Sunday 24 October 2021

4,000 feral, 100,000 indoor and 96,000 indoor/outdoor domestic cats and strays in Washington DC

In a recent census of the number of stray, feral, indoor domestic, indoor/outdoor domestic and those cats in between, the conclusion was that there are 200,000 cats in the District of Columbia a.k.a. Washington DC or just plain Washington, the capital of the USA. That 200,000 cats is made up of 3000-4000 feral cats, about 96,000 indoor/outdoor domestic cats + strays and 100,000 indoor-only cats. That's my interpretation of the figures as provided online. The conclusion was that cats are at a high density in Washington DC.

4000 feral and 196,000 indoor and indoor/outdoor domestic cats in Washington DC
4000 feral and 196,000 indoor and indoor/outdoor domestic cats in Washington DC. Photo montage: DC cat count on Instagam.

Tyler Flockhart, a conservation biologist and science lead on the District of Columbia Count project, said: "I don't think that you can find another wild mammal—another wild carnivore—that occurs at that density anywhere in the world," he said, of cats and urban environments. I think that this is really sort of an interesting idea that we can have so many cats in such a small location."

This was a bold project. There was a determined and committed attempt to genuinely count the number of cats in a fixed area to include, as mentioned, indoor-only domestic cats (50% of the total domestic cats). In order to count the cats they surveyed more than 2,600 residents. They used camera traps at more than 1,500 locations. The researchers followed the routes that the cats followed. And they analysed 14,500 animal shelter records.

Of course, the camera traps recorded the activities of a whole range of animals residing in Washington DC such as squirrels, raccoons, foxes, deer and a bobcat. Flockhart concluded that there is a huge diversity of wildlife in the cities of the USA.

Below is an Instagram post by the team. I don't expect this embedded post to last long as they frequently turn to links. Here it is anyway:

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