Animal shelters see gap between cat and dog return-to-ownership rates

In San Luis Obispo County, there is a significant gap between the number of shelter dogs and cats returned to their owners.

While nearly 70% of dogs are returned to their original owners, the same could be said for less than 10% of cats.

Cambria’s Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) is a no-kill cat shelter with some insight to shed light on the subject.

Deputy director Wendy Wright cited cats’ longer lifespans and independent nature as potential reasons for this trend.

“The fact that cats live much longer than dogs could be a big factor. Other than that, I’m not really sure. Cats are truly independent creatures and maybe people are under the illusion that they’ll be fine,” Wright said. .

Although the cause of this trend is uncertain, the resulting problem is definitive.

“There are so many kittens,” Wright said. “There is a huge waiting list of kittens that need to be spayed or neutered.”

When so many kittens are born, more cats need homes. This only highlights the need for cats to be sterilized so that they don’t give birth to kittens that need more homes.

Wright added that the kittens HART currently cares for take up two entire rooms of the facility. They are currently on the waiting list for spaying and neutering until December due to incredibly high demand.

Despite their large capacity, the adoption rate is not always predictable, according to Kathy Wedle, the shelter’s interim director.

“Sometimes we have a whole bunch of adoptions at one time, and other times we have slow periods,” Wedle said.

She adds that the microchip, or lack thereof, could explain why some cats are never returned to their original owners.

“If they didn’t have a microchip, they could have been hit by a car or taken away by another family, so it’s really good to have them microchipped,” Wedle said.

As a member of the community, there are many ways to support shelter cats:

  • Report stray cats to a shelter near you
  • Take a stray cat to a facility to have it sterilized
  • Adopt a local shelter cat
  • Welcoming a shelter cat
  • Volunteer at a shelter near you


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