A national animal welfare group is praising a local animal shelter for its near perfect record for saving local cats and kittens.
Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization, recently released its so-called "no kill" data, saying Oregon reduced its overall animal shelter deaths of dogs and cats by 1,163 in 2020, compared to the previous year.
Of particular note was Sherwood's Cat Adoption Team, which boasted an "astounding" 99.27 percent save rate for cats in its care last year, according to the organization.
"This was a monumental year for cats and dogs in America's shelters," said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. "We saw communities, shelters, and individuals step up for animals in ways we couldn't have imagined, and now we are closer than ever before to achieving our goal of no-kill by 2025."
While appreciative of the call out by the national organization, Karen Green, executive director of the Cat Adoption Team, said the shelter doesn't use "no kill" terminology. She said they only use euthanasia the same way a pet owner would, not as a population management tool.
"We made a decision as an organization, not to use the term 'no kill' because there's not a universal definition of what it means and it can be kind of divisive," she said. She said she understands that other shelters are working under different situations that might require them to take in all stray animals where CAT might not be able to take in a specific animal because they can't guarantee they can give it everything it needs.
"That allows us to say, 'Hey, we can't take care of this cat' if we don't think we're going to be able to provide for it," said Green. We're able, fortunately, to care for a lot of cats with a lot of really challenging needs."
That means having the ability to take in such animals as senior cats and cats with medical issues, she said.
Founded in 1998, CAT is the largest all-cat shelter in the Pacific Northwest.
Green said, as a whole, the Portland metro area has a stellar live-release rate. In 2020, it was 95.27 percent for dogs and 94.6 percent for cats.
"It's exceptionally high, especially for cats in a metro area our size," she said. "We've had good numbers in our shelter for a long time. The goal is always to try and just look at the whole family and what we're really excited about is the progress we've been able to make as a whole community in the Portland metro area."
Also highlighted in the Best Friends Animal Society report was the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend, which achieved a save rate of 92.2 percent in 2020.
Because of COVID-19, fewer cats came though CAT in 2020 with only 2,500 coming through, compared to the previous year when an estimated 3,600 came through. In a normal year, cat populations at the shelter run between 3,000 and 3,500, Green said. The majority of those cats are in foster care at any given time.
Over the weekend, CAT held its wildly popular Kitten Palooza online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Considering that it was the hottest weekend on record for Portland, Kitten Palooza went great!" said Green. "We had 83 adoptions, which is a lot of happy kittens and families."
Still, CAT has 250 kittens available for adoption. That's not typical, but the hot weather may have played a part, Green said. And there's likely more to come since it's still early in the kitten season.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.