VS TNR (Trap-Neuter/Spay-RELOCATE)
Original TNR programs require the cat to be returned to their original location where they were found and trapped from. That is where ASHA comes in:
We help animals that are in dire and extreme situations such as: Running up and down high ways or living in sewer systems. We work in areas that are too dangerous for original TNR programs, such as the center of the city or in a building planned to be demolished. We go the extra mile that other people and groups won't. Once trapped and vetted the ferals that can't be returned to their original location are RELOCATED to farms, barns, warehouses, wineries, and other indoor/outdoor locations. Adoption of feral cats is FREE! See our ADOPT page for more info.
Owner Surrenders & Stray Finds:
Typically we are overflowing with adoptable rescued animals, especially cats (just as most rescues always are). To start with, we have mandatory intake fees for owner surrenders and stray finds: (There is no intake fee for animals that were adopted out from ASHA)
$75 intake fee per kitten (under 6 months old)
$100 intake fee per adolescent (6 - 12 months old)
$225 intake fee for dogs
$125 intake fee per adult cat (over 1 year old)
$175 intake fee per pregnant mom or litter of kittens (under 6 months old)
Intake fee for other species of animals vary.
We suggest working with the community to collect donations to help pay for the intake fee when the kitty or kitties are strays. For owner surrenders and stray finds: Until we are able to take in the animal (if & when possible) we are still able to help you find it a great forever family by posting him/her online alongside our adoptable animals. Once you fill out a Surrender Application, we will contact to let you know of the wait time for a spot with us, and we will also request a picture or two of the animal in need. We will then place you on our wait list for intake and will let you know when we get room available. We ask that you let us know if you are able to place it so we can remove the listings. If we do not receive a reply from you we will remove the posting. We suggest asking many other rescues to do the same courtesy post for you in order to help spread the word.