Shelter Cats: From Admission to Adoption—Ethical and Welfare Concerns

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research

Abstract

Despite the growing popularity of cats as pets, many cats end up housed for long periods of time in shelters. These shelters are increasingly under the spotlight by local communities in the way in which they deal with problematic issues, for they may be seen as an example or as target of criticism. In regards to cat (re)homing there are several relevant welfare and ethical issues. Shelters should have a proactive and well-defined strategy to improve welfare and reduce the number of sheltered cats. Those with the authority to make decisions should consider the available resources and hold in perspective the viewpoints of others, especially that of the cat. The challenge is to avoid judgments based on our own quality of life standards which may lead to decisions based on emotional factors to manage the situation. Is it moral for humans to poses the power to determine a cat’s fate? Despite not having an answer for what is the right solution, the way to proceed should be clearly defined. If there is a strategy and a plan, there is an opportunity to readjust and improve. What are the main reasons for all these problems? Most of the related questions don’t have direct answers. However, instead of reacting in order to solve the problem, we should proactively focus on prevention, mainly through population control and education, knowing that what seems good and right at that moment might be considered wrong and obsolete in a near future, in the light of the development of scientific knowledge and societal values.

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