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Sanctuaries: No Place for Feral Cats

Placing feral cats in facilities for long-term periods, including sanctuaries and long-term no-kill shelters, is not in the best interests of the cats nor is this approach helpful in addressing populations of feral cats in the United States.

Sanctuaries, and other long-term shelter facilities, are generally harmful to feral cats. The confinement, and large number of cats in small rooms or areas, cause stress to the animals and introduce them to disease.

Additionally, cat sanctuaries face a number of obstacles: financial, capacity, and medical challenges for the animals.

Cat sanctuaries are extremely expensive to build and maintain. The money spent to house a few hundred cats could be used to neuter potentially thousands of feral cats. The act of neutering would have a greater impact on improving individual lives and the lives of the overall feral cat population.

These facilities tend to fill up very quickly. They only care for a relatively small amount of animals for an extensive period of time. Without addressing the outdoor feral cat population with a Trap-Neuter-Return program, the remaining population will continue to grow.

We recognize that there are exceptions to every rule, but a number of sanctuaries are forced to close their doors every year due to insufficient funds or an inability to properly care for the cats in the existing confined space.

Read our case study of a feral cat sanctuary to learn more about the complications of maintaining a sanctuary.

“[C]are-for-life in sanctuaries is recognized as the most expensive and least efficient method of population management. Most sanctuary programs that permanently house a large number of feral cats also have an active TNR program because the sanctuaries are filled to capacity.”
Levy, Julie K. and P. Cynda Crawford. Humane Strategies for Controlling Feral Cat Populations. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2004, 225(9): 1354- 1360.

“We hear sad news too regularly of a sanctuary or small rescue group that has failed. Some­one else, such as a nearby humane society, has to step in and try and rescue the animals."
Best Friends Animal Society