Million Cat Challenge: History In the Making

When I wrote about the launch of the Million Cat Challenge, in December 2014, I suggested that it “felt like something historic.”

“As if we’ve entered into a new era of animal sheltering where cats are concerned. This ambitious campaign promises to be a game-changer not just for the million cats it aims to save (over the next five years), but for sheltering itself.”

Well, here we are just 17 months later, and the Challenge is already surpassing the 500,000-cat milestone. Apparently, the future is now. Read more

L.A. Audubon President Renews Commitment to Shelter Killing

Promoting the Culture of Killing can’t be easy, what with public opinion strongly opposed to the lethal roundups of community cats [1, 2] and, more generally, the use of lethal methods as a shelter’s means of population control. [3] Nevertheless, there are those who persist.

Witness, for example, Travis Longcore’s comment on the Vox Felina Facebook page, left in response to my April 14th blog post, in which I argued that the injunction prohibiting the City of Los Angeles from supporting TNR—the result of a lawsuit in which Longcore’s Urban Wildlands Group was lead petitioner—is increasing the risks to the very wildlife and environment he claims to protect.

Longcore’s bar chart and references to statistics, extrapolation, and property rights were, I can only assume, intended to give the impression of a well-reasoned, comprehensive rejoinder. It was, in fact, nothing of the sort. Indeed, even a cursory examination suggests that Longcore’s reasoning is no better than his arithmetic. Read more

Book Buddies

No doubt some of you have already seen this photo—an adorable shot of young boy reading to a shelter cat nearly as big as he is—that lit up the Interwebs last weekend and into the early part of this week. It wasn’t until yesterday, though, that I learned of the story behind the picture. Read more

National Feral Cat Day Awards Program

National Feral Cat Day is still a month away, but the celebration is already well underway with Alley Cat Allies’ announcement of their National Feral Cat Day Awards Program. As the organization explains on the NFCD website, this year the awards are being used to recognize shelters that commit to implementing innovative policies for protecting community cats.

This year, our National Feral Cat Day® Challenge focuses on partnering with shelters to take strides to protect even more cats. And our National Feral Cat Day® Awards Program will support five shelters that commit to an official Feral Cat Protection Policy (FCPP), which means that they stop impounding feral cats, and support Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). There are many “blueprints” for saving cats’ lives, but the Feral Cat Protection Policy is the number one lifesaving program for cats. When shelters stop impounding feral cats, cat intake decreases, community buy-in increases, and lives are protected. Instead of impounding feral cats, also known as community cats, shelters can re-route them to TNR programs where they are neutered and returned to their colony.

Each of the five NFCD Awards Program winners will receive:

  • $5,000 in seed money to support your Feral Cat Protection Policy initiative.
  • Written protocol and standard operating procedures for implementing new programs and procedures.
  • Staff support and guidance from Alley Cat Allies as you launch this and other initiatives to save cats’ lives.
  • Increased visibility for your shelter through local promotional support and placement in Alley Cat Allies’ high-traffic news vehicles.

Know a shelter that’s doing right by community cats? Encourage them to apply—so that they can do even more! Applications can be found at the NFCD website. The deadline is right around the corner—midnight, Friday, September 20th.

Feline Shelter Intake Reduction Program FAQs

The timing was perfect—almost.

Not 10 minutes after I published yesterday’s post, I noticed a link posted by my friends at Stray Cat Alliance on the organization’s Facebook page. Beside the link was this not-so-subtle endorsement:


As I say, not so subtle. On the other hand, I couldn’t agree more. Read more

Monmouth County, NJ

It’s taken a very long time, but there is now an unmistakable momentum. At long last, shelters across the country are beginning to reconsider their long-standing policies about stray, abandoned, and feral cats.

Among the pioneers were, of course, Jacksonville, FL, and San Jose, CA, with their “Feral Freedom” programs. Late last year, Sutter County, CA, decided to, as The Sacramento Bee put it, “no longer accept healthy wild cats at its animal shelter.” [1]

And last week, the community of Chico, about 50 miles north of Sutter County, announced a similar move. According to the Chico News & Review, the city’s shelter “is instituting a new policy to not accept healthy stray, feral and surrendered cats” beginning the first of next month. [2]

“We’re starting to rethink and re-examine how to do animal care,” explained Tracy Mohr, a 35-year veteran of the animal-welfare business, and animal-services manager at the Chico Animal Shelter. Referring to feral cats in particular, Mohr told the paper: “They’re scared, stressed; they don’t want to be handled by people… Basically it’s a one-way trip for those cats.” [2]

Of course, that’s still the case in far too many shelters across the country. Witness last week’s story coming out of Monmouth County, NJ, for example. Read more

HAHF-Truths, HAHF-Measures, Full Price (Part 4)

Complaining of the impacts of free-roaming cats on wildlife and the environment, along with a range of public health threats, dozens of veterinarians in Hillsborough County, Florida, have banded together to fight TNR. Evidence suggests, however, that their real concern has nothing to do with the community, native wildlife, or, indeed, with cats. What the Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation is most interested in protecting, it seems, is the business interests of its members.

In Part 4 of this five-part series, I look at Hillsborough County Animal Services as the agency struggles to move from a 35 percent live-release rate to “no-kill” status—a task made all the more difficult by HAHF’s campaign against TNR.

As I like to tell anybody who will listen, there’s no evidence whatsoever that we’re going to kill our way out of the “feral cat problem.” While it may be impossible to prove a negative, Hillsborough County, Florida, does make for a compelling case study.

A Grim Past
“Even though it is Florida’s fourth-largest county,” explains Francis Hamilton, Associate Professor of Management at Eckerd College, in his 2010 paper describing “the development and ongoing process of a social change effort and collaboration” in Hillsborough County, “it has euthanized more animals than any other county in the state.”

“From 1996 to 2008, Hillsborough County Animal Services (HCAS), the county’s public shelter, euthanized about 82 percent (over 306,000) of its animal intake. In calendar year 2005, 73 percent of dogs entering the shelter were euthanized, as were 92 percent of cats.” [1]

In February 2007, Hillsborough County became one of four communities in the country targeted that year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as part of its Mission: Orange initiative. A team of outside consultants was deployed, tasked with “report[ing] on current programs” and “recommend[ing] areas ripe for change which could increase adoptions, while reducing shelter intake and euthanasia.” ASPCA committed $200,000 “to be invested in the area’s animal welfare community for each of the next three years.” [2] Read more

Failures at Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge

Because “feral” cats lack the social skills that would make them suitable adoption candidates, explains Nathan Winograd, director of the No Kill Advocacy Center, “there is no other animal entering a shelter whose prospects are so grim and outcome so certain.” [1] Sadly, even the best adoption candidates often don’t make it out alive, as Shirley Thistlethwaite reminded us recently on her blog YesBiscuit!.

In a three-part series beginning with last Tuesday’s post, Thistlethwaite describes (using documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) a number of disturbing cases involving cats at Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge. Among the “highlights” are instances of cats killed despite people stepping forward to adopt them, sick cats not receiving prompt medical care, friendly cats killed for being “feral,”* and any number of discrepancies in shelter records. Read more