Fact Sheet| Cats and the Law

Millions of cats die in U.S. animal control pounds and shelters every year. The pounds and shelters say these animals are “euthanized.” But they’re notthey are killed. An animal is only euthanized when she is terminally ill or untreatably injured.

Euthanasia n. Also called mercy killing. The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition (Random House Dictionary).

Genuine euthanasia is a medical decision and is always done in an individual animal’s best interest. It can be an important part of end-of-life care. But most animals who die in pounds and shelters are killed for very different reasons. Facilities kill animals to make room for new ones, to manage disease, or to compensate for inadequate staff or funding. Decisions to kill reflect the operating interests of facilities, not the best interests of animals.

Using the word “euthanasia” masks what really happens to cats in pounds and sheltersthey are killed.