This concentrated effort significantly reduced the city shelter’s intake, or the number of cats entering the shelter — and the numbers are staggering.

In 2013, the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department took in 25% fewer cats than it had just 2 years earlier, in 2011. What’s more, cat euthanasia has dropped by 76% during that same period.

The Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department saved 87% of the cats in its shelter in 2013. Its euthanasia rate for cats is now among the lowest for open admission shelters serving a major metropolitan area in the United States.

The team was hoping for results like these — but didn’t expect them to come until at least the second year of the program.

“The PetSmart Charities grant and the Community Cats Project have really enabled TNR to grow from a local, grassroots program to a citywide solution to cat overpopulation,” said Jayne.

The Community Cats Project has changed the way the city’s shelter operates. Another bonus: TNR education efforts have improved the community dynamic. “We’re making a city of cat lovers,” said Jayne. “People are really learning how to take care of free-roaming cats.”