The Prevalence of Cats Among Philadelphia's Homeless Population

 Cats of a My Dog First client.

Cats of a My Dog First client.

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Since our October service fair in Philadelphia, Misfit Manor's "My Dog First" program, which provides veterinary care and supplies to companion animals of people experiencing homelessness, has seen a surge in clients. Surprisingly, many of these clients have been cats! 

Our experiences in other cities led us to believe that people experiencing homelessness are much more likely to have dogs than any other kind of animal. During our service fairs across the county, the vast majority of attendees brought dogs, including in Philadelphia. However, the sample size in Philadelphia was small and made it difficult to draw any demographic conclusions.

After the Philadelphia service fair, the My Dog First program was widely promoted and brought many new clients to Misfit Manor's doors - specifically, four single men experiencing homelessness with cats, and a woman with three cats. Moreover, during outreach for the service fair, My Dog is My Home founder Christine Kim received a tip from a community member who stated that he often sees people he believes to be homeless with cats riding the trains in the Northeast section of the city. 

We have yet to understand how this surprising trend will impact Misfit Manor's services or our approach to developing co-sheltering options in Philadelphia. Do you have ideas about how we should engage this population differently? What special challenges are there to experiencing homelessness with a cat, as opposed to a dog? Send your responses to My Dog is My Home founder, Christine Kim (christine@mydogismyhome.org), to be featured in our next newsletter.