A game-changing new research project is aiming to estimate the number of cats in Washington DC. The DC Cat Count will use a variety of strategies, including public surveys, shelter intake numbers and motion-activated cameras to calculate the number of pet, stray and feral cats in the city and study interactions between the population segments.
The DC Cat Count is an excellent example of constructive collaboration between animal welfare organizations and wildlife scientists who want to work co-operatively “to pursue common goals for cats and wildlife rather than engage in conflict.” Supported by PetSmart Charities, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Rescue Alliance and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the project will cost $1.5 million and take an estimated three years.
The researchers will use the data to develop a tool to estimate cat population size and evaluate the impacts of population management efforts in any community. As there is no broadly accepted or objective criteria to evaluate the impact of cat management efforts, the project has the potential to make an enormous contribution to both animal welfare and wildlife conservation.