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Regulating Cat Owners Will NOT Stop Euthanasia!

23rd May 2013

Unwanted cats are commonly admitted to animal shelters in large numbers where they may be euthanased. A lack of information limits understanding of the excess cat problem and the development of effective management strategies. There is an urgent need to better understand the cat population entering shelters.

A retrospective single cohort study was conducted using all cats arriving from 1 July 2006 to 31 June 2008 at 11 RSPCA Queensland shelters in Australia.

 The aim was to describe characteristics of the cats entering RSPCA QLD shelters and to identify risk factors for euthanasia. The study found that the number of reclaimed cats was very low.

 54% of admissions were kittens under 3 months of age and almost half of these were surrendered, indicating that reducing the number of kittens born to owned cats as a result of delayed desexing is an important strategy to reduce shelter admission numbers. Increasing the prevalence of microchipping and other forms of identification may also assist to increase reclaim rates.

 However, management strategies that exclusively focus on owned cats will have limited impact. Further research is required to better understand the stray cat population in the community and how cats transition between owned, semi-owned and stray populations.

 Alberthsen, C., Rand, J.S., Paterson, M. et al. (2013) Cat admissions to RSPCA shelters in Queensland, Australia: description of cats and risk factors for euthanasia after entry. Australian Veterinary Journal, 91(1–2): 35–42.

(Abstract from RSPCA ‘Science” magazine)

 

 

Dr Joanne Sillince

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