You see a stray cat and it looks hungry and alone. You want to help it but how? You figure your local animal shelter would be the one to call because they help and shelter these poor creatures, right? You are most likely WRONG.
Shelters often encounter the situation where there are not enough spaces for all of the homeless companion animals. When a cat enters through these doors and especially if the cat appears untamed, its chances are slim of ever leaving alive. This cat could be exhibiting sings of fear from being in a new and uncertain environment. It doesn’t matter - most often the cat is assumed to be a street cat and is sentenced to death.
So how do you help the cat then? This leads us into shelter reform.
Each year, millions of cats die in our shelters, costing not only many lives but much money too. It has been proven over and over that it is MORE costly to euthanize a cat than to trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TVNR) it – and LESS humane. This trap-and-kill method has been used for decades. Yet during this time, the actual number of outside cats has only grown. This means simply the method of trap-and-kill has failed miserably.
TVNR is the sole alternative. Along these lines, let me introduce you to the Million Cat Challenge, a project started in 2014 by Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida & UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, sponsored by Maddie's Fund. The Challenge is led directors of the shelter medicine programs, Dr. Julie Levy and Dr. Kate Hurley.
According to the Million Cat Challenge website, this project is “a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of one million cats in North America over the next five years. The core strategy of the campaign is five key initiatives that will offer every shelter, in every community, practical choices to reduce euthanasia, increase live outcomes, and assure humane care for every cat in the shelter.”