by Marsha Rakestraw

a row of puppies sitting and lying next to each otherMost of us love our nonhuman family members, and worldwide, dogs and cats are some of the most popular choices for animal companions.

Yet currently, more than 1.5 million dogs and cats each year are killed in shelters, just in the US.

More than 6.5 million dogs and cats enter US shelters each year. And there are hundreds of millions of stray dogs and cats around the world, many of whom suffer and are killed in horrific ways.

World Spay Day is marked each year at the end of February to promote the spaying and neutering of animal companions in order to eliminate pet overpopulation and reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized each year.

But any time of year can be a good opportunity to use math and Algebra to explore pet overpopulation issues. Here are two sample activities:

Too Many Kittens (for grades 6-8) is an activity using Algebra to demonstrate how quickly cats can reproduce, and thus introduces students to the issue of pet overpopulation and potential solutions.

Students develop equations based on a scenario; discuss the scenario and issues around pet overpopulation; consider positive solutions; and create a tree diagram to illustrate how many kittens one cat can have in just three or four years.

In Not Enough Homes: Adding Up the Pet Overpopulation Problem, younger students (grades 1-3) pretend to be cats/dogs and kittens/puppies and use their addition (and, optionally, division) skills to analyze what happens when there are more animals than there are homes.

Find more curated resources about companion animals (via Pinterest).

Find more ideas for integrating math and humane education (via Pinterest).


Be sure to forward this to at least ONE person who would benefit from these resources.

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