If you walk into any shelter that takes in cats, it doesn’t take long to notice how many cats are in their care. How many adult cats that once had a home, a family, a warm place to sleep to call their own. It is just overwhelming…
Why are there so many kitties? The economy and aging population play a very small role in this. The sad answer to the question is this – although cats are America’s favorite pet, outnumbering dogs by 15 million (according to the AVMA), they are the most likely to be relinquished to animal shelters. Too many people don’t get that the cute little kitten could be a 15- to 20-year commitment and in our disposable society dump them and move on.
Here’s another staggering number for you. Tree House Humane Society is in the midst of a trap neuter return program in Chicago’s Humboldt Park. An astounding 65 percent of the cats they trapped last year are friendly strays – 65 percent. As they’ve canvassed the neighborhood, someone has usually been able to pinpoint where the cat used to live before being dumped by his or her family. Even the folks at PetSmart Charities that are providing the grant money for the program were shocked by that statistic.
Many TNR programs do just that – Trap, Neuter, Return. For Tree House, feral cats fall into the TNR part of the program, but strays do not. They are given a second chance and finding a permanent home. The organization took in 300 cats off the streets through its TNR efforts last year.
Those 300 cats were fortunate to have been taken in by a no kill shelter that considers them “Tree House Cats” for life. That means they will live there until they find a home and will come back if the need to find another home. It also means that those cats didn’t end up at Chicago Animal Care and Control or another open admission shelter where adoption prospects are dim and where many adult cats especially don’t make it out. Tree House is working on building more partnerships with foster homes and boutique pet shops to help more kitties find homes.
My goal this year in this blog and in the Examiner has been to shed more light on the plight of cats in our community. As the cat lady of my neighborhood, I’ve failed on that front so far in 2012.
The dogs have taken over – with pit bull controversies, parvo and puppy mill stories – for the first few months. But, that is changing. Next week I’ll be focusing on a new suburban group that is working on FIV education/adoption and rehoming black cats. We’ll also look at TNR efforts in Lake County and update you on events in the city.
In the meantime, please forgive a typo or two on my blog – like may animal lovers I get all kinds of furry help when I write…and the cats never did too well in editing class. So, meow for now. The Blog is back and check out my stories next week on the Examiner.