The figure in the title relates to 2010. It is an extraordinarily high figure but probably not exceptional.
I suppose if we look on the bright side 20% of cats were adopted. The Jackson County Animal Control Shelter had a bit of a shock to their system recently (Dec 2011) when a microchipped domestic cat was euthanised (let’s use the more honest phrase: killed in a control way) as an unadoptable feral cat. More specifically the cat was considered “unmanageable” by the staff.
This really brings into question the methods utilised in deciding if a cat is unmanageable and therefore not suitable for adoption.
The cat (Max) was obviously suitable for adoption because he was living with a person. It appears that he was upset and anxious because of the treatment that he was experiencing.
I am not saying that the staff were treating him badly. I am saying that Max was upset because he was in a strange place, in a cage, that he considered hostile resulting probably in defensive aggressive behavior. In short this should be thought of as normal behavior for a well socialized domestic cat.
I wonder how many cats are put down in shelters because they are frightened and defensive? Is enough consideration being given by shelter staff to factor into an assessment of character the sudden change in conditions under which the cat finds himself?
Assessment of a cat’s personality should be done in neutral, comfortable surroundings that mimic those of a cared for domestic cat. Cats are reactive in behavior. They will react to stimuli around them. If the stimulus is frightening to a cat for whatever reason this will dramatically alter the outcome of an assessment.
Happily the outcome of this disaster has stirred the shelter into reconsidering their practices and methods to maximise adoptions.
See also: No Kill Animal Shelters – more can be done to slow down the killing and speed up the adopting.