If you’re considering fostering or adopting a cat right now, you’re not alone.
Animal shelters and rescue organizations across the borough have seen a dramatic uptick in the number of foster and adoption applications since the city went on lockdown in mid-March. Sean Casey, founder and director of Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Windsor Terrace, said that while the number of adoptions has remained steady, the center has gotten nearly a thousand emails in the past two weeks from people interested in doing short-term fosters. During a typical two week period, he said, they’d probably see around 50 applications.
Though the center itself only handles longer-term fosters, wherein the foster owner keeps the pet until they’re adopted — often for several months — Casey completely understands the reason for the increase. “Cat adoptions, that’s usually more of a companionship thing,” he said. “People are coming in for a companion, and if you were thinking about doing it, what better time than now?” People interested in a short-term foster should reach out to Animal Care Centers (ACC) of NYC, Casey said.
At the Brooklyn branch of ACC in East New York, the number of foster applications for cats has also skyrocketed in the last couple of weeks, said Katy Hansen, Director of Marketing and Communications.
Even if someone isn’t looking to adopt right now, Hansen would definitely recommend considering a foster cat. “I think it’s a good way to dip your toe into understanding how unbelievably amazing cats are, especially in New York City,” she said. “They don’t require a lot of work, and they just provide so much love.”
The staff of Brooklyn Animal Action, a network of pet foster homes across Brooklyn, have seen the number of both foster and adoption applications increase to around 10 to 15 times the normal amount recently, said volunteer Jennie Anne Simson. Anna Khazanova, co-founder and president of AMA Animal Rescue in Gravesend, has received at least triple the usual number of foster applications for cats in the last two weeks.
“We’ve never had so many cats get adopted in such a short period of time,” said Julia Rosenfeld, manager of Brooklyn Cat Cafe in Brooklyn Heights. The cafe is operated by Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, which rescues cats from around the city or brings them in from ACC. Even though they’ve been forced to adjust the adoption process significantly, such as swapping the in-person home visits they do as part of the screening process for virtual ones, they’ve had trouble keeping cats in stock over the last couple of weeks.
“It’s been absolutely incredible,” Rosenfeld said. The number of adoption applications has increased to an average of five times the normal number, she estimated. While the cafe space itself is currently closed, potential new owners or foster parents can apply for a cat on the cafe website.
Rosenfeld was surprised — and delighted — to see that their harder-to-adopt cats were actually the first to find new homes. Some of the shier or crankier cats who may not present as well are getting another chance — mainly, Rosenfeld believes, because people have the time and the patience to socialize them.
Even foster applications have been off the charts; Rosenfeld said that she has to periodically turn off the application page on the cafe website. While they might typically see one foster application in a day, they’re now seeing more than five to ten on average.
“Cats are the ultimate quarantine buddy,” Rosenfeld said.
If you’re not a current pet owner, now is a good time to check in with your neighbors who do have pets, Rosenfeld said. Work out a plan for taking care of their pet in the event that they get sick and need to go to the hospital. If you do have a pet, make sure their vaccines are up to date, and have a copy of their medical records handy in case you get sick yourself.
“Right now people are reaching out to us because their parents are in the hospital or their neighbor is in the hospital, and there’s no vaccine record, there’s no access to a key,” said Rosenfeld.