Canada's Cat Overpopulation Crisis
Canadians love cats. They are still this country’s most popular pet.
While cats are actually found in more Canadian households than dogs, sadly, they do not receive the same care and consideration as their canine counterparts. Education about dog behaviour is prevalent, dog-owner responsibilities are well established in municipal bylaws and canine companions are highly valued by Canadians. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for cats.
In most of the country, there is no dog overpopulation and, in some areas, there is even a shortage of dogs for adoption, while cat overpopulation continues to challenge communities across Canada. The impacts of this overpopulation are serious and include cats languishing in shelters long term, or worse, succumbing to stress-related illnesses. For cats who remain outdoors, risk of disease transmission, as well as illness, injury and death are daily realities.
What are the root causes of this overpopulation? If cats are not spayed or neutered and allowed to roam outdoors, the result is a lot of kittens on the streets and in animal shelters. And without permanent ID, a cat who gets lost might stay that way.
But the tide may be turning. After months of ground-breaking and intense industry research, the Humane Canada™ (formerly as CFHS) National Cat Overpopulation Task Force has released a brand-new study about how the issue of cat overpopulation has evolved in the last five years. In our newly released report, we’re seeing evidence that cats are starting to be treated with the level of care they deserve. Attitudes are shifting, spay/neuter rates are going up and we’re seeing more cats with permanent ID, like tattoos and microchips – which help them to find their way home if they ever get lost or separated from their owner. Overall, we seem to be shifting to a more proactive approach to cat ownership in Canada, which is encouraging.
The good news is that we’ve taken some giant leaps forward in cat welfare since 2012. The bad news is that it’s not happening quickly enough to overcome Canada’s cat overpopulation crisis. We still have a long way to go. Shelters in your area are likely still overwhelmed with the number of cats in crisis – just like almost every other SPCA and humane society across the country. And, they need the help of Humane Canada™ today, more than ever.
As our members deal with these issues in their local communities, Humane Canada™ is working at the national level to develop new and innovative programs to help them address overpopulation and its impacts. We are also tracking how these innovative approaches are working.
While the situation may be improving, the pace of change is still too slow. That’s why Humane Canada™ is working to engage even more stakeholders in this next phase of work to overcome the crisis.
Click the image below to download an English copy of the report:
Click the image below to download a French copy of the report:
Did you find this report enlightening and helpful? Support our work so we can keep expanding Canada's body of animal welfare research!
Canada’s Cat Overpopulation Crisis
The biggest problem that threatens cats in Canada is homelessness.
Cats are a domesticated species that need human care to survive and stay healthy - especially during cold Canadian winters. But every year, the population of homeless cats grows, and more and more cats flow into already crowded animal shelters. It is estimated that less than half of cats admitted to shelters are adopted. The majority are euthanized. Many never make it to a shelter and, instead, die painful deaths outside.
The homeless cat crisis affects nearly every community in Canada, urban and rural. Want to learn more?
Click the image below to download the 2017 Cats in Canada Report
Click the images below to read the original 2012 Cats in Canada Report
What is Humane Canada™ doing about cat overpopulation?
Shelters in your neighborhood are overwhelmed with the number of cats in crisis – just like every other SPCA and humane society across the country. And they need the help of Humane Canada™ today, more than ever.
While our members deal with these issues in their local communities, they need Humane Canada™ to work at the national level, developing new and innovative programs to help them get more cats off the streets and into loving homes. But, we can’t do it alone. We need YOUR HELP.
More than one way to SAVE a cat
The good news is that every Canadian can take action to save cat lives. To re-phrase an old anti-feline saying, there is more than one way to save a cat.
Here are six ways you can help right now:
- ADOPT. Adopt a cat from an animal shelter or animal rescue group. Remember: kittens are cute, but adult cats are the ones whose lives are most at risk.
- FOSTER. Give a temporary home to a cat in need by volunteering to foster cats or kittens for your local humane society, SPCA or cat rescue group. By fostering, you save two lives: the cat you foster (who might not have survived in the stressful shelter environment), and the cat who benefits from an extra space freed up in the shelter.
- SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR CAT. Help cut off cat overpopulation at the source. If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, ask yourself: can you guarantee that each and every kitten your cat might produce in his or her lifetime will end up in a secure, permanent home?
- I.D. YOUR CAT. Even indoor cats can escape and end up lost. By giving your cat permanent identification, like a microchip and a tag with your address and contact information on it, you dramatically decrease the risk that she could become lost and never found.
- DONATE.The problem we face is complicated. By taking action TODAY and supporting Humane Canada's homeless cat crisis response, you are helping us put solutions into the hands of shelters across the country.
- ADVOCATE FOR CATS by writing letters to your local government representatives. Ask them to pass by-laws that encourage or require residents to register, I.D. and spay or neuter their cats. Local governments can also prohibit residents from letting cats roam outdoors, which keeps cats (and birds) much safer.