Jamie, Abby, Braveheart, and Charlie: Saving a litter of love

Change is hard. It’s especially hard when animals’ lives are in the balance. But sometimes, change is the only way to save them!

When most people hear about animal shelters switching to an appointment system for surrendered pets, they’re worried. Will the pets just end up being abandoned if the shelter can’t take them in immediately? Will nearby shelters just get the overflow? How can this be a positive change?

Managed admission is one of the five key initiatives of the Million Cat Challenge, and it’s from those Challenge shelters using managed admission we’ve learned we don’t need to be afraid after all.

By working with the community to space out admissions to the shelter so every cat gets the help she needs, shelters are able to help more cats without an increase in abandonment or intake at neighboring shelters.

How does this magic work? The story of a very lucky litter of kittens tells the tale.

When the Erie County SPCA implemented a managed admission policy, they found that the community understood and supported their desire to help more cats. They maintained a safety net for cats who needed immediate help, worked with people having problems keeping their pets to see if they could turn the situation around (usually they could!), and were able to provide better care to more cats – cats like Jamie and her kittens Abby, Braveheart, and Charlie.


When a woman in the community found a very pregnant stray cat, she took her into her home, where she promptly delivered three kittens.

The Good Samaritan called the shelter, and the waiting list coordinator explained the different options available to her, and the support the shelter could offer.

She decided to put the cat and kittens on the waiting list, and care for them herself until the babies were old enough to be adopted. By doing so, her timing to surrender the cats was perfect for the kittens to be large enough for sterilization and for the momma cat to have completely weaned them.

The community member was so grateful to know space for the four cats was ready and waiting, and so impressed the shelter had in place such a great lifesaving program, that she made plans to take the whole kit-and-caboodle to the local spay/neuter clinic to have them all fixed on her own nickel, saving the shelter both time and money.

Other benefits to these cats awaiting admission included vaccinations and parasite control provided by the SPCA prior to being admitted, helping insure that the cat and kittens remained healthy once at the shelter.Best of all, the kittens were raised in a home with lots of love and attention, making them very social and easy to adopt. 

Without a managed admission program, even if this litter and their momma had been saved, it might have been at the expense of other cats and kittens already in the shelter. Because of this flexible, innovative approach, everyone was saved!