The period from spring to early summer is known among animal rescues as “kitten season.” It's the time of year when shelters are overwhelmed with young cats—one of the reasons behind why June is designated “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month. While animal rescues do good work, not every shelter is the same. Check out these surprising places where you can find your next feline friend.
1. A SLEEPOVER
One downside to the adoption process: the short amount of time available to spend with a cat before deciding to take them home. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, lets visitors spend the night on-site in cottages and cabins. The shelter’s “Animal Sleepovers” program helps visitors maximize playtime while helping rescue cats (and other furry friends) learn social skills. Overnight space books quickly, so Best Friends also offers an outings program that allows visitors to take feline friends for day adventures away from the shelter.
2. A NAVAL BASE
Cuba's Guantánamo Bay is known for housing U.S. prisoners, but one foster group—aptly named Operation Git-Meow—is more focused on the area's feline population. The group works to rehome an estimated 500 stray cats. Volunteers humanely trap the cats, provide veterinary care, and locate new homes. These Cuban kitties are often relocated to adoption centers in Washington D.C. or with families throughout the U.S.
3. AN ART MUSEUM
The Cats-in-Residence Program brings cat and art lovers together. Since 2013, artist Rhonda Lieberman has created art installations that feature adoptable cats at coastal museums and galleries. The crafted playgrounds provide a stage for cats to become performance artists, while reminding viewers about the needs of stray animals. The inaugural installation took place in New York City, but the performance piece has since moved around to Hartford, Connecticut, to Los Angeles, and to Worcester, Massachusetts.
4. A GOOD SAMARITAN'S HOUSE
New Yorker Chris Arsenault is known by his Long Island, New York neighbors as “the cat man,” thanks to a cat rescue run out of his home. Called "Happy Cat Sanctuary," the compound is now a fenced-in, free-range shelter that houses more than 300 cats. Kitties have access to a courtyard complete with fountains and treetop hideouts, and the rescue focuses heavily on cats that have been victims of violence.
5. A CAT CAFE
Cat cafés have become popular throughout the country. The concept is simple: Have lunch or a drink, meet pawed friends, and potentially take home an eligible stray. Most lounges, such as MauHaus in St. Louis, Missouri, require a reservation or tickets to hang out with the cats. But be smart about planning your visit around mealtimes; Blue Cat Café in Austin, Texas (and other cat cafes) prohibit waking sleeping cats for playtime or cuddles.
6. ON THE GO WITH A MOBILE ADOPTION TRUCK
What’s better than a food truck? A mobile cat adoption center. The Catty Wagon, provided by the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, makes appearances at farmers’ markets and shops throughout Los Angeles. Prospective pet parents can step inside to visit with kittens up for adoption or purchase toys and cat supplies. While the truck doesn’t need help drawing crowds, its giant yellow cat ears make it easy to spot.
7. A UNIVERSITY
Adopting a cat from Stanford University is a smart idea (though these kitties don’t come with honorary degrees). In 1989, the Stanford, California institution launched the Feline Friends Network at a time when an estimated 1500 homeless cats roamed the campus. Volunteers help control cat populations by trapping cats to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered before living out their free-range days on the campus. The university offers feeding stations with regular schedules for strays, while tame felines who enjoy interacting with humans become adoption candidates.
8. AN ANCIENT CRIME SCENE
The ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome are famous for their historical significance—Julius Caesar was murdered there in 44 BCE. But now, the site—which includes four unearthed temples—has become a popular tourist attraction for cat lovers. Following Torre Argentina’s excavation in 1929, Rome’s stray cat population swarmed the site. “Gattare” (Italian cat ladies) cared for the feral cats, until the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary launched in 1993. Now, volunteers care for hundreds of felines each day, working to find them local (and international) homes.
9. A SMALL, REMOTE ISLAND
Lanai Cat Sanctuary in Lanai City, Hawaii, is a tropical oasis for homeless cats. The 3-acre facility houses more than 500 cats, where strays are able to safely roam and hide out in cat houses built by volunteers. But Lanai Cat Sanctuary isn’t just in the best interest of cats; its mission is to protect native island birds and endangered wildlife by reducing the number of cat predators in the wild.
10. A FREE-RANGE SANCTUARY
The Cat House on the Kings has become one of California’s largest shelters, providing care for nearly 700 cats. But The Cat House isn’t like other temporary feline homes. All cats are cage-free, with free rein of 12 (fenced) acres and owner Lynea Lattanzio’s home in Parlier, California. If an afternoon at the sanctuary isn’t enough, visitors can rent a room to squeeze in more kitty cuddles after visiting hours are over, or find the perfect cat companion to adopt.
11. ABOARD A BOAT
Amsterdam’s de Poezenboot—which literally translates to "Catboat"—houses felines on water. The furry residents are able to stroll the boat’s fenced walkways and watch nearby ducks while waiting for forever homes. De Poezenboot was christened in 1968, when founder Henriette van Weelde ran out of dry land to house dumped cats. If the Netherlands feels too far to travel for adoption, de Poezenboot also offers financial adoption, through which cat lovers can learn about (and support) non-rehomeable cats that will live out their lives on water. Because regardless of land, sea, farm, or skyrise, all cats deserve a happy home.