SHERIDAN — This year, Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue volunteers and employees spent their Christmas cleaning the shelter, with an unusually high number of cats still available for adoption by the end of December. Program director Rachel Kristiansen said the nonprofit’s Home for the Holidays initiative wasn’t as successful as in years past.
The SCSCR saw more than a 50% decrease in the number of cat adoptions during the month of December. The holiday season is typically a popular time for adoption anyway, but the shelter attempts to send as many cats home for Christmas as possible, Kristiansen said. Usually, it relieves some of the work burden from staff around this time of year too, she said.
“We’re not sure why adoptions are down so much,” Kristiansen said in an email to The Sheridan Press. “But we have a lot of amazing cats available for adoption, and we hope people come to adopt for the beginning of the new year.”
Even at capacity, her standards for adoptions don’t slip. A simple application and conversation checks that a renter’s landlord is on board with an adoption and shelter staff help an adopter find a cat with a compatible personality, Kristiansen said. SCSCR wants to be sure each adopter understands the time commitment of bringing home a new feline family member.
Beyond that, Kristiansen said she rarely turns away someone looking to adopt an animal.
Annie Baures said she and her family value animals as family members — they brought home two kittens from the shelter this month. Bringing animals into the family is a way Baures teaches her children love, responsibility and respect.
Baures said she chose to adopt through the SCSCR because of the work they do to support cats from all backgrounds and keep them healthy, including those that have been abused or need medical assistance. She wanted to support such a special community effort that keeps many animals from being euthanized, Baures said.
Despite the popular concern that some parents bring home a puppy or kitten for their children at the holidays and then return it when the reality of pet ownership kicks in, Kristiansen said she has seen very few cats returned after a Christmastime adoption in the past 10 years. It is more common for people to surrender a cat to the shelter on Christmas Eve, when cats become stressed by household festivities and new people, leading to behaviors that cause some people to give them up, she said.
Kristiansen attributed the decrease in adoptions this year partly to the popularity of receiving free kittens through Sheridan UpCycle and from neighbors with cats who have given birth on or near their property. Fewer people are coming into the shelter to adopt, which has placed a high work load on staff who are working to maintain a clean shelter with nearly 100 cats available for adoption as of Dec. 28.
“Which is fine, it’s our passion, but we really would like people to come in and adopt these homeless cats,” Kristiansen said.
One new mother, Ocho, came into the rescue pregnant. By her third night indoors, the petite 1 year old had given birth to eight kittens. When Kristiansen counted the kittens one morning to make sure she didn’t miss one in the bedding, she counted nine. It was remarkable that such a small cat could carry eight kittens, let alone nine, Kristiansen said.
SCSCR encourages anyone with cats to have them spayed and neutered. Even if a cat owner is confident they can find enough people to take four new kittens for free, that’s four kittens who may not be adopted out of the shelter, Kristiansen said. If more cats can be adopted from the shelter locally to allow space, Kristiansen plans to reach out to shelters around the state to assist with their capacity issues, which are leading to unnecessary euthanizations. Cats with treatable diseases like ringworm are being euthanized because there’s limited space, time and resources to care for the animal.
SCSCR has turned away some cats from other shelters because of their own work load. They are still trying to pull treatable animals off the kill-list when possible, she said.
“Once we get the population under control here in our community, then we can start helping the other communities,” Kristiansen said. “It’s hard for us because we know animals are dying. But we have our own limits as well.”