Written by Becky Robinson
After one look at YouTube, it’s clear that cats are the stars of the Internet. However, this obsession is nothing new. The U.S. has long been a nation of cat lovers. Cats are America’s most popular pet — there are more cats in U.S. homes than dogs, and a third of households have at least one cat.
Given the country’s passion for cats, it’s no surprise that when the holidays roll around, many cat lovers pull out their wallets to donate to their local animal shelter. This is a great way to celebrate the giving season, but it’s important to research your shelter’s policies and ensure you are supporting life saving programs for cats.
An increasing number of animal shelters are reevaluating their policies and are successfully transitioning to save the lives of as many of the animals in their care as possible. But the majority of animal shelters continue to operate under archaic practices where the majority of cats who enter their doors are killed — regularly referred to as “euthanization” by the industry, though it doesn’t meet the true definition.
About 70 percent of all cats who enter U.S. animal shelters are killed there. When it comes to feral cats, who are not socialized to people and live outdoors, that percentage rises to nearly 100 percent.
Holding and killing these beautiful, healthy cats wastes a huge portion of shelters limited funding. These funds could, and should, be used to improve adoption and foster programs, educate the community, improve access to low-cost spay and neuter resources, and support Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for community cats.
TNR is being embraced by animal shelters and animal control departments across the country. In just the past decade, the number of municipalities with official policies endorsing TNR has increased tenfold.
As you’re preparing to donate to your local animal shelter, ask what steps they have taken to safeguard community cats:
• What policies do they have in place to protect community cats and keep them out of the shelter?
• Does your shelter support and practice Trap-Neuter-Return for community—feral, unsocialized—cats?
• Does your shelter recognize community cats and return them to their outdoor colony homes?
This holiday, make sure your donations reflect your values. As a donor and community member, your opinion matters. Let your shelter know what changes it needs to make to improve the community for cats and to get your donation.
This is a guest post from Alley Cat Allies
Photo credit: Thinkstock