Cat’s Cradle landed additional money in as part of a national grant. Here’s how it’s using the funds.

By Daniel Robinson, contributor

A coordinator at Cat’s Cradle holds a kitten in 2019. (File photo)

Cat’s Cradle got a boost heading into this year to help cover veterinary and other costs for preparing cats for adoption after PetSmart’s national charity organization reached out to offer some additional money beyond what the organization requested.

Cat’s Cradle initially requested $21,000 last year from PetSmart Charities to cover veterinary expenses, primarily spay and neuter surgeries and rabies shots that make cats adoption eligible. These funds will make 350 cats ready for adoption.

But after the PetSmart Charities officials reached out to ask how Cat’s Cradle might use some extra money, the grant increased by $4,500. That amount will go toward other costs, such as transportation and volunteer support to get cats into local PetSmart stores to be adopted.

“Our goal is to reduce the intake into shelters and reduce the number of adoptable cats being euthanized,” said Jennifer Kirkland, president of Cat’s Cradle’s board. 

The PetSmart Charities grants are competitive, with only a small number of proposals being funded. Cat’s Cradle has had success with them in the past as well, and the funding helps solidify that relationship.

“Grants help get things done, but they also vouch for your organization,” Kirkland said. 

The funds from PetSmart Charities make up a small portion of Cat’s Cradle’s nearly half-million-dollar annual budget. The remainder of the funds come from other foundations, grants, and private donors, large and small.

“We have $100,000 donors and $10 per month donors, and we need every single one of them,” Kirkland said. 

PetSmart Charities focuses on awarding grants based on what the organization sees as the greatest needs in a particular region. Through its programs, PetSmart Charities distributes $50 million per year. These funds are raised from private donors, mostly from the small donations made at the checkout in PetSmart stores.

PetSmart Charities uses information provided in the proposals for funding, as well as statistical data from several sources to understand the needs of each region. 

Steve Kaufman, senior manager for adoption initiatives at PetSmart Charities, said the number of pets being surrendered to shelters is going up nationwide, but it’s not equally distributed. For instance, the number of dogs in shelters in the southeastern U.S. is much higher than the demand, so the charity organization funds initiatives that redistribute those dogs to the northeast where demand is higher in order to prevent euthanasia.

Kaufman said the rise in numbers of pets in shelters is not directly related to the rise in adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is still a factor.

“We aren’t necessarily seeing those animals come back into shelters,” he said. “Issues related to housing and food insecurity are increasing the number of animals being surrendered.”

The pandemic also led to the additional funds being available for organizations like Cat’s Cradle. People spent more time with their pets during the pandemic and adoptions increased, and people were more generous at the checkout at PetSmart, where they can donate money as they purchase pet supplies.

Kaufman said that allowed PetSmart Charities to be more proactive and reach out to “high performing” organizations like Cat’s Cradle to “move the needle” toward more adoptions.

“If you believe pets are part of the family, as we do,” Kaufman said, “then we’re trying to do what we can to make sure families stay together.”

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