Washington, the city of cats: the first American capital to count it all

Washington | A striped cat jumps off a rock on an October morning. When his paws touch the ground, he stealthily looks to his left. The camera goes off and captures the scene.

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It does not take place in the heart of a secluded forest, but in the capital of the United States.

The image is part of the “Washington Cats Count” (number of cats DC), an initiative led by animal rights activists and scholars for three years to definitively establish the city’s cat population. the first.

The result: the US capital has at least 200,000 cats. Half of them only live indoors, says Tyler Flockhart, the biologist responsible for the scientific part of the project.

The other half includes cats that are owned by someone but with access to the outdoors, feral cats, and 3,000 to 4,000 feral cats who are ashamed of human interaction.

“I don’t think you can find another wild animal that eats meat with this intensity” in a city, Flockhart told AFP. “It’s so interesting to have so many cats in such a small space.”

For the purposes of the study, groups that were often confrontational were united.

While some environmentalists worry that cats are decimating birds, other animal advocates are working to ensure that they can survive in this city’s environment.

Everyone has been involved in the effort to “not focus on who is right or wrong.” […] Doing it right – find the information, analyze the data, said Stephanie Shane of the Humane Rescue Alliance, who was involved in the study.

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This association recommends that cat owners keep them at home to protect themselves and other animals.

To conduct this census, which began in 2018, teams interviewed more than 2,600 residents, analyzed archives of animal shelters, walked along designated routes, and placed cameras in more than 1,500 locations.

“This is certainly the most comprehensive analysis of cats that a city has ever done,” said Tyler Flockhart.

Online tools have been made available to organizations that want to tackle exercise, along with other protocols and tips.

In addition to cats, the cameras also immortalized many animals: raccoons, foxes, deer … and even lynxes.

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