Financial Assistance for Cats

By isak, May 26, 2009

Alley Cat Allies recently sent out this article for pet owners troubled by lean times:
Are you facing tough financial times and struggling to make ends meet for your entire family—including your pets and feral cat colony? Alley Cat Allies has ideas on how to make providing care more affordable, including resources for obtaining food and for helping you cover emergency veterinary costs.

There are multiple avenues to find support to help you obtain affordable or free food and shelter for the cats.

Resources for Obtaining Cat Food

    • Check for surplus food at your local humane society, or human food bank, or local food pantries. Feeding America has an online food bank locator at
    • Ask your local market or pet supply store to donate broken packages or dented cans. Some retailers will also donate out-of-date products, which are still good for a few months longer than the sell-by date.
    • Ask local vet clinics if they have surplus or just-out-of-date premium pet foods that they are willing to donate.
    • Hold a cat food drive. Announce the drive in the local paper to collect donations from the public. Your workplace, local religious institutions, and civic or youth groups may be willing to help as well. Sometimes youth groups, clubs, and high schools require community projects that benefit both people and animals.
    • Work with your local scout troop or volunteer organization on the drive for feral cat caregivers. Ask local markets and pet supply shops if you may put out an attractive bin requesting cat food donations.

Resources for Obtaining Shelters/Cat Houses for Feral Cats

  • Ask for scrap lumber from building supply stores or contractors, often available at little or no cost.
  • Place an ad asking for used dog houses. This could net several free shelters that, with minor improvements, can be made suitable for cats (usually insulation needs to be added and the door made smaller).
  • Host a shelter building party. Get together with other caregivers and/or your local feral cat organization’s supporters to build the houses together. Contact a local Boy or Girl Scout or other youth organization and ask interested youth to complete a service project to help build shelters.
  • Alley Cat Allies’ website shows several inexpensive shelters you can make yourself, available at (click on the second bullet).

Spay/Neuter Help

  • Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network is a group of organizations or individuals with feral cat expertise and veterinary practices and clinics that provide neuter surgeries for feral cats located in communities nationwide. Go to to locate a Feral Friend near you who may offer low-cost or subsidized spay/neuter surgery for feral cats.

Emergency veterinary care can be costly. These national organizations provide funds to those in need.

  • AAHA Helping Pets Fun – This fund helps those in need access quality veterinary care for sick or injured pets. Grants temporarily suspended but will begin again in July 2009.
  • Angels4Animals – Friends or veterinarians use the “contact us” page to refer an animal family in need of financial assistance.
  • CareCredit – Offers a revolving line of credit for veterinary expenses.
  • Cats in Crisis – Helps individuals and humane organizations care for cats with chronic or emergency medical conditions through financial and fundraising assistance. Grants temporarily suspended, but check often for re-up date.
  • Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program – This program provides financial assistance to cat and kitten guardians who are unable to afford veterinary services to save their companions when life-threatening illness or injury strikes.
  • Good Sam Fund — Good SAM (Special Assistance and Memorial Fund) was established to create financial aid for sick or injured animals who either are stray or client-owned animals in special circumstances. The fund is supported entirely by outside donations and your pet must meet one part of their criteria to be considered for financial assistance.
  • IMOM – Financial assistance for life-threatening and emergency veterinary care. IMOM is dedicated to ensuring that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged.
  • The Pet Fund – Provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need urgent veterinary care.
  • Rhode IslandRIVMA Companion Animal Foundation – Launched in 2004, the Foundation’s mission is to provide funds to the state’s participating veterinary practitioners for compassionate care of pets whose owners are unable to pay.
  • United Animal Nations – LifeLine grants help Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and low-income families with the high cost of caring for pets by providing grants to meet emergency veterinary expenses they otherwise couldn’t afford.

Locale Specific Veterinary Care
Many local shelters, humane societies, clinics, and pet organizations have special emergency funds to use for families who need special assistance within their communities. Here are a handful, some of which also provide additional help for ongoing animal care:

  • AtlantaPets Are Loving Support – P.A.L.S. provides pet-care, including free food and basic veterinary care, and support to the companion pets of critically ill and disabled Atlantans.
  • Central Ohio – Pet Promise – Provides financial assistance to low-income pet owners who can’t afford medical care for their pets. Also sponsors Operation Fill-A-Bowl, providing free of charge, cat and dog food to pet owners who need assistance and to the caretakers of feral cat populations. Their City Kitty program provides vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries for feral cats.
  • ConnecticutConnecticut Humane Society – The Connecticut Humane Society’s Fox Memorial Clinic is a full-service veterinary practice that provides veterinary care for animals whose owners are in financial need.
  • New YorkNY Save – Aid and assistance for low-income pet owners residing in one of the five boroughs of New York City, whose pet is in need of emergency veterinary care.
  • Northern Nevada/Lake TahoeShakespeare Animal Fund – People in the Northern Nevada/Lake Tahoe area can apply for funds, with an emphasis on those on fixed incomes or with annual incomes below $35,000.
  • Salt Lake CityPet Samaritan Fund – Provides financial assistance to Utah pet owners who cannot afford medical care for their pets due to extreme financial hardship (up to $100 upon receipt of veterinary billing statement).
  • San FranciscoPets Are Wonderful Support – Provides for the comprehensive needs of companion animals for low-income persons with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses, as well as senior citizens in the San Francisco area.
  • Washington, DCPets DC – Dedicated to improving the health and well being of people living with HIV/AIDS or other disabling conditions and their companion pets by providing public health education, exercise, pet food, veterinary care, grooming, foster care, and adoptions services at no cost to individuals in the Metropolitan Washington area.


  • Work with your veterinarian. Some veterinarians may be willing to work out a payment plan with you, especially if you can provide some of the payment up front.
  • Contact friends and family and fundraise. It’s not easy asking for help. But when your animal’s life hangs in the balance, it may be the best option to borrow money or hold a fundraiser.
  • Plan ahead. Cut costs and start a savings plan. Consider getting pet owner’s insurance to cover veterinary costs now to prepare for any tough times you may have ahead.
  • Get in touch with breed-specific groups. If your pet is a specific breed, the groups associated with it often have funds available to help provide the care your animal needs.

The news is full of stories of animals losing their homes along with their pet parents due to home foreclosure. Some tips for dealing with this looming threat:

  • Educate yourself about ways to prevent foreclosure all together. The best way to keep your whole family together (pets and all) is to stay in your home. At, you can see if you are eligible for government-sponsored foreclosure alternatives, such as refinancing or loan modifications.
  • No Paws Left Behind is a nonprofit that provides tips for homeowners as well as an online network to get your pet into the safest place possible if needed.
  • Search for pet-friendly housing. Almost every local humane society or rescue group keeps a list of pet-friendly housing in the area. Some also offer mediation services to help you convince a potential landlord to allow the animal to come with you if it is not normally acceptable. To prepare for these discussions, gather proof of your responsibility toward your pet, including veterinary care and statements from others agreeing to your conscientiousness.
  • Work hard to find your animal the best temporary home possible. Talk with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Ask your veterinarian about temporary boarding. Whatever you do, do not take your animal to an open-admission shelter, because they will likely be killed.

Other links that may help:
Financial Assistance for Pets | Troubled Times for Pets and People | Help with Vet Bills | Pet food pantries, financial aid for pets, and pet assistance


  1. Heather Chandler says:

    Hi, my name is Heather and I live in Alabama in a very small town, we don’t even have a stop light. And there are No.. resources here or near that I can find. I lived in this place for the past 7 years. It was my boyfriend’s place and he was gone from here 5 years before and decided to move back. We didn’t have any cats and someone started dropping off strays and i left and came back a few tines through the years and everytime their were more and more. And we’ve had a lot of heartbreak through the years but i don’t know what to do our home burned to the ground Feb 8 2019. We lost Everything including 2 cats and 2 dogs and almost my own life it was horrible. YyI dont think we will Ever recover. Then in Feb 8 2021 he (my boyfriend ) had a massive widow maker heart strack and had to have quadruple bypass heart surgery. Well everything has gotten so much worse, more cats, no money, we don’t even have water hooked back up yet. We have to carry from the water faucet into the house. I work part time and every penny i make goes on dog & cat food. I dont do anything but worry and stress about them being hungry and warm constantly . And he works and buys some food but im the only one that really cares they deserve so much better. Please if anyone can help me my emails is im in a bad position because i am trying to leave and sleep in my car alot (pretty much homeless) but cant leave them. Any money i make i buy them food and i just cant abandon them. Any advise or resources anyone can help me help them would be greatly appreciated.. Im not worried about me. Its them i know ill be ok as soon as their ok. Thank you

  2. Martha Surratt says:

    I live in a very small rural town in NC. We have virtually NO resources to help us with the 30+ feral cats/kittens we take care of. I am 71 years old and live with my 87 year old sister. I don’t have near as much energy before cancer. My 87 year old sister has fallen off our front porch steps twice trying to get down them with plates of cat food. She messed up her knees once and then fell on her face and broke her nose. I am concerned she may fall again and get hurt worse. It takes both of us to take care of them. They have drastically changed our lifestyle. We go nowhere and do nothing…except take care of cats. We have no shelter for them in the rain and winter. The only thing offered around here is low cost spay/neutering…which we cannot afford. We don’t need them fixed we need them gone. We are no longer physically or financially able to take care of them. We live on social security and are struggling to make ends meet in this economy. We have ONE grocery store and many times cat food is sooo scarce. My sister is blind in one eye and is almost blind in the other as she has glaucoma which runs in my family. I have eye/seeing problems as well. My sister only drives in the day just to the grocery store and post office and that, too, is coming to an end. I drive very little as well and neither one of us drives at night or in the rain. We have NO family to help us. It is so expensive that we often times have to choose between buying for the cats or feeding ourselves. Sometimes we are just so tired that we just don’t have an appetite. Both my sister and I have lost a lot of weight…we are now around 97 lbs. each. It is so depressing and frustrating that no one/group seems to want/can’t help us. We do not have a no kill shelter. They don’t deserve to be put down. They didn’t ask to be born! Even if we did decide to have them put down we have no way to trap them or transport them. Even then, the shelter is full and they won’t take them anyway. Our only other choice would be just to stop feeding them so they will go away. My 87 year old sister would NEVER do that! That would be cruel! So, here we are…no life…no money…no help. WHAT are we supposed to do? We’ve done everything we can to help these precious animals! Is there help for us anywhere?

    • isak says:

      Is there a larger city nearby where there might be a rescue or even a few rescues that could help you out? In your case, it seems like they might make the trip out to you and your sister. You are both very kind and good souls. Surely there is help out there.

  3. Deborah St John says:

    Hi my name is Deborah, I live in Palm Bay Florida. I am in desperate need of preferably dry cat food. I have a feral cat rescue plus a lot of cat’s families have left behind when they have moved away. We are also getting a lot of racoons because of the all the woods being removed to build new houses. We also take care of birds and have plenty of pet friendly squirrels. Oh let’s not forget Charlie and Sofie to large turtlers that come by faithfully every evening. I am on disability and the price of food continually keeps rising. Every time I turn around there are new addition’s to the cat population. We do have a place where I am able to get unfixed cats fixed and their shots for free. I will have to get a few cat traps as I see new kittens to the area and do not need them having babies. Ok back to what I was saying if anyone is interested in donating food please feel free to call or email me. My home number is 321 220 0461. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this hopefully I will hear from you soon. Have a great day. Sincerely, Deborah

  4. Brenda Heath says:

    Due to the amount of kittens born this year, (2015) the shelters and agencies are full. I have 17 feral cats and kittens I am now feeding, and it is causing a great hardship for me. I am retired and living on Social Security, but the cats don’t know that when they come to live in my yard and have their babies. I am working with CC4Cats for vouchers to get them spayed or neutured, get shots, and flea and ear mite treatment, and SSPCA is taking care of this, plus providing traps so I can get them over there for treatment.

    What I need now is food for these little creatures. I have read the above comments, and will see what I can do, but in the meantime, if any of you have any workable ideas, will you please e-mail me and share them. I would really appreciate it. We need cats in our life, they provide a service to our community, and make life more enjoyable for those of us who love them. Thanks so much for reading this and for any information you can share. Sincerely, Brenda

    • isak says:

      You might include where you are located in case someone is near you and has some ideas? Good on you for the work you do. I certainly understand your situation because I live in the country and see this often.
      Best to you! And thanks for all you do.

  5. Karen says:

    Don’t bother contacting NY Save. I did and they said they have no money.

    • isak says:

      Thanks for the update. Sadly, this is often the case right now. These helpful groups seem to be the first to run out of money… and it’s not because of exorbitant salaries either.

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