Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is changing its cat intake policies to align with new animal welfare industry best practices and recommendations from the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, MCAS temporarily limited intake for healthy cats, and only sheltered adult cats that were sick, injured, abandoned, or in danger. Now, new data-driven findings from NACA are making some of those changes official.
As the primary shelter for found animals in Multnomah County, MCAS advises community members to leave healthy adult cats where they are, or return them to where they were found. Only cats that are sick, injured, in danger, or clearly abandoned- such as being left in a crate or in a dwelling without minimal care- should be brought to the shelter.
Assuming that a cat is lost or stray and bringing them to the shelter may unintentionally separate outdoor cats from their owners, caretakers, or their known environment where they have the best chance of survival. Outdoor cats that are truly lost have a better chance of reuniting with their owners if finders communicate with their neighbors and leave the cats where they were found.
Outdoor cats without owners can be spayed or neutered through Trap Neuter Return (TNR) programs offered by organizations such as the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO). These programs help prevent breeding or overpopulation, and serve as a placeholder so that new cats don’t move into their territory.
Owners of outdoor cats or indoor / outdoor cats are encouraged to find ways to transition their cats indoors, or to find safe ways to provide outdoor enrichment, such as catios and other enclosures. More information is available at catssafeathome.org.
More information on managing outdoor cats can be found online at multcopets.org/outdoor-cat-information.
If community members find kittens, MCAS advises leaving healthy, unweaned kittens alone for their mother to care for them, and to only bring kittens that are sick, injured, clearly abandoned or in danger, to the shelter. Kittens that are 6 to 12 weeks of age, regardless of health, and social kittens from 3 to 6 months of age can be brought to the shelter for future spay / neuter and adoption.
For kittens, MCAS has an online guide at multcopets.org/resources-found-kittens to help community members determine their age, whether they have a mother caring for them, or if they need feeding or medical intervention. In general, clean and quiet kittens are safe and cared for, even if their mother isn’t visible.
Source: Multnomah County Animal Services