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MSPCA Seeks ‘Super Heroes’ for Jamaica Plain’s Most Challenging Cats

The MSPCA-Angell is seeking Wonder Women and Supermen to open their hearts to the shy, the feisty and the demanding!

Patches is an elderly cat seeking a “retirement” home at the MSPCA in Jamaica Plain

The MSPCA-Angell’s three adoption centers in Massachusetts have turned over every imaginable stone in recent years to place more cats than ever into permanent homes, with regularly occurring “fee-waived” adoptathons playing a central role in efforts that have ratcheted the organization’s adoption rate to an all-time high of 90 percent.

Now the organization is launching the “Challenging Cat Challenge,” a one-day fee-waived adoptathon to be held Saturday, Aug. 26 for cats whose personalities and habits—from shyness to feistiness and everything in between—have hampered their ability to get new homes.

According to MSPCA officials, dozens of the cats living in its Jamaica Plain, Methuen and Centerville adoption centers are categorized as “challenging.” These cats stay in the adoption centers longer while watching other cats leave for permanent homes.

“Few adopters imagine falling in love with the cat who’s too shy to come out of hiding, or who hisses and growls in response to belly rubs—but the fact is we’ve placed hundreds of cats like this into new homes who often turn into perfect companions once they’re in the right environment for their personality,” said Mike Keiley, director of the MSPCA’s animal care and adoption centers.

Funding for the adoptathon is provided by the Ivan Smith Adoption Challenge, a memorial fund set up by the Smith family to celebrate the special bond Ivan formed with adoptable animals at the MSPCA. The fund will cover the cost of adopting out all of the challenging cats, which could total $10,000.

Challenging Cats of Every Size, Shape and Age!
Unlike previous fee-waived adoptathons that focus on a specific trait such as age, the Challenging Cat Challenge spans cats who are young and old, skinny or full-framed. “But every one of the cats who’ll be available at no-fee on the day are challenging in their own ways,” said Keiley.

Typical challenging cat behaviors include shyness, feisty play, or even unpredictable litterbox habits—but most of these issues stem from home environments that do not match the needs of individual cats, underlining why “goodness of fit” between adopter and owner is so critical.

Added Keiley, “Our staff and volunteers are excellent at matchmaking and we often find that cats previously deemed ‘challenging’ turn into best friends when placed in a home that allows them to be the cat they always wanted to be.”

“These behaviors can and do resolve, and this adoptathon is about acknowledging what’s special about these cats and the potential they hold.”

When and Where
The Challenging Cat Challenge takes place on Saturday, Aug. 26 and all three adoption centers will waive adoption fees for cats who meet the criteria. Visit for more information and for hours and directions.