Cats Protection is celebrating the first anniversary of a pioneering online adoption process which has rehomed more than 20,000 cats around the UK.
The charity launched Hands-Free Homing, its new contactless way of homing cats and kittens in response to the COVID-19 restrictions and it has been even more popular than it could have hoped.
Actress Frances Jeater, from Richmond in Surrey, was one of the first to adopt via Hands-Free Homing. She said: “My beloved cat Bertie died in January last year at the ripe of age of 13. I swore that I wouldn’t get another cat but as the weeks passed I realised how much I was missing having a cat in the house.
“When we went into the first lockdown and all the adoption centres closed, I thought I’d missed the boat until a friend mentioned Hands-Free Homing. I went on the Cats Protection website and immediately spotted five-year-old Molly. Obviously I couldn’t go and meet her but the lovely Cats Protection staff provided lots of information about her personality.
“A week or so later, Molly was delivered to my home and settled in beautifully straight away. She is utterly enchanting and makes me laugh every single day.”
Susie Pritchard, Cats Protection’s Head of Operations, said: “We worked incredibly hard to get Hands-Free Homing off the ground when our centres closed so that we could continue to rehome the cats in our care, but it’s been more successful than we ever imagined.
“Not only have 20,000 cats found their forever homes, but we’ve been able to provide thousands of people with some much needed companionship during lockdown.”
Hands-Free Homing means that the whole adoption process has moved online. Prospective owners browse available cats via the charity’s website and once their application has been received, they are matched with the best cat for them and their home. The cats are then delivered to their new homes by a team of Cats Protection volunteers.
Speaking about her experience during lockdown, Frances said: “I live alone and I’m not in a bubble so if it wasn’t for Molly, I wouldn’t have a touched a living thing for over a year. Touch is so important to humans and being able to stroke and pet Molly has been wonderful.
“I have also found that having a routine with Molly – from nap times to feeding – has given much needed structure to my days over the last 12 months. Lockdown without Molly would have been very grim indeed.”