Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

December 18, 2012 10:00 ET

No Room at the Inn: Canadian Animal Shelters Full with Cats!

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 18, 2012) - The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) released a ground breaking multi-stakeholder report today on the crisis of cat overpopulation in our country.

The report finds the animal sheltering system is at, or dangerously over, capacity to care for the cats that arrive at their doors. Cats are twice as likely as dogs to end up abandoned at a shelter or rescue. Some of these cats are surrendered pets, others are found as strays roaming the streets. The data reveals that cats entering the sheltering system have less than a 1% chance of being reunited with their families compared with dogs which have a 30% chance - most likely due to the trend in Canada to leave cats without a collar or permanent identification. Sadly, the research projects more than 600,000 homeless cats in shelters did not find new homes in 2011 - either left waiting for a new home or facing euthanasia.

"We need to reduce the number of unwanted cats, to get more lost cats back home and to increase the number of homes willing to adopt! We undertook this research to better understand the negative consequences of cat overpopulation including homelessness, overburdened shelters, animal control and rescues, and euthanasia for space and illness," said CFHS CEO Barbara Cartwright. "This report compiles the data from 478 stakeholders across the country including humane societies, SPCAs, municipalities, veterinarians, rescues, trap-neuter-return groups and spay/neuter organizations."

"The report highlighted some startling discoveries and identified that if large-scale, targeted action is not taken, the cat overpopulation problem will worsen," said Craig Naherniak of the BC SPCA.

The good news is that Canadians like cats! The research found that there are currently an estimated 10.2 million owned cats in Canada and they are a more popular pet choice than dogs. But the problem comes from the number of cats that are abandoned, lost or homeless. And the need for new homes is desperate.

Kelly Mullaly, Executive Director of the PEI Humane Society stated that: "The research identified that adoption is the most readily available short-term solution to the cat overpopulation crisis. But unfortunately, this research also indicated that only 44% of cats brought into shelters are adopted out. We need nation-wide media support of the 'Opt to Adopt' message as the number one way to acquire a new pet."

However, Canadians are more likely to acquire a "free" cat from a friend, relative, as a give-away, from their own pet's offspring or take in a stray than they are to adopt from a humane society, SPCA or a rescue group. "This is a big reason why CFHS is part of the IAMS Home 4 the Holidays campaign," said Ms. Cartwright. "This annual initiative works to match cats with loving forever homes around the holiday season."

But the adoption option only improves the current population of cats. For the long term, when asked what will solve this problem, stakeholders agreed very strongly that spay/neuter is key to reducing cat overpopulation. Currently less than 20% of the cats surrendered to shelters are spayed and neutered.

"The research revealed what those of us in the sheltering community already know; to end cat overpopulation, owners must spay and neuter their pets, even indoor cats, and the procedure must be accessible and affordable," said Denys Pelletier, Executive Director of SPA de Québec.

Although legislation is a commonly proposed solution to a problem, stakeholders who responded to the survey identified that a lack of resources can make the enforcement of municipal bylaws a challenge. "There is no single stakeholder or group responsible for the problem or finding the solution- it is truly a community problem that requires a community effort to resolve," Ms. Cartwright said.

To end cat overpopulation the CFHS has identified many things that need to happen including more accessible and affordable spay/neuter surgeries, an increase in adoption rates, greater education about the plight of cats, adequate support for strategies that require enforcement (such as by-laws) and that overall, owners must take more responsibilities for their pets.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is a national organization representing humane societies and SPCAs in Canada. Founded in 1957, the CFHS works toward positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals.

To download a copy of the report visit

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Kim Elmslie,
    Communications Manager, CFHS
    1-888-678-2347 ex. 12

    To arrange interviews with provincial spokespersons contact:
    SPCA Newfoundland and Labrador
    Simone Brown

    PEI Humane Society
    Sophia Ball
    (902) 892-1190 Ext. 24

    Nova Scotia SPCA
    Kristin Williams
    1-888-703-7722 x 228

    Fredericton SPCA
    Karen McGeean
    (506) 459-1555

    SPA de Quebec
    Denys Pelletier
    (418) 527-9104 Ext. 227

    Guelph Humane Society
    Michelle Anderson-Cameron
    (519) 824-3091

    Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society
    Jack Kinch
    (519) 745-5615

    Winnipeg Humane Society
    Bill McDonald
    (204) 982-2037

    Saskatchewan SPCA
    Frances Wach
    (306) 382-7722

    Saskatoon SPCA
    Tiffany Koback
    (306) 374-7387

    Edmonton Humane Society
    Stephanie Walsh

    British Columbia SPCA
    Lorie Chortyk
    (604) 681-7271