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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


June is Adopt a Cat month. Needless to say, cats make wonderful pets and terrific companions. So the fact that an entire month is dedicated to encouraging people to adopt a cat is not surprising. But there are even more important reasons for choosing this month to encourage the adoption of a cat (or two).


Unfortunately, only one of four shelter cats actually ends up in a home. Nationwide, it is estimated that 2 million cats are euthanized every year. That equates to 5,650 cats every day. In California animal control facilities alone, between the years 2000-2010, 2.5 million cats were euthanized. In 2010, 276,052 cats were euthanized in these facilities.


Those statistics are staggering in and of themselves. Add to them the fact that, in many areas of the country, springtime marks the start of “kitten season.” By June, most shelter facilities are faced with a large influx of kittens, all of which need homes.


Where do cat owners actually obtain their cats? Interestingly, less than 1/3 of cat owners adopt their cat from a shelter or rescue facility. According to 2012 American Pet Products Association (APPA) statistics:

  • 41% of cat owners obtained their cat from a friend or relative.
  • 29% were adopted from a shelter or rescue facility.
  • 10% were bred at home.
  • 19% were obtained by other means.


Even more surprising is the fact that only 2% of the cats that end up in shelters ever find their way back home. Likely, many of these cats are or were previously owned. However, a lost cat is three times more likely to be found by non-shelter means such as a neighbor finding the cat or the cat returning home on its own. When returned via a shelter facility, it’s usually because the cat was wearing an identification tag or had a microchip.


Obviously, shelter and rescue cats need our help. I encourage you to consider adopting a cat, or maybe even two cats. It would be wonderful if we could see the cat adoption rate soar, not only in the month of June but afterwards as well. However, please be sure you are fully prepared both physically and financially to care for your new pet if you do decide to adopt. CATalyst Council addresses some of the things you should consider prior to adoption in this recent news release.


If you do decide to adopt a new cat or kitten, you can get some tips on caring for your new charge in this previous petMD post: Caring for Your New Cat.


If you decide that you are not prepared to adopt a new cat at the current time but would still like to help, there are many options. Consider volunteering at your local shelter or rescue. Donations are almost always welcome as well. Donating cash is always an option but many shelters and rescues also welcome donations of food, blankets, towels, litter, and other supplies.


Dr. Lorie Huston


Image: Dustie / via Shutterstock


Comments  1

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  • Statistics Breakdown
    06/10/2013 07:18pm

    I'd be curious to break down the statistics a little farther and find out how many are "foster failures" as well as taking in the neighborhood stray. (I currently have two foster failures and two neighborhood strays.) Maybe foster failures could count as shelter adoptions?

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