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Study Shows 1 Percent Reduction of URI in Shelter Cats Could Save $3 Million, Countless Cats

On a national level, statistics of sick cats in shelters are heartbreaking. An estimated 4 million cats pass through United States shelters annually, and upper respiratory infection (URI) is among the top reasons for euthanasia. Dr. Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California–Davis, is close to concluding her Morris Animal Foundation-funded studies in which she and her research team have found that the stress incoming cats face also increases the likelihood that they will suffer from URI—an illness similar to the human cold.

Recently she postulated that “if we could drop the number of URI sick days at U.S. shelters by just one percent through the results of our study, either by reducing the number of cases of URI or reducing the severity of disease in affected cats, we could save shelters about $3 million.”

By using the data the team gathered from the nine shelters included in her study, Dr. Hurley said that shelters probably spend about$10 per sick cat/per day. Comparing the total number of days the nine shelters spent caring for cats with URI per year, where one care day equals care for one cat per day and the number of shelters in the United States, Dr. Hurley estimates that each shelter is spending about $60,000 a year on cats with URI.

“If we could save shelters this much money, they would be able to make better use of their time and space rather than having roomfuls of sick kitties in every shelter in the country,” Dr. Hurley says. 

Posted by MAFon November 12, 2010.

Categories: Cat health, Feline health, Upper respiratory infection


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Submitted by Cheri Lynch at: March 2, 2011
I volunteer for a foster home network (Heartland Humane Society of Missouri) and we do not euthanize animals unless absolutely necessary. We treat all URI with anti-biotics no matter how long it takes. The spread of the URI is a challenge, even in our homes; so advice as to how to cut down on the spread or methods to cure the illness more quickly are more than welcome!
Submitted by Anne at: November 13, 2010
If our local animal control facility spent any money on sick cats we would be surprised. The cats are no treated in any way. Once they become too sick they are euthanized. Heaven help the stray cats in Warner Robins, Georgia.