New program aims to end killing of healthy cats in animal shelters

This little kitty is a community cat. (Sarah Ause Kichas, Best Friends Animal Society.)

Did you know that Texas is ranked No. 2 in the country when it comes to healthy cats that are killed in animal shelters?

It’s a surprising statistic, but one that can be brought down thanks to a program that wants to help more cats in animal shelters find loving homes, according to Best Friends Animal Society.

The cats that normally enter shelters in the Greater Houston area are community cats, which tend to be cats that prefer to live outdoors rather than inside a home, and they’re the most vulnerable to end up being taken to a shelter.

Best Friends Animal Society teamed up with Harris County Pets to start the trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) method, which has proven to be an effective way to save cat lives and humanely reduce the population over time.

“Working side-by-side with Harris County Pets staff, we would evaluate each cat and kitten that entered the shelter based on their history and medical condition and determine if they were a candidate for adoption or would thrive better as a community cat,” said Carrie Lalonde, a life-saving programs manager at Best Friends Animal Society in Houston. ”Community cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and then returned to the neighborhood or location where they came from — over the three-year period we were able to increase the save rate for cats at Harris County Pets from a 23.8 percent to 93.3 percent!”

Cats are killed at a much higher rate than dogs in animal shelters, so any kind of prevention to control the amount of community cats coming into shelters will help drop the amount that end up being killed, according to Best Friends Animal Society.

“Managing community cats is key to helping us reach our goal of ending the killing of cats in America’s shelters by 2025,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “These animals are the most at risk in our country, and it is critical that we have nationwide implementation of trap-neuter-vaccinate-return to manage cat populations effectively and save lives.”

Neutering these community cats will help stop the spread of unwanted litters and reduce nuisance behaviors, and vaccinating them will help slow down the spread of viruses and diseases. The program would also save taxpayer dollars by keeping cats out of shelters and ultimately reduces the number of cats dying in shelters, according to Best Friends Animal Society.

To find out more information about saving the lives of cats in shelters, you can click here.