Research funded by the Morris Animal Foundation’s Happy Healthy Cat Campaign found that small changes in shelter housing conditions could prevent the spread of feline upper respiratory infection (URI), which is among the most frequently cited reasons for euthanizing cats in animal shelters.
The research, led by Dr Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, investigated the prevalence of certain animal diseases, as well as cage layout and sanitation methods, to seek a correlation between shelter housing and stress-related illnesses in cats.
The study revealed a significant difference in the prevalence of feline URI in kennels around the country, with anywhere from five percent to 60 percent of cats contracting the illness. According to Hurley, environmental factors such as the quality of sanitation and housing in the shelter seem to be the source of the vast discrepancy.
"Our hope is that we will find something that not only helps cats stay healthy but also helps them get out of shelters alive," Hurley commented.
The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, and about half are eventually euthanized.