From Iceland — Giving the Cats of Reykjavík a Chance

Giving the Cats of Reykjavík a Chance

Published April 21, 2023

Giving the Cats of Reykjavík a Chance

Words: Eldlilja Kaja Heimisdottir

Concerned about the number of cats looking for new homes throughout the capital area, Krakkaveldi journalist Eldlilja turned to Hanna Evensen at Kattholt, the Icelandic Cat Protection Society, for the inside scoop on their work rehoming cats and socialising strays.

Did the number of cats at Kattholt increase since the pandemic?

Yes, the number of cats has increased. After COVID, people who had gotten a cat hadn’t thought about what happens when they would start travelling or working again. You still have to take care of the cat and love it. Cats often come to us heartbroken and have difficulty trusting humans again. It’s very sad to witness. 

What happens when a pregnant cat comes in? 

We find the perfect foster homes for pregnant females, where they can have their kittens in peace and quiet. The fostering time is up to four months and Kattholt provides everything the mom cat and kittens need. Then, when the kittens are big enough – about 12 weeks old — they come back to us so we can find the perfect home for them. 

How many cats usually stay in Kattholt?

Our operations are twofold. We have the refuge and we have the cat hotel. If all the spaces are full, it’s around 100 cats. 

Do you neuter all cats that come in?

If a cat is found or brought to us unneutered, then we neuter it before it goes to a new home. We also deworm, vaccinate, microchip and inspect the cats for any health issues. We want the cats to be as prepared as possible for their new homes. 

When a lost cat is brought to Kattholt, does the owner need to pay to get it back? 

If a cat is presumed lost and brought to us, we scan its microchip. If the cat is chipped, we call the owner and let them know it’s here. If they know their cat is here but they don’t pick it up right away we’ll charge a facility fee of 1.500 ISK per day. Most of the time, people pick up their cat before the day is over. 

How do you handle feral cats?

All cats deserve opportunity, patience and time. That’s what a feral cat receives when it comes to Kattholt. We need to be very patient and never give up. We start by chatting to the cat every day, introducing our voices, trying to maintain eye contact and blinking slowly to demonstrate that it can trust us. Then we try feeding the cat by hand. When it feels comfortable doing that, we can start petting it slowly. This process can take many months. 

How do you handle kittens?

The kittens that come to us get the same treatment as adult cats. We start by deworming, microchipping and inspecting them for health issues. Then, when the kitten gets a new home, it goes home with an appointment to be spayed or neutered when it reaches the appropriate age and weight. 

How do you finance the operations?

We finance the work with an annual fee to Kattavinafélag Íslands, which is 3.500 ISK every year. We also receive income from the cat hotel. Then there’s also lovely people out there who support us monthly, for example with direct deposits or by bringing us food, litter or dens. We couldn’t operate without the kindness of the people around us.

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