The Netherlands has at least 135,000 stray cats. This estimate is based on an inventory made by Wageningen UR’s Science Shop for the Stray Animal Foundation Platform.
The total number of stray cats in the Netherlands is hard to establish, noted the Science Shop in its report ‘When the cat’s away’, an inventory of the number of stray cats in the Netherlands. The aim of the study, carried out by Wageningen students, was partly to establish the size of the stray cat problem. But that goal was not really achieved. ‘It turned out to be harder than we thought to get the figures together,’ says research supervisor Francesca Neijenhuis of Livestock Research.
Every year about 37,000 stray cats are caught by 78 cat rescue organizations which filled in the researchers’ questionnaire. That is only half of the cat rescue organizations approached. That would suggest that more than 67,000 cats are taken in every year. That number does not include wild cats which were caught and castrated previously, because they are returned to the wild.
There are two other reasons why the number of stray cats is underestimated, says Nijenhuis. In cities it is difficult to tell stray cats apart from pet cats, and in the countryside their numbers are easily underestimated because you do not see many of them during the day. According to literature studies, there are between 135,000 and 1.2 million stray cats in the Netherlands, says the research report. Given that enormous margin of uncertainty, these figures are of little value. But the researchers are willing to hazard a guess that there are at least 135,000 stray cats in the Netherlands.
Regardless of how many homeless cats there are, the report’s recommendations still hold. The dozens of organizations that rescue stray cats should cooperate more closely, and this should result in a central registration system. That way we can get a better idea of the effectiveness of measures to reduce the number of strays, says Neijenhui.