I am not a fanatical member of the No-Kill Nation. While I, too, do not want animals to die needlessly, I think mindlessly spouting off at the mouth about not killing animals is too simplistic and naive. There are MANY changes that must take place in order to reach this Nirvana, and I don’t hear that being talked about or see the hard work being done.
Fortunately, there ARE people out there that are doing the hard work to find out what we need to do to become a nation that doesn’t engage in the mass-slaughter of animals.
Recently I was made aware of a couple of interesting studies published this year involving cats and shelters. Sadly, far less attention is paid to cats than to dogs, so I was interested to learn of their research.
As you can imagine, surrender to a shelter is a time of great stress for a cat. Some cats are euthanized because they don’t handle the stress well and become aggressive. Nadine Gourkow, Sara C. Hamon & Clive J.C. Phillips set out to study whether increased petting, or “gentling,” would reduce the amount of stress experienced by cats.
They assigned 139 cats to either the control group (who were treated the way cats usually are) or the gentled group. The cats in the gentled group were stroked 4 times a day, for 10 minutes a session, over a 10 day period. Cats that were too aggressive to be petted were stroked with a special tool.
The results? Gentled cats were less likely to be anxious or frustrated after 10 days. Shedding increased in the control group, but not in the gentled group. And the gentled group was 2.4 times LESS likely to develop an upper respiratory disease.
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The results? The number of shelter intakes in this zip code dropped by 66%, compared to little change in other zip codes in the county.
What do these studies show us? That it IS possible to greatly reduce surrender rates, and further reduce euthanizations due to the stress of shelter placement.
It also tells us that in order to implement these findings, we need a society whose members are willing to do the hard work, and are willing to financially support the changes made.
So, what are your ideas for changing hearts and minds in YOUR community in order to enact these changes in YOUR shelter program?