For decades, the prevailing wisdom in the United States was that cats should be indoors–even if that meant killing millions of outdoor cats, and even though cats have lived outdoors for thousands of years.

Alley Cat Allies works with shelters around the country to implement lifesaving programs for all cats. There are thousands of shelters and animal control agencies, both government operated and private, responsible for the care of animals. Through our impact and tireless work, humane approaches like Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) have been adopted by shelters across the nation and continue to spread. Communities are increasingly realizing that the shelter system can do things differently and act compassionately, and benefit all the more.

By helping shelters rewrite their ordinances and protocols and educating shelter staff and animal control on humane programs, we’ve transformed shelter operations, maximized their positive outcomes for animals, and helped them finally build trust within their community. Today, many shelters across the country serve as examples of how shelters can foster policies and programs that save cats’ lives rather than kill them in a needless, endless cycle.

There is still far more work to do. Many shelters still utilize antiquated animal control systems that default to rounding up cats, including community cats who are unowned, live outdoors, and are generally not adoptable. Without the right programs or support, these cats are often killed. This lethal, ineffective approach is out of line with the humane values of society. A Harris Interactive Poll found that 81% of the American public prefers humane approaches that allow community cats to remain in their outdoor homes over those that bring them into shelters only to kill them.

The need for our programs is extensive and there are shelters in every state who need our help to restructure. Many communities also have ordinances that reinforce or require tragic outcomes in shelters, and we work to change those laws. Alley Cat Allies works directly with shelter staff, animal control officers, municipal leaders, advocates, and citizens to help shelters change course once and for all.