Faculty, residents, interns, and veterinary students – all investigate important Shelter Medicine questions to understand the issues that impact the health and well-being of homeless and sheltered animals.

Managing Community Cats

Maddie’s Summer Research Scholar: Return-to-Field programs for managing community cats in Florida shelters

black ear-tipped community cat
  • Lead researcher: Dr. Julie Levy
  • Student researcher: Cassidy A. Schiefer
  • Florida’s 150 shelters collectively take in more than 200,000 cats each year, most of which are unowned community cats taken in as strays. Only 72% of cats have live outcomes, compared to 88% of dogs. Return-to-Field (RTF) programs sterilize, vaccinate, ear-tip and return healthy un-owned shelter cats to the location of origin as an alternative to euthanasia or shelter crowding. RTF differs from traditional trap-neuter return programs in that RTF addresses cats that are admitted to shelters, whereas TNR typically addresses cats in the field. RTF programs are one of the most effective in quickly reducing shelter cat crowding, stress, disease, and euthanasia. This study will characterize the use of RTF programs in Florida shelters for managing community cats.

Better Outcomes for Vulnerable Cats

Published! Maddie’s Summer Research Scholar: Animal Shelter management programs for cats living with FeLV and FIV

  • Lead researcher: Dr. Julie Levy  
  • Student researcher: Paola Dezubiria

Approximately 5% of cats in animal shelters in the United States test positive for either feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which translates to more than 100,000 positive cats managed by shelters each year. Animal shelters in Florida were surveyed to determine how they manage retroviral infections of cats, including selection of cats for testing, diagnostic techniques, and outcome options for cats with positive test results.

Most shelters offered lifesaving options for cats with positive screening test results. Similar to patterns for testing, shelters that routinely euthanized positive cats were more likely to be low intake, rural, municipal, and low live outcome. Shelters were more likely to offer live outcome options and less likely to routinely euthanize cats for FIV than for cats with FeLV.

Dezubiria P, Amirian ES, Spera K, Crawford PC and Levy JK (2023) Animal shelter management of feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus infections in cats. Front. Vet. Sci. 9:1003388. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2022.1003388

Every AniMal Counts

Florida Shelter Animal Census: A snapshot of statewide intake and disposition

Consultants in a kennel
  • Lead researcher: Dr. Julie Levy
  • Researchers: Keegan SperaNaima Cortes-Stoneberger, Susan Amirian
  • Student researchers: Sara Stiehler, Chloe McKee, Casey Miller
  • This statewide initiative will develop a reliable snapshot of the state’s shelter animal census, answering a critical question: How many cats and dogs are admitted to shelters each year and what happens to them?