A program designed to help shelter cats so afraid that they’re unable to find a home just placed its 500th cat with a new family.
Fraidy Cats first kicked off at the Eastside Animal Shelter, run by Albuquerque Animal Welfare.
“At Eastside, we usually have 15-25 in the program at any one time,” said volunteer Melinda Bean.
The volunteer-led program gives these animals special attention before they’re adopted.
“What really makes a difference is the village of volunteers that we have and what also makes a big difference is the support of staff,” said Bean. “The cat staff, kennel supervisors, vet staff, all work hand in hand with us to help these cats find homes.”
Most of the time, they aren’t sure why these cats are afraid of people.
“We take our scared cats, we get shy cats, we get stray cats, owner surrenders, sometimes owners pass away, stuff like that, and we work with them,” said volunteer Jim Matthews. “Volunteers spend time with them, talk to them, we assess them, characteristics they have, what we need to work with them, and slowly, over time, we get cats that come out of their shell, start eating again, and we get them adopted.”
The cats and volunteers are known as the ‘Fraidy Cat Village.’ Volunteers provide one-on-one care and socialization, along with progress updates, health monitoring and encouragement to eat for those cats, as well as adoption counseling for those looking to adopt a scared cat.
“We all get very excited when certain ones get adopted that have been our long-termers,” said Matthews. “We follow up with the people and work with them on making sure that cat settles into that home.”
They say, in the past, these cats would be considered unadoptable and would be euthanized. Now, they get a second chance at a forever home and a second chance at life.
“These are cats that would have been, 10 years ago, largely, euthanized and no longer are we doing that,” said Matthews. “They considered them unadoptable space. In the past, shelters euthanized them after a certain amount of time. These shy guys would’ve fallen under that category.”
Some cats take months to come around and get into homes, while some take a few weeks.
Fraidy Cats originally started in the Eastside Animal Shelter but has since expanded to the Westside Shelter.