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Animals 2018, 8(6), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060095

Changes Associated with Improved Outcomes for Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters from 2011 to 2016

1
School of Veterinary Science, the University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
2
Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD 4069, Australia
3
Jemora Pty Ltd., Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
4
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Wacol, QLD 4076, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 22 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 12 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Simple Summary

The aim of this study was to identify changes that contributed to the markedly improved live release of cats in Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland shelters by comparing data from 2011 and 2016. Admission numbers were similar in these two years. The number and percentage euthanized decreased substantially from 58% in 2011 to 15% in 2016. The greatest contributor to this were marked increases in cats rehomed (i.e., adopted). The number of cats adopted doubled from 2011 to 2016, with over half the increase contributed by increased shelter adoptions, and the remainder achieved by increased off-site adoptions, largely through agreements with Petbarn stores. Improved outcomes were facilitated by nearly doubling the number of cats temporarily in foster care. Cats euthanized for behavioral reasons decreased by 85%, including a marked decrease in the number of euthanasias because the cat was deemed feral. Euthanasia of young kittens dramatically decreased. The number of cats reclaimed by their owner was similar in the two years and was only a small contributor to the numbers of cats released live. To achieve further improvements, programs that decrease intake for both stray and owned cats would be beneficial.

Abstract

This retrospective study of cat admissions to RSPCA Queensland shelters describes changes associated with improved outcomes ending in live release in 2016 compared to 2011. There were 13,911 cat admissions in 2011 and 13,220 in 2016, with approximately 50% in both years admitted as strays from the general public or council contracts. In contrast, owner surrenders halved from 30% to 15% of admissions. Percentages of admissions ending in euthanasia decreased from 58% to 15%. Only 5% of cat admissions were reclaimed in each of these years, but the percentage rehomed increased from 34% to 74%, of which 61% of the increase was contributed by in-shelter adoptions and 39% from non-shelter sites, predominately retail partnerships. The percentage temporarily fostered until rehoming doubled. In 2011, euthanasias were most common for medical (32% of all euthanasias), behavioral (36%) and age/shelter number (30%) reasons, whereas in 2016, 69% of euthanasias were for medical reasons. The number of young kittens euthanized decreased from 1116 in 2011 to 22 in 2016. The number of cats classified as feral and euthanized decreased from 1178 to 132, in association with increased time for assessment of behavior and increased use of behavior modification programs and foster care. We attribute the improved cat outcomes to strategies that increased adoptions and reduced euthanasia of young kittens and poorly socialized cats, including foster programs. To achieve further decreases in euthanasia, strategies to decrease intake would be highly beneficial, such as those targeted to reduce stray cat admissions. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat; shelter; RSPCA; admission source; outcomes; stray; surrendered; adopted; euthanized; desexed cat; shelter; RSPCA; admission source; outcomes; stray; surrendered; adopted; euthanized; desexed
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Kerr, C.A.; Rand, J.; Morton, J.M.; Reid, R.; Paterson, M. Changes Associated with Improved Outcomes for Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters from 2011 to 2016. Animals 2018, 8, 95.

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