DC Cat Count attempts to provide a picture of the Washington DC cat population

Have you ever read Wanda Gág’s book Millions of Cats?

If not, it is a children’s book from 1928 that tells the story of an older couple and their desire for a cat. The husband cannot choose just one cat and soon it will be “cats here, cats there, cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and millions and billions of cats … “

That’s how the researchers behind the DC Cat Count are feeling right now!

For the past three years, they’ve been counting Washington, DC cats from photos taken from camera traps in the city. It’s no easy task either, as the cat counters have around 6 million photos of animals to sort through. These include thousands of cat pictures and every single cat is counted.

@ dccatcount / Instagram

@ dccatcount / Instagram

Bill McShea, a wildlife ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute who worked on the project, said, “I wish someone would give me a computer that would go with these cat photos. But right now it’s just human eyes. “

But why are McShea and his team of human eyes counting all cats in DC?

@ dccatcount / Instagram

Count cats

With this cat count, DC Cat Count aims to “create logistically feasible and science-based tools and protocols that can be used by a variety of animal welfare or community organizations to enable data-driven management of the cat population.”

With this type of data, shelters and trap-neuter release groups can better anticipate the needs of stray and feral cats. Regarding the effects of TNR, Lauren Lipsey of the Humane Rescue Alliance stated that population control of a wildcat colony is visible to caregivers in that colony, but in terms of the number of cats in the city, “without an estimate of the basic population have no idea of ​​the impact on the general population. “

Knowing this population will help TNR ​​programs reach more needy cats in their spay and neuter missions.

@ dccatcount / Instagram

@ dccatcount / Instagram

How to count cats

How did McShea and his team collect cat data? As in national parks and nature reserves, the team set up trap cameras in strategic locations to cover as much area as possible. In DC, they placed trap cameras in 1,530 locations for 15 days. Of the total of 22,950 observation days, approximately 20% of the photographed animal life was cats.

Cameras even captured a very large stray cat! TNR groups probably don’t want to mess with this Bobcat …

Image courtesy DC Cat Count

According to DC Cat Count, the data from the trap camera is combined with information from household surveys, shelter inflow / outflow numbers, and wild colony populations to produce a census that is as accurate as it can be for the cat population. The researchers expect the cat count to be completed by summer 2021.

To follow the DC Cat Count project, visit Instagram and Twitter.

@ dccatcount / Instagram

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Feature Image: @ dccatcount / Instagram


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