Stray and abandoned cats are a growing problem in the United States. Millions of unwanted animals are euthanized annually in shelters that cannot afford to care for the animals, according to the Humane Society. Starting a non-profit cat adoption agency helps keep animals alive by using foster care services until a responsible and appropriate new owner is found. While your agency may only serve a small community need, it can make a difference in the lives of those who deserve a good home.
Write down the mission of your agency in the community you intend to serve and explain how your agency adoptions work. Clearly define where cats are fostered, how the adoption process works and how you will let people know how to adopt.
File articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. Include the mission of the agency with the bylaws in the appropriate "mission" section and place the adoption process in the bylaws showing how the organization functions. You may file articles online and pay appropriate filing fees with a credit card.
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website or by calling 800-829-4933. Once you have the EIN, request non-profit exemption by filing Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption with the IRS. Once approved, a letter is sent that states you are exempt of federal taxes under IRS Code 501(c)(3).
Contact your local animal control, Humane Society and ASPCA office to determine the state laws for housing cats for adoption. The Humane Society has operational guidelines easily outlined for you to incorporate into your agency's bylaws and facility design.
Coordinate with local veterinarians who are willing to endorse your organization and offer free or reduced price services. Many animals will come in hurt, neglected or sick and require immediate medical attention. Most cat adoption agencies also require new owners to spay or neuter all animals.
Apply for grants to support the organization's purpose. Look to your Small Business Administration for resources, as well as national organizations that support animal rights. These might include the National Pet Alliance or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Hold fundraisers and cat adoptions at local parks and community events. Think creatively when it comes to raising funds or seeking sponsorship from large corporations, small pet stores and community businesses. Don't forget the smaller events that bring community members together, such as bake sales or pet picture day.
Find a building to house the animals while searching for a new home. If there isn't enough funding to launch the agency in your own building, start with foster parents who volunteer to house animals until a suitable new owner is found.
Renovate the space to provide private kennels, play areas and health services areas for cat care. Floors should slope slightly with drainage for easy cleaning and there should be heat and air conditioning for climate control. Each cat needs at least nine square feet, according to the Humane Society, and sick animals must be given separate areas. There should be no more than 15 adult cats per 10- by 15-foot room, with a separate room used for sick animal isolation.
Prepare each kennel with a litter box, water and food bowls. Maintain one cat to a kennel except for mothers who are nursing kittens.
Talk to pet shop owners and local chains. Tell them what you are doing and ask them to refer stray and lost cats to your agency. Further, ask if you may place adoption notices at the location.
Host a grand opening and invite the community and local animal support groups to attend. Request financial and service support.
Keep up fund-raising projects and apply for grants and corporate sponsorship. Without financial resources to care for cats while seeking new owners, you will soon find yourself with fewer animals than you can care for, thus reducing the positive effect you seek.