The Million Cat Challenge encompasses five key initiatives to balance intake, humane capacity within the shelter, and live outcome:
Alternatives to intake:
Provide positive alternatives to keep cats in the home or community when admission to a shelter is not the best choice.
Schedule intake of cats to match the shelter’s ability to assure humane care and safe movement through the shelter system to an appropriate outcome for every cat.
Capacity for care:
Match the number of cats cared for at any one time with the capacity required to assure the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare for all cats in the shelter.
Removing barriers to adoption:
Expand the pool of adopters by removing barriers to adoption such as cost, process, or location.
Return to field:
Sterilize, vaccinate, and return healthy un-owned shelter cats to the location of origin as an alternative to euthanasia.
These initiatives were chosen because they have the potential to create major impact and offer choices for shelters of any size, budget, or intake type.
Shelters need not implement or embrace all five initiatives to participate in the challenge. Even one initiative can set the foundation for dramatic improvement. Each initiative can also lay the foundation for others, which can be implemented synergistically in any order. They can be implemented for only one cat, for a small pilot project, or in whole. Each step toward implementation, however small, will have value.
The overarching goal of the five key initiatives is to give shelters the tools to evaluate, for each individual cat or kitten, whether intake to the shelter is the best choice now, later, or not at all, given the choices available for that shelter and community at that moment in time. Once a cat is admitted, the goal is to give shelters of any size and budget the tools to assure humane care, provide the Five Freedoms for animal welfare, and match each individual cat with the most appropriate outcome, whether that is being reunited with the owner, adoption into a new home, or sterilization, vaccination, and return to the location of origin.
The initiatives within this campaign originated from the creativity, determination, and courage of many shelters and individuals. Widespread participation will be a foundation for success of the Million Cat Challenge. The participating shelters themselves will serve as a source of inspiration, mentoring. and leadership on a local and regional level. We also hope to engage the support of national partners representing all major animal welfare, protection, and animal control organizations.