February 17th is World Cat Day (Dzień Kota), celebrated by much of Europe, including Poland. It’s the purr-fect time to think about bringing a furry friend into your own life.
Fortunately, Krakow has an animal shelter which makes it easy to adopt lost cats that are looking for a home, and they’re already sterilized for free. It’s called KTOZ Schronisko dla Bezdomnych Zwierząt w Krakowie (Shelter for Homeless Animals in Krakow), and it’s located at ul. Rybna 3, a bit west of Salwator.
If you’re thinking of checking it out, here are some tips we got from our own visit to Krakow’s shelter:
- Be prepared. It might seem obvious that owning a pet is a serious responsibility. But countless pets are abandoned because people take them in on a whim and then get bored. Don’t be one of those people! Remember, an average housecat lives 13-17 years – though many live into their 20s, and the oldest cat on record, Creme Puff, lived for just over 38 years. Me-wow! If you’re worried about this, consider taking one of the older cats from the shelter – they need love too.
- Get your home ready. Make sure you have at least a litter box, food, and water ready for your cat when she or he gets home. If you have other pets, it may be a good idea to introduce them slowly. (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a good guide on this.)
- Bring the right stuff. If you want to adopt a cat from the shelter in Krakow, they expect you to bring your own pet carrier, and, if you live in a rented space, ideally some proof from your property owner that pets are allowed. (They told us sadly that many cats are returned to them by their owners because people didn’t check their lease agreement first.)
- Drive if you can for pick-up. Ul. Rybna is on the outskirts of Krakow, with bus service that leaves something to be desired. Also, cats may become nervous on the road, and that could be even worse on public transport.
- Be patient. It might take some time for your cat to get used to your new home, especially if it’s used to living on the street. But after a few days, it should start to become comfortable.
- Watch out for their health. It’s inevitable that living on the street and then in a crowded shelter that cats may pick up an illness. You should take your new friend to a vet anyway (there are many who speak English in Krakow), but be on special lookout in the beginning for symptoms of sickness.
It might seem like a lot to think about – and it is. But taking in a shelter cat can be a rewarding friendship for you, a chance at a second life for an animal that has fallen on hard times, and a slight ease on the creaking budget of the city of Krakow.
Still in doubt? Check out a few of the cats available at the local shelter, with excerpts of the descriptions (translated to English) provided by the staff on the website. (And yes, if you’re wondering, the shelter also has dogs!)
A beautiful, big tomcat. He came to us in October 2016. It took a long time for Olo to feel safe with us – at the beginning, it seemed that he did not like to be petted. Now, however, just sit in the room with him for a moment and he will run up and rub your legs asking to be stroked. Other cats do not bother him.
Aldonka has been waiting far too long for a home. She joined the shelter in March 2017 as a wild kitten. She is slow to trust people, but she feels great in the company of other cats. A patient person who already has one cat might be the perfect home for her. If you only give her a little time, she will eventually come to you to be petted or have fun.
When he came to the shelter, he did not trust people and did not allow himself to be petted. He was probably a “cellar cat” who had not had much contact with people before. Fortunately, he let us convince him, and you can see that stroking makes him happy. He loves being scratched under his chin, and he loves the company of people. Despite appearances, he does not miss “freedom” – he likes to see the world through the window, but he never goes out to the outdoor area for cats. He needs a patient and calm guardian.
The shelter is open for adoption seven days a week from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00.
Can’t adopt a cat, but still want to help? You can donate to the shelter, or read on for other ways you can help stray cats in Krakow…