Kočky Online

Helping our fuzzy four-legged friends

Erin Naillon

Written by Erin Naillon Published on 09.12.2009 12:30:24 (updated on 09.12.2009) Reading time: 4 minutes

As the winter season hits us, and temperatures fall, Czech animal shelters are in even greater need of support. Food can be left outside for strays, but water will quickly turn to ice and subzero temperatures cause animals to take shelter anywhere they can.

Unfortunately, at all times of the year, there are pet owners who neglect to spay/neuter their animals, and deal with unwanted puppies or kittens by abandoning them.  If the animals are lucky, they are found by a Good Samaritan who will take the time and effort to catch them and either take them home and care for them, or hand them over to a shelter. In addition, a pet can be – and, sometimes, is – taken to a shelter when the owner dies.

Zuzana Fenclová, who works with an association of shelters called Kočky Online (http://www.kocky-online.cz/, Czech only), was kind enough to provide important information on the issue of dealing with homeless animals. She states that all municipalities in the Czech Republic are required to set up shelters for dogs and cats, but few of them do so. She complained to a veterinary inspector about this problem; he told her to bring a lawsuit. She countered with the argument that, in this case, she would be suing approximately eighty percent of all municipalities in the country. He agreed, adding that even if she did win, the attitudes wouldn´t change. If a municipality doesn´t have much money in the budget, it will (for example) put in new sidewalks rather than form a shelter. Hence, most shelters in the Czech Republic are run by NGOs.

The amount of money needed by a shelter, she says, depends on the number of animals in the shelter. In summer and autumn, this number is always higher, with an increased number of unwanted kittens and puppies. Shelters have to pay for rent, utilities, food, cat litter, veterinary care and medicine. The community can help by donating money and cat litter; adopting shelter animals or fostering cats in their homes until a new home is found. During this time, the cat will receive all the necessary injections, as well as being spayed or neutered.

As far as adopting a cat is concerned, Fenclová does not know of any shelters that would prevent a foreigner from adopting. Some shelters require permanent residency status before they will allow an animal to be taken by a foreigner. In all adoption cases, the new owner must fill in and sign an adoption contract. One of the important clauses in the contract is that, if the new owner cannot care for the cat anymore, the cat will be returned to the shelter. This prevents them from ending up on the streets once again.

Before a cat is adopted, it is wormed and fleas, ticks, and other little pests are eliminated. Then the vaccination begins; the cat will be vaccinated, at minimum, against panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis and calicivirosis. Though the shelters would like to provide more extensive vaccination, money, as always, is limited.

Some cats have greater difficulty finding a home. These include ones that are older; are very shy or fearful or handicapped. It´s not at all unusual to find a three-legged cat in a shelter, or a cat with one eye. Prospective owners tend to bypass these cats in favor of “something special”, as Fenclová puts it, as if shelters dealt primarily in purebred cats. Black cats and tabby cats are not on the most-favored list. A combination of these three – shy, handicapped, and “plain” – is, in Fenclová´s words, “lethal”.

Another sad story is that sometimes a cat will be adopted, then returned to the shelter, for various reasons. Fenclová mentions that “this happens more frequently than we wish”. Sometimes, within, two days, the new owner begins to complain, and the cat goes right back to the shelter.

Can foreigners be volunteers at a shelter?

This is a sticky situation, admits Fenclová. Often, a cat shelter is run out of someone´s home. It depends, she says, on the language skills of the shelter owner, and whether she will allow foreign volunteers in her home.

Some of the biggest challenges facing shelters (apart from money, of course) are, she says, irresponsibility, ignorance, lack of spaying/neutering, and “crazy old people” who live in flats with dozens of animals. When the person dies, the flat is filled with undernourished, diseased animals; treating them takes tens of thousands of crowns.

Some shelters do allow “distance adoption”, in which an animal lover can provide money for the care of a specific cat (http://www.psoz.cz/). They all welcome money, food, litter, and adoption by responsible, caring owners. For more information you can contact Zuzana at sue@kocky-online.cz and she will point you in the right direction to get involved.


Pictured up top: Kordula . One-year old female, neutered. Friendly to people, bossy towards other cats. Very active, needs to have a garden to stroll in or an adopter who will keep her busy. Lives in Liberec, might be delivered to Prague. Call Zuzana – tel. 603 705 072


Bricie – Four-year old black cat has been with her “cat aunt” for more than two years. She is neutered, litter-trained, vaccinated. Gets along well with other cats, would appreciate to have an older cat companion in her future home. Her problem is that she is very shy and there has not been anybody patient enough (it is likely that she will camp under your sofa for a couple of months) so far. Prague, Frantiska – tel. 602 258 875.


Eric. 18-month old neutered tomcat has been in the shelter from his kittenhood. He is friendly with people and even friendlier with other cats – will be a great companion to a kitten or a younger cat. Indoor cat, litter-trained, vaccinated.  His problem: plain appearance. Prague, Frantiska – tel. 602 258 875.


Jackie. Very friendly six-month old girl, playful, litter-trained. Vaccinated, indoors only. She would love to a cat companion in the future home. Lives with her “cat aunt” in Kladno. (Frantiska – tel. 602 258 875 – will do the interpreting for you)

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