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10 Things Your Shelter Should Be Doing for Cats in Its Care

1. Provide Quiet Time.

Provide a stress-free environment for every cat who comes into your shelter. Place a towel or blanket over the carrier or cage when animals first arrive, house cats away from dogs and other animals, and keep noise levels low.

2. Call the Doctor.

Make sure each cat undergoes a thorough health examination after the "cooling down" period is over, or sooner if the animal appears sick or injured. Vaccinate cats against upper respiratory infections and feline panleukopenia, and, if possible, evaluate them for the presence of diseases such as feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.

3. Clean up Your Act.

Clean cages at least once daily (see "How to Clean a Cat Cage"). This simple step is yet another way to prevent the spread of disease, and a great way to make your shelter more appealing to potential adopters.

4. Make a Home Sweet Home.

Give cats blankets, toys, a shoe box, clean litter, food, and clean water. Put a nametag on every door along with a short description of the resident's personality to increase the likelihood that a passerby will take a second look.

5. Talk to the Animals.

Spend time socializing animals daily to help make their stay as comfortable as possible.

6. Find a Quick Fix.

Make sure every adopted cat is sterilized. Practice early-age sterilization and follow up on adoption agreements to guarantee that no cat who leaves your facility will ever contribute to the overpopulation problem.

7. Practice What You Preach.

Make sure every cat who leaves your shelter wears a collar and ID tag. Microchips can be a helpful back-up, but collars and tags help reunite cats and their owners without requiring your shelter's involvement, saving valuable time and cage space.

8. Make It Fair.

Set adoption fees, licensing fees, and other fees at the same level for cats and dogs. To do otherwise is to send the message that cats are not as valuable as their canine counterparts.

9. Hold On.

Establish a minimum holding period for stray animals, preferably five full working days. (Hold cats with collars or other signs of ownership even longer, if possible.) Cat owners often take much longer than dog owners to seek their lost companion animals, perhaps thinking the cat is bound to return on his own. If your shelter can devote more cage space to stray cats, you may find your return-to-owner rates rise significantly.

10. Make for Quick Goodbyes.

When necessary, euthanize animals with an injection of sodium pentobarbital, administered by trained, compassionate staff. It's the most effective and humane method of euthanasia.


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