Mouse lounges in her favorite cubby in the area outdoor play area of the shelter.
Paw Prints


The Cal Poly Cat Program is a volunteer based shelter that helps place cats with families across San Luis Obispo County. Located just off the main Cal Poly campus, the program was established in 1992 as a senior project by a graduating animal science student. Since it's establishment, the program has adopted out more than 3,000 cats into caring homes. Scroll to learn more about the Cal Poly Cat Program (CPCP) and why you should consider adopting.

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Dana Humphrey strokes Emma, a rescued feral cat at the Cal Poly Cat Program (CPCP). Dana and her husband Paul Humphrey have been volunteering at the shelter for a little over seven months. The two discovered the shelter after realizing their deceased neighbor’s cat, Bubba, was not being cared for. Unable to adopt the cat themselves, they reached out to CPCP to find the cat a loving home. Since that time, the Humphreys have been volunteering at the shelter twice a week. Midnight, an older female cat, lazily enjoys the sunshine. While many of the cats at CPCP are captured ferals, the majority of cats, like Midnight, are surrendered by owners who no longer feel they are financially or physically able to care for them. Several of the cats are fosters, who are in need of a place to stay temporarily. Paul Humphrey cleans the inside of a large cage, which he’ll later load into the back of his truck to take home to power wash. During a typical shift at CPCP, Paul and Dana will sweep and clean cages with antiseptic wipes, check and fill food bowls, scoop litter boxes and change soiled bedding. Paul is the go-to handyman around CPCP and has fixed anywhere from the lights to the air conditioning unit, ensuring that the cats are being cared for in the best possible environment. A curious Anya creeps in for a close up. The cats are fed wet food in the morning and are offered dry food throughout the day. A few cats are on stricts diets because they are overweight. Each cat has a chart so volunteers can keep up with their individual dietary needs. Carmen Izquierdo, head of adoptions at CPCP, let's female cat Sunny find a spot on her lap. CPCP previously partnered with the local PetSmart, but because the store started implementing fees Izquierdo started adopting the cats out directly to families. Facebook and Craigslist are the main way CPCP volunteers get the word out about adoptable cats. A family was coming to visit with Sunny later that day for a possible adoption. “We adopt out about five cats a month, usually if a family doesn’t fall in love with the cat they came to see originally, they’ll make a connection with another cat and adopt that one,” Izquierdo said. Mystic, the three-legged cat, soaks in some sun in the outdoor play area. Mystic’s leg had to be amputated after he was shot by a previous owner. Since CPCP is a no kill shelter, special needs cats like Mystic are welcomed with open arms. If he were at a different shelter there’s a high possibility that Mystic would’ve already been euthanized. Program Director Sharon Dobson (right) discusses potential fundraising ideas with Dana Humphrey (left). Dobson is a Marketing, Finance and Accounting professor at Cal Poly. She is in charge of finances and overseeing the operation as a whole. “The majority of our funding comes from donors, but we’ve recently begun applying to grants because we’re looking to expand the program,” Dobson said. Emma wakes up from a much needed catnap. A large majority of volunteers at CPCP are Cal Poly Animal Science students looking for hands-on experience; however, when students have scheduled breaks off school, community volunteers like Dana and Paul Humphrey must work overtime to fill in the gaps. Dana Humphrey checks in on Mewow in the isolation room. All recently surrendered and ailing cats are housed in the isolation room to prevent other cats from catching diseases. After spending a prescribed amount of time in the isolation room, cats are moved to the general population. “I love seeing how the cats progress from when they first come in, they’ve each got such a unique personality. Adopting them out is bittersweet because you come to love all of them,” said Humphrey. Paul Humphrey comforts Kiwi. Kiwi has been at the shelter for several years because he’s unable to control his bowel movements due to several BB pellets that are lodged in his spine and cannot be surgically removed. Volunteers must clean the feces off Kiwi multiple times a day, despite this not so glamorous job Humphrey did it with a smile. “He’s really just the sweetest boy and it breaks my heart that someone did this to him,” Humphrey said. CPCP currently houses about 20 cats and continues to welcome in new faces regularly. If you’re interested in volunteering you can call the number pictured above. If volunteering is something you’re not able to do at the moment, visitors are always encouraged to come and visit with the cats.

Audio Board

Click on images to hear why these volunteers got involved at the Cal Poly Cat Program (double-click to pause audio). Sally & Jack Adam (Left), Eli Cordova (Middle) and Larry Steckel (Right).

Photo of Sally & Jack Adam Cordova /> Photo of Eli Cordova /> Photo of Larry Steckle />


Considering adopting, but not quite sure? Click to hear this family's story and how they found their newest member at the Cal Poly Cat Program.




Carmen Izquierdo, Adoption Coordinator E-mail:, Phone: 805-710-7103

Sharon Dobson, Executive Director E-mail:, Phone: 805-202-6316

Ellen Notermann, Volunteer Coordinator E-mail:, Phone: 805-459-7724

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