Cat Housing for Animal Shelters

Double Compartment Cage Housing

Our research has shown that low-stress cat housing saves lives. On this page, Dr. Denae Wagner provides an overview of the key elements to make short-term individual cat housing that allows for a cat’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Low stress cat housing
  • Individual cat housing sketch
    Touch or roll over to pause the slides. Scroll down for details on each feature.
  • Portal
  • Litter box
    Litter box
  • Scratching post
    Scratching post
  • Partial cage cover ("curtailment")
    Partial cage cover ("curtailment")
  • Quiet hinges and latches
    Quiet hinges and latches
  • Draped towel
    Draped towel
  • Door-mounted food and water
    Door-mounted food and water
  • Barred cage fronts
    Barred cage fronts
  • Raised Bed
    Raised Bed
  • Toys


Learn more by clicking a feature below.

Portal Portals and passthroughs allow the separation of the resting/eating area from the litterbox area. Not only does this relieve animal stress by better meeting their needs but it also provides staff with the safest, most efficient and humane way to care for pet animals when they are housed in animal shelters or really anywhere else kennel or cage housing is used for short lengths of stay.

Learn how to order and install portals.
Litter Box Double-compartment cage housing permits enough floor space for an adequate size litter box with nothing above it (no roof or shelf to have to navigate under). Having this open space above the litter box allows cats to posture normally during elimination.
Scratching Post Cats have a natural desire to scratch and stretch. Scratching helps cats remove the dead outer layer of their claws while stretching keeps cats physically fit and mentally healthy. Providing the choice to express this behavior in their housing space helps to keep cats happier. You can purchase or make scratchers out of cardboard or carpet. See our DIY guide for more.
Partial Cage Cover A partial cage cover, aka a “Curtailment,” gives cats visual choice (to be seen or to hide) while still allowing staff to monitor them. Simply stretch material along the full length of the lower half of a cage door or cover a section of the door from side to side. See our Curtailment info sheet for instructions on making your own.
Quiet hinges and latches Request these if ever purchasing new cage housing; for some cages they can be retrofitted. Also check out a noise quieting hack for metal on metal cage door noise that our friends to the north (BCSPCA) have discovered…cut to length electrical heat shrink tubing, slide it onto the metal prong that the latch catches and apply a little heat to shrink it down.
Door-mounted Food and Water Door-mounted food & water dishes keep these items up and off the floor – conserving floor space and keeping the bowls from accidentally tipping. If you have stainless steel barred doors and they don’t open and close easily because the latch and the door bar don’t meet – here’s a trick to make adjustments.
Draped towel A draped towel can provide a hiding place for a cat inside the housing unit when draped over a raised bed or provide visual choice when placed partially over a section of the door.
Barred cage fronts These type of doors get a bad rap but they do a great job of allowing the conditioned air of the room inside the cage – providing ventilation for the housing unit. Additionally, they allow interaction to occur between cats and people which is important for animal well-being and a bonus for getting cats adopted quickly. How many times have you heard about a cat choosing their adopter by reaching out and saying – Pick Me!
Raised bed In cage housing floor space is quite limited. Raising the bed up off the floor provides the cat with more room to move about at the floor level or lay out in a full stretch. Additionally many cats enjoy being able to get into the upper area of the cage – into an elevated area of the housing unit.
Toys Once you have provided the foundation of double compartment housing, adding toys to the cage won’t just give the cat some diversion, it has also been proven to increase adoptions – even if the adopter doesn’t see the cat play with them. See our DIY guide for some fun, easy, do-it-yourself toy projects.