Shelter cats in Calgary & Edmonton to benefit from quality-of-life program

This cat is enjoying a larger living space, thanks to the Capacity For Care program.
This cat is enjoying a larger living space, thanks to the Capacity For Care program. COURTESY: Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

A new national initiative aims to help save the lives of cats in shelters, and two Humane Societies in Alberta have been chosen as the pilot sites.

“In collaboration with award-winning veterinary experts from the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program in California, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is changing how Canadian shelters house and manage their cats to save thousands of feline lives,” said Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of CFHS.

Capacity for Care is a program that ensures that cats live happier and healthier lives while they are in shelters.

“In Canada more than 80 per cent of the cats that are euthanized in shelters are euthanized due to illness,” Cartwright said. “Capacity for Care dramatically reduces the stress that induces illnesses while in shelters and thereby dramatically reduces euthanasia, while increasing adoption.”

Both the Calgary Humane Society and the Edmonton Humane Society have been chosen as this years’ pilot sites for the program.

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The program, which aims to improve cat care, seeks to provide cats with larger living areas with separate areas for eating and for litter. This is done by creating a two-cage space for cats which allows them to move between levels.

Some other initiatives for the program include fast-tracking the adoption process, holding adoption specials, and changing cleaning practices.

The program has already been implemented in three other humane societies across the country and has shown great success so far.

These three organizations noted a 40 to 87 per cent decrease of sick cats. At the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society, staff noted the length of stay decreased by 51 per cent.

There are specific reasons why Calgary and Edmonton were chosen as the pilot sites.

“Calgary and Edmonton were chosen for their commitment to undertake implementing the Capacity for Care program in their shelters and for their size, location and stakeholder configurations,” Cartwright said.

The Edmonton Humane Society also implemented another program to further ensure cat welfare.

“The Edmonton Humane Society was the first shelter in Western Canada to commit to the Million Cat Challenge, and we have made operational changes that support Capacity for Care as a way to effectively manage cat populations and enhance the lives of cats in our care,” said Miranda Jordan-Smith, chief executive officer at the Edmonton Humane Society.

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The Calgary Humane Society sees the benefits of the program and is excited to implement it into their shelter.

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“Calgary Humane Society is incredibly grateful to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies for the opportunity to participate in the Capacity for Care project with the veterinary team from UC Davis,” said Carrie Fritz, executive director of the Calgary Humane Society.

“We have now completed our kick-off conference call and are all very excited to get to work on the Calgary project in the upcoming months.”