What percent of cats are euthanised in shelters?

Once again this is a question asked on the Internet. Observers in America want to know the percentage of cats at shelters who are euthanised. It’ll be a raw statistic and it is quite hard to find the answer if you try and work it out piecemeal. However, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides us with an undated answer. I say “undated” because the answer very much depends upon the date. Euthanasia rates are dropping in America.

Euthanized cat
Screenshot from YouTube
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

They say that 860,000 cats are euthanised in shelters in America annually. They also usefully tell us that 3.2 million cats enter US animal shelters nationwide every year.

From these figures we can work out the percentage of cats euthanised in shelters in America. That figure is 860,000÷3.2 million multiplied by 100 which makes 26.9%.

Interestingly, another website, the kittencoalition.org reporting the ASPCA figures say that 41% of cats are euthanised at shelters. This figure comes from a reported 1.4 million cats euthanised at shelters out of an intake of 3.4 million.

You can see therefore that the figures are unreliable and inconsistent. I suspect that part of the problem is (1) a lack of nationwide reporting and (2) changing statistics over the years with substantial reductions currently which is partly due to a push for genuine no-kill shelters.

American Humane say that national euthanasia statistics are difficult to pinpoint because agencies are not in general required to keep statistics on the number of animals received, adopted, reclaimed or euthanised. And there is no national reporting structure from which the compilation of National statistics can be created.

On their webpage, they are only able to report statistics from as far back as 1997 and on only 1,000 shelters which replied to the survey. In that year (and remember that euthanasia rates have declined I think quite substantially since 1997) they say that 71% of cats entering animal shelters were euthanised. As usual, more cats are euthanised than dogs. There are a number of reasons one of which is that they are less likely to be reclaimed and because they are more likely to enter shelters without any owner identification i.e. microchips.

You can see, therefore, that approximately 20 years ago the euthanasia rates were much higher but I think we have to bear in mind that these figures are estimates.

Note: I would welcome the input of a visitor who might have information that I do not have access to and which provides a more consistent and reliable percentage of cat euthanasia at American shelters.

To turn briefly to the United Kingdom, the RSPCA say that they euthanised nearly half (50%) the animals that they took in in 2012. In the article that I have read on the Express newspaper website they do not differentiate between the animals and therefore I cannot specify the euthanasia rate for cats by the RSPCA.

In Australia, the RSPCA tell us that for the 2016-2017 financial year, 27.01% of cats taken in by the charity were euthanised amounting to 14,563 cats.

2 thoughts on “What percent of cats are euthanised in shelters?”

  1. Any cat in the US entering a public shelter is at high risk of being euthanized.
    Are there categories for euthanasia reasons. This would be a good way to hide the true numbers and does this number include feral cats or strays or just surrenders. What about the numbers for medical conditions ? I really question the low numbers , either of them, based on my personal observations.
    There are a lot of ways to hide the true numbers.


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