Million Cat Challenge: Because Every Cat Counts

Dr. Cynthia Karsten, DVM, Outreach Veterinarian
UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

Each year, millions of cats lose their lives in animal shelters. An enormous amount is invested in the capture, holding, and euthanasia of these animals, and the emotional toll exacted by their death is incalculable.

Finally, the opportunity for a “cat revolution” is at hand. It is now known that euthanasia of healthy cats in shelters can be replaced with programs that are dramatically more humane and effective for cats and communities alike. Shelters everywhere are hungry for this change.

 The Million Cat Challenge is a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of 1 million cats in North America over five years (2014-2019). The core strategy of the campaign are five key initiatives that are offered to every shelter, in every community, to provide practical choices to reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes for shelter cats.  These five key initiatives are alternatives to intake, managed admissions, capacity for care, removing barriers to adoptions and return to field.

Key Learnings:
1. Why and how the Million Cat Challenge was created
2. Have an understanding of the five key initiatives of the Million Cat Challenge and how they are working in communities across North America
3. How to join and be involved in the Million Cat Challenge


Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten, DVM
Dr. Karsten is the Outreach Veterinarian with UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Her main areas of interest include infectious disease control, population management, intake diversion programs and community medicine. She has participated in numerous game-changing shelter consultations at rural and urban, national and international animal care facilities, where she has assertively identified far-reaching solutions in the face of severely limited shelter resources.