One reason the Million Cat Challenge encompasses multiple strategies is that not every initiative will make sense for every shelter. For some shelters, legislative obstacles or lack of resources will pose barriers to implementation. For others, one or another of the initiatives may not feel consistent with the shelter's mission or beliefs.
In some cases, there may simply be no need for some of the initiatives. For instance, a shelter that has ample resources to care for all cats coming their way may not need to worry about managing admission, but relies upon robust adoption and/or return-to-field programs to keep cats moving safely along. A shelter that serves primarily as a sanctuary may not be concerned about removing barriers to adoption, but could still benefit greatly from Capacity for Care.
Fortunately, the initiatives can work well singly as well as in concert. Starting with even one initiative can improve operations and build resources to expand life-saving efforts. For example, portalizing cages to bring a shelter within Capacity for Care can improve cat health and drop length of stay, freeing up time, money and medical team focus for other programs.
Alternatives to Intake and/or Managing Admission can stem the tide of cats entering the shelter, while Removing Barriers to Adoption and/or Return to Field can speed cats to an appropriate outcome instead of languishing in the system. In turn, any of these strategies can open up space to make Capacity for Care possible.
Although humane care and life-saving programs will always remain guiding priorities, the best means for each organization to get there will doubtless shift over time as communities, shelters and our own knowledge and understanding evolve. Whether using one initiative or all five, the Million Cat Challenge is an inclusive campaign which celebrates the efforts of all shelters to save more lives.