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July 24, 2023 – Stress has negative consequences on the health and well-being of animals, and shelter cats are especially vulnerable to stress-induced health problems such as upper respiratory infections. In addition, stress can make cats exhibit unwanted behaviors, including biting and scratching. Cats that are ill, or have behavior issues, are less likely to be adopted. Sadly, these conditions can lead to euthanasia.

Providing hiding spaces has been proposed as one way to reduce stress in cats in these types of environments. A new study will test this theory by giving shelter cats access to a small, enclosed cat den within their larger kennel space, to see if the addition of this simple tool can improve outcomes for these animals.

“Euthanasia rates for cats in shelters remain stubbornly high, with estimates of up to 70% by some organizations, including the ASPCA,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Chief Program Officer at Morris Animal Foundation. “We need to take action to help more cats make their way to their forever homes. This study is an important step.”

The study is part of a unique partnership with Morris Animal Foundation and the Dumb Friends League, both based in Denver, and EveryCat Health Foundation.

“We’re excited to be conducting a field trial of this simple but potentially powerful intervention,” said Katie Parker, Vice President of Sheltering at Dumb Friends League. “We know that improving health has a direct correlation with adoptability. Anything we can do to improve our cats’ health is a win for everyone, but especially our cats.”