An observational study of the relationship between Capacity for Care as an animal shelter management model and cat health, adoption and death in three animal shelters

Vet J. 2017 Sep;227:15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 7.


Animal shelters struggle to function at their 'right size' in terms of physical, staffing and outcome capacity, especially with seasonal fluctuations in cat intake. To address this, a Capacity for Care (C4C) management model was devised to balance health and welfare requirements of all animals while maintaining or improving goals for positive outcomes, such as adoption or transfer. In this observational study of three shelters, applying the C4C management system gave each organization an optimal average daily shelter cat population target (to be achieved through proactive length of stay management) and helped each shelter to increase the size of their feline housing units. Pre- and post-C4C implementation data were evaluated to determine impact on average monthly isolation ward populations and cat outcomes such as adoptions and shelter deaths (euthanasia/died). Improved outcomes including increased adoption probability, decreased shelter death probability and fewer cats requiring infectious disease isolation were seen after C4C institution. Results suggest that implementation of this management model could help other shelters achieve similar results.

Keywords: Adoption; Animal shelter; Animal welfare; Capacity for Care; Length of stay.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare* / organization & administration
  • Animals
  • Cats*
  • Housing, Animal* / organization & administration
  • Housing, Animal* / standards
  • Models, Organizational
  • Pets