I have read a lot of posts by national animal sheltering groups and their affiliates, and by shelters also. Almost without fail, the posts are about dogs. For decades, dogs have been the focus of animal sheltering and I am happy that there was a focus on fixing them to control their numbers. Sadly, somewhere we let that focus slip and now shelters are faced with too many dogs and not enough positive outcomes. We chose transporting and transferring out as well as lower adoption standards as the answers to help our dogs rather than spay/neuter.
I keep reading and looking for these same posts to mention cats. Few do. In fact, we are now told the best we can do for cats is leave them on the streets. And the majority of these cats are unfixed, rapidly creating even more unfixed cats. We have so many homeless cats now there is no place for them to go. Because of the failure to focus on fixing cats, there are more than ever and we are past crisis levels with no relief in sight. The animal sheltering system has failed cats.
Remember, shelters don’t really want cats because they quickly reduce the shelter’s live release rate. Why? Because killing does that. There are not enough other options. It’s better to “divert” them to the streets and look good. How lame is that? It’s like raising a white flag of surrender signifying defeat.
Another thing that reflects the failure of our current animal sheltering view on cats is juvenile puppy/kitten) intake. (The definition of juvenile varies by shelter but is generally considered dogs and cats under five to six months old.) Through my research and analysis of over 350 US shelters, a threshold of 15% or less puppy intake compared to total dog/puppy intake is average. Kitten intake compared to total cat/kitten intake tells a far different story. This average is easily 45%-50%. That simply means for every three pups that enter a shelter, there are easily ten kittens. This is data most shelters don’t want us to see.
What does this mean? It says that while the focus of fixing dogs has resulted in fewer litters, that is NOT the case with cats. The results of years of shelter strategy that called for ignoring, killing and not fixing cats is now staring us in the eyes. Cats are everywhere and more are being born on our streets every day.
I don’t know about you but I cannot stay silent any longer on a sheltering system that has failed cats. Every shelter should fix any cat it refuses to intake. Do not tell me that the community must step up and help these cats because the community has been there doing just that. The community does trap-neuter-return (spay/neuter and vaccination) and pays for it out of their own pockets while shelters celebrate their no-kill status and high live release rates. That leads to more donations and accolades. All this for turning their backs on our cats.
You and I need to start the change. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind doesn’t work for cats any longer. We need to advocate for our cats. We had the above graphic designed as a start. Please share it on your Facebook pages, in groups and on websites. Let’s see how many shelters will display it too. Ask your local shelter and see if they support cats. Let me know what happens. We cannot be silent any longer.
Beth Frank is founder/president of Community Cats United, Inc, Fixfinder and Proactive Animal Sheltering. Beth has spent endless hours researching animal sheltering and analyzing shelter data from all over the US, including over 400 shelters. Click here to follow Proactive Animal Sheltering on Facebook.
Community Cats United, Inc. is a CommUNITY of over 96,000 including in all 50 US states and 127 countries.