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Animal Services: 5,000 Cat Challenge efforts are underway

Veterinary Surgeon performs spay/neuter surgery on a cat in an operating room at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus

February 20, 2024

Shortly after convening a panel of national experts in community and shelter cat and kitten management and local cat advocacy groups for the purpose of improving cat outcomes in Riverside County, the Department of Animal Services is moving forward with solutions. 

As part of the recently adopted 5,000 Cat Challenge, Animal Services officials partnered with local community Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups to spay/neuter 40 cats on Friday, Feb. 9 at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus. 

“We were encouraged by the turnout of cat rescue groups and advocates at our meeting in January. We are more excited about the willingness of these groups to join us to improve positive outcomes for cats in our county,” said Dr. Kim Youngberg, assistant director, Riverside County Department of Animal Services. 

The effort is built on the panel experts’ recommendations to model Riverside County’s 5,000 Cat Challenge on the highly successful Million Cat Challenge, which has resulted in more than three million cats’ lives saved across the nation since 2014. 

Action items include reducing barriers to adoption and foster and spay/neuter opportunities, as well as managing intake in a way that keeps cats out of local shelters. 

The panel on Jan. 22 featured television star and cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy; and world renowned cat experts Dr. Julie Levy, distinguished Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida and Program Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Dr. Kate Hurley. 

Each addressed cat rescue and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups, as well as cat volunteers and foster caregivers. 

Youngberg added: “This is about saving cats’ lives at a time when our shelters are extremely overcrowded with strays. The longer an animal languishes in the shelter system, the more at risk it is of not having a live outcome. We are looking forward to working with our partners to meet that challenge.” 

To view adoptable pets from any of Riverside County Department of Animal Services shelters, visit: Adoptable Pets | Riverside County Department of Animal Services ( 

To learn more about foster opportunities, email [email protected]