Shelter Cat Campaign Surpasses Expectations

The Million Cat Challenge, a joint project of the University of California, Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, recently marked 250,000 cats saved.

The Million Cat Challenge, a joint project of the University of California, Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, recently marked 250,000 cats saved.

Million Cat Challenge

The Million Cat Challenge recently crossed the quarter-million mark in its efforts to help animal shelters save the lives of 1 million cats by 2019.

The campaign, launched in 2014, is a joint project of the University of California, Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. The campaign helps animal shelters implement five key initiatives to reduce feline euthanasia. These programs lower the number of cats coming into shelters, help prevent feline disease and suffering, manage the flow of cats into shelters and promote adoption, according to the campaign founders.

“We knew how hungry animal shelters are to save cats’ lives, so we designed the Challenge to give them the tools they needed to do it,” said Kate Hurley, DVM, of the U.C. Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. “Through their creativity, ingenuity, and determination, they’ve gotten us to a quarter million lives saved sooner than we ever expected.”

Dr. Kate Hurley of the U.C. Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

U.C. Davis

Dr. Kate Hurley of the U.C. Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.

With sponsorship from California-based foundation Maddie’s Fund and the support of North America’s leading animal welfare organizations, the Challenge has so far signed up 263 shelters throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“The Million Cat Challenge reached this milestone so quickly because our communities, and the shelters within them, have been transformed by a new energy and a new belief,” said Maddie’s Fund president Rich Avanzino. “The programs of the Challenge have made it clear that saving every healthy or treatable cat isn't just possible, but within our grasp today.”

To mark the milestone, the campaign posted a celebratory video on its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MillionCatChallenge) where participating shelters, supporters and animal lovers could watch the Million Cat counter roll over.

“Every year, millions of cats lose their lives in animal shelters,” said Julie Levy, DVM, Ph.D., of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. “Capturing, holding and euthanizing these animals costs a great deal in terms of resources, animal suffering and the incalculable emotional toll it takes on the humans involved. It’s time to celebrate saving lives instead.”

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