Making the Right Choices for Cats

Cats and MADACC

Each year, MADACC takes in over 6,000 cats from every municipality in Milwaukee County. Sadly, many of these cats do not make it out of MADACC and we all need to work together to change that.

There are many scenarios we see with cats coming in to MADACC. Someone is moving and cannot take the cat with them (unfortunately, this is often dealt with on moving day). Someone simply does not want the cat anymore due to cost or other life change. Some people like to trap the cats that come onto their property (which is perfectly legal) and bring them here. There are people that feed feral cats and once they give birth, feel that the mom and kittens will be better off here (they won’t!). People find friendly cats and bring them to MADACC thinking they are helping the owner find their missing cat, when only 2 – 3% of cats go home with their owners from MADACC.

MADACC wants to help educate the public about cats. What happens when you can’t keep your cat? What happens to feral cats? What should you do when you see a stray cat? If you own a cat, what can you do to make sure your cat does not end up at MADACC?


If you own a cat and can no longer keep it…

Please do not abandon your cat(s) outside or leave them behind when you move. While cats can seem independent and can take care of themselves, it is inhumane (and illegal) to leave a cat to fend for itself.

Contact Wisconsin Humane Society (414-264-6257) to make an appointment to surrender your cat. WHS practices managed intake, meaning that in order to help as many residents and their animals as possible, they ask people to make appointments to bring them in so that they can manage space and resources. We see many people who wait until the last minute and who show up here at MADACC on the day they are moving, maybe they were trying to find another home on their own? Now this becomes a crisis situation. Even if you are trying to find another home on your own, it is better to make an appointment and cancel it than have to wait longer than you are able to and risk your cat’s future. WHS will charge a fee but can work with you if you are having financial challenges.

WHS also has a great program to help you rehome your cat on your own! Read more about it here. This allows you to find just the right new home for your cat should you be unable to take care of your cat for whatever the reason. Unfortunately, there are not many cat rescues, like there are for dogs. If you have a purebred cat, we do encourage you to contact Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue so that they can help you find a new home that can manage the expectations that come along with owning a purebred cat.

MADACC can accept your cat AS A LAST RESORT! We also charge a surrender fee. MADACC is not the place for your owned cat. We take in many cats with unknown histories that may be harboring disease and who can pass along illness to other cats housed in the same ward. Your cat will be stressed here and since we have a limited adoption program your cat can wait here for months before we can get them into our adoption program or they are selected for transfer. While some shelters take cats from MADACC for adoption programs, most are also overcrowded, especially in peak summer months. You love your cat, and want to do the best for them. Leave the space at MADACC for those cats who really need it, and make an appointment for your kitty at Wisconsin Humane Society or another shelter or rescue who will get your cat right into an adoption program!

If you are trapping cats…

We encourage you to do so humanely. Please do not leave animals in traps in the sun, or in the trap for a long period of time. Being in a trap is an incredibly scary and stressful experience for an owned or feral cat, and it is cruel to leave them in there. They must immediately be called in for a pick up (if using a trap rented from MADACC) or brought in to us in your own trap. Please understand that if the cat you have trapped is considered feral, it will be euthanized at the end of its stray hold. Currently, we have no resources for feral adult cats in our community.

Do you see a cat outside every single day?

While in every municipality in Milwaukee County there are laws that prohibit cats from being off an owners property, only 2-3% of cats that come into MADACC are ever reclaimed by their owners. That means 97% of the cats that come in are never reunited with an owner! While cats do not belong outdoors for their own safety and outdoor cats have a negative impact on the wildlife and environment, we live in a world where cats are let outside every day. Cats are creatures of habit and will often walk the same route everyday, so it is likely you will see the cat every day. That does not mean a family is not caring for the cat, and it does not mean that the cat’s owner do not love the cat. But, what it means is that if you catch the cat and bring it into MADACC, for whatever reason, the family will likely never come to see if the cat is here (often they fear the cat has been killed by a car or wildlife and feel there is no reason to look) and that could result in the cat being euthanized due to health or temperament in the shelter. Initially, cats seen outdoors should be left alone if they are not causing a problem, seem to be in good health and well fed, and do not take up permanent residence on your property. MADACC does not encourage anyone to let their cat outside to roam for any reason. But, we also do not like to see cats that are obviously owned and loved coming in here with an uncertain future ahead of them.

You could make some attempts to ask neighbors if they own the cat (most cats do not travel too far from home) before bringing a cat into MADACC.

We understand that there may be circumstances where there is a cat that is doing damage to property or who’s behavior is a nuisance to residents or animals. In those cases, you certainly should feel free to bring the cat into MADACC or contain the cat for us to come pick up.

Outdoor cats

Every spring MADACC (and all shelters all over the U.S.) start what we call “Kitten Season”. This is when cats that are owned or who have lived outdoors start having kittens and people start bringing them into MADACC. Bringing in a feral mom with neonate kittens is almost always a death sentence at MADACC. The kittens get sick easily and succumb to illness and not only is the mom is stressed and afraid, a feral mom cannot be placed in an adoptive home.

Bringing in your own cat with nursing kittens or a young litter of kittens and calling them strays is also a big problem at MADACC. The cat and kittens will wait until stray hold is up, for no reason since you know that there will not be an owner coming in to reclaim them. There is a chance that they may be sick and possibly not make it. We are here to help people with unwanted litters. There is no reason you cannot tell us your cat (or a friend’s cat) had kittens and you need help. Most time we can give you a FREE spay for mom and send the kittens to Wisconsin Humane Society or foster care for adoption later. We are not here to judge people. We are here to help people and their animals as much as we can.

So, what should you do with outdoor cats?

If you are feeding a cat outside and the cat has kittens we ask you to PLEASE let those kittens stay with the mother until the kittens are ready for regular wet cat food! If you know that there is no possibility of an owner coming in to claim these kittens, you can bring them to MADACC or Wisconsin Humane Society at about 5 weeks old and we can get them into foster care for socialization and adoption (see kitten flow chart). There are very limited resources for kittens that need bottle feeding, so often when bottle babies are brought to us, there will not be a place to send them. Mother’s milk and care are best for kittens who are still nursing. You can round them up when they are older and give them a second chance. We ask you to sign them over to us, taking ownership and responsibility for these cats.

Wisconsin Humane Society has a low-cost spay/neuter program for outdoor cats where you can bring the mother so that she no longer has any more kittens and can stop adding to the outdoor cat population. This program will start on June 1, 2015.

As tempting as it is, we ask you NOT to feed outdoor cats. Providing outdoor cats with resources allows them to breed several times over one season and have large litters that can start breeding at 6 months old. Outdoor feeding also attracts rats and other wildlife and creates unhealthy conditions for other residents and animals in your community.

I own a cat! What can I do to help MADACC?

Is your cat sterilized? If not, please contact us immediately for a low cost spay/neuter appointment at 414-649-8640.

Is your cat microchipped? If not, come and see us and get one. For only $25 at MADACC you can get your cat microchipped and know that if your cat is found and brought here or to a vet clinic we can contact you to get your cat back home to you. No appointment necessary!

Is your microchip up to date with current information? If not contact your chip company or the shelter you got the cat from so we can update the information IMMEDIATELY! You have no idea how many microchips lead to a dead end!

Do you let your cat outside? STOP! We know your cat has fun out there, but your cat is in danger the whole time. We have seen cats snatched by coyotes, raptors, dogs and run over by cars. Most people would not let their dog roam the streets for fun every day. You should give your cat the same care.

It is only with all of us working together that we can put an end to euthanasia for cats in shelters, including MADACC. Feel free to call MADACC for any additional assistance with a cat issue you might have.