Every spay/neuter project is a potential experiment

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 offer a scalable population monitoring solution that can be deployed in multiple locations for less than the cost of traditional academic research.

By pairing established wildlife population research techniques with volunteer-driven data collection and processing, we are focusing on 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 will not be operating clinics ourselves, but partnering with those who do in order to document their work and conduct impact assessments. Our community of volunteers will 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 is in its beta stage in 2019 and 2020. We are 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 smart phone photos, ran during summer and autumn 2019. Our second validation study, testing our online workflow for processing cat photo submissions, ran in spring and summer 2020. Our third and final study, a pilot of both the field and online components of our program, completed fieldwork in summer 2020, and will available to online volunteers in early 2021.

We will be ready to start collaborating with spay/neuter organizations in 2021. Our win at the 2020 Innovation Showdown will allow us to monitor 2 locations for 6 years without cost to those groups. Are you interested in partnering with us?