Hyderabad: When seven-month-old Milli lost both her legs in a dog attack, life was uncertain for the grey tabby. For a street cat, it was becoming extremely difficult for her to fend for herself. Street cats like her, especially a two-legged cat, do not survive for long. Future seemed bleak.
Help came in the form of two women who saw her pictures that were being circulated in the social media at that time for help. They took Milli to their home and started tending to her wounds. Initially scared, Milli soon became a darling to them. It took them two years to find a perfect home for her. It was tough but they did not loose hope and finally emerged victorious. Milli is currently treated like a queen at her new home.
Just like Milli hundreds of cats and kittens have found their forever homes through Hyderabad Pet Adoption – Cats and Kittens (HPACK). Founded by four women – Mona, Lavanya, Chitra and Seema – HPACK, is the only group in the city that dedicatedly caters for feline needs.
Developed in 2018, the organisation is a committed group of 35 men and women who look after rescue, foster and adoption process of cats and kittens. Speaking to Siasat.com, Mona said, “There was a lot of information regarding dogs but this was totally missing as far as cats were concerned. Our objective was to create a group of cat-people, who, from their own experience of fostering, raising and knowing cats would be able to create awareness. This was the genesis of HPACK.”
Rescue, foster and adoption
Rescue, foster and adoption are the three main functions of HPACK. A kitten or an older cat is rescued from the streets, fostered or in other words taken care by a volunteer who takes the animal for regular veterinary checkups. Once the cat/kitten is healthy, it is ready to be adopted. The feline’s pictures are shared and circulated in various social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. A detailed screening of the prospective adopter is followed.
Step one involves filling an adoption questionnaire, discussing basic things about keeping cats as pets, their needs, food requirements etc.
Step two is the meet and greet with the feline. “Looking at pictures is a different thing than meeting the pet. It gives a better idea of what to expect in terms of size, temperament, energy levels, shyness etc,” says Mona.
Step three is house check. “This is to ensure that the house is cat proofed and everyone and everything is in favour of getting a cat in the house. At present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, house checks are done via video calls,” says Mona.
Step four involves adoption contract. “The adopter signs a legal contract that highlights basic cat care and pet parenting ethics,” Mona says, adding, even after the adoption, they stay in touch for regular updates.
“Adoption process can take months or even a year. We make sure that the individual or the family adopting the feline is committed. Many a times a cat is returned because the adopter was shifting cities for job or studies, getting married, having a baby or the rest of the family is unable to take care of the cat. It is not fair to the animal,” says Mona.
Apart from commitment, financial stability is another major point they look into. “Like any child, a pet too needs good quality food, litter and annual vaccinations. Illnesses in pets can be small or big, sometimes leading to expensive treatments. The family needs to be prepared for that,” says Mona.
Hurdles and hiccups
Lack of awareness and foster shelters are the two major hurdles that HPACK has been facing ever since its inception. “HPACK is not a cat shelter. We do not offer medical advice. On a daily basis we come across a lot of cases related to cat abandonment, opposition to spay neuter and general lack of knowledge about cats,” Mona says.
She further states that finding a good foster space is a big challenge. “We have to come up with foster appeals where we appeal to the viewership to take in cats/kittens in need of emergency care,” Mona adds.
Future plans for HPACK
HPACK is currently looking at collaborating with NGOs and veterinary hospitals in the city to hold workshops and trainings for those who are interested in cat care. They also want to educate volunteers on TNVR – Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return – of community cats. “We want to increase our social media presence and reach more people with the aim to get them to #adoptnotshop,” says Mona.