3 years into Million Cat Challenge, vets, shelters save 750,000 cats

Nearly 1,100 shelters have participated in the program founded by two veterinarians

It was an ambitious goal: Save one million cats in five years.

The coalition of animal shelters, veterinarians and animal welfare leaders only had one thing to say to that.

“Challenge accepted.”

And accept it they did. After announcing their goal in 2014, the more than 1,100 shelters in the Million Cat Challenge have saved nearly 750,000 cats in less than 3 years.

“Shelters across North America have truly risen to the challenge,” said Challenge co-founder Dr. Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM, who is also program director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. “They’ve proven that the creativity and determination to save a million more lives is right here in our midst — from the southern tip of Florida to the northern reaches of Canada. They’ve made it work in shelters of every imaginable shape and size.”

The challenge was able to get started thanks to financial support from the Maddie’s Fund foundation. It’s also been endorsed by nearly all major animal welfare organizations in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to Maddie’s Fund, the roster of organizations includes the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, Best Friends Animal Society, the National Animal Care and Control Association, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Petco Foundation, PetSmart Charities, Alley Cat Allies, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, and the Winn Feline Health Foundation.

“This is one of those moments in animal welfare when things change completely,” said the Challenge’s other co-founder, Julie Levy, DVM, of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. “Now that we all know this can be done, there’s no turning back. Saving cats’ lives is here to stay.”

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