PLENARY: Cats in Canada: A Five-Year Update on the CFHS National Cat Research

SUNDAY, APRIL 22
9:15AM-10:00AM

SPEAKER:
Dr. Toolika Rastogi PhD, Policy and Research Manager, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)

ABSTRACT:

In 2012, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) published a groundbreaking national study about the cat overpopulation crisis faced by Canadians and their most popular companion animals. Cats in Canada: A Comprehensive Report on the Cat Overpopulation Crisis presented data and opinions collected from Canadian cat stakeholders, including humane societies, SPCAs, municipalities, veterinarians, rescue organizations, trap-neuter-return groups and spay/neuter organizations. It was the first report of its kind, elaborating on the negative consequences of cat overpopulation, including homelessness, overburdened animal shelters and euthanasia.

In late 2017, CFHS released a follow-on study, looking at changes that have transpired for cats after five years of dedicated focus to this issue. Results from the same stakeholder groups are presented, along with findings of a general population survey of Canadians regarding cat ownership, to reveal the current situation of cats in Canada.

The results tell a "good news, bad news" story. The good news is cat euthanasia rates have declined, cat adoption has risen, sterilization rates appear to be improving and there have been increases in the use and perceived success of TNR and accessible spay/neuter programs. The bad news, however, is that twice as many cats are being admitted to shelters as dogs, the fraction of those who are juvenile is twice as high as for dogs, and there continues to be more cats in shelters than homes available to take them in.

The persistence of cat overpopulation calls for strengthened communication across stakeholder groups and the development of an integrated response to address cat overpopulation. We welcome the opportunity afforded by the conference to engage in discussions about the next steps towards making progress nationally on this issue.

KEY LEARNINGS:

  1. How cat overpopulation issues have evolved over the last five years in Canada.
  2. How the 2017 cat overpopulation study was conducted.
  3. Discussion on how to move forward to end cat overpopulation in Canada.

BIO
Policy and Research Manager at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Dr. Toolika Rastogi leads the CFHS national shelter statistics program and companion animal welfare research projects. She also represents CFHS on the National Farm Animal Care Council and the Canadian Council on Animal Care and is a member of Nature Canada’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee for Nature Canada's Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives initiative. Toolika holds a PhD in Molecular and Medical Genetics, a postdoctoral certificate in conservation genetics and a Masters degree in Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development Policy.