Saving the lives of 1 million cats in North American animal shelters alone over the course of five years seemed like an audacious goal, but in just two years the Million Cat Challenge is halfway there.
Founded back in 2014 by veterinary faculty members Kate Hurley of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and Julie Levy of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, the Million Cat Challenge will hold an Internet celebration tomorrow, Monday, to mark reaching its milestone with the nearly 400 participating shelters.
The challenge was designed to dramatically decrease the rate of euthanasia of cats by helping animal shelters implement five key initiatives.
“From the far north of Alaska to the southernmost cities on the East Coast of the United States, this is a social movement we’ve been waiting a long time to see,” Levy said. “The Million Cat Challenge is a map for change.”
Shelters, which have made the challenge available to all cat lovers within their communities, have taken the Million Cat Challenge to the half-million milestone more quickly than anyone could have predicted, she said.
Levy and Hurley are both certified pioneers in the study and practice of shelter medicine.
“We’ve learned to design better facilities, optimize operations and market adoptable pets and services more creatively,” Hurley said. “Most importantly, we’ve found new ways to engage the community as our partner in lifesaving.”
Maddie’s Fund, a leading animal welfare foundation, provided the financial support for the challenge which took the conversation from a dream to a reality that has already changed the animal sheltering landscape.
“The lifesaving work of the Million Cat Challenge and the mind-shift they are creating is extraordinary,” said Amy Zeifang, Maddie’s Fund board chair and executive leadership team. “Through the efforts of their participants, more than 500,000 lives have been saved so far, with the goal of 1 million — or more — clearly in sight.”
In celebration of 500,000 feline lives that have been saved, participating shelters, supporters and animal lovers everywhere are now invited to join the challenge on its Facebook page at on Monday at noon PST. Confetti, a celebratory video and kittens galore will be part of the festivities as supporters gather to watch the Million Cat Counter roll over.
“We’ve reached a tipping point; nobody wants to turn back now,” Hurley said. “Shelters now have strategies that are more humane, are more effective and better serve cats and communities. These strategies really work, and on April 11, we’ll have 500,000 witnesses to prove it.”
Follow the Million Cat Challenge on Facebook!