Cats in Canada 2017: A Five-Year Review of Cat Overpopulation

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.

Feral cat colony

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.

Are you a municipal official? Please download our letter to municipalities in English or French.

Click the image below to download an English copy of the report:

Cats in Canada Report 2017 (English)

Click the image below to download a French copy of the report:

Rapport: Les chats au Canada en 2017 (en Francais)

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