Million Cat Challenge reaches halfway milestone

April 19, 2016

UC Davis, University of Florida veterinarians partner with shelters to save feline lives.

Saving the lives of 1 million cats in North American animal shelters over five years seemed like an audacious goal, but in just two years the Million Cat Challenge is halfway there, according to a release from the University of California, Davis.

Kate Hurley, DVM, of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, of the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, founded the program in 2014 with a goal to dramatically decrease euthanasia of cats by helping animal shelters implement key initiatives. To celebrate reaching the halfway milestone, the Million Cat Challenge held an Internet celebration on April 11. Nearly 400 shelters currently participate.

Shelters, which have made the challenge available to cat lovers in their communities, have taken the Million Cat Challenge to the half-million milestone more quickly than anyone predicted, the Davis release reports. Levy and Hurley, both shelter medicine pioneers, worked to help shelters design better facilities, optimize operations, and market adoptable pets and services more creatively. “Most importantly, we've found new ways to engage the community as our partner in lifesaving,” Hurley says in the release.

Maddie's Fund, a leading animal welfare foundation, provided the financial support for the challenge.

“The lifesaving work of the Million Cat Challenge and the mind-shift they are creating is extraordinary,” says Amy Zeifang, Maddie's Fund board chairwoman. “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.”