Capacity4Care Management

The C4C Management Model

C4C is a management model that helps shelters humanely care for the animals in its facilities by encouraging shelter staff to think differently about the concept of ‘capacity.’  Under the C4C model, ‘capacity’ is no longer defined by a shelter’s physical space; it is determined by how many animals can be provided adequate care.  C4C capacity is defined by factors such as incoming and current populations, individual animal needs, human resources, training, physical capacity and design.

When applied properly the C4C model creates the conditions needed to provide animals with all Five Freedoms:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
  2. Freedom from Discomfort
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress


C4C not only improves the welfare of individual animals, but generally results in lower incidences of illness, dramatically higher rates of adoption and shorter stay lengths in the shelter. These goals are achieved when shelters think differently about the concept of ‘capacity’, and they develop intake/diversion mechanisms and strategies while implementing shelter-based spay/neuter/return programs for un-owned community cats entering the shelter.

When a shelter has implemented a C4C management model and is within its capacity for care, medical issues and expenses tend to decrease.  These resources can now be redirected to increasing spay/neuter/return for cats that are doing well in the community and would not be good candidates for adoption; those that push the shelter over its capacity at that time, or those that are feral.

Conversely, spay/neuter/return of cats that are not good candidates for adoption but are strays, and are in relatively good health, helps keep the shelter within its capacity to care and it quickly and humanely releases the most stressed cats, which lowers the overall disease rate and medical costs at the shelter.

For example: one shelter that adopted the C4C model and increased its spay/neuter/return activities for feral/not very friendly cats (not good candidates for adoption), saw their number of cats euthanized for severe URI decrease from 900/year to 90/year.  Meanwhile the cats remaining in the shelter were friendly and unstressed and adoptions went up.

C4C, on its own, is an industry-changing concept that increases adoption and decreases euthanasia rates of potentially adoptable animals.  Coupled with increased spay/neuter/return surgeries, C4C has the potential to help us solve North America’s homeless cat problem

The PEI Project

Thanks to funding received through the Summerlee Foundation (Dallas, Texas) the PEI Humane Society (PEIHS) was one of two member organizations selected by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies to participate in the proof of model pilot of the C4C management system in Canada.

For three months, the Society has worked long-distance with Dr. Kate Hurley and the C4C team, based out of the University of California, Davis to study the Society’s historical statistics regarding its cat population as well as the Shelter’s physical and human resources.  In 2014 Dr. Hurley, Dr. Cynthia Karsten and Dr. Denae Wagner traveled to PEI to work in person with the PEIHS team to discuss the program, make physical or operational changes to the management of cats within the organization.

We would like to thank the Summerlee Foundation for providing the funding for this consultation; the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies for their continued support of this project; and most importantly the staff at the PEI Humane Society for being so open to share their shelter with us.  The PEI Humane Society has already accomplished so much under their current leadership and we are so excited to support them as they move forward with a C4C model.

Full Capacity4Care Plan