Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Posted 01-12-2024 11:39 AM

    Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Jan 17, 2024 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM Pacific (will be recorded so register now to attend or access recording after the event)

    Discover innovative, proven strategies to transform your feline housing and get cats purring! With this webinar, you'll be prepared to level up your shelter's housing even with limited resources. UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program veterinarians Dr. Becky Stuntebeck and Dr. Denae Wagner will unveil tips and tactics for creating environments that work better for cats and for your team. From DIY cozy nooks to interactive play zones and portals, you'll learn the how-tos of housing that put cats at ease, support animal health and staff safety, and encourage adoptions. You'll also discover keys to supercharging cat care and overall welfare regardless of housing. 

    Don't wait – get all the info you need to get ahead while cat population numbers are lower. Register today and revolutionize cat housing and care in your shelter! 

    You'll learn:

    • How to improve your cat housing

    • Setup & strategies that meet cat, staff, & shelter needs

    • Double-compartment housing benefits for cats & staff

    Learn more and register here:  Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Sheltermedportal remove preview
    Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach
    Discover innovative, proven strategies to transform your feline housing and get cats purring! With this webinar, you'll be prepared to level up your shelter's housing even with limited resources. UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program veterinarians Dr. Becky Stuntebeck and Dr. Denae Wagner will unveil tips and tactics for creating environments that work better for cats and for your team.

    This webinar is hosted by the Maddie's® Million Pet Challenge / UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. 


    #Behavior,TrainingandEnrichment
    #OrganizationalManagement

    ------------------------------
    Cindi Delany, DVM, KPA-CTP, FFCP
    Director of Online Learning
    Maddie's Million Pet Challenge
    UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program
    ------------------------------



  • 2.  RE: Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Posted 02-06-2024 10:45 AM

    QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THIS EVENT'S Q&A - from your presenter, Becky Stuntebeck, DVM:

    View the recorded webinar and complete the interactive content module here:  https://university.maddiesfund.org/p/MMPC_Learniverse_Cat_Housing

    Q: We are building a shelter with rooms of various sizes (no cages).  Are there any references for best practices in this type of housing?

     

    A: In general we advise most shelters to utilize cage housing for the majority of the cats in their care, with the assumption that cats are moving through quickly from intake to outcome (on average). That being said, we are aware that some shelters choose to avoid cage housing. Even if most cats will be in free-roaming rooms, we still suggest you have a small amount of cage housing to account for cats with special care needs, infectious disease, kittens you expect to leave quickly, or other special considerations. 

    • It's great you plan to have rooms of various sizes as well. We encourage to have small rooms available for 1-2 adult cats (6 ft x 6ft); larger rooms should still contain no more than 4-6 cats, and turnover should be limited (e.g. if one cat leaves another is not added until the room is emptied) in order to limit stress and infectious disease risks. 

    • There are lots of opportunities for creativity in design and furnishings of cat rooms. Ensure surfaces are cleanable and durable (or plan to regularly replace them), and there are plenty of resources (including perches, hiding spots, food bowls, litter boxes, and so on) for all cats in the room at one time. 

     

    Q: Any information or sites to look at how to DIY for rooms and open areas?

     

    A: Here are several resources that are available online that you can review for information about best practices for group housing cats. The best way to figure out how to design or furnish cat rooms is probably by visiting other shelters and seeing what is/is not working well for them. 

     

    Q: I work in an open access high volume shelter and we have the portals and have had them since I have worked there, about 2 years. But in both kitten seasons we have had to put kittens in half kennels due to just the volume of cats or at least in fear of running out of space. Are there resources I can use to show to the upper management about the importance of the double kennel space?

     

    A: This is a really important question, and you bring up a really important point. There will be times when the number of cats in the shelter is greater than the number of good housing units we have available. This may be somewhat expected (e.g. kitten season) or it may be sporadic and unexpected (e.g. a legal situation leading to a seizure of a large number of cats at one time). When these situations arise it's important for your team to recognize that cat welfare is being compromised, and this will come with costs to cats, personnel, and the organization. Getting the population back to a manageable level, where every cat can have good housing, as quickly as possible can be achieved with a variety of tools. 

    • Is the shelter limiting feline admissions to those cats who really have no better option than shelter admissions? Cats and kittens who are thriving usually do not, and limiting unnecessary intakes or providing alternatives to intake (such at TNR or community support services) are great opportunities to manage your day to day shelter population. 

    • Check policies for unintentional barriers that limit how many folks are able to foster with your organization. Consider implementing a "finder-foster" program, providing kitten care kits to the community, and support rehoming of kittens by members of the public. 

    • Fast-track adoption cats and kittens to reduce your average feline length of stay. A lower average length of stay means a lower average daily cat population. Check for unintended barriers to adoption, implement open selection, allow unaltered cats to go home as a foster-to-adopt OR a neuter contract. 

    • A few great resources about the value of double compartment housing for shelter cats:

      • This webinar presented January 2024. [link]

      • Shelter housing for cats Part 1: Principles of design for health, welfare and rehoming 

      • Wagner, Denae C., Philip H. Kass, and Kate F. Hurley. "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." PLOS ONE 13, no. 1 (January 2, 2018): e0190140. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190140.

      • Karsten, C.L., D.C. Wagner, P.H. Kass, and K.F. Hurley. "An Observational Study of the Relationship between Capacity for Care as an Animal Shelter Management Model and Cat Health, Adoption and Death in Three Animal Shelters." The Veterinary Journal 227 (September 2017): 15–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2017.08.003.

     

    Q: Are feline pheromones (e.g. Feliway) good to use to help relieve stress in addition to all proper housing and enrichment?

     

    A: There really isn't good evidence to suggest that feline pheromones do much to help cats in shelters, but they also aren't harmful. Trying to use pheromones to reduce stress in lieu of improving poor housing doesn't work very well in our experience.  If you have the foundation of good housing established then the other things we do to enrich the housing have a better chance to alleviate stress for shelter cats. Other important considerations when resources allow include

    • Species separation (sight and sound)- this one is essential!

    • Minimize noise in the environment

    • Have predictable daily routines to the extent possible

    • Positive interactions with people or opportunities for play if desired  

    • Home is best! Keep time in shelter as short as possible

     

    Q: To my knowledge, the largest cat condo are currently commercialized as 48inches larges including a 12-15inches litter compartment. Would it be better to buy two 30inches cages and customize them with portals and shelves?

     

    A: Yes! Caging from many companies can be assembled into customizable arrangements to fit into the space you have available with varying numbers/sizes of compartments going horizontally (side to side) or vertically (up-down stacking). 

     

    In general, avoid stacking cage banks higher than 2 rows to support efficient, effective, and ergonomic routine care and cleaning tasks (it's just harder to clean well if you have to climb on a step stool to reach the highest cages). 

     

    Most cat caging is 28 inches deep. Select compartments that are 28-30 inches tall to comfortably accommodate large cats but also to ensure staff can reach the ceiling and back of the enclosure comfortably. For width, selecting compartments that are at least 30 inches wide (will provide just over 11 square feet of floor space and allow cats of most sizes to posture, stretch, or rest in a variety of positions comfortably. Two of these compartments connected by a portal take up 5 feet.  If space allows, feel free to select compartments wider than 30 inches. 



    Q: We have double compartment kennels, however one side is much larger than the other. The smaller side can fit a litterbox and has a shelf that a cat can lay on. It is not equal on both sides. Should each compartment be equally-sized?

     

    A: Nope, there's no need for equally sized compartments as long as the cage provides enough floor space overall. Together the two compartments must still provide no less than 8 square feet of floor space (ideally 11 or more). Additionally, make sure that the size of the litterbox compartment and the shelf in it don't interfere with normal litterbox posturing, as this can be a major source of stress. 


     Caption: Unhappy kitties unable to posture comfortably when using their litterbox. 

    Q: What size is good for a cardboard hiding box? What can you use for hiding boxes? Does anyone have anything they use for hidey boxes other than cardboard boxes or kurandas, that can be easily cleaned and re-used?

     

    A: While most of us have seen cats squeeze into spaces that seem to defy physics, the hiding spots we provide to cats in shelters shouldn't force them to make that choice if they want to retreat or hide. Dimensions of 17L x 12W x 12H (inches) will accommodate most adult cats or a small litter of kittens comfortably. Don't forget to provide soft bedding as well. 

     

    There are many ways to providing hiding spots for cats in cages, including

    • A towel draped over a shelf or elevated cat bed

    • A towel or curtain draped over part of a cage door ("curtailment")

    • A cardboard box or plastic bin turned on its side or upside down with a doorway cut out of one or two sides.

    • A paper bag

    • Cat cave or tunnel beds

    • A high-sided plastic dog bed

    • A cat carrier with the door propped open

     

    Items that cannot be reliably washed should be discarded or can be sent home with the cat. 



    Q: What are your thoughts on solid glass or acrylic cage doors with appropriate ventilation versus doors with bars for cat caging?

     

    A: There are two main concerns with solid doors on cat cages.

    1. Solid surfaces prevent interactions with visitors and adopters, and this creates missed opportunities for the "The cat picked me!" moment that contributes to so many adoptions. 

     

    Some folks feel they will prevent disease spread with solid glass or acrylic doors- this is a misperception (having adopters able to touch cats is very low risk for disease transmission.  That said, always provide easy ways to clean up human hands in animal housing spaces) and a missed opportunity for an unscheduled interaction that may just lead to a new home.

     

    2. It is hard to provide good ventilation to cats in cages with solid walls and doors. When a cage door has bars, fresh air can passively move into the enclosure while odors, particles, and "stale" air can passively dissipate. When you seal in a cat there is little to no passive air movement in or out of the cage, and so these cages generally need to be actively ventilated, much like the rooms in our homes, with vents supplying fresh air and exhaust vents to pull air out. Doing this well is expensive to purchase and maintain in good working order, and ensuring each enclosure remains comfortable can get tricky- air moving too fast is what we call a draft, and lack of adequate air movement can lead to heat and moisture build-up in addition to ventilation issues. 

     

    All in all, we feel it is simpler and often more effective for spontaneous interaction to utilize cage doors with bars or other openings and rely on passive ventilation than maintaining and monitoring active ventilation systems for multiple cat cages.

     

    ADDITIONAL SHORT QUESTIONS:

     

    We are building a shelter with rooms of various sizes (no cages).  Are there any references for best practices in this type of housing?

     

    most of todays short webinar will  primarily address cage housing needs.  There will be further housing development in a stand alone nature addressing variety of housing- including individual room and group housing so stay tuned but will not covered today.



    When installing portals vertically, where in the kennel is the best place to put them?

     

    back left or right corner is often best due to construction of cages.  there is often a metal T bar underneath.  this can be done in cages as small as 2x2's but it is a bit more challenging.  also insure there is a shelf or raised bed in the lower cage to enable ease of movement up and down

     

    My thoughts about the individual cage housing is all the crevices from the chain link and being able to successfully disinfect?

     

    live answered

     

    How do I reinforce the need for double compartment kennels durring kitten season when housing becomes scarce?

     

    A number of our cages provide several levels, so increases floor space. Does that work as well as portals?

     

    separating food/water from litter area is critical.  if you are able to do that - great.  having elevated space is great - sometimes we still see small floorspace in this type of housing .  depending on the size, type and overall use (set up- hiding space, soft beds, choices for view, etc) can make all the difference.

     

    We use the 3-level, movable cat condos due to the set up of our shelter. Would this be considered similar to a double compartment? in general i am going to say yes but its hard to know as there is so much variety in housing out there. cage set up is so important so even if the unit is large enough the set up will play a critical role for  cat well being

     

    What about cat condos? We have 3 levels and a bottom that has the litter box

    live answered

     

    If we have a room with multiple cats would you have the litter boxes side by side to form more of the double compartment or keep them separated? We keep them separated right now because we are concern that cats might be guarding the litter box.

    keep them as you have  :)  you are correct, the separation reduces the risk of cats protecting resources



    I've been in too many rural rescues and county shelters (or not just rural counties, but just not … Northern Cal where billionaires have set up shelters with so much financial resources for top standard environments/medical).  As you can imagine, every nonprofit and "friends of" and general cat loving public … have tried and tried to remedy via fundraising. But the country isn't filled with cat-focused billionaires. (I'd like to volunteer to be one, but I digress).  Is there ANYWAY to get Northern California, shelter standard setting wealth and donor base - to start retrofitting the operations/shelters/counties with the appalling or just "wrong" housing and medical issues resulting from the exponetionally epidemic populations. All the TNR in the world does not resolve this final mile "atrocity" which just lacks the support. Is not SEEN by those with more than the heart, but the donation levels. Long way to say:  Can we get some help over here in the Midwest and Midsouth and parts in between?!

    We try hard to provide as much support as possible - i hail from the midwest and I hear you :)  still much to do

     

    Hiding is also for when not feeling well. They want to be hidden and in the dark. AND that "tells us" they may not be well.

    excellent point

     

    Any solutions for cats who pull the towel or blanket off the elevated shelf?

    try different type of hidind spaces if you can.  if you have rather small cage housing the towel - or a paper bag- is a good choice vs some hard sided hiding structure but if there is space try cardboard box, hide perch and go, feral den, etc

    Thanks!

     

    Feliway good to use to help reliev stress in addition to all proper housing and enrichment? If you have the foundation of good housing established then the other things we do to enrich the housing have a better chance to be successful and work.  using feliway to reduce stress in lou of improving poor housing in our experience doesn't work very well.

     

    Is there such thing as getting "too crazy" with adding enrichment, toys, bedding, etc. to cat condos? Sometimes it looks like there's so much stuff in there that the cats/kittens don't even have room to stretch and relax. 

    By using two cages with a portal for one cat, you have cut housing in half. Housing isn't unlimited. live answered

     

    To my knowledge, the largest cat condo are currently commercialized as 48inches larges including a 12-15inches litter compartment. Would it be better to buy two 30inches cages and customize them with portals and shelves?

    live answered



    What size is good for a cardboard hiding box? Where can you purchase hiding boxes? live answered

     

    Cage Cat Scratchers- what's the best way to start using them, I am also concerned about it being a fomite and afraid it will get used for another cat, not sure how to proceed with that. I want to use them, I just do not want to spread disease.

    live answered

     

    What kind of cost effective materials do you recommend  using in a shelter that would like to build cat runs?

    live answered

     

    CSpecialties has a few great options of cardboard hidey boxes to purchase. Call them rather than order online for shipping discounts.

     

    we have double compartment kennels, however one side is much larger than the other. The smaller side can fit a litterbox and has a shelf that a cat can lay on. It is not equal on both sides. Should the double compartments be same sized

    live answered

     

    With the Stretch and Scratch pads, you can always write the cats name on it and it follows the cat through the shelter and into their forever homes. I don't know if they're still running the special but they just had a "buy 10 cases, get one free" for shelters/rescues

    thank you great share

     

    What are your thoughts on full glass/clear kennel doors with appropiate ventilation versus doors with bars?

     

    I asked the question about reinforcing the need for double compartments during kitten season. I work in an open access high volume shelter and we have the portals and have had them since I have worked there. But in both kitten seasons we have had to put kittens in half kennels due to just the volume of cats or at least in fear of running out of space. Are there resources I can use to show to the upper management about the importance of the double kennel space?

    https://www.cspecialties.com/contents/en-us/d122.html live answered

    https://www.cspecialties.com/contents/en-us/d119.html Shared in chat.  So cute!

     

    Any information or sites to look at how to DIY for rooms and open areas?

     

    Does anyone have anything they use for hidey boxes other than cardboard boxes or kurandas, that can be easily cleaned and re-used?

    live answered

     

    Plastic litter tubs can be a cheap easy hiding house if needed

    live answered



    ------------------------------
    Cindi Delany, DVM, KPA-CTP, FFCP
    Director of Online Learning
    Maddie's Million Pet Challenge
    UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Posted 12 days ago

    I am having trouble with the course. It shows completed and I passed the quiz with 10/10. But from my dashboard it says "Completed: You passed 1/4 Quizzes"

    All sections are green, but it still shows as in progress on my dashboard



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    Sarah Jackman
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  • 4.  RE: Level Up Your Cat Housing: Game-Changing Upgrades Are Within Reach

    Posted 11 days ago

    Hi, Sarah:

    I'm sorry for the issue! The course is now showing up as complete in your dashboard. If you ever have issues with course completion or anything else related to the Maddie's University platform, you can write to maddiesuniversity@maddiesfund.org and we will get right back to you. 

    All best,

    Erika



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    Erika Shaffer
    Instructional Designer
    Maddie's Fund
    ------------------------------