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70 Creative Ideas on How to Help Animal Shelters

Feeling inspired to help cats (and other pets) in your community, but not sure where to begin?

There are so many ways you can be of help to the animals who need it most and the people who care for them. One great place to start is to figure out what you’re good at and use those skills to help spread awareness, volunteer or collect donations.

If you’re in need of inspiration, we’ve put together our best feline minds to to come up with the follow list!

70 Out of the Box Ways to Help Animal Shelters

Ways to Help Shelters: host social media fundraiser, person holding phone with cat on lap

1. Host a Fundraiser on Social Media

Platforms like Facebook are making it easier than ever to host fundraisers to donate money directly to an organization of your choosing. This year, for your birthday try hosting a social media fundraiser to collect money for your local shelter – you never know who might contribute.

2. Make and Donate DIY Toys

Brighten a shelter pet’s day by crafting some DIY toys to donate. You can make toys from many household items like spare socks or old clothes. Add a little catnip for some added fun.

3. Volunteer at the Shelter

One of the most useful ways to help out is to volunteer at the shelter. You never know what help the shelter may need, so even a couple days a week can be a huge help to their staff and pets.

Ways to Help Shelters: Start Knitting or craft group and donate blankets, kitting needles and mug with cat in background

4. Start a Knitting or Craft Group & Donate Blankets

Animal shelters are nearly always in need of blankets and other places for animals to curl up. Knitting or crafting blankets that can be donated, will help provide many animals with a warm, comfortable place to sleep.

5. Adopt a Pet

The other most obvious and helpful way to help shelters is to adopt one of their available animals. Adopting a longstanding shelter resident, special needs or senior pet is especially appreciated as these animals have a harder time finding forever homes.

6. Buy One, Give One

The next time you’re out shopping for litter or pet food, buy a second bag or box. Inquire with the store as to whether they offer the option to leave your donation at a receptacle to later be brought to a shelter, as many grocers and stores offer this option.

7. Foster an Animal

If you aren’t able to permanently adopt an animal but may be able to help care for one for a few months – try volunteering as a foster parent. Fosters are extremely helpful when it comes to young pets or animals with health problems who need more personalized care.

Ways to Help Shelters: Volunteer to transport animals, cat in travel crate in car

8. Volunteer to Transport Animals

If you have a safe, reliable vehicle on hand, consider volunteering to transport animals to and from veterinary hospitals, fosters or other locations.

9. Share the Shelter’s Events on Social Media

Social media is a valuable tool when it comes to spreading the word about events and more. Simply clicking “share” on a local shelter’s upcoming event can help bring visibility and awareness of the event to hundreds more people.

10. Volunteer to Help Walk Pets

Regular exercise is extremely important for shelter animals and is an enjoyable way to help out. Ask your local shelter if they are interested in accepting volunteers to help exercise the animals by taking them on walks indoors or out.

Ways to Help Shelters: Buy item off shelter wishlist, cat poking head out of cardboard box

11. Buy Something Off the Shelter’s Wish list

Most shelters keep a wish list of items they need on Amazon or on their website. While donating items you already have on hand is helpful—this ensures you are meeting the shelter’s most pressing needs.

12. Volunteer Your Professional Skills

Whether you are a lawyer, carpenter, social media manager or accountant, it’s likely that local animal shelters could use your expertise to help keep the shelter operating at its best.

13. Learn How to Teach Obedience

Obedience is a skill that often helps dogs to get adopted more quickly, as is often extremely helpful to dogs with little training. Whether you have experience in the field or are willing to learn about it, helping provide this training can be extremely influential in driving adoptions.

Ways to Help Shelters: Host a party, girl with face painted like cat

14. Hold a Party or Event at the Shelter

Got a birthday, anniversary or even a wedding coming up? Host your event at the local animal shelter and encourage guests to adopt. You can even ask that donations be made in place of gifts to you.

15. Find Useful Free Items Online & Collect Them for the Shelter

Tons of items are listed for free online every day on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Try keeping an eye out for useful items like cat furniture or crates, then collect those items to donate them to a shelter in need.

16. Help Hang Flyers Around Town

Whether for an event or to help a long-term resident of the shelter get adopted, hanging flyers at local establishments about town can help to spread the word and encourage action.

17. Turn Your Next BBQ or Block Party into a Supply Drive

Any event can be used as an opportunity to invite guests to bring contributions that can be donated to a local shelter. Make it easier for your guests to contribute by sending out a list of items the shelter is in need of ahead of time!

18. Use Old T-Shirts to Make Blankets

Ways to Help Shelters: Woman socializing cat

Did Marie Kondo convince you to finally clean through those drawers of free t-shirts you’ve collected throughout the years? Don’t toss those! You can use them to create comfy blankets for pets in need.

19. Help Socialize Cats and Other Animals

Many animals in shelters need practice socializing with humans to get comfortable spending time around them. Volunteering to spend time playing and snuggling with cats and other animals can help them to get adopted more quickly.

20. Help Spread Awareness and Education about Spay/Neuter

One of the most important things you can do to help shelters in the long run is to educate your friends and family about the benefits of spaying and neutering their cats and dogs. Doing so will help to reduce unwanted pregnancies and keep litters of kittens and puppies from ending up in shelters.

21. Donate Household Items

Though our first thought is usually to donate items for the pets at shelters, household items like pet-safe cleaners and supplies are also very helpful for keeping the shelter clean and safe.

22. Host a Restaurant/Bar Happy Hour Fundraiser

Whether you work at a restaurant or are a regular patron, try asking if the establishment would be willing to host an event where a percent of proceeds is donated to a local shelter. You could even create a signature drink for the event and offer $1 from each drink purchased as a donation.

Ways to Help Shelters: Donation jar

23. Set Up a Donation Box

Whether it’s in your office or at a town location, try setting up a donation box (with approval from the appropriate parties). Physically seeing a donation box will help encourage your coworkers or fellow townspeople to donate their spare change.

24. Donate Natural Pet Supplies

While any pet supplies are always appreciated, natural products are typically safer for the animals’ and caretakers’ health. For cats in particular, young kittens should not use clay litter so donating litters made from natural ingredients is especially helpful.

25. Volunteer to Take Portraits of the Animals

Are you a photographer? Volunteer to snap portraits of the cats and other pets to help them get adopted faster!

Ways to help shelters: volunteer to take portraits of animals, cat next to camera

26. Host a Bake Sale

When in doubt, go with a classic fundraiser like a bake sale. Have members of your community donate some of their best baked goods and donate proceeds from the sale to your local shelter.

27. Organize a “Fashion” Show

Last but not at all least—if you really want to make a splash and help shelter pets get their moment in the spotlight, try hosting a fashion show where cats, dogs, pigs and more get to strut their stuff down the catwalk for all to see. The show will help its stars find forever homes and is sure to gain a lot of local attention for participating shelters. Take it over the top by inviting local vendors to provide food and drinks.

And now for a few more rapid-fire ideas on how to help animal shelters:

28. Sponsor a Cat – Cover the costs for a specific cat’s care.

29. Set Up Donation Boxes – Place boxes in local businesses to collect donations.

30. Offer to Write Blog Posts – Help shelters share stories and information about shelter cats.

31. Design Marketing Materials – Create posters and flyers for adoption events.

32. Offer Free Vet Services – Vets can provide pro bono care.

33. Host a Bake Sale – Raise funds through homemade treats.

34. Teach Cat Care Classes – Educate the community about responsible pet ownership.

35. Build Cat Enclosures – Create safe outdoor spaces for shelter cats.

36. Start a TNR Program – Trap, neuter, and return feral cats.

37. Create a Cat Calendar – Sell calendars featuring shelter cats.

38. Organize a Charity Run/Walk – Raise funds through sponsored physical activities.

39. Partner with Local Schools – Get students involved in helping shelters.

40. Offer Free Grooming Services – Groomers can volunteer their time.

41. Create a Pet Food Bank – Collect and distribute food to shelters.

@worldsbestcatlitter When the soup speaks 🗣️ you better listen 👂Looks like it’s time for you to #AdoptACat ♬ original sound – World’s Best Cat Litter®

42. Offer Behavioral Training – Help shelter cats become more adoptable.

43. Develop a Shelter Newsletter – Keep supporters informed and engaged.

44. Organize a Raffle – Collect prizes and sell tickets to benefit the shelter.

45. Start a Pet Therapy Program – Bring shelter cats to nursing homes or hospitals.

46. Host a Cat-Themed Movie Night – Screen cat-related films to raise funds.

47. Offer Legal Services – Lawyers can help with shelter-related legal issues.

48. Organize a Trivia Night – Host a fun event to raise funds.

49. Create Cat-Themed Art Shows – Display and sell art to benefit shelters.

50. Organize a Cat-Themed Craft Fair – Sell handmade items to support shelters.

51. Provide Grant Writing Services – Help shelters apply for funding.

52. Host a Cat Costume Contest – Charge an entry fee to raise money.

53. Organize a Pet Photo Contest – Encourage donations with entry fees.

54. Host a Pet Talent Show – Raise funds through entry fees and donations.

55. Organize a Community Clean-Up Day – Improve the shelter environment.

56. Organize a Charity Concert – Host a music event to raise funds.

57. Create a Shelter Cat Cookbook – Sell recipes to benefit shelters.

58. Host a Cat Yoga Class – Combine yoga with adoptable cats.

59. Start a Cat-Themed Book Club – Discuss books and raise funds.

60. Host a Paint Night – Raise funds through guided painting classes.

61. Organize a Community Garage Sale – Donate proceeds to shelters.

62. Host a Cat-Themed Fashion Show – Raise funds through ticket sales.

63. Organize a Charity Golf Tournament – Raise funds through entry fees.

64. Offer Shelter Improvement Services – Help shelters with repairs and renovations.

65. Organize a Charity Bingo Night – Raise funds through ticket sales.

66. Offer Pet Massage Services – Donate earnings to shelters.

67. Host a Cat Story Time — Read cat-themed stories to kids and donate funds to shelters.

68. Host a Shelter Cat Poetry Night – Share poems and raise funds.

69. Organize a Pet First Aid Class – Educate the community.

70. Host a Shelter Cat Awards Night – Celebrate and recognize contributions.

At World’s Best Cat Litter®, we’re proud to support shelters across the country through our charitable initiative, GiveLitter®, which donates litter and adoption kits to shelters all over the country. Know of a shelter in need? Tell them to apply.