Age, breed designation, coat color, and coat pattern influenced the length of stay of cats at a no-kill shelter

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2015;18(2):169-80. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2014.971156. Epub 2014 Oct 27.


Adoption records from the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an open-admission, no-kill shelter in New York State, were examined to determine if various physical attributes influenced the length of stay (LOS) of cats and kittens. Similar reports from other no-kill shelters have not been published. LOS averaged 61.2 days for cats and kittens combined and ranged from less than 1 day to 730 days. Based on mixed models that accounted for lack of independence among attributes, younger, lighter-colored cats were generally adopted more quickly than older, more darkly colored cats, but yellow-colored cats had the greatest LOS. Coat color did not influence LOS for kittens. Coat patterning and breed designation influenced LOS in both cats and kittens. Male cats and kittens had a shorter LOS than female cats and kittens, respectively. Studies from traditional shelters also demonstrated the importance of physical characteristics to adopters. Given adopter preferences for companion animals with certain characteristics, methods to reduce the LOS for cats with the longest potential residences at the shelter require continued development.

Keywords: cat; length of stay; no-kill shelter; open admission; physical characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cats*
  • Female
  • Hair Color*
  • Male
  • New York
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors