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How Do We Pick Our Cats?

People often ask us about the rescue process and how we select the cats we take in. If you’ve ever wondered why, here’s how:

We have 20 partner shelters from which we regularly pull from. These shelters range from the Chicagoland area and southern Illinois to Indiana and Michigan. We also take in cats from states affected by natural disasters, like Florida during Hurricane Ian.

A common factor among these locations is that they're typically in very rural areas, leading to understaffing and an overwhelming number of animals. With the amount of cats in their care, they can’t afford to go above and beyond for their sick animals.

What does a partnership entail? Executive Director Ashlynn Boyce has established genuine relationships with each shelter. She communicates with them weekly, discussing the challenges each shelter faces. Paws and Claws’ inbox is filled daily with pleas to rescue hundreds of cats from all over. Many shelters are legally required to accept every cat brought to them as they are contracted by the government. Unlike these shelters, Paws and Claws only take in as many cats as we can handle to prevent euthanasia.

Overwhelmed by an increasing number of cats, shelters resort to euthanasia as a last resort to create more space. This situation results in urgent pleas to Ashlynn and other non-profits to take cats from these shelters.

Each week, Ashlynn gets long lists from partner shelters, sharing cats that urgently need rescuing. These lists typically include simple information like a name, age, gender, color, and sometimes their personality traits. Some cats are even marked as being on "death row" or a euthanasia list.

Our focus is on saving overlooked cats that are most likely to be euthanized and are not likely to be picked up by other rescues. Some partner shelters send us their "reject lists," which consist of cats that weren't chosen by any other rescue.

We're fortunate to collaborate with Rescueber, a group that transports animals across the United States to optimize their chances of survival. With their help, we've taken in cats from as far as Louisiana to as close as our neighboring states, Indiana and Michigan.

We've established a routine with our partners. We typically receive cats from Indiana and Michigan every Saturday, and cats from Southern Illinois on Tuesdays. Regular transports from Chicagoland shelters also occur during the week.

While we'd love to save every cat we could, we strategically plan our intake days to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We also ensure that we can move some cats into foster homes if more room at the shelter is needed and that we have sufficient space in our treatment and isolation rooms.

Many shelters are designed to house dogs, leaving them with no choice but to stack wire crates to accommodate their cats. We are committed to never resorting to this.

The process of rescue and selection of the cats is an intricate one, always taking into consideration the urgency of each case. We are committed to rescuing as many lives as possible, all while ensuring quality care and attention for each cat. It's a difficult task, but it's one we're proud to undertake thanks to the continuous support from our volunteers, fosters, and Paw Print Club members.


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