Module 5: The Case of the Snotty Cats

A Different Perspective

The shelter vet recently attended several presentations in the Shelter Medicine track at a national veterinary conference and remembered one in particular that discussed the relationship of feline URI to stress due to poor housing in shelters. She retrieved the presentation handout to review:



The Link between Feline URI and Housing Quality

  • Feline URI is the number one disease concern for shelter cats.
  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV) is the most common cause of endemic URI in shelters.
  • Stress due to overcrowding, inappropriate housing, loud environments, poor air quality, and poor sanitation is directly linked to URI occurrence through reactivation of FHV.
  • Good quality housing directly impacts feline well-being by relieving stress and is likely the most important single factor in reducing URI frequency in shelters.
  • Good housing provides ample hiding spaces, separation of litter and food, isolation from dogs and dog noise, care of the cats without moving them around, and the space for cats to make normal movements and body postures. Housing that meets these recommendations has floor space of 9 square ft or greater.


After review of the handout and the ASV Guidelines, the shelter veterinarian decided to re-assess the cat healthcare practices in her shelter to find the causes for the endemic URI problem.


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