No More Free Kittens

freekittens

You should never offer to give kittens or cats away for free or take free kittens.

Giving cats and kittens away for free is a bad idea for many reasons:

  • Free implies worthless. It devalues the animal.
  • When NO money is involved, people tend to make snap decisions. Cats that are taken home on impulse are very often no longer wanted once the novelty wears off and they are cast out. This only leads to more breeding cats in need of homes.
  • There are unscrupulous people who seek out free kittens for a variety of reasons – to be sold to animal testing labs, used for snake food, or used as dog fighting bait. We have recently heard about two day old kittens being hooked and used as musky fishing bait.  These people are good at fooling others, and pretend to be bringing the cat or kitten into a loving home.
  • When animals are given away, there is a very strong likelihood that they have not seen a vet. They have not had a proper start on life, and you are often getting a sickly kitten. Kittens need de-worming or flea treatments, vaccinations, tests for diseases like Feline Leukemia and FIV, and they most certainly aren’t spayed or neutered – which can be done at 8 weeks of age. When you take a free kitten, you get what you pay for – you get a sickly cat that didn’t get a proper start in life – vet attention, proper nutrition, or adequate weaning.
  • Once all the free kittens are gone, the mother cat is left to reproduce another litter. Why get her fixed? After all, the kittens go like hot cakes! When you take a free kitten, you are supporting this cycle.
  • Pet stores are happy to take a batch of free kittens off the hands of the public. Big corporate stores get the picture and understand that RESCUE work is necessary and do not engage in this practice. But smaller independent pet stores take kittens off the hands of folks and make a tidy sum selling the UNfixed kittens to anyone with money. This undermines the work of rescue organizations. RESCUE organizations put people through strict adoption interviews and have signed contracts that ensure the proper care of the animal for it’s entire life. Pet stores that sell animals DO NOT DO THIS. We need to stop patronizing pet stores that sell animals for profit.
  • Some pet supply stores that help RESCUES include Petco, Petsmart, Pet Supplies Plus and ChowHound. Know who you are buying from before you spend money in stores that profit from FREE KITTENS and animals bred for production of income!
  • You can make a difference. When you see FREE KITTENS signs on the road, stop and give the owners the number to Carol’s Ferals (616-560-0555). Keep this flier handy in your car and share it. Knowledge is power. Pass it on. Save lives. Help bring about a day where there are no FREE KITTENS signs.

Here is a true story that inspired our No More Free Kittens campaign
by Carol Manos, Executive Director of Carol’s Ferals

On a summer day I was driving to my rehab facility and THERE IT WAS……another dreaded “Free Kittens” Sign.  Nothing strikes such a chord for those of us in animal rescue as one of these signs.

After composing myself, I did what I always do, I stopped and talked to the cat owner. This particular sign really bothered me because it was so nicely done. It was obvious to me that it was well made to be used over and over.

Never knowing the mind set of the people you approach, I was happy to meet this very cool guy named Derek. He took my C-SNIP flier and listened to me advise him about how C-SNIP could help him get his mama cat and kittens fixed once the babies were 2 lbs and weaned.

I kinda jokingly (but seriously) threatened Derek. I told him I travel this road at least twice a day and if he didn*t want me bugging him constantly, he would have to take the sign down and wait till he could get the mom and kittens fixed, thereby at least insuring that they would not be reproducing once they got to their new homes

Before I left his property, he was out at the curb taking the sign down.

Derek and I talked a couple times after that. He took the cats to C-SNIP and got them all fixed. A little while later, I was driving down the road and saw a new sign. This one said FIXED KITTENS!

I was elated. I called Derek shortly after and he told me that he kept the mama and one kitten, but the other 5 kittens were all in new homes.

I asked him if he gave them away or asked for some money. He said that he asked $20 per kitten. This was my suggestion when I first approached him. Surely a fixed kitten is worth way more than $20, but making money was not Derek*s intention. He was simply trying to make sure that the people taking one of his kittens wasn*t going to haul it straight to a testing lab. And $20 is too much for snake food or dog fighting bait.

After paying the bill at C-SNIP, he actually was up $5 on the deal.

When asked what he did with the sign, he turned toward his fire pit. Of course, I had to have the sign! It was my first ever known turn-round of a FREE KITTEN sign.

When looking closely at the sign, you can see where he changed the FREE to FIXED.

Derek did right by his mama cat and kittens.  You can too!

This used to read Free Kittens This used to read Free Kittens Look closely, you can see where he changed the FREE to FIXED Look closely, you can see where he changed the FREE to FIXED

The SIGNS They Are A-Changin’

Bob Dylan reminded us that The TIMES They Are A-Changin’. But feral friends, I’m here to tell you…The SIGNS They Are A-Changin’! And soooooo much for the better!

Take a look at this sign my friend  saw on Fuller:

FixedKittens2

This sign was only up for a few days.  My friend went in to speak with the family. Turns out they are local artists, the Beerhorsts.

They were unable to tell my friend where the idea for the fixed kittens sign came from, but confirmed that it was from somewhere on the internet. No matter where it was found, this sign was created and it’s the single greatest thing I’ve seen in along time!

We received a call from a man who got our number from his neighbor for whom we had fixed 23 cats and kittens in earlier that year. Ray Jones had 32 adults and 42 kittens at the time. I just about passed out. This was all from three cats that he started feeding two years ago. Since he started TNR on his property, he has fixed all but 5 adults. More kittens showed themselves before he got to the pregnant mothers, but he has gotten 14 kittens fixed to date. The other kittens are just waiting to get to the two month (2 lb) mark so they can be fixed as well.

Here’s the sign outside of Ray’s place.

FixedKittens3

Our dear friend, cat trapping advocate, and Board member Jim Schalk  reported that he too saw a FIXED KITTEN sign when he was out and about earlier in the day.

Can it be catching on? REALLY?

Print this flier, keep it in your car, and hand it out next time you see a Free Kittens sign.