"Capacity for care" simply means the number of animals a shelter can care for while still providing what they need to be healthy and happy during their stay. It's not simply a function of cage or kennel numbers, but of staff hours, access to veterinary care, square footage, and basics like food and water as well as, of course, money.
A shelter with 10,000 kennels and cages but no staff, no volunteers, and no money doesn't have a capacity for 10,000 animals; it has capacity for zero animals.
Another shelter that may have only 10 kennels but has an expansive foster care network of 700 homes, a dedicated staff, a great volunteer program, good funding and community support doesn't have capacity for only 10 animals, but for 710 or more.
Most importantly, capacity for care determines how many pets you can handle at a given time without causing harm to them by overcrowding, stress, untreated illness and injuries, exposure to disease, or inadequate food, water, enrichment and exercise. Exceeding your capacity for care also means the need, particularly of cats, for quiet time and a sense of security will likely not be met.
How can you expand your capacity for care? For many shelters, that means expanding their current facilities or building new ones. This won't automatically increase capacity for care, however, if veterinary, financial, staff and other resources don't increase as well. All that takes time and costs a lot of money, too.
Fortunately, you can expand your organization's capacity by developing, maintaining and growing a great volunteer and foster care network.
Learn more about capacity for care in this Maddie's Institute learning track.