In a first of its kind, the DC cat count comes as three-year effort by animal welfare advocates, conservationists and scientists to enumerate every felis catus in Washington. The team says that it provides an accurate estimate of the size of the city's indoor, outdoor and shelter population.
200,000 cats in the District of Columbia
The study found that there are about 200,000 cats in the District of Columbia, with about half of them living indoors only. The other half is a group that includes owned cats with limited or unlimited access outdoors, stray cats, and roughly 3,000 to 4,000 feral cats who avoid interactions with humans.
'An interesting idea'
Tyler Flockhart, a conservation biologist and science lead on the DC Cat Count, in a report by AFP said, "I don't think that you can find another wild mammal, another wild carnivore, that occurs at that density anywhere in the world.
"I think that this is really sort of an interesting idea that we can have so many cats in such a small location."
In order to count all the cats who call the seat of American power home, researchers surveyed more than 2,600 residents. They also analysed animal shelter records, walked along specific routes in search of cats and set up wildlife cameras in more than 1,500 spots.
The study brought various groups together that are often at odds over the impact that outdoor cats have on wildlife and landscape. While conservationists worry that outdoor cats can decimate bird populations, animal advocates seek to ensure the welfare and safety of cats seeking to survive outside.