April 18, 2013
Categories: Shelter Medicine

MFCats_Sheltered_IMG_6098Stress is a major cause of the high rates of illness in sheltered cats, particularly upper respiratory infections. One tip to cut down on both stress and disease? Instead of taking the cat and his or her bedding out of a cage in order to clean it, spot-clean around the cat instead.

From Dr. Sandra Newbury’s Maddie’s InstituteSM presentation Fixing the Feline Housing Crisis: How Shelter Housing Can Make Cats Sick – And What You Can Do About It:

People commonly get kind of confused about, “Well, what do you exactly mean by spot cleaning?” […] We’re leaving the animal in the cage and we’re just tidying up the cage. I’ve seen some shelters who kind of think they’re spot cleaning, but what they’re doing, still, is pulling everything out of the cage while the cat is in there. And, in some cases, that might be even more stressful than taking the cat out during cleaning.

What we really want to do is the minimum amount that we need to do in order to make the cage presentable if it’s in a public area, or in order to make the cage pleasant for the animal if it’s in a non-public area. Whenever we can, we want to leave the bedding and other items in place, because the animals put their scent on that bedding and then that bedding makes them feel good, rather than having it changed every single day.

Additionally, Dr. Newbury cautioned, it’s critical to utilize spot-cleaning procedures that don’t make the cat feel cornered.

For more information on spot-cleaning in animal shelters:

Animal Sheltering Magazine: Spot-Cleaning Cat Cages

Petfinder: Cleaning and Disinfecting in Shelters