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Cat Shelter Euthanasia Encourages Poor Cat Ownership

About 2.5 million cats are euthanized at cat shelters in the USA yearly1. Of these 35% are relinquished cats. This is the percentage of cats at cat shelters that are from owners relinquishing their cats2. It follows that 875,000 cat companions (pets) are relinquished and killed at cat shelters each year in the USA. I say "killed" because I speculate that these are most often healthy, well adjusted cats and therefore the word, "euthanasia" does not apply. They are just unwanted cats, plain and simple.

In killing them the shelters take away the problem of relinquishment. It is dealt with. It is as if a cat is piece of rubbish to be discarded. Out if sight and out of mind is the motto. In destroying these unwanted cats we make it easier for people to relinquish their cat. We also send out the wrong signal to cat caretakers that a cat's life is not worth that much. This encourages further relinquishment. The mass slaughter - and it has to be called that - also numbs the senses. It has become an accepted routine. I find this astonishing and very sad. This problem should be dealt with before all other issues relating to the domestic cat.

I will further speculate that in the vast majority of cases the reason for relinquishing the cat is unjustified or the arguments for it are weak. People can always find a reason for doing something but is the reason soundly argued? In killing relinquished cats shelters are indirectly endorsing and supporting the process of relinquishment. This is not done deliberately but it is happening. Also cat shelters are undermining their objective as "shelters" and almost exclusively reacting to the problem.

Shelters do a lot of good, sometimes great work, of course they do, but I think it is time to change the way they work. Funding should be redirected from clearing up the mess to preventing the mess occurring. I'll let people with imagination and drive work out how to take proactive steps to curb the killing.

(1) Estimated from Social Compassion in Legislation, 2009 figures
(2) National Council on Pet Population, 2009


call Girl said…
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Greeting of Happy New Year also to all.
Anonymous said…
Would you like to say what you think a reasonable reason for relinquishing a cat would be? I have seen the following: new child has allergies; new spouse/less formal arrangement has allergies; moved to a new apartment that doesn't allow pets (I used to find this unforgiveable -- why did you get a cat if your living situation wasn't stable? but now so many people are losing jobs and having to move as a result); owner died, relatives + friends don't want cat/have too many cats already; rescue from a hoarding situation; etc. I have personally surrendered a very small kitten that I rescued from the wheel well of a car... he was too young for me to keep and I have 2 cats already.

I'm not sure there is much alternative to kill shelters while there are still feral cats breeding and creating more supply than demand. Of course I prefer no-kill shelters in principle; but in practice they get full and can't take new cats. And anyway, why should cats have more protection than, say, tuna?

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Michael Broad said…
Hi, response to comment above. Thanks for the comment. I can only think of one situation under which relinquishment is acceptable and that is when the human caretaker falls ill and is unable to care for her cat. As to tuna..I agree, tuna is massively overfished probably because of the Japanese. All fish are overfished. The arrogant human is trampling all over the planet taking what he can from it with no concern for the future. Shelters should be better organised. Some shelters don't kill. If some don't kill why can't all shelters be the same. And where are the proactive actions?

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