The Million Cat Challenge , a joint project of the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, two of the premier shelter medicine programs in the world, with financial support from Maddie’s Fund®, launched in 2014 as a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of one million cats in North America over five years. When the more than 1,000 participating animal shelters across North America reached and exceeded that goal a full year early, an even bolder goal was conceived: #allthecats.
#allthecats means finding the right outcome for every cat who comes to a shelter, even if that “outcome” is never being admitted at all. It means building the community safety net so that many cats and kittens can get the care they need right where they are. It means providing sufficient space and humane care in the shelter so the cats that do come can be moved quickly and safely to the best possible result: Lost cats go back to their families, cats who have lost their homes are placed in new ones, and cats who are thriving in the community are spayed or neutered and returned to their outdoor home if possible, or placed in a working home if not. And it means that for cats whose suffering can’t be remedied any other way, euthanasia will be available with the most kindness and comfort that can possibly be provided.
We believe that shelters absolutely can achieve the best outcomes for #allthecats using the proven practices that are already saving cats’ lives all over North America. These innovative practices can be summed up in the five key initiatives of the Million Cat Challenge:
- Alternatives to Intake
- Managed Admission
- Capacity for Care
- Removing Barriers to Adoption
- Return to Field
Not every initiative is right for every shelter, but there’s something there for shelters of every size, with every budget, and in every type of community. What’s more, shelters taking part in the Challenge have faced the same obstacles as other shelters have, and the Challenge makes their valuable, real-world experience available to every Challenger.
We want your shelter to be part of this continued historic movement, and utilize all the knowledge, experience, data, and support the Million Cat Challenge has to offer. Visit the MCC Resources Center.
In the course of the Challenge, the MCC five key initiatives were refined and adapted to shelters of every size and type throughout North America and proven by over 3.5 million more cat lives saved by over 1500 Challenger Shelters. Then, we as a movement and a profession were invited to think even bigger. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to rethink business as usual, paradoxically allowing many shelters to reimagine what could be permitted and possible. At the same time, the call came for animal “sheltering” to shift focus from shelters to the surrounding community, with an increasing recognition that racial and social justice must be central to every aspect of our work.
Paralleling this (r)evolution, the Million Cat Challenge grew into the Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge (MMPC). The cat-oriented methods embodied in the Five Key Initiatives have been expanded to include other species at risk in shelters, and a greater focus has been placed on ensuring the people who care for and about those pets are able to access affordable veterinary care.