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At Cat Town, the Most Vulnerable Shelter Cats Get a New Chance

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In a city animal shelter, shy or fearful cats are often considered “unadoptable” and are at high risk for euthanasia, but Oakland nonprofit Cat Town gives these vulnerable shelter cats a second chance. By transforming cat rescue in the San Francisco Bay Area community, this unique organization aims to lower euthanasia rates nationwide.

AnimalBiome is excited to support Cat Town’s work by covering all adoption fees for the month of September.

Find out what makes Cat Town different from other rescue organizations. And then stop in and see for yourself: if you take home a new feline friend this month, your adoption fee is waived!

What is Cat Town?

At Cat Town, the Most Vulnerable Shelter Cats Get a New Chance
Inside the Cat Zone at Cat Town, where felines roam free. All cats are patiently waiting for their forever homes.


Located just a block away from AnimalBiome’s office in Oakland, Cat Town is a cage-free rescue and adoption center that provides a more relaxed environment for cats who don’t do well at the municipal shelter and are therefore at high risk for euthanasia. 


At Cat Town’s adoption center, these cats can roam freely in the Cat Zone, learn confidence from each other, and interact with potential adopters in a low-stress setting. The center also features the RAWR Coffee Bar, a cat-friendly cafe that serves both human and feline treats. 


For cats who need an even quieter (or even a one-cat) environment, Cat Town has a network of more than 50 foster homes in and around Oakland. And for shelter cats whose special needs make them especially difficult to place, the Studios at Cat Town provide dedicated attention from staff and volunteers to give these cats better opportunities to be adopted.


Since its start in 2011, Cat Town has found permanent homes for more than 1,800 cats and helped reduce the euthanasia rate at the local municipal shelter, Oakland Animal Services, by more than 70%.


What makes Cat Town different

A kitty cat napping at Cat Town a cat rescue organization
A sweet cat naps at Cat Town while waiting to be adopted. (9/19/19)


In a city shelter, the cats that get adopted tend to be the friendly, confident ones—sociable cats who like to be picked up and carried. Cats that are sick, afraid, or stressed by the bustling shelter environment are much less likely to be adopted. And when rescue groups pull cats from a shelter, they often concentrate their limited resources on the younger, friendlier ones. Due to overcrowding, the shelter may have no choice but to euthanize the cats that seem “unadoptable.”


But Cat Town has proven that these cats—whether sick, elderly, fearful, or just shy—are highly adoptable when placed in a nurturing environment. Cat Town’s mission is to reduce euthanasia nationwide, starting with helping the most at-risk cats at Oakland Animal Services.


To help shy, scared, and stressed cats, Cat Town takes the cage out of the equation. Many cats respond to shelter cages with fear or aggression, so that their real personalities are difficult to see. Cats who don’t do well at the shelter are given a safe, cage-free environment, either at the Cat Town Adoption Center or in a foster home. 


Foster homes are ideal for cats who need calm and quiet in order to relax and be themselves. These tend to be cats who are more sensitive to change (such as older cats), who don’t get along well with other cats, or who have special needs. A foster arrangement allows these cats to thrive while they wait to be adopted, and potential adopters can meet these cats in their foster homes, where they’re comfortable and able to show their true personalities.


Marigold’s story

Marigold the cat suffered from severe diarrhea, Cat Town rescued her from the shelter.
Meet Marigold

Marigold was once one of those shelter cats who had been labeled “unadoptable.” Though the orange tabby was a remarkably sociable, well-adjusted stray, she had chronic diarrhea. With this kind of health issue, she seemed unlikely to get adopted, so she was scheduled for euthanasia.


At the last minute, Cat Town rescued Marigold and found her a foster home—and then another and another, as her terrible diarrhea proved too great a burden for most households. Finally she met her forever person, Tracy, who was determined to help Marigold get healthy. 


Tracy reached out to AnimalBiome for help with Marigold’s digestive troubles, and today she’s a sweet, energetic, healthy cat again. But without Cat Town’s intervention to rescue her—and the added efforts of veterinarians, multiple foster families, Tracy, and AnimalBiome—Marigold would not have survived. You can read her story here.


The Forgotten Kitten Project and more

The Forgotten Kitten Project at Cat Town
A kitten that's part of the Forgotten Kitten Project. (9/19/19)


Over the years, Cat Town has developed innovative ways to help cats with complex needs. They created the Forgotten Kitten Project to help older kittens (4 months and above)—“the hissy, bolty ones” that shelters often consider unadoptable. These kittens weren’t fully socialized when they were younger—often because they were homeless or orphaned—so they need extra help learning to trust humans.


In the Cat Zone, free from the stress of shelter cages, these kittens get specialized attention from staff and volunteers. They also learn from watching how the more confident cats interact with people. 


Senior cats are another group that have special needs. Cat Town helps senior cats by covering their medical care for their entire lives, so anyone can afford to give an older cat the life they deserve.

Ways to support Cat Town

Cats who are available for adoption at Cat Town
Cats in the Cat Zone sometimes wander into the "Quiet Zone" where they can nest in cozy cubbyholes and not be disturbed. (9/19/19)

AnimalBiome is proud to sponsor Cat Town’s lifesaving work by covering all adoption fees during the month of September. But there are lots of other ways to help—by visiting, fostering, volunteering, or attending Cat Town’s upcoming Second Chance Soirée. Learn more on their website.

Since AnimalBiome is just a block away, some of our team recently took a field trip to Cat Town. What better way to break up the workday than by playing with cats? Here are a few pics from our visit! (Look out for more pics on Instagram.) If you liked this article please consider sharing it.

AnimalBiome team group photo
Some of the AnimalBiome team (Left to right: Alex, Jess, Sarah, Holly G., Flora, Elinor, Jana, Holly S.)
Inside the cat zone at Cat Town
AnimalBiome team visits Cat Town in Oakland
AnimalBiome visits Cat Town in Oakland
All the cute cats available for adoption
Cat Town in Oakland rescues shelter cats

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