Drs. Wagner and Hurley Publish Pair of Studies of the Effects of Housing on Shelter Cat Health, Well-Being, and Adoption

Posted: July 10th, 2018 Author: KSMP

Two major studies co-authored by the Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s Drs. Denae Wagner and Kate Hurley, along with Dr. Jenny Stavisky from the University of Nottingham, were published today by The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS).

Shelter housing for cats 1: Principles of design for health, welfare and rehoming, lays out the current state of scientific knowledge about the challenges of sheltering cats and the most effective responses to those challenges. The article will be of interest to anyone who designs or works in facilities that provide any kind of temporary housing for felines. The authors argue that,

“Well-designed accommodation enables improved standards of husbandry, as well as a better working environment for staff. This can have a significant benefit in expediting rehoming, as cats are healthier, and more likely to display natural behaviors and have positive interactions with potential adopters.”

The studies present a survey of the existing research along with knowledge acquired by the authors in their professional practice in shelter consultations. Topics covered in part 1 include:

  • Defining required housing capacity,
  • Housing design to accommodate cats’ needs, and
  • Housing considerations to facilitate adoption

Part 2, Shelter housing for cats: Practical aspects of design and construction, and adaptation of existing accommodation, provides “an overview of some of the essential requirements for housing shelter cats, either singly or in groups. Specific practical aspects of housing, including design, space allowances, cage furnishings and suitable construction materials, are discussed, and suggestions made for upgrading existing housing where extensive rebuilding is not feasible or realistic.”

“Even where facilities fall short of ideal, small changes can make a big difference to accommodation from a cat’s perspective. Some adaptations can be made easily and inexpensively…”

Shelter veterinarians familiar with the work of Drs. Wagner and Hurley will not be surprised to find support for upgrading existing housing by portalizing two standard-size cages, turning them into a double-sided dwelling that allows for separation of the cat’s feeding station and bedding from its elimination area. Double-compartment housing also permits more efficient cleaning, saving staff time and effort, and promoting the cat’s mental well-being and physical health by reducing the stress caused by handling and relocation.

The authors have chosen to make the articles available at no charge at the JFMS website, where they can be read online or downloaded as a PDF.