While managed admissions can be a good choice for any pet species, it applies particularly well to cats. We now know that only a tiny fraction of cats in a community are admitted to a shelter on any given day – far less than 1 percent of the overall free-roaming cat population.
If you’re curious, you can do the math for your own community. A recent study that compiled a number of smaller studies concluded that there are about 30-80 million un-owned cats in the United States, which equates to one cat for every 4-10 people (mid-point is one per every seven people). In Canada, the number of un-owned cats is estimated at 1.4 – 4.2 million or around one cat per 8.3 – 24.9 (mid-point of one per 16.6 people).
If you know the size of the population served by your shelter, you can estimate the number of un-owned cats out and about on a given day by dividing the population by the mid-point number or either end of the range that makes sense to you.
For a U.S. community, divide the human population by 7 for the midpoint; in Canada, divide the human population by 16.6.
If you’re in the U.S. but you’re awfully close to Canada and you think that data more likely applies, go ahead and choose those figures. If you want a more detailed graphic that also accounts for the presence of outdoor pet cats in the community, you can use either the U.S. or Canada version of the “Outdoor cat population calculator”.
You only need to compare the population of cats out and about in your community to the number of cats in your shelter on the most crowded day to realize a liberating truth: admitting a few more, or a few less cats, will have no impact on the overall risks caused or suffered by cats in the community, but an enormous impact on the shelter’s ability to ensure capacity for care.
There is also far more seasonal fluctuation for cats than for other species commonly handled by shelters. It makes little sense to admit a healthy, friendly adult cat to sit in the shelter for weeks or months while “mount kitten” surges through, when that same cat could wait in relative safety and comfort in his home or habitat for admission and re-homing once the wave of kittens has passed.