Portals: Opening the Door to Lifesaving

What are portals?

Portals inexpensively join two adjacent cat cages into a spiffy double-compartment cat condo via a pass-through that can be shut for cleaning. Portals tend to be side-to-side. They can also be top-bottom. Either way, they’re better for cats, staff, and volunteers.

black and white cat peeking through a portal

Why should I use portals?

Cage housing for cats (typically 2 ft. x 2 ft. stainless steel cages) was developed before current research gave us an understanding of the basic needs of confined cats.

Standard single cage housing does not meet cats’ needs to take a few steps and lie in normal postures. Nor does it provide for the separation of the resting/eating area from the bathroom area. When these basic needs are not met, cats often experience stress, which can lead to illness and unnecessary euthanasia.

The portal was developed to provide a practical, low-cost solution to this common housing problem. With portals, shelters can make their housing healthier and more humane without having to buy new cages.

Portals also allow staff and volunteers to clean cages without having to relocate cats. Simply shut the portal door and clean the side of the condo the cat’s not in. That reduces stress for the cats – and the people.

Check out our study that shows how portals played a key role in improving the lives of shelter cats (resulting in less illness and higher probability of adoption).

Where can I get portals?

Portals are manufactured by Shor-Line. You can find ordering information here. You will need to add the portal to your wish list and call Shor-Line at (800) 444-1579 for a price quote. Allow 2-4 weeks for delivery of the portals and template (the template helps you to align and cut holes in adjoining cage walls).

How do I install portals?

The simple answer is, use a nibbler or plasma saw and a template to cut an 8.5” hole between two cages. Then seal the portal in place. Of course there are details to do this the best way (there’s a right-side-up, for example, even though the portal is round), and we’ve got ‘em in this information sheet in our resource library.

The installation process takes around 15 minutes once you get the hang of it, and if you don’t know your way around a plasma saw, you can find someone who does pretty easily. Just point them to our info sheet for installation instructions.

Testimonials – Portal Positivity

“I cannot find strong enough words to say just how much this has changed the shelter for the animals, the staff and of course the public. The public has made comments about how inventive the new passageway is for the cats.

“For older shelters like ours this simple alteration made all the difference in the world. I wish I could be at the Expo just to talk portals.

“I think they are the single most wonderful invention I have seen to better housing without spending a fortune.”

Sand Stadler
Animal Services Manager
Fremont Animal Services

Once the portals were done we were quite amazed at how quickly we saw improvement in the cats’ overall well-being. Stress-related illnesses such as URI dropped, staff indicated they (the cats) seemed livelier with less scratching and biting. We did not anticipate seeing such an improvement so quickly and we’re thrilled we had proceeded with the portals.”

Calgary Humane Society

Baldwin Parky the Pirate Cat peeks through portal

“The only danger, which I have succumbed to myself, is that I sometimes stop working to watch the litter of kittens playing and running between the portals!

“Thank you for the wonderful portals. They have so improved our cats’ lives.”

Shirene CeCe DVM
Director of Shelter Medicine, Michigan Humane Society

“We got the initial panic from volunteers and staff, but now we have swung completely the other direction. Now staff and volunteers panic if we close them!”

Corey Price
Animal Services Manager
City of Irving Animal Services

The KSMP Portal Promotion Posse

We are a feisty group of shelter mediciners on a mission to spread the good word about kind cat housing: It saves lives. Lots of them. It saves time and money too.

Cat looking through portal

Together we have over 100 years’ experience working in animal shelters. We’ve each watched animals be euthanized for space, time, or plain ol’ bad luck. Our research has revealed a simple fact: Cats need more space. About twice the space of a standard steel cage, to be exact. If we give it to them, incredible things happen.

We set out to find a way to make it possible for shelters to achieve these minimum requirements laid out for our feline friends without having to rebuild their cat housing from scratch. So here we are today: no longer manufacturing the portals ourselves, still raving about their benefits to anyone who will listen. This is our life’s work.

Portalizing your shelter cat housing is one of the most cost-effective things you can do to improve welfare — dramatically and immediately — and save lives.

Portal It Forward

Screenshot of Suwannee Paws video

The “P” in “KSMP” doesn’t stand for “Portals” but it might as well. When Dr. Hurley received a grant with her Maddie’s Hero Award, she used it to seed a Portal It Forward contest to get portals to more shelters.

Shelters submitted videos explaining how they imagined portals could improve the lives of their cats. Behold the creativity and heart this contest unleashed.

Portal Map

Click portal to see the whole map!
Click on the image to open the full Portalmania map.