Cat City: A New Hope for Cats
By Noel Daniel
Animals are more perceptive than we think.
It was a sunny afternoon, and shafts of light angled into the room full of scratch posts and climbable poles. But Dora, a downy black cat who’d been brought into Cat City to meet prospective pet owners, slid from the bench and hid in the shade of the furniture.
“She’s depressed,” remarked one of the shelter officers. “She was surrendered.”
Stanislaus County adopts out plenty of dogs. Most dogs are adopted within two weeks. In fact, Border Collies and puppies are adopted the day that they become available. But cats are a bit of a different story—which is why Annette Patton, the Executive Director of Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, decided she needed to do something.
Inspired by Sacramento and Oakland’s “Cat Towns,” Cat City was born. Cat City is a feline playroom in the same building as the rest of the animals. Those looking for a furry friend might just bond with a cat in its natural element, rather than simply pass one that’s looking dolefully through the bars of a kennel. And to increase the sense of comfort, just outside Cat City is a Keurig machine with a selection of coffee to choose from for a small donation.
“The whole thought is you come in, enjoy a cup of coffee, and play with the cats in the playroom,” Patton said.
A comfy little room with a wide window, a cup of coffee, and a friendly cat might just sound like a cat-lover’s dream— but it’s also an invaluable way to help cats like Dora re-find homes. Patton says that Cat City is meant to improve the number of cat adoptions. And it’s worked; cat adoption has increased since Cat City’s premiere. Since that fateful afternoon, Dora has been adopted, and an empathetic cat-lover with a cup of coffee just might have been the one to do it.
As of writing, there are fifteen adoptable cats in Stanislaus Animal Services, and they cycle out those very cats in Cat City. The playroom itself is open to the general public—there is no donation required to enter and bond with the kitties if you don’t wish to have a coffee. So what’s there to lose?
“Where else can you get a cat for $45 that’s spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated?” Patton asked.
Even though the cats don’t find forever homes as quickly as Patton would prefer, the adoption rate at Stanislaus Animal Services is still impressive. The assumption that they’re a high-kill shelter is one that Patton insists is simply “not true.”
“98 percent of dogs are adopted from the Adoption Center at the shelter,” said Patton.
On Fridays and Saturdays they’re especially busy, and can clean out nearly half of their adoptable animals. They’re trying to work on a process of first come, first served and they tend to show off when animals are becoming available, especially when they might be popular.
“Sadly, cats aren’t so popular in Stanislaus County,” Patton said. “But they do have a plan to work around that. Their program, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) has reduced the cat intake for Stanislaus Animal Services by 12 percent after TNR’s second year.”
Many are of the opinion that removing cats from an environment will reduce what might be considered a disruptively large cat population, but this could not be further from the truth. Removing cats will only create a “vacuum” that still more cats will come in to fill. This cycle is only broken by contacting TNR where they will spay/neuter the cats, notch their ear, and return them to their environment.
Those actively looking for kittens can drop back by Stanislaus Animal Services from May to October, as this is typically kitten season. The facility provides helpful offers like a free initial doctor’s visit for your animal.
They also have a low-cost vaccination clinic Monday through Friday from 9 to 10 a.m.— only $6 for a state law-mandated Rabies vaccine. It’s held at their 3647 Cornucopia Way, Modesto location.
For more information about Cat City, TNR, or Stanislaus Animal Services, visit their location (listed above), or call 209-558-PETS. Or visit their website at www.StanislausAnimalServices.com.