Animal programs

Local animal shelter rescues 66 cats from Reserve Street encampment, draining budget | Local News

Chicken Noodle needs a home, just like 100 of its fellow cats and kittens from the Missoula nonprofit AniMeals.

Chicken Noodle, a relaxed orange tabby who loves attention and head scratches, is one of 66 cats rescued from a colony living in the homeless encampment under the Reserve Street Bridge in recent weeks .

Rachel Taft, marketing specialist for the organization, said they typically house an average of between 70 and 90 cats and kittens at any given time. There are many reasons why there are so many more cats right now, and all 101 are up for adoption.

“The Reserve Street project was a big part of that,” she said. “And also being at the peak of kitten season (the annual baby boom happens this time every year). We are also seeing an influx of cats being left out in the building overnight, and also the owner getting makes. So all of those kinds of factors are why we’re so full right now.”

The organization relies on donations to fund its operations and seven staff members. They also receive a lot of volunteer help. However, rescuing all those cats from the camp consumed $15,000 of the organization’s budget.

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“Initially, when another agency told us they were there, we felt like there were only 20,” Taft explained.

So they worked especially hard to get the cats neutered, neutered and microchipped. Taft said the cats were all well-fed and taken care of at camp, so there aren’t any huge health issues other than some upper respiratory issues from the inclement weather outside. All of the cats are well-behaved and would adapt happily to most homes, although Taft said the organization has a set of requirements and verifies the living situation of any new owners. For example, they need two personal references on an application and call owners to make sure pets are allowed.

“We like to make sure our cats go to homes where they are valued and cared for,” Taft said.

Rescuing the cats wasn’t difficult, she says, but it did take a lot of hard work from staff and volunteers. They trapped most of the cats. It turns out that many of them are related and have the same six-toed genetic abnormality. But the effort was costly.

“When cats come to us as bottle babies, for example, you’re talking about $300 to $500 to get that kitten ready for adoption, based on milk supplements and things like that,” he said. she declared. “So just the overall care for that duration. So yeah, financially I think that’s our biggest need right now.”

The organization also has a stock of dog and cat food for owners in need as well as a “barn cat” program for cats that can be adopted but would do well with less human interaction. They also have an intensive care unit where they treat injured or unhealthy cats. People who don’t want to take a pet can sponsor a cat at the shelter for $100 and name it.

This is where Chicken Noodle got its fantastic name, Taft noted.

AniMeals started out as an animal food bank in 2003, but transitioned to a “no-kill adoption center” in 2007 because the local animal control shelter was so overcrowded.

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Holli Hargrove, the director of Missoula Animal Control, said they currently have 65 cats and kittens, although not all are up for adoption.

“We are seeing more than normal being left in kennels overnight,” she said. “There has been more increase in pocket pets, like rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds. I couldn’t tell you why.”

She said there’s no definitive explanation for why “kitten season” occurs from April to July, but it still happens here. To see a list of pets for adoption, visit

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