Kate Hurley, DVM, Program Director

Dr. Hurley began her career as an animal control officer in 1989 at the Santa Cruz SPCA, a private shelter providing field and sheltering services to the community in Santa Cruz, CA. She enjoyed the job more than she ever could have imagined, especially the feeling that she was able to help people take better care of their pets as well as protecting animals every day. Becoming a veterinarian seemed a logical way to continue serving both pets and people, and after six years she left the Santa Cruz SPCA to attend the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Kate Hurley Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, with kitten

Hurley soon found she couldn’t tear herself away from shelter work, however, and after graduation from veterinary school in 1999, immediately went to work as a shelter veterinarian. Hurley loved that job too but in 2001 couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to UC Davis to become the first in the world to undertake a residency in Shelter Medicine.

During her residency, Dr. Hurley investigated and characterized one of the first documented outbreaks of Virulent Systemic Feline Calicivirus. Hurley has built on this experience with extensive research on diseases affecting dogs and cats in shelters, and the relationship between housing, health, wellness and adoption for shelter animals. Following completion of the residency, Hurley became the director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.

Dr. Hurley is the co-founder of the Million Cat Challenge, a shelter-based initiative to save the lives of one million more cats in five years. Over 1,500 shelters more than tripled that goal, between them saving over three million cats against their own baseline before joining the challenge. 

Hurley’s research interests include welfare of confined dogs and cats, humane and effective strategies to manage community cats, and infectious disease prevention. She will always love shelter work because it has the potential to improve the lives of so many animals and the people who work so hard to care for them.

Professional Highlights

  • First in the world to undertake a residency in Shelter Medicine 
  • Founding director, Koret Shelter Medicine Program 
  • Co-author, “Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters” 
  • Co-editor, Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters textbook 
  • Co-author, first-ever vaccine guidelines specifically for shelter dogs and cats
  • Co-chair, organizing committee for a specialty in Shelter Medicine, approved in 2014 by the AVMA 
  • Co-founder, the Million Cat Challenge, a five-year campaign to save one million cats in North American shelters


  • CFHS/FSCAA Innovation Award (2016) 
  • Maddie’s Hero Award (2017) 
  • Association of Shelter Veterinarians Veterinarian of the Year Award, 2017 

Selected Publications

Hurley, K.F., Levy, J.K. (2022) “Rethinking the Animal Shelter’s Role in Free-Roaming Cat Management” Front. Vet. Sci. 9

Wagner, D., Stavisky, J., Hurley, K.F. (2018). “Shelter housing for cats: Practical aspects of design and construction, and adaptation of existing accommodation.” J Feline Med Surg 20(7): 643-652. 

Wagner, D., Stavisky, J., Hurley, K.F. (2018). “Shelter housing for cats: Principles of design for health, welfare and rehoming.” J Feline Med Surg 20(7): 635-642. 

Wagner, D. C., Kass, P.H., Hurley, K.F. (2018). “Cage size, movement in and out of housing during daily care, and other environmental and population health risk factors for feline upper respiratory disease in nine North American animal shelters.” PLoS One 13(1): e0190140. 

Laderman-Jones, B. E., K. F. Hurley, et al. (2016). “Survey of animal shelter managers regarding shelter veterinary medical services.” The Veterinary Journal 210: 68-76. 

Wagner, D., S. Newbury, Kass, P., Hurley, K.F. (2014). “Elimination behavior of shelter dogs housed in double compartment kennels.” PLoS One 9(5): e96254 

Scherk, M. A., R. B. Ford, Gaskell, R.M. Hartmann, K., Hurley, K.F., Lappin, M.R., Levy, J.K., Little, S.E., Nordone, S.K., Sparkes, A.H. (2013). “2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report.” J Feline Med Surg 15(9): 785-808. 

Tanaka, A., D. C. Wagner, Hurley, K.F. (2012). “Associations among weight loss, stress, and upper respiratory tract infection in shelter cats.” J Am Vet Med Assoc 240(5): 570-576. 

Newbury, S. and K. F. Hurley (2012). Population Management. Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff. L. Miller and S. Zawistowski. Ames, Iowa, Blackwell Publishing93-114. 

Hurley, K. F. and P. A. Pesavento (2012). Disease recognition and diagnostic testing. Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff. L. Miller and S. Zawistowski. Ames, Iowa, Blackwell Publishing. 

Welborn, L. V., J. G. DeVries, Ford, R., Franklin, R.T., Hurley, K.F., McClure, K.D., Paul, M.A. , Schultz, R.D. (2011). “2011 AAHA canine vaccination guidelines.” J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 47(5): 1-42. 

Kruger, E. F., B. A. Byrne, Pesavento, P., Hurley, K.F., Lindsay, L.L., Sykes, J.E.,  (2010). “Relationship between clinical manifestations and pulsed-field gel profiles of Streptococcus canis isolates from dogs and cats.” Vet Microbiol. 

Newbury, S.P., Blinn, M.K., Bushby, P.A., Cox, C.B., Dinnage, J.D., Griffin, B., Hurley, K.F., Isaza, N., Jones, W., Miller, L., O’Quin, J., Patronek, G.J., Smith-Blackmore, M., Spindel, M. (2010). “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters”, The Association of Shelter Veterinarians. 

Miller, L. and Hurley, K.F., (2009) “Infectious disease management in animal shelters” Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa., 400 pages.  

Drazenovich, TL, Fascetti AJ, Westermeyer HD, Sykes JE, Bannasch MJ, Kass, PH, Hurley, KF, Maggs, DJ.(2009)  “Effects of dietary lysine supplementation on upper respiratory and ocular disease and detection of infectious organisms in cats within an animal shelter.” “Effects of dietary lysine supplementation on upper respiratory disease and infectious organism shedding in cats within an animal shelter.”  Am J Vet Res 70(11): 1391-1400. 

Hurley, K. F. and C. J. Baldwin (2008). “Developing Infectious Disease Policies and Procedures in an Animal Shelter”. Maddie’s Infection Control Manual for Animal Shelters. C. A. Petersen, G. Dvorak and A. R. Spickler. , Colorfx66-79. 

Pesavento, P. A., Hurley K.F. , et al. (2008). “A clonal outbreak of acute fatal hemorrhagic pneumonia in intensively housed (shelter) dogs caused by Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus.” Vet Pathol 45(1): 51-3. 

Timmins, R. P., Hurley, K.F., K. D. Cliff, et al. (2007). “Enhancing quality of life for dogs and cats in confined situations.” Animal Welfare 16(Supplement 1): 83-87. 

Pesavento, P. A., Hurley, K.F., Bannasch, M.J. et al. (2007). “Fatal Streptococcus canis infections in intensively housed shelter cats.” Vet Pathol 44(2): 218-21. 

Hurley, K. F. Feline infectious disease control in shelters. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2005; 35(1): 21-37. 

Hurley KF, Pesavento PA, Pedersen NC, Poland AM, Wilson E, Foley JE. An outbreak of virulent systemic feline calicivirus disease. J Am Vet Med Assoc. Jan 15 2004;224(2):241-249.