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Really interesting information...

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
This was posted at the Best Friends Forum:


Question from Carla: ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I have read arguments to the effect that unowned animals contribute far more to the population problem than do owned animals. In efforts to promote more shelter space, adoption facilities, and above all, affordable spay-neuter, it would help to know how many animals in total exist per capita. I can find formulas for owned animals per capita but have no clue about unowned animals (cats and dogs, that is). Is there a way to make a plausible estimate for a given state, county or city?

Richard Avanzino’s response:

For starters, I would say the population of unowned dogs in most communities in the United States is relatively small, although there are a few regional pockets throughout the country where larger populations do exist. Animal control departments have historically kept free-roaming and unowned dogs in check due to concerns about rabies.

Cats are a very different matter. There are populations of unowned and free-roaming domestic cats as well as true ferals. To get a better handle on these numbers, I called Animal People editor, Merritt Clifton.

“Based on road kill data plus shelter intakes, I don't think the current feral cat population is more than about 8.5 million. Five million would be my low-end estimate. Split the difference and it might be 6.75 million--but the local distribution will vary from almost none to 40-50% of the total number of cats, so anyone working on this issue really needs to do local-level research before publicizing an estimate.â€

In your opening sentence, you imply that the unowned population potentially creates a large overpopulation and/or sheltering problem. But does it really? Maybe that depends on the definition of overpopulation. Does overpopulation mean too many born? Too many in a community? Too many in a shelter? It’s an interesting discussion for another time.

Notice that Merritt Clifton puts the total # of feral cats at 8.5 million...that is a far cry from the 20 to 60 million cats I have read in other sources.

post #2 of 2
...which also puts into question the 219 million birds killed per year in one state by that ridiculas study that the bird people use to justify their position. Although, the 60-100 million unowned cats is a figure used by Alley Cat Allies, so it is from a reputable and even pro-cat source.

Definitely interesting, though! Maybe with the new research going on now we will have a better estimate of the true number of unowned/feral cats in the next few years.
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