Do You Know How Your Holiday Donations to Animal Shelters Are Being Spent?

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.

Read Alley Cat Allies’ toolkit for helping your local shelter transform its policies to save more cats.

This is a guest post from Alley Cat Allies

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris4 years ago

TNR is a good policy.

JO MUNZ4 years ago

Well said and to the point -- an informative and well written article -- What we individuals MUST do -- relentlessly stand up and come to the defense of cats -- let your legislators know that you care and are an animal lover and believe that shelters should continuously be working to help cats LIVE and help cats find that caring forever, comfortable home they so desperately need, want and deserve. What we want are TRUE NO-KILL shelters and rescue orgs. Write to your newspapers! Remember, legislators want to know how their citizens truly feel about issues. If we don't express our ideas, our values and morals, how will anyone know? Think about the cats and kittens in their cages who, like us, want to live -- how do they speak out? How do they shout out that their lives are at stake? What kind of society do we want to live in?

Christine W.
Christine W4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

William Meade
William Meade4 years ago

It does not help that in the UK and most other
places cats where never classed as working
animals so until new cruelty laws passed to cover
all animals only dogs and horses where covered

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

The shelters here accept toys and such as donations; however, the animals will not see them until they are adopted. What good is that. They said the toys just get dirty and in the way for cleaning. Not worth donating if they don't get them. I don't trust the shelters here to do TNR so I have done it myself for years.

Marie W.
Marie W4 years ago

Support free/ low cost spay neuter clinics. There are too few especially in Red states.

DIane L.
DIane L4 years ago

Wanted to add. Cats are second class citizens in the pet world. There are so many of them that they are considered less valuable than dogs.

DIane L.
DIane L4 years ago

Not all shelters can support community cats and TNR. The county has to agree and most have a policy that a free roaming feral cat can not be returned to it's home. So many people come into our shelter and say they just want these "things" out of there yards and if TNR were possible they would not want them back. We have created this problem of feral cats by throwing out unfixed cats when they are no longer wanted or letting their house cat breed. Mankind is just stupid and uncaring. Of course these cats would like a warm home but they are too afraid of people for this to happen. Probably with good reason.