Cat in Grass

The SNR program at the San Jose Animal Care Center keeps thousands of cats in their outdoor homes and out of the shelter

When Alley Cat Allies visited the San Jose Animal Care Center earlier this year, all the adoptable cat cages were empty. Each cat had been adopted or returned to their outdoor home. This should be every shelter’s goal!

In most shelters, cats fill all or most of the cages, which leads to more cats being killed for space, and drains shelter resources and taxpayer dollars. Many cats brought to shelters are community cats, who are not socialized, or friendly toward people, and are not adoptable.

The difference in San Jose is its Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR) program, which has kept thousands of cats out of the shelter since 2009. With SNR, community cats who are brought to the shelter are spayed and neutered, vaccinated, eartipped, microchipped, and returned to their outdoor homes.

Shelter staff said the facility had transformed to fit the needs of the SNR program, and that led to its success.

“We’ve had some of the program’s original cats come back into the shelter for a checkup this year,” said Lorance Gomez, shelter coordinator. “These cats are safe and happy living outdoors. Why keep them in the shelter when we can just take them back to where they’re already at home?”