Dominique's Story: A purrfect home for an FIV+ cat

Who are the cats who are saved by Million Cat Challenge shelters?

They are every cat – healthy or not, socialized or not, young or not – who finds a lifesaving, compassionate outcome because the shelter is using at least one of the five key initiatives of the Challenge.

Cats like Dominique.


Historically Yolo County Animal Services in California, a public animal shelter, had a cat live release rate of only 30 percent, with an adoption rate of only 11 percent. As recently as late 2011, it was also a shelter that would never have offered for adoption a cat positive for FIV. 

Now that cat live release rates are closer to 90 percent, the cats who come into Yolo have more time and options, even if they’re more challenging than others. That’s why Dominique, a stunningly beautiful, friendly cat with FIV, found her happy ending there.

In fact, says Dr. Cynthia Delaney, “Thanks to all of our programs following the Million Cat Challenge initiatives, not only did she find a home but she did it with a length of stay of only nine days!”

One of the most powerful of the Challenge’s five key initiatives is “removing barriers to adoption,” where shelters take a hard look at how they process, approve, and handle adoptions, and see if they can make the process more adopter-friendly so more pets can find loving homes.

Doing specialized outreach for FIV cats is how to remove one such barrier, especially for a shelter with a history of not adopting out these cats. So they went to work, sending out an appeal for an adopter for Dominique.

They described her personality – totally sweet – and her behavior – a cat who would purr and butt her head into anyone who petted her, and even would strike a pose when the camera came out!

She loved to be groomed, even allowing the shelter staff to remove many serious matts without complaint. In fact, she’d just relax and close her eyes and purr in bliss when being stroked and brushed!

Although she was found on the streets, standing on a window sill surrounded by broken glass, it was clear Dominique was used to being a beloved pet. She was friendly from the get-go and, because she seemed lost, shelter staff scooped her up and brought her in to the shelter for safekeeping – a secure harbor they were able to offer her because of increased space and resources resulting from the changes that had been made at the shelter leading up to that day.

Needless to say, Dominique found her perfect human in a matter of days, and she went home to be loved, petted, and adored, thanks to five new ways of doing things, one Million Cat Challenge, and an army of animal shelter workers and volunteers who knew things could be different for cats in their community!