This story originally appeared at LittleThings.
Millions of dogs and cats across the United States are currently living in animal shelters. If these creatures are lucky, the animal shelter will act as a layover on the way to a forever home.
According to the ASPCA, about 29 percent of all cats and dogs owned by Americans today were adopted from one of the approximately 13,600 animal shelters around the country. High adoption numbers are great news for our furry friends and their adoptive parents, but it also means that animal shelters are busy places that can use all the help they can get.
Sure, you may not be able to adopt every dog at the animal shelter (tempting as it may be), but you still want to help. As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to help your local shelter that don’t involve becoming a cat lady.
In fact, there are plenty of items lying around your house that your local animal shelter desperately needs to keep things running smoothly and to help keep those creatures as healthy and happy as possible.
1. Old Baby Bottles
Sometimes very young puppies and kittens who still need to be nursed are brought to shelters. Even if the mother is brought with them, she’s often be too weak to nurse and the little ones have to be bottle-fed by volunteers.
Local shelters will happily take old baby bottles off your hands if they are still in good condition.
2. Old Newspapers
Instead of recycling your old newspapers in bins on garbage day, try donating to your local animal shelter. Old newspapers can be used to line the bottoms of cages that, as you can imagine, get soiled on a regular basis.
3. Old Towels and Newspapers
Towels and blankets are put to use at shelters for things like drying off animals after bath time and keeping them warm. If your old towels and blankets are just taking up space in your linen closet, put them to good use at your local shelter.
4. Cleaning Supplies
Anyone with pets knows they can be messy! Shelter animals are no exception and the sheer volume of messes means cleaning supplies are always in high demand. Paper towels, all-purpose cleaners, sponges, and pretty much any cleaning supplies will be more than welcome at your local shelter.
5. Hand Soaps And Sanitizers
It is important for shelter volunteers to keep their hands clean to protect both their and the animals’ health and safety.
6. Bottles Of Detergent
Again, things can get pretty messy at animal shelters. Towels, blankets, beds, and even the clothing of volunteers need to be washed regularly, which means detergent is also in demand.
7. Heating Pads
Animals like a heating pad too! More importantly, they are often used to keep weak animals warm when they first arrive at the shelter. A heating pad can also help replace a mother’s warmth for rescue missions involving newborn puppies or kittens.
8. Office Supplies
With adoptions come paperwork! Shelters use plenty of office supplies like copy paper, pens, pencils, staplers, and everything else they use at a regular office. Donating old office supplies is an easy way to help the animals indirectly.
9. Rubber Gloves
Those rubber gloves living under your sink collecting dust could really help make cleaning time at your local shelter a little less painful for volunteers.
10. Plastic Shopping Bags
All dog and cat owners know that plastic shopping bags never go in the trash until they are filled with poop. Whether you have a bunch of your own stash leftover, or don’t know what to do with your accidental collection, your local shelter will certainly be happy to see them!
11. Canned Tuna In Water
Although people food is not usually recommended to feed to animals, canned tuna in water is an exception and has its own place on the AHS wish list. Those cans of tuna that have been sitting in your pantry for years are just the thing to make a hungry shelter cat very happy.
12. Meat-Based Baby Food
Meat-based baby food is an unexpected favorite among dogs and cats. Shelters often mix it in with dry food as a special treat. Donate leftover baby food to your local shelter and be sure to make some tails wag.
Can you think of anything else that animal shelters can use from around the house? Be sure to check your local shelter’s wish list and drop off some help and support!