Cat welfare pilot project shows positive effects for PEI Humane Society

Results were positive for happier and healthier cats as part of a Capacity of Care model of animal care that used the PEI Humane Society as part of the study group.

A research report on Capacity for Care shows how the animal-care model worked in P.E.I.

The PEI Humane Society was one of the sites chosen for the Capacity for Care pilot project. (John Robertson/CBC)

A calm black and white cat reclines in its kennel at the PEI Humane Society in Charlottetown. 

Content and ready to be adopted — it's part of the Capacity for Care, or C4C, model of animal care that the shelter implemented in 2014.

"Well, change is never easy but we saw the results for C4C almost immediately," said Jennifer Harkness, development manager with the society.

"Over the long term, the biggest thing was less stress. The animals seem healthier and happier and also our staff are less stressed because they are not running off their feet."

The PEI Humane Society completed all medical check-ups as soon as possible to limit any sickness from spreading. (John Robertson/CBC)

The C4C recommendations came from Humane Canada, which was known then as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

It was a management model to help shelters adapt and provide better overall care for cats in their facilities.

Six shelters were chosen across the country as part of a pilot project. 

Looking for better ways

Humane Canada looked at the shelter's numbers before C4C was implemented from August 2013 until July 2014 and compared them with the following year.

"P.E.I. was an enthusiastic contributor to our cat welfare work going back to 2012 when we were developing the cat overpopulation research," said Toolika Rastogi, policy and research manager with Humane Canada.

"They were ready and willing to jump in and make some changes in the shelter to improve the situation."

One of the changes was splitting off part of the kennel, so the cats had a separate area for lounging away from their litter box. (John Robertson/CBC)

Changes included things like getting cats ready for adoption more quickly and rescheduling animal drop offs when the shelter was already full to a less busy time.

Kennels were made differently so that cats could have space for relaxing and separate space for their litter boxes.

The C4C pilot project showed improvements in the quality of care for the cats across the country.

Improvements shown after implementation

In P.E.I., there were fewer animals being taken into the shelter and fewer cats getting sick.

"We did see a reduction in the length of stay by 29 per cent and we also saw a reduction in illness in cats, 45 per cent, which is very significant," said Harkness.

Jennifer Harkness, the PEI Humane Society development manager, says that she has heard from shelters all over Canada and the United States about what they learned through the Capacity for Care study. (John Robertson/CBC)

The PEI Humane Society has adjusted to the C4C model and plans to continue using it.

They are also speaking with other shelters who are curious about the program — across Canada and some from the United States.

More shelters interested 

"It is absolutely important for these homeless animals to be able to get out of the shelter quickly and find an adoptive home so that they have a positive life with wonderful outcomes," Rastogi said.

She also said how important it is for the humans in the shelter to see the improvement and the happier, more content cats with better outcomes.

Rastogi said they are working to get the Capacity for Care model into shelters around the country.

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