Feline upper respiratory infections (URIs) often emerge during times of stress. Many cats will develop a URI within 2 weeks of entering a shelter. Many shelters spend a significant portion of their cat care resources on this one disease.
In a study conducted by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, it was determined that to minimize stress and thus decrease cases of URIs, cats need cages that have 2 compartments and about 8 sq.ft. of floor space. This cage configuration allows cats to remain comfortably in one side while the other side is being cleaned. It also allows for the bed, food, and water to be separated from the litter box, further lowering stress.
According to Dr. Kate F. Hurley, Program Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, “Our study demonstrated that a disease we thought was almost inevitable in shelters is absolutely preventable, and prevention could be as simple as just giving the cat enough space. The benefits go far beyond just preventing URI. By making these changes, shelters can make cats happier, lower staff stress by making their jobs easier, and increase adoptions and shelter success in saving lives.”
For the details on the UC Davis study, go to “Cage size, movement in and out of housing during daily care, and other environmental and population health risk factors for feline upper respiratory disease in nine North American animal shelters”.