The Extent of the Cat Tragedy
“One-thousand, five-hundred, seventy-six dead.” If that were people, it would be a tragedy of historical proportions. But its “just cats”, so no one takes notice. In 2012, over 1,500 cats were euthanized in Walton County Georgia alone; a rural county of only 82,000 people. Imagine what is happening in the larger metro-Atlanta shelters!
Each year, the “cat impound spike” begins in May and tapers off in November. Our small shelter can experience 300+ cats in one month during the peak. All summer long, within an hour of opening the doors in the morning, our adoption area is full and euthanasia room is loaded with cats in traps and cages. It is hard to fully explain the non-stop cat euthanasia all summer long.
Even though the high intake includes feral cats, there is just no way to turn around that many cats quick enough, so many of the friendly cats are euthanized as well. People bringing in boxes of kittens are sure that “they are just so cute they will find homes, right?” Little do they realize, they just turned in the fifth box of kittens already that day!
There are several factors that attribute to tragedy, including the sheer high numbers of cats that enter the shelter system. A big piece of the solution lies in low cost spay/neuter clinics and TNR programs. But the focus of this article is to increase the rescue rates for cats that do enter the system. Compared with the dogs, the rescue rate for cats is pitiful. In 2012, licensed rescue groups saved only about 200 cats from our shelter while over 80% of the cats were euthanized.
While there are almost 80 Georgia licensed rescue groups on file with our shelter, the majority of those rescues (138 cats) were rescued by one group, Pound Puppies N Kittens. PPNK started out as a dog rescue, but over the years has built a successful cat rescue program. In 2012, nearly 50% of their adoptions were cats. It can be done!
While we are extremely grateful for the number of dog rescues, we hope to see more rescues incorporate cats into their rescue and adoption programs. Yes, new cat rescues could be started, but existing dog rescues already have many procedures in place, websites set up, adoption centers located and events planned. Instead of reinventing the wheel, why not begin to incorporate cats into the existing rescue program? Poll the existing fosters and see who may be able to take in a cat from time to time; look for new cat fosters for the group; add a few housing crates to the remote adoption center for a cat or two.
If just 50 of the 80 Georgia licensed rescues on file with our shelter take in only 4 cats each per year (just one cat every 3 months), our cat euthanasia rate would drop from the current 83% down to 71%. That isn’t saving them all, but those 200 cats would still be alive!
A LETTER FROM A SUCCESFUL DOG AND CAT RESCUE GROUP