Inside the Cat and Kitten Intake Center

In a nondescript building near OHS’s main shelter, something special is taking place. Every Friday evening, dozens of cats and kittens are getting a second chance at a new life.

Oregon Humane Society’s Cat and Kitten Intake Center opened in July 2019. The center can accommodate transports of 20 or more cats and kittens that come to OHS from throughout the region. The Intake Center gives our new arrivals more room and a quiet place to settle, while alleviating space constraints in our main shelter. When space opens at the main shelter, the cats and kittens are moved to the main shelter and made available for adoption. This new space has allowed OHS to save 400 more cats and kittens this year.

One of the driving forces behind the OHS Cat and Kitten Intake Center is a shift in how animal transport programs have changed over the past two years. For years, dogs were the focus of moving pets from overcrowded shelters to areas with high demand for adoptable pet. The overwhelming number of cats and kittens coming into shelters all over the country left little room to consider that felines could be moved to other areas where pet overpopulation wasn’t as big of an issue.

Meanwhile in Portland, the Spay & Save program has reduced the number of unwanted cats and kittens entering local shelters by close to 50 percent. This allowed OHS to expand the Second Chance program to bring cats and kittens from around Oregon and beyond.

From 2017 to 2018, there was a 25 percent jump in the number of cats and kittens being transported to OHS. It took a lot of creativity to fit the extra felines in the main shelter, so the idea of a separate intake center was starting to take shape.

When the Cat and Kitten Intake Center opened, it created more opportunities to save lives. In the past, adoption kennels would be empty due to the ebb and flow of cats and kittens coming into the shelter. Now, there is always a cat or kitten at the Intake Center ready to move up to the main shelter and one step closer to a forever home.

The felines are also benefiting from continuity of care. OHS staffers Lauren Parsons and Merav Yami lead the work taking place at the Cat and Kitten Intake Center. This means they have a chance to get to know the cats and kittens and quickly identify any health or behavioral changes.

Just as important as the cats and kittens getting a second chance at life, is the impact this new program is having on the communities where the felines are coming from. Cats and kittens come to OHS from around Oregon and — thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities — lifesaving transfers also come from under-resourced shelters in Madera and Stanislaus, California.

Utilizing these additional spaces and becoming more efficient in the transfer and care of these animals has already helped us assist in recent rescues. With this groundwork in place, OHS’s ability to assist animals in need will only increase.

“We are able to give other shelters hope,” says Mia Heaslet, Second Chance Program Manager. “We are working together to save lives, and that means a lot.”