All Cats in Washington, D.C., to Be Counted in Effort That Will Take 3 Years and $1.5 Million

Polish historian and political scientist Jerzy Targalski continued his interview as his cat climbed onto his head.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A series of coalition groups in America’s capital want to count every single cat living in Washington, D.C. 

PetSmart Charities, the Humane Society, the Humane Rescue Alliance and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute are coming together for the "D.C. Cat Count," which will be tasked with accurately estimating the city’s population of feral and pet cats. 

“The cat population in any area is ... an interconnected and dynamic network comprised of unowned cats living outdoors, owned cats who may live either indoors or outdoors, and shelter cats who often move into or out of the other population segments,” according to the D.C. Cat Count website

The project is projected to take three years and cost $1.5 million. 

State-of-the-art cameras will be set up to “obtain the best possible estimate of the size of the outdoor cat population in Washington D.C.,” according to the Cat Count site. Surveys will also be conducted to determine the number of pet cats. 

Organizers are hoping the county will provide data on how to improve efforts to manage the feline population in the city. 

Cats in the city have been a threat to protected and/or endangered species, including wildlife like birds and small mammals, according to reports. 

Other groups in the city are also looking to spay and neuter stray cats or set up adoptions to control the D.C. cat population. 

But those behind the cat count know collecting the data won't be easy. 

"Cats are hard to see," conservation biologist Tyler Flockhart told The New York Times. "You see very few cats when you're out walking around. And that's because they're secretive animals. When you see a cat, there is almost certainly more than one there."

The project is estimated to conclude in June 2021. 

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