Cat Matchers saves 4,500 Dallas-Fort Worth area cats from short, awful lives

With no shelter and only the money that they can hustle during adoption events at local pet supply stores, one Dallas-Fort Worth area animal rescue has saved more than 4,000 cats from a short, awful life on the streets or in a shelter and placed them into the homes of caring people.

A gray kitten in a basket

Trying to save the thousands of abandoned animals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from a life of misery is demanding work, but the local cat rescue known as Cat Matchers has shown just what’s possible through collaboration and dedication.

In the last 15 years, the roughly 100 volunteers with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization have taken in more than 4,000 cats from local shelters and from off the streets and given them what they need to become loving, entertaining and altogether awesome additions to the lives of the lucky people who get the chance to adopt them.

A man and woman holding a white cat at a pet supply store.
Logan with his new family during a July 30, 2023 adoption event.

Tammy Kidwell, president of Dallas Cat Rescue, d.b.a. Cat Matchers, says the organization takes on each cat with a commitment to do everything that’s necessary to ensure a better life for the feline, from routine vaccinations to medical interventions, such as when a cat named Alexander who was rescued near Rogers Wildlife Center in Hutchins, Texas had to undergo surgery to amputate an injured leg.

A man and woman holding a black cat.
From Cat Matchers’ social media updates: “Alexander has been adopted! A few months ago, he was found outside at Rogers Wildlife, the bird rehab center near Hutchins, Texas, with a serious injury to his right back leg, which eventually led to his leg being amputated. He’s doing great now! Congratulations to Alexander and his new parents! We are proud as a peacock for all three of them!”

“We partner with a number of animal shelters and when we can, we try to pull them from the shelters so they don’t have their space filled quickly, so we try to relieve their pressure, so they’ll have more space to help people,” Tammy says. “The other thing that we do is we also encourage those people who find animals to actually get involved and instead of just bringing them to us or bringing them to a local animal shelter, we try to encourage them to be part of the process.”

To help more people become a part of the rescue work, Tammy says Cat Matchers offers assistance until the cat can be placed into a permanent home.

“I you can foster them in your home, we’ll pay for all the vet care. We’ll do all the work to help you get them adopted,” she says.

A black and white kitten with a bell collar squints.
A kitten in foster care with Cat Matchers awaiting adoption.

The organization owns no shelter facilities and houses foster cats entirely in the homes of its volunteers. The volunteers not only care for the cats but also evaluate their personalities so that they can be matched with an appropriate home. Some people are fit for a kitten with unlimited amounts of playful energy. Others cats, especially older cats, may be more suited to a quiet home with no other animals to share their space.

Fostering cats in homes until they’re adopted also helps cats have a better transition experience to their permanent homes. Shelters may have made progress in becoming more hospitable in recent years; nevertheless they are still shelters, operated primarily to protect public health, and as such are often overcrowded, noisy, and terrifying for the animals they take in, especially cats who seem to always keep one paw in the wild just in case they need to resort to a feral state just to survive.

Tammy says Cat Matchers also assists people who are trying to care for stray cats in neighborhoods or around businesses, offering help with paying for vet care and spaying and neutering, “because that’s really going at the problem at its source.”

A gray kitten in a basket
A leftover at an adoption event peeks out over a basket waiting for his turn to go home with a family.

Tammy says that volunteers with the organization are a varied group who live throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding suburbs, all brought together by their shared love of cats. Some are teachers, parents, students, lawyers, cashiers, managers, nurses, marketing professionals — “it runs the gamut,” she says as to volunteers’ backgrounds.

In addition to caring for foster cats in their homes, the volunteers set up adoption events on most Saturdays at local Petco and PetSmart locations. The volunteers also try to set up adoption booths and information tables at many of the local festivals and outdoor events that take place in the area.

Additionally, the volunteers care for Cat Matchers fosters who’ve been advanced to the adoption stage and placed at various Petco locations where potential adopters can meet the cats, apply to adopt them and ultimately take them home.

A gray tabby cat with a woman.
Coffee Bean with his new human companion at an adoption event.

Funding for their work comes mostly from the donations that they receive at adoption events and from the adoption fees that they charge. Tammy says all the funds are turned right back around into caring for more cats. Rising costs, especially for veterinary services, have placed a strain on Cat Matchers work, which Tammy says has become an increasingly difficult challenge.

“Finances are getting harder for people, our donations are going down,” she says. “Our costs are going up. I would say that the cost of care has probably doubled, if not some of our vets have tripled their costs. So, that means less money to help, but we are doing our best.”

A gray and white cat with beautiful green eyes sits for a photo.
A gray and white cat available for adoption through Cat Matchers shows off his beautiful light green eyes.

Cat Matchers volunteers together foster and place from 300-400 cats per year, which in the more than 15 years that the organization has operated totaled more than 4,000 cats rescued and given a chance to live a pleasant life. At any given time, the volunteers are working with about 150-200 cats, tending their medical needs, vaccinating them, spaying and neutering them, socializing them and preparing them for their adoption.

Tammy says the organization’s work complements the work of the larger, more prominent animal rescue organizations in the area. Adding to the number of homes fostering cats, organizing adoption events and tackling the matter of strays having their own litters and therefore exacerbating the problem of there simply being more animals that need homes than homes willing to take them in, Cat Matchers is helping to chip away at the rate of healthy animals being killed in municipal shelters, which Tammy estimates to amount to tens of thousands of animals every year — just in The Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“Until that number is zero, there will always be a need,” she says.