One of my biggest challenges as Director is to see animals who struggle in a shelter setting – either by becoming extremely fearful and shut down or aggressive, and not having options for them outside of the shelter where they could show their true personalities. There is a limit to what we can do for these animals within the Shelter. It can be especially difficult for surrendered cats. Many people assume that dogs have stronger bonds with their owners and would tend to be more devastated by being separated from their human companion and home. However, in my experience, cats, generally, become more shut down after being surrendered. There is a specific look of a cat that has been surrendered. They sit in the corner of their cage, crouched with a wide eyed, large pupil startled stare. These cats have a such a strong bond to their person(s) and home that they have no idea what to do when they are separated from everything they know. They often stop eatting, using the litter box and don’t respond to touch. I’ve found that dogs tend to cope more by reaching out to the next person they meet, trying desperately to have a new connection; whereas, it takes many surrendered cats a long time to process this change and allow themselves to create a new bond. There is only so much we can do in a Shelter setting for these cats. We can work on socializing them, but it can take a long time and during this time, people tend to pass them over since they aren’t the ones rubbing up at the front of the cage. Instead, these are the kitties who are hiding under a blanket or hissing when anyone comes to look at them. Adopters look pass them and rescue organizations generally don’t take them into their programs.
This is where the new non-profit organization and 501c3- Cat Town comes in to help. Cat Town was founded by a core group of cat volunteers from Oakland Animal Services to find homes for scared/frightened and/or elderly kitties from Oakland Animal Services who have no other options for placement. Cat Town’s mission is to focus on these often overlooked kitties and get them into foster homes where they can get the attention and time they need to adjust to their new life circumstance and get adopted. I’m so excited about Cat Town and the opportunity this organization will provide for so many cats who didn’t have options before.