In the face of the problem of unwanted cats, shelters are necessary but should always be a temporary solution before adoption.
In the framework of Stray Animal Management Programmes (as practised by VIER PFOTEN), the Catch, Neuter and Release approach involves the animals being released at the exact location where they were caught and consequently sheltering is avoided.
While shelters are reaching high animal welfare standards in some countries (e.g. Germany or Austria), this is not the case everywhere. In some countries, public shelters are known to be synonymous with "death camps" for cats. Moreover, even in the countries with good shelter standards, cats are often systematically killed during the months with higher reproduction rates (May to July). This is the case in Belgium, for example (more than 10,000 cats killed a year, representing 1/3 of homeless cats), or in France (more than 80% of cats – about 30,000 – are killed in shelters each year).
During the period of sheltering, the basic needs of the cats (known as the "five freedoms") have to be respected (freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress).
Furthermore, in order to avoid any new overpopulation, no cat should be given for adoption without being identified, registered, vaccinated and sterilised.
You can find relevant scientific publications on shelters (shelter medicine; shelter management; Animal Welfare in shelters; housing and rehoming protocols, etc..) in the "Shelters" section of our Scientific Library.