Here are some frequently asked questions with short answers, according to our experience.
We are not medical professionals. If you need medical advice, please contact a veterinarian.
Do you have a question that isn’t on here yet? Let us know!
Spayed and neutered cats live longer, healthier lives. They have less stress, fewer negative behaviors, less risk of disease, and are happier living in or close to home. Besides the benefits to your cat, you will prevent the birth of more unwanted kittens, hundreds of thousands of which are destroyed by animal control every year.
Cats that are spayed before ever going into heat have a reduced rate of cancer later in life. They are less likely to be exposed to very dangerous diseases, or die from accident and fight related trauma. With such a large number of unwanted kittens already being born and destroyed every year, creating even more is a tragic waste.
In this case, the miracle of life is directly related to the tragedy of death. Even if you are able to find homes for every kitten, they are displacing homes for kittens being destroyed. Children learn far more from acts of kindness which prevent unnecessary suffering, as well as what makes a responsible pet owner.
Wild cats can be easily trapped for spay and neuter, using humane animal traps. Contact us for the loan of traps and assistance for starting TNR programs.
When you feed cats without spaying or neutering them, you help to create unwanted kittens. You may be easing the suffering of the adult cats (though even with food, an outdoor breeding lifestyle is very hard on a cat’s health), but you are creating a whole new world of suffering for their offspring. Many kittens are eaten by crows or other predators, others die from diseases passed around by breeding adults, while others are found and taken to be destroyed at animal control centers. Kittens that survive this tragic elimination process, go on to start the sad and unmanageable cycle all over again. The one or two adult cats that you are feeding this year may turn into 6 next year, and the number will grow exponentially. The only kind and responsible way to help stray cats is to first get them spayed and neutered.
Males that have not been neutered spread disease through fighting and mating. They travel longer distances to find mates and are therefore in far greater danger of being hit by cars or suffering from other accidental trauma. They are more disturbing to neighbors as they are noisier and smellier, which also attracts females that have not been spayed to your area.
The average cost varies but could be around ¥25,000 for a girl and ¥15,000 for a boy. Low cost clinics, which provide assistance for strays, often charge half of that or less. There may also be government subsidies offered in your area. Contact us for help locating low cost options for spay/neuter in your area. If you are in Tokyo, click here.
While you cannot do everything, you can always do something. Helping responsibly is kind, good, and it is the right thing to do. We’ll do our best to support your efforts to help cats in need.
Kittens abandoned outside are in grave danger. If you want to help them, you must pick them up immediately. You are probably the only chance they have. We can loan you a cage and other materials as well as assist you in finding homes for them. Kittens are much easier to find homes for than adult or even young adult cats, so if you think you may not be able to keep the cats in the future, get started right away on finding good homes. Please also see our animal rescue information.
If a kitten is cool to the touch or not moving much, it needs immediate medical attention. You can provide temporary quick hydration and energy by dropping warm drops of sugared water (1 or 2 teaspoons per cup) into its mouth. However, the kitten will need specially formulated milk and an appropriate bottle to survive, and it may need a drip to rehydrate, as well as other medical intervention. Many vets will provide this kind of basic, one-time assistance for stray and abandoned kittens at a low cost.
Cardboard boxes aren’t secure carriers, and cats often easily jump out of them, even if taped closed. With an injured, small, or weak cat it might work, but a better solution is a trip to the 100 yen store. A washing machine net along with a cardboard box is more secure, or you can make a cheap carrier using cable ties and two baskets.
Resources are very limited here and in order to encourage more volunteer and financial support, we need to do everything we can to show our ability to place cats in happy homes. Every cat rescued represents the efforts of many volunteers and donors counting on us to send the cat off to a secure future. You can help us to reassure our supporters, which will encourage them to keep up the good work, and will help us to rescue many more needy cats and kittens.
When you adopt rather than purchase a cat, you enter into a relationship with a group that is highly invested in your cat’s continued health and happiness. They want to provide you with support, should any difficulties arise, and to accept the cat back, should you be unable to keep it in the future.
Cats are territorial, and your place is new territory for them. Many cats need time to feel safe in any completely new space, so it’s best to quietly let the cat hide until it feels comfortable enough to look around. You can talk softly to it, but don’t make sudden moves or grab it, as this will only make it more fearful of the new environment. Without added stress, most cats warm up to their new living area within three days, so your new friend is bound to be sitting on top of the sofa with you in no time.
Don’t give either cat a chance to strongly offend the other, as cats tend to hold grudges. That is, once they’ve gotten off to a really bad start, it’s hard to turn things around. It can take time to introduce some cats, especially those with strong personalities. Keep in mind that the outbursts are not always just about jealousy, but about fear–they may sound angry, but that’s the fear talking. Neither knows yet what the other might do, so they are on high guard in case they need to defend themselves, and this is a stressful state of mind. It may take some time living together, while unable to hurt each other, before they can feel safe. The best way to do this is on either side of a closed door. If there is a small crack underneath, even better, as they can smell, but not see. When you go in to see the new cat, rub a towel around his face, especially the sides of his mouth. Then let the old cat smell the towel, and rub it around its face. Take the towel back to the new cat and and let him smell their combined smells. However, don’t be quick to bring the two cats face to face. They may need to get used to the idea of sharing their territory first. It is often easier to introduce young kittens (which may not be perceived as a threat), or at least 1 month past the spay/neuter operation. When you go in to see either cat, note whether their pose is relaxed, or if their ears are back and they look upset. They are not ready to meet if this is still the case. You can also check with your vet or online for a product called Feliway. It’s a synthetic cat pheromone that, when released into the air, calms and reassures cats. The diffuser may work better than the spray.
Cats are placed in foster care for various reasons. In some cases, the reason is simply to free up shelter space for new rescues while the cat waits for a permanent home. In others, the cat needs socialization before finding a permanent home. Besides providing a safe and loving environment, care givers should guide cats toward best behavior, which means addressing possible issues like climbing curtains, jumping on the table, or other behaviors which most potential adopters would find unacceptable. Permanent homes are a priority, so care givers should help us to look for a good permanent home for the cat in their care, and be available to show the cat to any potential adopters that express an interest.
Keep in mind that there are far more humane animal resources in other countries, and even if you cannot keep your cat once arriving in another country, you may be able to find better assistance regarding rehoming there. With only a small handful of shelters operating publicly in the entire country of Japan, shelter space is extremely limited. Some on-line or in-print publications allow you to advertise your pet for rehoming, and we can provide you with a list of possibilities for this, on request. Caution must always be taken with rehoming to determine that the cat is actually going to a good home and not into the hands of someone selling animals for experimentation or who might be abusive.
Abandonment of pets is a crime punishable with a fine of up to ¥500,000. Besides being criminal, abandonment is a cruel and selfish act. A friendly cat used to regular care is not equipped to fend for itself on the street. If not rescued quickly, it will begin starving to death, making it also vulnerable to disease or traumatic death. The chance of quick rescue is very small, given the lack of humane animal resources in place to support people doing this kind of work.
Most animal control facilities in Japan engage in little or no rehoming of adult animals. In addition, they destroy animals using CO2, which is inhumane. Many facilities also keep animals waiting for destruction inadequately, using inappropriately sized cages or feeding schedules.
Most Japanese vets will not euthanize healthy cats, and in fact, are slow to euthanize even sick or dying animals.
With an extremely limited amount of shelter space here in Japan, people must be willing to pitch in as much as possible themselves, with support from welfare organizations. Contacting organizations with threats of leaving the animal out on the street or taking it to animal control are not only unhelpful, they are discouraging to volunteers. If you contact an organization for help with a cat that you can no longer keep, be willing to do your part of whatever it takes to ensure a humane outcome for that animal.
Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are still adoptable! They can live happy lives for many years, but it does create some complications. The ASPCA has an excellent information page about the disease.