RSPCA Queensland looks to home hundreds of cats after trauma rehab program

Hundreds of traumatised, stressed cats who wind up in RSPCA shelters are being put through a specialist rehabilitation program to help them prepare for calm, happier lives with new families.

RSPCA Queensland head of behaviour Kirsty Nalvarte said cats were hypersensitive to change.

“They can come in really very scared — they can be hissing, spitting, hiding, and just generally not very happy when they first come into us,” she said.

“If we can spend the time with them and help them to feel safe and show that they are safe and nothing is going to happen to them, we’re not going to hurt them, then they really do tend to come around and respond quite well to that rehab — actually exceptionally well.”

The program has staff working slowly with traumatised and under-socialised cats to calm their fears and help them blossom into trusting characters ready for a new home.

Last year nearly 800 cats went through the RSPCA’s rehabilitation program, of which 82 per cent were successfully rehabilitated and adopted.

The RSPCA’s shelters at Dakabin, Kingaroy and Gympie have dedicated behaviour modification spaces for traumatised and scared cats.

A small, dark kitten crouches on a blanket and hisses.
Scared kitten Phoebe was successfully rehabilitated into a calm, friendly young cat ready for adoption.(Supplied: RSPCA Queensland)

Hundreds ready for homes

RSPCA Queensland is nearing capacity with 822 cats in care and 300 ready for adoption.

“It’s a great time to have a cat — they tend to flock to you when the weather is cold,” Ms Nalvarte told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“We obviously want them to be out in a home for a family to enjoy them.”

Ms Nalvarte said cat owners needing to make changes their pet’s environment should make them as slowly as possible.

“Making any changes really gradually is great for a cat,” she said.

“If you can help introduce even new items, new furniture, just take it really slowly and let the cat explore and put their smell on the item, rather than having lots of change all at once.”

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