To support those working with unowned cats around the world, International Cat Care (iCatCare) has launched a series of cat-friendly decision-making documents.
With an estimated population of 600 million cats worldwide (half of which are unowned), the sharing of educational resources is essential to improving cat welfare on a global scale but must take into account the unique lifestyles and circumstances that surround unowned cats. Decision-making is therefore integral to the important work carried out by key stakeholders such as homing centres, national government, foster carers and welfare organisations and the documents have been designed to help navigate the complex issues that arise daily within the unowned cat community.
Claire Bessant, iCatCare’s chief executive said: “Working with cats can be complex, and never more so when it is in the field of unowned cats and how to help both them and the people on this front line of cat welfare.
“Bringing together this information has taken many years – time to understand cats and the issues, time to understand people’s challenges and time to consult and review what we know and what we don’t.
“For unowned cats, there is no doubt that good advice is scarce, hence our approach to bringing together information in as straightforward and pragmatic a way as possible. Everyone’s situation is a little different, so developing a broad understanding of the cat issues and being able to work through decisions in a cat-friendly way should aid those in these difficult situations.”
The three new cat-friendly decision-making documents present respectful and carefully-reasoned discussions, bringing together the available science and current practices to address the diverse challenges faced by people working with cats. They are designed to support anyone in any country working with, or interested in, unowned cats. This includes cat homing and animal welfare organisations, those undertaking Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programmes and veterinarians, veterinary nurses and technicians.
The decision-making documents are all underpinned by iCatCare’s cat-friendly Principles and are now available free for download:
The “managing cat populations” document explains in simple language, why free-roaming cat populations can cause problems and why their numbers need to be carefully and humanely managed to stabilise and reduce populations over time. This decision-making document also discusses the importance of collaboration between key stakeholder groups in helping TNR programmes reach their full potential, as well as the important role that owners of pet cats must play to help achieve these goals.
The “outcomes for kittens” document tackles a complicated subject, as there are still gaps in the science and understanding surrounding the long-term outcomes for kittens born to free-roaming unowned cats. This document discusses how those involved in the care of these kittens can make well thought out decisions, taking into consideration the individual kitten’s specific requirements and unique circumstances.
Most homing organisations have cats that have been with them for extended periods because they behave in a way that fails to appeal to potential new owners. iCatCare has identified some of these cats as “inbetweeners”. These are cats that have been treated as pets previously but are unable to live without chronic fear, anxiety and/or frustration in a conventional pet setting. For these cats, finding a conventional home is not a suitable solution and the solutions for “‘inbetweener’ cats” document has been designed to help homing organisations recognise these cats and develop alternative solutions that suit their individual needs.
iCatCare’s cat-friendly Homing Manager Vicky Halls said: “The origins of all three decision-making documents came from calls for assistance from people working in the field, expressing frustration at the complexity of the kind of decisions about cats that needed to be made on a daily basis and the lack of accessible and practical information to support them to make those decisions.”
These documents were made possible due to a legacy from Tony Welsh which enabled iCatCare to create the Tony Welsh Educational Fund to be used specifically for the development of educational courses, tools and free resources to aid decision-making, strategic planning and understanding for people working with and for unowned cats.
The new cat-friendly decision-making documents are available free for download on their website.