“Portals” lessen stress-related illness in shelter cats

Ensuring the health and happiness of strays improves their adoptability, the Million Cat Challenge says

Cats in 82 shelters across the U.S. and Canada are now enjoying safer living conditions, thanks to a new campaign by the Million Cat Challenge.

Dubbed Portalmania 2020, the movement has seen the installation of more than 2,400 “portals” in animal shelters. The upgrades connect two smaller cages, allowing for the separation of litter boxes from sleeping and eating areas.

According to the Million Cat Challenge, the portals help keep cats healthier and happier, making them more likely to be adopted quickly.

“Multiple studies have looked at the effect of poor housing on cats and have linked it to a high incidence of stress-related illness, particularly upper respiratory infections (URI),” says the challenge’s cofounder, Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DABVP (shelter medicine practice). “Shelters frequently assume this condition is simply being spread from cat to cat like the flu, but what’s really happening is the cats are so stressed out they become ill.”

Donors supporting the campaign include:

  • Shor-line;
  • Joanie Bernard Foundation;
  • Banfield Foundation;
  • ASPCA Northern Tier Shelter Initiative;
  • Petfinder;
  • Virox Technologies;
  • The Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation;
  • Greater Good;
  • Team Shelter USA; and
  • Ontario Shelter Medicine Association (OSMA).

“This will be a game changer for us and for the cats we care for,” says Monica Wylie, executive director of Animal Friends of the Valleys in Riverside, Calif. “With this setup, we will be able to reduce the likelihood of stress-induced illness and euthanasia for our feline friends.”

Launched in 2014, the Million Cat Challenge is a shelter medicine initiative with the goal of saving the lives of one million shelter cats in North America within five years.

This target was met a full year ahead of schedule, allowing the program to shift its attention to ensure shelters are able to provide for the cats in their care.

“Happy cats equal happy homes,” says Genny Brown, executive director of the Humane Society of St. Joseph County in Mishawaka, Ind. “We are excited to give the most vulnerable population within our shelter the space they need to decompress and find forever homes.”

For more information about the campaign, click here.

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