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Cat Housing: Chemung County Humane Society

The following is from the Summer 2010 issue of Protecting Animals, American Humane’s quarterly journal for animal welfare professionals. Used by permission. To learn more, visit

By Jaclyn P. Welles, PR and Marketing Coordinator of the Chemung County Humane Society and SPCA of Elmira, NY

We finished our newly renovated cat adoption room and unveiled it to the public in December 2009, although it was in use starting in June 2009. Veterinary students from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine helped with the design of the room, and it was paid for by a grant from the Sweetbay Foundation. The new cat room uses colony housing where multiple cats live in an open environment.

Since its opening, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the average number of days cats stay in our shelter. In 2008, our average length of stay for cats was 80 days, while in 2009 our average stay was 48 days – a decrease of about 40 percent.

In shelters that have cat rooms similar to ours, the prevalence of disease present in the population of cats decreased by almost 20 percent on a monthly basis. Also, the incidence of disease and the number of cats at risk for disease decreased by almost half in shelters with similar housing. We have seen similar numbers in disease reduction.

A lot of people come into the shelter and drop off goodies for the animals. Every time they do, we ask them if they want to go say hi to the critters in the back. Sometimes they say, “No, it’s too sad back there.” Now we tell them, “Why don’t you go take a look, you might be surprised.” They come to the lobby after their visit glad that they saw our positive changes.

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