While money, time, and allergies are often deciding factors when choosing whether or not to adopt a cat, one issue that plagues adoption centers is perspective. Many families choose not to adopt simply because the cats that they see in overcrowded shelters do not fit their idea of a perfect pet. Changing the perspective of these individuals means higher adoption rates and lower euthanasia rates.
Nobody knows this better than the founder of the famous Oakland rescue Cat Town, Ann Dunn. While in college, Dunn had no interest in visiting or volunteering at rescues. However, after finding a stray cat one day and beginning to volunteer at Oakland Animal Services, she found a new perspective. She realized that the current model of potential adopters visiting shelters to find a cat simply led to many cats who were uncomfortable in that particular setting being euthanized.
It was because of this epiphany that she founded Cat Town. The rescue soon developed into a “cat café,” where cats are not kept in cages but can play freely while customers enjoy coffee. This provides a more realistic perspective as to which cats will mesh with which families. It turned out to be a massive success, and Dunn has enlisted the help of hundreds of volunteers.
Most importantly, it has allowed for over 1500 cats to be adopted rather than put down. The euthanasia rate at Oakland Animal Services has dropped to one-third of its rate in 2011. In fact, the café has become such a massive success that Dunn has recently begun preparing to expand the facilities.
While there are many important considerations to keep in mind before adopting a cat, one of the largest barriers is the simple fact that being viewed in a small cage is not a realistic depiction of how a cat truly behaves. Organizations like Cat Town are changing the way people view cats that would normally be seen in crowded shelters. The playfulness and loving nature of these felines is better viewed when they are free, and the results simply speak for themselves. Hopefully, more communities will have individuals like Dunn come forward and establish cat cafes in more areas.