“9 lives for $9"? How LA is using rock bottom adoption rates to get cats into homes

Some select LA shelters saw their June 2012 feline adoption rates shoot up 59%. In July, they zoomed even higher –– all the way up to 95% more than the norm.

Amazing stats, right? Better yet when you consider these don’t even include the cute kitten adoptions all shelters engage in. These are adult cat adoptions we’re dishing on. Now are you impressed? 

You should be! But that kind of success comes at a price; one that’s being funded through the generosity of private donors who support the Found Animal Foundation and the shelters who administrate its "9 Lives for $9" event.

Designed to increase adult cat adoptions in the Long Beach and Los Angeles area, Los Angeles County shelters participating in the program do one simple thing to increase the throughput of its community cats into homes: They ratchet down the barriers to entry on cat ownership.

Here’s how:

For nine dollars (yes, just nine!), they offer a vet exam, FeLV/FIV test, spay or neuter, vaccines, and a microchip; a price I don’t mind telling you just blows me away.

In case you’re not similarly impressed, let me tell you how that translates into retail veterinary fees in Miami, where I live. Here’s my hospital’s retail price on the same bag of goodies:

Examination by a veterinarian $48

FeLV and FIV testing: $45

Spaying / Neutering: $200 / $75

Vaccines: $30 (rabies), $20 (FVRCP), $20 (feline leukemia)

Microchipping: $45 (without registration)

Add it up for a grand total of $408 for girls and $283 for boys. And that’s not including pain meds, e-collar and microchip registration (some of which may or may not be included in the Found Animals bargain).

So you know, SPCA LA Director of Communications and Marketing Ana Bustilloz says cat adoption fees normally cost $105. Which is inexpensive already. And in case you’re wondering (I was), she says the SPCA LA adoption screening process is the same for the nine-buck offer as it would be for the standard fee.

According to the news item that brought me this info,

“The Found Animals Foundation is a privately funded Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to animal welfare issues. The Foundation works to reduce the use of euthanasia in shelters by supporting programs including pet adoption, spay/neuter services, pet identification and sterilization research.”

God I love them! But to be honest, what I’m especially smitten with is those super-sexy deep pockets of theirs.

Though some may quibble and complain (as I’ve been wont to do in the past) that a reduction in adoption fees threatens to undermine the true value of animal life while potentially lulling new cat owners into a sense of economic complacency on the subject of cat ownership, I can’t help but assign greater value to the end game: the actual placement of cats in homes, even if [arguably, according to naysayers] only temporarily.

Better to have loved and lost … right? Or are you one of those who believes the end doesn’t justify the means if the cats can’t be shown to have kept their homes in the end?


Pic: Florence the monkey: She's since found her forever home but damn it took forever to get her placed with her sister, Shakira. Placing adults is SO much harder, in case you've never tried ...