my fiancee and i are thinkig of starting a cat rescue business, how would you start it? i would be appreciated with ideas from anyone.
I'm a foster parent for a local cat rescue, and my bit of advice is to be completely honest with people. Tell your foster families everything you know- especially the bad stuff! Also be honest with adopters.
I stopped fostering for a dog rescue because they neglected to tell me about a dog's bite history. I learned of it after the dog bit my father when he was visiting for Thanksgiving! I would have still taken the dog if I'd known, but I would have taken the necessary steps to protect guests in my home and random children who inevitably run up to pet the dog during walks. The cat rescue I work with recently placed a kitten in my home from another foster home. She had to be moved because she was not using the litter box. I knew this upfront, so was able to focus on that behavior and avoid ruining my carpets. The dog I previously fostered is not likely to be successfully adopted because of that rescue's dishonesty. This kitten I have now is finicky about her litter box, but will get adopted successfully because her new family will be told of her quirks.
I'm a part owner in a small, fairly new rescue so I can give you some pointers. First of all you can't run a rescue as a business. There is no money in rescue. In fact doing rescue costs money and a lot of it. This is the number one thing you need to consider when you start doing rescue - where will the money come from. Taking in cats, caring for them and adopting them out is the easy part. You need to have sufficient funding or you will soon find yourself in a major mess with very sick cats you can't care for. Rescued cats are very often sick and need vet care and you have to be able to pay for that.
We are in the Chicago area where there fortunately are a number of low cost options for routine stuff like shots and spay/neuters. We have figured out that taking in a new cat that is 100% healthy and need no additional vet care other than the routine stuff will cost is about $190 and that's when we go all over the place to do things on the cheap. In your area it may cost more. You can't expect that the cats you take in will only need routine care though. You always have to be prepared for the possibility that the cat will need expensive vet care. When we take in a cat we make sure that we have at least $400 to spend on each cat not including food and litter. If something more expensive comes up we have a credit card we can use but of course we have to be able to pay that bill although we can pay it off little by little. It's only been a few occasions that we've had to use it.
Since we're such a small rescue it's hard for us to raise money and I can imagine it's the same for other small, newer rescues. So the majority of the money spent on the cats come out of our own pockets. If you want to start a rescue you have to be able to pay for the cats yourself or you have to have a good, working plan to raise enough money.
The basic things you have to do with every rescued cat before they are adopted is the following: exam with physical, spay/neuter, rabies shot, "feline distemper" shot (FVRCP) including booster, test for FIV/FeLV, fecal test, deworming twice, flea treatment, and microchip.
Once you have secured funding you have to consider where the cats are going to live. Most rescues use foster homes. You can take in the cats yourself too as long as it's not too many and it's legal in your area. It's best to start out little with just a few cats and see how it goes. Once you're up and running you can start recruiting new foster homes.
Once the cats are ready to be adopted you have to start advertising them to find homes. This can be difficult and it often takes a while to find a home for an adult cat. The best way imo is to get a Petfinder account and post the cats on that site. Any rescue can get a Petfinder account as long as you have tax exempt status or a reference from your vet.
When someone expresses interest in adopting a cat from you you have to have a screening procedure to make sure that it's a good home. Not all homes are good homes and you don't want to accept any home just to get the cat adopted. If you do chances are good that the cat will end up needing rescue again in a few years. Most rescues use an application with questions for the adopter to find out what they are like. We ask about what their home is like, how they care for current and past pets, how they view certain things, etc. If the application looks good we set up an appointment to visit the adopter in their home to make sure that they are who they say they are and that their other pets are well cared for, etc. Some people can look good on paper but you find out more if you visit their home. I once did a home visit to a family that sounded great but when we visited them I saw that their dog had a number of big mats on his back and their litter box was filthy. If they can't even bother to brush their dog or scoop the litter box how are they going to care for my cat? I think home visits are very important but not all rescues do them.
If the adopter checks out you turn the cat over to them and have them sign an adoption contract where they agree to take good care of the cat, etc. Here you can charge an adoption fee to cover some of the cat's care. You will never get back anywhere near what you spent though because nobody is going to spend several hundred dollars to adopt a cat.
Another thing you need to consider is local laws. In my state a rescue has to incorporate with the state and get a license from the state department of agriculture. Other states have no requirements for rescues. If you want to rescue cats from kill shelters you often have to get federal 501c3 status which you get from the IRS. You don't need this to run a rescue but it helps and you do need it to pull cats from most shelters. Applying for 501c3 status is complicated though and can be costly.
This is just a short version of what you need and need to know to start a rescue. I'd be happy to answer questions if you want more detailed info.