The stray cat population is shrinking, here’s why

Categories: President's Blog

The first thing I do on Monday mornings is walk around the shelter to see how many animals we have in the building, who got adopted over the weekend and who needs extra support. During my tour this week, I was struck by the fact that we don’t have a lot of cats available for adoption. We have a few kitties waiting for their stray period to be completed, some cats who had been turned in by an owner and a couple cats left abandoned at a residence. This is really great news and I wanted to share some of the reasons behind it.

The status of cats has changed in our society. Over last couple of decades, I have witnessed more and more people welcome cats as family pets akin to their canine counterparts. Cats now occupy a central place in our homes and our hearts. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association website, more than 30 percent of individuals in the United States own at least one cat, equaling more than 36 million households. Most of them have at least two cats in their home. Anecdotally, as a shelter worker, in the past, it has felt that cats were almost treated as second class to dogs. Now, I am seeing more and more households recognizing the beauty of cat ownership and cats themselves. Most cat owners will share how their pet cats are majestic animals with a lot of love to give. More cats are living indoors, being taken to the veterinarian and treated as a family member.

More people are spaying/neutering their cats. The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA (PHS) has many proactive programs to assist our community with cat overpopulation. The most well-known, of course, is spay/neuter. Preventing a cat from reproducing is one of the most effective ways to prevent more homeless pets. To this end, every cat and kitten adopted from our shelter is spay/neutered before they go home with their new family. And we offer free and low-cost spay/neuter to owned cats residing in our 11 animal control service areas at our public wellness clinic.

TNR and working cat programs are controlling the number of community cats. PHS offers free TNR services–spay/neuter, eartipping (a form of identification for community cats), and vaccines–for community cats in our 11 animal control service areas. For feral and semi-feral cats that are turned into the shelter, we have the Employ-A-Cat program, which puts cats to work at businesses and other places to control rodents.

There are more cat behavior resources available. PHS provides a free behavior helpline that can help cat owners address many nuisance behaviors. We have staff at the shelter who are experts in cat behavior. Adopters are given tools and resources to help with appropriate scratching, litterbox issues, introducing cats to residents pets, and how to foster a good relationship between cats and children.

While we have come a long way in offering proactive programs to curb the number of homeless cats, there is still work to be done. I am concerned about the thousands of kittens and cats that continue to come into our care each year. I know that the breeding season switch will be turned on soon. With the warm weather, we will see an immediate surge of cats being born and subsequently turned into the animal shelter. By the end of May, our cattery will be full with meowing faces just looking for food and a warm place to sleep. We will see unspayed moms with their babies, and babies who have no moms needing to be bottle fed and cared for around the clock. Unfortunately, I know that it’s now the calm before the storm and that soon our summer is going to be filled with too many homeless cats.

So, much has been done to help cats, but there is still more to do. I hope that I’ve inspired you to do your part in preventing cat overpopulation in our community. Consider the following:

  • Spay or neuter your cat.
  • Keep your owned cat safe indoors.
  • Adopt your next cat from the animal shelter.
  • Volunteer at the shelter to help with cats in need.
  • Donate to help care for the many animals in need.

For more information about the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA’s community programs and for resources to help you be a more responsible pet owner, visit pasadenahumane.org.