Accessible and affordable spay/neuter services, humane education, improved access to veterinary care, and programs to protect wildlife and public health remain vitally important to communities.
Shelter-based, in conjunction with, community-based programs work to reduce the number of free-roaming cats in communities as well as better serving cats in shelters and those that enter the shelter.
By removing barriers to adoption, for example, sterilized, vaccinated cats are placed into homes that might otherwise have obtained an intact cat from another source. Bridges are built between shelters and cat owners so that if there is a problem, the shelter can help find a solution and reduce the likelihood that the cat will be abandoned to contribute to the free-roaming cat population.
For un-owned cats, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and Return-to-Field (RTF) programs help to stabilize populations around existing food sources and can reduce the number of free roaming cats over time. This may explain the decrease in cat intake seen in communities where these initiatives are in practice.
Read: High intensity sterilization of free-roaming cats reduces populations with least death of cats
The experience of numerous shelters has also demonstrated that balancing feline intake with each shelter’s capacity for humane care and appropriate outcomes doesn’t just serve cats within the shelter better. It also:
- Improves staff working conditions and morale
- Results in better care and outcomes for dogs as well as cats
- Enhances the shelter’s standing in the community
- Allows more effective use of resources
All these factors combine to allow shelters to better care for animals within the shelter while also reducing the presence and impact of free-roaming cats outside the shelter’s walls. When we can stop investing resources in a futile cycle of impoundment, holding and euthanasia of cats, we are better able to meet the needs of all animals and the people who care about them.
Community Cat Programs
Operation Catnip of Gainesville
Operation Catnip is a nonprofit organization offering free spay/neuter surgery and vaccines for unowned free-roaming community cats in Alachua County. Clinics are run entirely by volunteers and are capable of sterilizing over 200 cats in a matter of hours.Operation Catnip of Gainesville has evolved to become a model for TNR clinics all over the world.
The Million Cat Challenge
MCC encompasses five key initiatives to balance intake, humane capacity within the shelter, and live outcome all with the goal of giving shelters the tools to evaluate, for each individual cat or kitten, whether intake to the shelter is the best choice now, later, or not at all, given the choices available for that shelter and community at that moment in time.