Jerry Steinley

Animal shelters are stressful environments for cats. Some of that stress comes directly from their shelter mates – dogs – of course, but other stressors cats experience are from being moved through the shelter, being transported for medical, and being in environments that are more sterile and less like a couch in a sun-filled living room.

So far this year, we’ve seen just about 300 cats come through the door and by the end of the year that number will be somewhere in the range of 3,000 so best managing these great felines is a continual topic of conversation and thought.

Which brings me to March for Cats. Next month we’re taking on another major project at the Humane Society of the Black Hills. We’ve barely caught our breath from the recently-completed dog kennel project but somehow “March for Cats” became a theme that stuck in our collective minds here at the shelter and moving forward seemed the only and best option.

The March for Cats project will include revamping Purrasic Park with fresh paint and habitats and removing the wall between cat adopt room one and cat adopt room two and adding a cat visitation room. There’s a lot of work tied up in the one sentence but when finished it will result in better outcomes for the cats, we think.

Better outcomes because it will be a better environment for cats on the adopt floor. So not only will we have a room for cats to spend time with volunteers and potential adopters, but removing a wall will provide some sunlight to a cat adopt room which is currently sunlight free.

We’ll have more information about the project and we’ll be reaching out for donations to help with this and cat care throughout the year so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates. And believe me, we sincerely appreciate the support our communities show us.

Even though we’ll have a special focus on cats in March, we give special attention to cat management year-round. Primarily this is because of that 3,000 cats that will come in the door, about 2,000 of those will be brought in as strays. That’s a lot and there’s only one way to decrease that number: spay and neuter.

To help people get their cats spayed and neutered, we partner with All Creatures Veterinary Clinic in an income-based program call SNIP it. SNIP it is a popular program and is one piece of a big puzzle in efforts to reduce stray cat populations. Other pieces in that puzzle include the great work by Operation Pets, Inc., the Spay your Mama program right here at the humane society, and education and outreach to talk about the importance of spay and neuter.

No single effort is going to reduce the unwanted cat population and, even combined, these programs and efforts won’t get the entire job done. But we’ll keep trying, as will others, because it’s important for the cats and the community.

When we tie the bow on March for Cats, watch for a Dogs of Summer project to start taking shape. Two wonderful donors have provided the impetus and seed money for what will become a fairly major outdoor dog enrichment area. This project is in the infancy stage and will move forward as quickly as time and labor allows. I’d love to say we’re going to turn the first shovel of dirt on the project in June at our annual K93K but that’s probably overly optimistic.

So keep in touch, watch our website and social media page; we’ve got a few moving parts at the humane society now and in the near future so we might be reaching out to volunteers to help get from concept to completion. We couldn’t do any of these projects for the animals without community support so, as I’ve said before, we appreciate the help, the donations, and the commitment, and we’ll keep doing the best job we can to take care of the animals that come through the doors.