Cats! The Good, The Sad and the Changeable.
It is no secret that there is an overpopulation problem for cats and dogs. In fact, the numbers are staggering when you stop and analyze them. Found Animals Foundation recently developed The Pet Overpopulation Challenge infographic that you see above.
It probably comes as no surprise to you, my fellow feline friends, that cats are #1! There are 93 million cat owners and 77 million dog owners. So that means that 55% of all pet owners are living with cats! And, 56% of those cat owners are sharing their habitats with more than one cat! It is super terrific that so many cats are enjoying the good life in forever homes. Our prestige is being noticed by marketers too as there are many new feline fabulous products becoming available on the market. The pet parent’s love for their pets helped The Pet Industry remain strong over the last few years even when other parts of the economy were taking a bit of a nap. This is good for those cats in loving homes but what about our homeless cousins? We cats rule but we must take this responsibility serious. We can’t just play fetch and chomp bones all day. No offense to my dog friends.
We fastidious felines must do our part to help others in need.
An estimated 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters in the United States each year. Approximately 50% of these animals are euthanized, most often for lack of a forever home. Found Animals Foundation took a closer look at Los Angeles area shelters and found that of the 87,000 cats that entered area shelters, 75% (65,000) were euthanized. Of the 107,000 dogs that entered area shelters, 33% (35,000) were euthanized. Although 46% of the dogs entering Los Angeles area shelters are adopted, only 20% of cats entering the shelters are adopted.
Only 1 in 10 domestic cats entering animal shelters are spayed or neutered, and less than 1% of feral cats have been sterilized. Now this is super serious because, we cats are gifted with many talents, but one of our strengths, if not managed , is also our greatest weakness and that is our ability to multiply. No not our mathematical skills, but to reproduce. Did you know that a single pair of unsterilized cats and their kittens can produce anywhere from 100-5,000 kittens? This is no reason for a Tom Cat to strut either because there is an estimated 12 million to nearly 100 million feral cats roaming around the United States.
Feral cat colonies cause heated discussions in communities. The cats are misunderstood, mistreated and despised by some humans. There are many great cat loving humans working hard to help, but we all need to do our part by stopping the exponential domestic feline population growth. People too, humans just reached 7 billion.
Just today I was reading an article in the International Herald Tribune called Feral Cats and Social Indicators by Dan Morrison. The article addresses the dozens of stray cats that call the Dhaka Children’s Hospital in Bangladesh home. Unfortunately, there was a report that one of the cats walked into the neonatal ward, and thought about taking the six-day-old baby as prey. This is a terrible situation. Thankfully the baby is recovering. But these types of stories are not good PR for the feral feline population. In addition to the human-feline conflicts are the feline-bird conflicts. This is a tough situation with slanted statistics and spin that makes not only the feral cat but any outdoor cat seem like the enemy. We all must do our part to help.
Found Animals Foundation suggests a focus on a core group of strategic priorities.
Pet Adoption: By encouraging the public to visit their local animal care center and making sure it is a positive experince will prove to the potential pet parent that adoption is the best option for acquiring a new furry family member.
Pet Care: Help out by sharing with new pet parents tips about how to care for their new pet. For cats, litter box issues are the main reason for being surrendered to a shelter. There are many great training tips and and products to help both the cat and the parents live a long healthy happy life together.
Pet Spay and Neuter: This is perhaps the most important way to decrease the number of animals entering the shelters. Make sure your cat or dog is sterilized and consider donating to facilities that are committed to high quality, low cost spay and neuter procedures.
Pet Identification: Make sure your pet has identification in the form of a collar with a tag and/or is microchipped. Cats with a microchip that are lost are 21.4 times more likely to be returned to their owners.
Remember that small changes can add up to make a big difference. Thank you for caring for all animals big and small.