The Behavior Department: The URI Challenge
Keeping shelter cats healthy through stress reduction
Upper respiratory infection is a common occurrence in shelter cats, but is it inevitable? Good sanitation and infectious disease control are essential prevention measures, but healthy immune systems can help cats resist the (hopefully) small amounts of viruses we cannot eradicate from the environment.
Stress depresses a cat’s immune system to the point where he is less able to ward off URI viruses and the accompanying secondary bacterial infections—and unfortunately, shelters are very stressful places for cats. The finer points of stress reduction methods will vary greatly from shelter to shelter, depending on physical layouts, available resources, and staffing limitations. But considering what stresses a cat and what makes a cat feel safer can help you develop a plan for your shelter that will minimize stress for the cats in your care.