Overlooked and Special Needs Pets

Click here to see Special Needs Pets Available for Adoption and to hear their stories.

Click here to see Overlooked Pets Available for Adoption and to hear their stories.


Welcome to RCHS’s Special Needs and Overlooked Pets page. We wanted a separate page for these wonderful pets -- not solely to pull on your heartstrings, but to feature and celebrate RCHS animals that, in spite of their challenges, have survived and are enjoying their lives.

For reasons mysterious to us, we also have foster pets that are continually overlooked. These are perfectly fine and lovable pets who very much want a home of their own.

We welcome you to get acquainted with our ‘dear ones’ who tend to get lost among the throng of cute kittens and puppies, or “normal” animals; these are animals who just need a little more exposure and focused attention to find their forever home.

Who do we consider a "special needs" or “overlooked” pet? A pet that has always been the one left behind, or who is physically or emotionally challenged in some way, or who has an impairment or limitation of one or more of its abilities—but not in its most important ability: the ability to give and receive love.

If you consider adopting one of these pets, we ask that you make a decision with your head and not just your heart. Some of these pets will require more attention, time, love, and in some instances money, than the average household pet.

Remember, when looking for a pet for adoption, consider one that is special. You will surely find a wonderful pet.


As of January 2015, the Riley County Humane Society will celebrate 40 years as a non-profit, all volunteer, no-kill humane society and foster network. We are lucky enough to be celebrating thousands of “Happy Endings” for animals and their owners over those years.

However, in that time we have also come across many animals that due to medical or emotional difficulties have had only a slim chance of finding their “Forever Homes”. Luckily, these special cats and dogs are in the homes of caring foster volunteers, who monitor their well being, and lovingly accept them into their families so that they can enjoy a good quality of life within their medical and social limitations.

Between the cost of the regular medical care given to all our new arrivals, and the ongoing cost of our special pets, medical bills routinely run well over a thousand dollars each month. In order to offset some of our medical costs, we are launching a “Guardian Angel” sponsorship campaign and a “Special Needs and Overlooked Pets” adoption campaign.

The Challenges

Special needs cats and dogs get passed over because potential adopters fear their disability will make them harder to care for, even though for some animals it makes very little difference at all!

Special needs animals can make terrific pets, often with normal life spans and minor accommodations in care routines. Overlooked pets may be shy or under socialized cats that do not show well in an adoption event or in-store shelter environment or they may be dogs who need time to establish a trusting relationship with a human guardian.

These dogs and cats would normally be considered “unadoptable” by most shelters, but thanks to RCHS and our wonderful foster volunteers, they have a chance to find a home of their own.

Diabetic Animals

Feline Diabetes occurs in about 1 in 400 cats. Canine Diabetes occurs in about 1 in 500 dogs. Treatment may be a low carbohydrate diet, or insulin injection. Untreated, diabetes can lead to cataracts, increasing weakness in the legs, malnutrition, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and death.

The condition is usually treatable and does not necessarily impact the quality of life or life span of diabetic pets.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)

Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) affects development of the cerebellum, leaving a kitten with permanent motor and muscle control difficulties. Some call these kitties “wobblers”. When kittens with CH are faced with the normal challenges (e.g. ., learning to use the litter box, competing with other cats for food, climbing stairs, etc.), they are just as quick as other kittens at figuring out “what” they want to do. However, it takes them a little longer to gain the physical skills to do it. They can improve in motor skills as they get older, but they will remain, at least, somewhat uncoordinated in their movements for life.

They are otherwise normal and healthy and have a normal life expectancy. While they have to work harder than other cats for everything they do, they typically don’t need special accommodation unless it is for litter box access or protection from tumbling down stairs. Most CH kittens, however, learn to handle both stairs and litter boxes just fine.

Late Rescue Kittens

The ideal age for kitten rescue is under 6 weeks old. At this young age, kittens have a very good chance of forgetting mother-taught-fear of humans and becoming loving, affectionate pets. Sometimes, RCHS ends up fostering kittens that were rescued after the age of 6 weeks. We’re pretty good at judging kitten age, but we can make mistakes. Also, we’re just too soft-hearted to say no.

We find that these “late rescue” kittens are more difficult to socialize. They are likely to be human shy, dislike handling and frequently hide. RCHS works to help them get accustomed to living with people. Our foster volunteers pay special attention to them, carefully and patiently coaxing them to come out and play – even if just for a minute or two.

The special needs of these “late rescue” kittens are for acceptance and understanding. These kittens weren't raised knowing people – they were raised to stay away from them. They are fine with other cats and not aggressive. They just may not act affectionately at first.

Their adoptive family’s patience will be rewarded with their eventual trust. Once an adopted kitten of this temperament realizes that they are “home” in a place where they get regularly fed, they will naturally come out and socialize with their “family”. However, they may never like being picked up, and they will probably choose to move to a hidden spot whenever you have visitors.

Elderly Animals

Older pets are sometimes the hardest to place, but the rewards are great for the person who can provide

Whatever their situation may be, elderly dogs and cats are looking for a heart to claim, and a lap to call their own.

Abused Animals 

Abused animals may have been 

Abused animals can be skittish and distrustful of humans. These dear ones need a safe and comfortable environment where their physical and emotional needs are met consistently for some time before they come to trust their new surroundings. Structure will allow them to thrive and be less anxious.

Many abused animals settle into a new home with relatively few problems; once they know they can trust and love again they can form strong and deep bonds which many people find especially rewarding. To share this bond with an animal that has been abused can be a humbling an awesome experience.

Black Cats and Dogs

Black cats and dogs are often overlooked in shelters, on Petfinder pages, and at adoption events. Perhaps it’s that they don’t photograph well, or perhaps it’s a centuries old human superstition.

Disabled or Disfigured Animals & Amputees

We sometimes foster dogs, cats, puppies and kittens with physical disabilities (e.g., a missing limb or eye); we don’t consider these pets to have “special needs”. They are simply a bit more vulnerable and sometimes need accommodation. They make fine house pets; as quirky and lovable as any others.

Adoption Options

Want to adopt one of our overlooked or special needs pets? Visit our Adopting a Pet page.

Click here to see Special Needs Pets Available for Adoption and to hear their stories.

Click here to see Overlooked Pets Available for Adoption and to hear their stories.

Become a “Guardian Angel”

Because of their unique circumstances, some of these special and dear ones may never find homes of their own. However, you can help brighten their days by making an annual or monthly sponsorship donation to help cover the extra veterinarian care, special accommodations, medicine, food, etc. that a special cat or dog will need to live happily.

If you would like to be a “Guardian Angel”, you may select an animal from our Special Needs or Overlooked Adoptable Pets pages above. Once you have selected your special cat or dog, complete and submit the “Guardian Angel” sponsorship form located here and you will receive a certificate with a photo of your special animal.

Any level of sponsorship is welcome. A sponsorship donation of $20 a month helps to support basic expenses such as food, and routine medical care. You can also donate additional dollars to cover other expenses including veterinary exams, blood work, vaccinations and dental work.

If a sponsored animal finds their forever home, its “Guardian Angel” can select another animal to help and support. Every adoption provides an opportunity to save another animal in need!

The “Guardian Angel” program is a wonderful, personal way to truly help these precious animals while RCHS keeps them safe and loved until they find their “forever homes”. You can sponsor as many cats and dogs as you wish.

Become a “Foster Angel”

In order to continue to help special needs pets we need foster parents willing to foster these little ones and provide the love and care they deserve (without incurring the medical costs of the pet's special needs).

If you think you might be a “Foster Angel”, please click here to complete a Foster Home Volunteer Application and be sure to tell us of your desire to help our Special Needs animals.