2020: Our furry friends helped us through a challenging year

2020 left us fe’line all the feels but we can all agree that our beloved moggies got us through the year. Whether they were playful office buddies as we worked from home, assistant teachers who brightened remote learning or steadfast companions who cuddled us and made us laugh during two lonely lockdowns, our whiskered friends were always there for us.

This time last year the Society was gearing up for a big 12 months with the opening of our long awaited Shelter. Little did we know this exciting move would become just one chapter in a crazy year that saw our Society face a supply and demand challenge for the first time in its 70 year history.

The pandemic affected everybody. Our Shelter adapted, pivoted and learnt innovative new ways of operating so we could cater for surprise changes, obstacles and opportunities while remaining focused on our mission to ensure every cat has the opportunity for a loving, safe and healthy home. We couldn’t have done this without our loyal supporters and community.

When the pandemic first hit, our amazing foster care network rose to the challenge of caring for all the cats seeking refuge at our adoption shelter while it temporarily closed to the public. In total the network lovingly cared for 446 cats and kittens this year before they found their ‘furever’ homes.

During the lockdowns, with so many Victorians spending more time at home and seeking the companionship of a pet, we were inundated with enquiries from people wanting to adopt a cat or a kitten in need.

Aiming to continue caring for and re-homing cats whilst keeping our team and the local community safe, we introduced adoptions by online application and appointment. The response was nothing short of amazing. Adoption enquiries rose by a staggering 190 per cent from the year before. This meant that we faced an unprecedented challenge, with not enough cats to cater for the demand from the public. The increased demand has continued, even after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

A major benefit of the increased interest has been cats and kittens spending less time at our Shelter before being adopted. It has also seen older cats and those with behavioural concerns, who may have previously been overlooked, also being adopted relatively quickly. We saw the average time our cats spend at the Shelter drop from 26 days to 20 days for adult cats and 21 days for senior cats.

In total there were 965 adoptions, with 555 kittens, 361 adults and 49 senior cats (aged 7+) adopted into their ‘furever’ homes.

Whilst we couldn’t fulfill every adoption enquiry due to such widespread interest we took advantage of the increased interest in cat ownership and grew our online communities. We kept both our existing and new fans engaged through initiatives such as our ‘Furever at home’ video campaign to bring joy and celebrate our pets during lockdown.

Despite the craziness the pandemic brought throughout the year, the veterinary clinic continued to care for our local community of cats, performing over 350 desexing procedures and 200 consults.

To finish the year on an extremely high note we were thrilled to open the doors to Victoria’s largest dedicated shelter for cats. This will greatly enhance the number of cats we can provide refuge to and re-home in the future. Our new shelter includes an adoption centre, education classroom, café (opening later this year) and a new veterinary clinic. This expansion has seen us build on our veterinary team and has provided the Society with the ability to offer dedicated and cost-effective care to more of the local community.

Whilst nobody knows what twists and turns this year will bring, we are hoping for a much brighter sequel to 2020 and are feeling well equipped for this in our brand new home. Hopefully this time we don’t have to hit ‘paws’ on drop in adoptions!

We can’t wait to welcome you into our Shelter this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support over the last 12 months. We simply could not have got through this challenging period without you. Last but certainly not least we also need to make a special mention of our staff, it was not an easy year for them, but they adapted to all the changes necessary to ensure our Shelter remained safe during the pandemic while continuing to offer the upmost love and attention to the furry friends in our care.