Shaping the Path of Least Resistance: Calculating the Savings

Document Type:
Shelter Population Management and Community Cat Resources

Use this intake reduction rewards calculator to evaluate the potential to reduce your facility's intake and euthanasia rates.

Although shelter-based TNR (SNR) is often the ideal response to unowned cats that would otherwise be euthanized, not every shelter can afford this for every cat. Studies have shown that simply shaping the environment to make an undesired behavior more difficult, and a desired one easier, can impact even seemingly profound choices. Thus when SNR is not available, another way to decrease intake and euthanasia of un-owned cats is to simply make it easier to find another solution (such as finding the cat’s owner, TNR through a community program, environmental modification, or humane deterrents) than to bring a cat to the shelter. Even at shelters obligated to take in stray cats, there may not be an obligation to make it the easiest, cheapest choice for healthy cats that could otherwise do well in the community. Options include closing night drop, discontinuing field pickups of healthy strays, and reducing over the counter intake by charging fees for healthy stray cats brought in by the finder. Although of course cats may still be brought in by determined finders, shelters have reported the number is often dramatically decreased. An added benefit of reducing stray cat intake is that studies have shown that stray cats are far more likely to be reunited with their owners if left where they are versus brought in to a shelter. Finders can be provided with information on how to reunite cats with owners and resources on living with community cats, as appropriate. Of course, sick, injured, dangerous, orphaned and otherwise at-risk stray cats should still be admitted without delay, as well as cats with identification. Kittens that can be rehomed should also be prioritized.  And if you try any of these methods, let us know how it goes at!

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