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Stories of how Cats Protection Lifeline fosterers help make a better life for cats and domestic abuse survivors together 

Trigger warning: This article contains subject matter relating to domestic abuse and animal abuse.

Someone fleeing domestic abuse often has no choice but to leave everything behind, including their beloved pets. Most refuges for domestic abuse survivors can’t accept pets, and so for many, this means leaving their cats in danger. 

young white girl with brunette hair and black-and-white cat sitting inside a teepee tent in a child's bedroom with fairy lights around them

Sadly, it’s common for perpetrators to target cats and kittens. 78% of domestic abuse professionals have experienced cases where cats and kittens have been physically abused, and 90% have experienced a pet being a barrier to survivors getting to safety*. 

Therefore, many cat owners will stay and remain at risk of abuse to protect their pets. 

Cats Protection Lifeline helps cats and their families get away from abuse by providing a temporary loving home for those pets. Our specialist Lifeline service looks after cats until their owners are able to take them back safely, giving them the chance to get back on their feet, knowing they’ll be together again soon. 

Here's the story of a domestic abuse survivor whose life has been changed by Cats Protection Lifeline, read by one of our celebrity supporters, Jo Brand. 

Fostering for Cats Protection Lifeline 

Cats Protection Lifeline is a free and confidential service run by an experienced and compassionate team, who arrange care for the cats through our network of dedicated volunteer Lifeline fosterers.

black-and-white cat walking out of a cat carrier with a woman knelt down beside them

We couldn’t provide this life-saving service without the wonderful fosterers who look after these cats until they can be reunited with their owners. 

We provide the fosterers with all the support and equipment they need to keep the cats healthy and well fed, and they provide the safe and loving home they deserve, along with updates for the owner so they can see how their cat is getting on. To keep everything confidential, any communication goes through the Lifeline team, and they arrange the delivery and collection of the cats to ensure everyone’s safety. 

96% of our Lifeline volunteers said that fostering cats through the service has had a positive impact on their wellbeing and metal health.

Lifeline fosterer Luke

“We thought it was such a lovely idea to look after cats that were in need of a home until they could be reunited with their owners again, so we were more than happy to sign up!

“When our first foster cat arrived, they delivered everything we needed to help them settle in, there is no cost involved, just love and care needed for the cats. They offer food, litter, toys and screens for doors or windows during the summer, so the endless amount of supplies are always on hand. Anything we wanted to know about or needed help with, they were always just a phone call or email away. 

black woman with afro hair sitting on a sofa with a black-and-white cat on her knee

“It feels so rewarding to foster cats in need, but it’s an even nicer feeling to be able to help the cats settle as if they were still at home with their owners. Hopefully their owners have some pressure taken off, knowing that their pets are being cared for and safe until they can meet again.

“I would encourage anyone to get involved as it’s a brilliant and rewarding scheme, and if you love cats like we do, it’s great to foster!” 

Lifeline fosterer Michelle 

"The best things about volunteering for Lifeline are having a cat snoring on my desk while I work, hearing little paws coming down the stairs and being greeted by a friendly furry face each morning. 

“It’s also nice to know that we’re helping a cat during a difficult time for them by giving them all the love, cuddles and enrichment we can. We know that people sometimes stay in abusive relationships because there is no one who can look after their pets when they escape domestic abuse, so it’s nice to know that we can do a little something to support someone to build a new life. 

“We definitely benefit from having a cat in our life and it’s lovely to know that we can provide a safe and loving home for them until they can be reunited with their family." 

Support this life-saving service 

Cats Protection Lifeline is available in the South East, Yorkshire, East Anglia and the Midlands, and will be expanding into Scotland and Wales in 2024. 

an adult white woman with brunette hair sitting on a grey sofa while a young girl with brunette hair sitting on the floor stokes a black-and-white cat

We’re looking to welcome more volunteer fosterers to the team in these regions as the more fosterers we have, the more cats and survivors we can help. As a Lifeline fosterer you will care for each cat for an average of six months (and we can provide holiday cover if you need a break). The cat will have access to your whole home (although they will not be allowed outdoors) and therefore you need to have no other pets in the home.

Find out how you can support Cats Protection Lifeline by volunteering or donating.

Cats Protection Lifeline is kindly supported by the Pets Foundation.

For information and support on domestic abuse, contact the free 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. 

*Source: Domestic Abuse and Cat Ownership – Professionals Survey, Cats Protection 2023. 

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