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Understanding Managed Intake

 What is Managed Intake?

We all realize that there are cats everywhere.  For decades, cats have not been the focus of sheltering and spay/neuter efforts. State laws are often called "Dog Laws" and some shelters are still called "Dog Pounds". As a result, cats have been allowed to freely and reproduce frequently. When people, and now some shelters, began abandoning them to the streets, the vast majority of these cats were unfixed.

Today, there are easily more unowned cats than dogs. Shelter intake should therefore represent that. But with the current Managed Intake (Capacity For Care) animal sheltering model, shelters are encouraged to NOT intake healthy cats. Under this approach, even if a cat is abandoned to the streets, the cat will fare better than if it went to a shelter. If you find kittens, leave them where they are because the mother is probably nearby. After all, cats don't do well in shelters (dogs do?).

Out of sight, out of mind.

If shelters took in every cat presented to them, many would have much higher euthanasia numbers because if the huge homeless cat population. That drags down the Live Release Rate of shelters.

Getting more cats (both owned and unowned) spayed and neutered is the only way to bring this overpopulation back under control. It won't be immediate though because of decades of missteps on the treatment of cats.

Animal sheltering should include cats too!

Orange Tabby Cat
Cat Stretching on Sheets

When an Animal Shelter Uses Managed Intake, What Does That Tell Us?

It tells us that that more animals are being brought to the shelter than what they can handle. They may not have room. They may not have funding.

In the past, shelters would euthanize them. But with the push from the no-kill movement, this option is often a last resort now. It is better to deny help to homeless animals (and risk that they will be abandoned on the streets) than to kill them. 


Shelters want to be reach no-kill status, which means that they have at least a 90% placement rate for the animals in their care (Live Release Rate). Euthanasia is used only as a last resort, when an animal is suffering from an irreparable medical or behavioral condition. Some shelters sadly face too many homeless animals and too few options.

There is also no national organization that determines what is no-kill actually is. And with no uniform data reporting in place to determine who is no-kill, each shelter determines it based on how they do their numbers.

Through a no-kill focus, shelters have increased adoption rates. But some still face more homeless animals than they can handle. The answer is, as it has always been, focus on spay and neuter to humanely reduce animal intake. Do what is best for the animals, not what is easiest for the shelter.

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