Every spay/neuter project is a potential experiment

Exciting news! We are launching long-term cat population monitoring programs in collaboration with spay/neuter organizations in Phoenix and Chicago from late May to early July 2021. Do you live in one of those cities? Become a cat survey volunteer.

Kitizen Science wants to build a better evidence base about how sterilization programs affect free-roaming cat populations in the United States with the applied goal of learning the most effective ways of reducing cat overpopulation using cat-friendly methods. As a citizen science program, we are pioneering a scalable population monitoring solution that can be deployed in multiple locations for a fraction of the cost of traditional academic research. Not only that, but we have also developed the world's first smartphone app for collecting data for photographic mark-recapture population studies.

By pairing established wildlife population research techniques with volunteer-driven data collection and processing, we are focusing on answering the following important questions: Are sterilization programs effective at reducing free-roaming cat populations? How do levels of sterilization coverage vary in their impact on free-roaming cat populations? How long after implementing a sterilization program can we expect to see a decrease in cat numbers? How do the answers to these questions change in different contexts? Read more about our mission.

There is broad public support for using spay/neuter instead of culling to manage free-roaming cats, and there is peer-reviewed research demonstrating that these efforts can correlate with decreases in shelter intake, lower shelter euthanasia of cats, and reduced cat nuisance complaint calls. However, there is little evidence as to whether spay/neuter programs control or reduce the actual number of cats on the landscape, so there is a need for better tools for monitoring cat populations directly. Learn about why our work is needed and the current research into spay/neuter and TNR.

Kitizen Science does not operate spay/neuter clinics. We partner with those who do in order to document their work and conduct impact assessments. Our community of volunteers is be both local and global thanks to the internet, so you can participate whether or not you live near a study site. See more about how our program works.

Kitizen Science has been in its beta and development stage from 2019 to 2021. We have been conducting three validation/pilot studies to ensure that our assumptions and methods have been vetted to produce high quality data. Our first validation study, testing the accuracy of volunteers in matching cats in smartphone photos, ran during 2019. Our second validation study, testing our online workflow for processing cat photo submissions, ran in 2020. Our pilot study combining both the field and online components of our program completed its fieldwork in summer 2020, and will available to online volunteers in mid-2021.