I know at this point you're saying "we have no money to do this" but hear me out. 

  • At Sabrina's shelter, the staff worked with local small business owners to "sponsor" each one of these areas, so none of the cost came out of the shelter's operating budget. Work was done by volunteers with limited staff oversight.Even if materials had to be purchased, it was all extremely low cost - or even free (some construction sites donated leftover materials).

  • Vertical space is fully utilized with shelving along one side that also serves as a cat jungle gym and sleeping spots. This leave the floor space free for litter pans well separated from food and water. These spaces were built out of 2x4x8's cut to fit, with MDF (cheaper than plywood generally) in between. You may be able to find "leftovers" of these materials at construction sites/junkyards/Habitat's ReStore for free or a fraction of the cost at a retailer. 

  • The floor is sealed cement which is easily swept and mopped (and again, cheap compared to tile).

  • Old closet, office, and house doors (these were actually "leftovers") with a $2.78 gate latch were used as full height entrances to the habitats for feeding, cleaning, and snuggling. Rolls of welded wire fencing (literally pennies per foot even brand new) were used to enclose the areas.

  • Because vertical space is so fully utilized (floor to ceiling with built in ledges), these areas do not have a big "footprint" horizontally, so a row can house dozens and dozens of cats especially if there are 2-4 cats or kittens per area (depending on how wide you make them). 


  • The larger areas are easier to keep clean; this encourages potential pet parents to go in and interact with the cats.

  • There is also room for those potential adopters to go in without having to reserve another area for interaction - its harder to take a cat to a meet and greet area than a dog and they tend to be more frightened by the occurrence which doesn't help the meet and greet go well. 

  • There is room for the cat's feeding area to be well away from litter pans, and open floor space for playtime.

A very large version of these can be created as a "group" room - even attached to a fenced (around and above) outdoor play area. 

So make friends at construction sites to get free "leftovers", ask your local boy/girl scout troop to volunteer some materials and or time for building, and the payoff will be healthier, happier, highly adoptable kittens and cats!

​Creating highly liveable, low-cost cat rooms 
at an animal shelter

In the age of  No Kill, cats may spend a longer amount of time in a shelter, giving them time - especially the older or special needs ones - to find a forever home.

My Garth spent over 7 months in a short cage with his small bed, water/food bowl all up against his tiny litter pan, resulting in his food, water, and/or bed having dirty litter in it and no room to play with his toys - there was just enough space for him to stand up and turn around and that was it. He was depressed, and so tended to huddle and was ignored and passed over when people came to adopt. I don't blame him - I don't know about you, but I don't generally like to eat next to my toilet..........

This is not uncommon, especially at Municipal Shelters, but many private shelters are similar. Their reasoning is the cat won't be there long but this is faulty logic, especially in No Kill municipalities. Also, having a cat in an environment like this often causes it to be sad and withdrawn, which lowers adoption speed and rates.

Clean cages and playing kitties = higher adoption rates. It's a statistical fact. And good adoption rates = more places willing to become No Kill.

My Sabrina was in a shelter for almost 2 years (special needs) but she had this environment.