Maui News

Research aims to humanely manage Maui’s 40,000+ free-roaming cat population

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PC: courtesy Maui Humane Society

The Maui Humane Society plans to implement an island-wide “Community Cat Count” beginning in early August. The survey will be conducted across Maui as an effort to better understand and effectively manage the cat population as humanely as possible.

This project will use tools developed by research conducted by DC Cat Count, which was launched in 2018 in Washington, DC. This was made possible under a unique collaboration between animal welfare organizations and conservation scientists led by such groups as the Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Rescue Alliance, and the Great Basin Bird Observatory.

According to the Maui Humane Society, the DC Cat Count “was the first project ever to comprehensively estimate population size using cat counting data and advanced statistical methods.”

It has been estimated that Maui is home to 40,000-plus free-roaming cats, according to MHS.

Organization leaders say the DC Cat Count survey results will provide a “more reliant baseline which will create a good information-based policy on how to address the concerns of the community.”


Maui Humane Society established their Trap-Neuter-Return program in November 2017, calling it “the humane approach to addressing community cat populations.”


The organization has since increased the Live-Release-Rate of cats from 33.5% in 2016 to 80.2% in 2022.

The Maui Humane Society says the DC Cat Count survey results will provide further insight to humanely manage the cat population.

Maui will be the first location outside of Washington, DC to utilize these research tools for a survey, which is estimated to take four months to complete.


Research tools to complete the survey include utilizing shelter data collection, non-invasive field cameras in combination with a Count Manager and field technicians to conduct data collection. Maui Humane Society is also recruiting volunteers to assist with the count.

This effort is funded through a $77,000 grant from the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation. Individuals interested in volunteering for this effort, are asked to reach out to Maui Humane
Society at [email protected]

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