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Swedish cat shelters: a descriptive survey of husbandry practices, routines and management

By E. N. Hirsch, M. Andersson, J. Loberg

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Animal shelters rescue and care for society's unwanted companion animals. Nonetheless, several studies have shown that ending up in a shelter can be stressful, and that shelter husbandry can amplify and spread certain diseases. The aim of the present study was to investigate and describe husbandry policy, practices and routines as well as occurrence and prevention of diseases in Swedish cat shelters. A survey was sent to 64 potential shelters of which 39 (61%) responded. Thirty-two shelters (82%) housed cats ( Felis silvestris catus) in groups; one shelter provided only solitary housing. Thirty-one shelters provided single, pair and group housing. The most common group size was 3-5 cats (59%). Ninety-two percent of responding shelters had routines and/or protocol(s) for the management of the cats, 35 had healthcare routines and 30 shelters had routines for the admission of cats. All shelters with the exception of one had quarantine, and 22 shelters (58%) vaccinated cats prior to admittance. There was a significant positive correlation between shelter size and number of reported diseases. The most common reported disease was cat 'flu/cold, although altogether, shelters reported a low occurrence of disease. Practices differ between shelters relating to management, eg use of quarantine and vaccination routines. In Sweden, group housing is common and shelters provide cats with plenty of resources, eg hides and climbing structures, often providing outdoor access and a more 'home-like' environment. The possibility that providing a more 'enriched home-like' environment can help cats cope with the shelter environment is discussed, thereby decreasing the occurrence and transmission of infectious diseases.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 411-421
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Publisher Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
DOI 10.7120/09627286.23.4.411
Language English
Author Address Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health, Section of Anhtrozoology and Applied Ethology, PO Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal housing
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Carnivores
  6. Cats
  7. Countries
  8. Developed countries
  9. Diseases
  10. Diseases and injuries of animals
  11. Europe
  12. Group size
  13. Infections
  14. Infectious diseases
  15. Mammals
  16. OECD countries
  17. Parasites
  18. pathogens
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. pest control
  21. Pets and companion animals
  22. Policy and Planning
  23. prevention
  24. Quarantine
  25. Research
  26. Resistance and Immunity
  27. Scandinavia
  28. shelters
  29. Stress
  30. surveys
  31. Sweden
  32. transmission
  33. vaccination
  34. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed