There are thousands of small groups that rescue cats, and otherwise do what they can for them without the benefit of any shelter building. Often they provide these services out of their own homes. Many of these organizations are excellent sources for adopting pet cats.
Usually made up of dedicated volunteers, these groups rescue and tame feral cats and motherless kittens, as well as find homes for cats that need them. Often they will also raise money to help neuter and spay the cats of people (often the elderly or those on fixed incomes) who can not afford the costs of having these done for their pets.
These groups fill a need that is vital. Some will specialize in cats that are hard to place, or those that for various reasons, the bigger shelters will not take in for adoption. Some are too old, disabled, or maybe too wild to be adopted into most homes. With much love and patience, many of these groups are able to turn these cats into fine pets for people who understand the special needs of these cats.
There are organizations that call themselves "no-kill shelters" that are very controversial in the cat rescue and adoption community. Most shelters have many more cats than they can place. An unfortunate consequence is that this ends up in the death of millions of cats every year. No-kill shelters will refuse to take in cats that are not adoptable. The cats that are turned away are then sent to other shelters, where they are forced to do the killing.
Many people believe that for someone who is ready to adopt a cat, looking for a shelter that offers many healthy, well-socialized animals. as well as cat adoption counseling, is key in the process. Find the type of shelter where a well-trained core of volunteers will work to get the right pet for you.
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