Washington, D.C., Launches 3-Year-Long Initiative to Count All the City’s Cats

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PetMD Editorial
Published: July 23, 2018

Washington, D.C., is taking action to understand the growing populations of cats, both owned and feral, within the city.

A coalition of organizations—the Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute—plans on taking a census of all cats residing within the District of Columbia.

The cat census, called the DC Cat Count, will focus on tracking feral cat populations so that they can better understand how they work and develop more efficient and effective population control.

Lauren Lipsey, vice president of community programs from the Human Rescue Alliance, explains to The Washington Post, “Pets born outside are never coming into contact with our services.” She continues, “Our goal is to get a better picture of the state of the cat population in the D.C. area. Then we will be able to have more informed approaches as how we provide to our community.”

The project is no small feat. It is planned to take three years to complete, and will cost about $1.5 million to complete. The funds will be provided by animal advocacy nonprofit groups.

To document the activities of feral cats, there will be two full-time staffers and around 50 cameras set up all over the city and park areas to monitor and track their activities. They also plan on crowdsourcing part of their feline monitoring by sending out questionnaires for citizens to fill out. The New York Times also reports that there is even a smartphone app in development to help citizens document feral cat sightings, and will also allow them to submit photos.

The DC Cat Count website states, “At the conclusion of this project in June 2021 (est.), we will have estimated the number of all cats within Washington, DC and illustrated how cat population segments interact. Furthermore, we will have developed logistically feasible and scientifically sound tools and protocols that can be used by a wide variety of animal welfare or municipal organizations to facilitate data-driven cat population management.”

Image via TENphoto/Shutterstock.com

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