Shelter Wants To Get Cats Into Adoption Programs Faster

Apr 6, 2016

Animal Control Supervisor Jeff Doyle hangs out with Socks, who is enjoying space in a larger kennel, but ready for a forever home.
Credit Regan McCarthy / WFSU

Many of the cats that show up at the Tallahassee shelter don’t have owners and never did. Now city commissioners are considering an ordinance that would help those cats get into homes faster.

The lobby of the Tallahassee animal shelter is full of adoptable cats.  But animal control supervisor Jeff Doyle says that’s just temporary.

“Normally all of our adoptable adult cats would be here and the kittens would be in the front room, but right now we’ve moved all of our adoptable cats into the front lobby," Doyle says.

The shelter is undergoing a renovation, making room for larger kennels that give visiting cats more space.

"Not only are they bigger because the old ones were basically this size, but they weren’t even that tall. But it gives them a separate area for their litter box and it also gives them a little higher perching area and a separate bedroom area,” Doyle says.

Doyle says the changes should help to reduce stress on the cats, which can make them sick and hard to adopt. And he says that’s part of what an ordinance going before the city commission next week would do too. Currently shelter officials are required to hold any animal for six days before they can begin working to get that animal adopted. Under the proposed ordinance, that rule wouldn’t apply to cats without identification such as a microchip or collar. Doyle says while about 20 percent of the dogs brought into the shelter are reclaimed by their owners, cats seldom are. Often because they’ve never had owners.

“Cats historically were outdoors then we invented cat litter, people started bringing them in, but you have these existing cats that are out there. Some of them are cats that maybe somebody has moved and left, but often they are cats that just have been born outside, they never had an owner. They were born under somebody’s trailer or steps," Doyle says.

Doyle says there are plenty of resources for the so called roaming cats.

"If there’s food water and shelter they’re going to survive. And then they’re going to raise up and have a litter and then those cats are going to raise up and then over time, and this is not unique to Tallahassee, but there are a number of free-roaming cats in our communities,” Doyle says.

The roaming cats are brought into the shelter by good Samaritans. And even though there’s no owner coming to find them, the cats must wait six days before being considered for adoption. But Doyle says the longer a cat is at the shelter the greater the chance it will get stressed or sick. So he says keeping those cats waiting is really doing them a disservice.

The City Commission is scheduled next week to take up an ordinance getting rid of the waiting period for cats with no I.D.