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The Million Cat Challenge Has Reached Its Five-Year Goal of Saving a Million Cats a Year Early

Million Cat Challenge
Million Cat ChallengeZhang Jing / EyeEm/Getty Images

Cat lovers have plenty to celebrate! The Million Cat Challenge has reached its goal of saving a million shelter cats in five years a year ahead of schedule.

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After more than 1,000 animal shelters in North America joined forces to save the animals, the campaign announced last week that it has exceeded that number just four years after the campaign’s launch. As of December 31, 2017, the shelters collectively saved a total of 1,148,129 cats.

“It would be hard to overstate how much this milestone means to cats and shelters in North America,” the challenge’s co-founder Dr. Kate Hurley of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program said in a press release. “We have complete baseline data for 1,075 animal shelters, and when you compare the year prior to the beginning of the Challenge to 2017 numbers, we saw the live release rate rise from 53 percent to 81 percent.”

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Hurley added: “We just proved the impossible, possible. Possible because shelters and communities of all types and sizes across North America worked together to make it happen.”

The campaign’s aim was to reach its goal by decreasing feline euthanasia rates, and they have gone down by 63 percent since the Million Cat Challenge was established in 2014. The campaign was launched with funding from Maddie’s Fund, which focuses on protecting companion animals.

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“That’s not just a million cats, but a million more cats saved than ever before, thanks to Maddie. What started as a seemingly audacious goal has snowballed into a movement that can change the face of animal sheltering forever,” co-founder Dr. Julie Levy said.

The campaign focused on five key initiatives to help shelters reach their goals in their communities. The initiatives included providing positive alternatives to keep cats in homes or the communities, helping them provide humane care in the shelters, making sure each shelter has the personnel necessary to care for the animals, making adoption easier, and sterilizing and vaccinating the cats before setting them free to reduce the population.

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