My Hard Lesson About ‘No Kill’

Published by PETA.

I volunteered at a “no kill” cat shelter before coming to PETA. There, I saw firsthand why “no kill” policies do not work. The cats at the shelter were confined to small cages, and many had been there for years, including one poor 11-year-old girl who had been caged since kittenhood.

PETA’s Community Animal Project freed this feral cat from her suffering, who had been dragging herself along the street with a broken leg. 

This shelter even caged feral cats—which is as cruel as keeping a squirrel or a raccoon in a cage. One cat, Ginger, haunts me to this day. Terrified of humans, she cowered in her litterbox 24/7, never playing or showing any sign of happiness. The only time that she ever left her litterbox was to hiss and spit at people who came near her cage. Is this a worthwhile life for any animal?

During my time there, the shelter received dozens of calls each day from people who wanted to surrender their cats, but shelter workers never said “Yes” to a single person. It was always full. I can’t count the number of calls that ended with some variation of, “Well, if you can’t help me, I’m just going to turn him loose.” An outdoor life is no life for a cat. Cats outside are at risk for disease, abuse, being hit by cars, and worse. And other people simply dumped cats on the shelter’s doorstep. One person stuffed 13 cats into two carriers and took off.

This is why, instead of “no kill,” I refer to these shelters as “limited admission.” It’s much more accurate, and it doesn’t demonize open-admission shelters, which have the Herculean task of taking in all animals, no matter how old, sick, aggressive, injured, or otherwise unadoptable they may be, even when it would be easier to simply turn them away.


Written by Sarah Preston, intake manager for PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind