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CANADA: Record number of cats being adopted, survey of shelters shows

Experts say a social shift has occurred which has helped reduce the number of animals that could potentially end up back in the system

A new report shows that more and more shelter cats end up finding new homes.

Humane Canada, an organization that represents SPCAs and humane societies, found that 47 per cent of dogs and a record 62 per cent of cats living in shelters were adopted last year.

As well, the number of pets in care was down. More than 81,000 cats and just under 31,000 dogs were taken in across Canada in 2018 — but that’s a significant decrease compared with just a few years ago, especially when it comes to cats.

The organization’s annual report, released Thursday, is based on a survey of 87 Canadian animal shelters and seven foster facilities.

Dr. Toolika Rastogi, policy and research manager with Humane Canada, said things are headed in the right direction.

“Adoptions are what we want to see,” she said. “And year on year, we’re seeing increases in adoptions and decreases in the number of animals coming into shelters because there’s not as many of them out there that are homeless.”


There are a number of factors behind the improvements seen in recent years, she said.

Spay and neuter programs at shelters are reducing the number of animals that could potentially end up back in the system.

Municipal bylaws can help too, she said. Humane societies and SPCAs are also improving their best practices as the years go on.

But a social shift has occurred as well. Ideas about how to be a responsible pet owner have evolved and animals are being valued more.

“We think of them more as members of the family,” Rastogi said.

Humane Canada has been collecting shelter data since 1993 and releasing an annual report for about six years.

While the number of cats adopted in 2018 is higher than the organization has ever observed, more than twice as many cats still end up at shelters than dogs, the report found.

One factor is how cats are more likely to roam freely outdoors.

“Cats have not typically had the same level of care as dogs,” Rastogi said. “So whether that be because they’re allowed outside, but they’re not given a collar to wear with an ID tag or they’re not microchipped.

“And therefore, if something happens, they don’t have that system to help them, to help the cat find its way home. That’s definitely part of it.”

Adoptable cats are also more likely to be euthanized in shelters, at eight per cent versus two per cent for dogs.

- Global News