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The "101" Department: All Together Now

Done properly, group housing can produce happier cats, delighted visitors—and more adoptions

  • Volunteer Heather Koos at the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Charles County, Md., becomes a cat magnet when she visits the shelter’s colony room. Kathy Milani /The HSUS

Nancy Peterson met the love of her life when their eyes locked across a room full of scratching posts and climbing trees.

While visiting the Humane Society of Pinellas in Clearwater, Fla., in January 2006 for her job as cat programs manager for The HSUS, she decided to check out one of the cat colony rooms. And that’s when lightning struck.

“I mean the minute I sat down, he was going to come toward me,” she recalls. “[He] jumped in my lap. He started kissing me, and purring, and I thought, ‘Wow, what a friendly cat.’”

Peterson couldn’t get him out of her mind. “And the next morning, I woke up, and I said to my friend, ‘I’ve gotta have that cat. Call the shelter.’”

The cat—now named Toby—made the trip home to Maryland with Peterson, where he now lives happily with her three other kitties.

But Peterson’s memorable first encounter with Toby might never have happened if he’d been just one of dozens of cats housed in row after row of individual stainless-steel cages, just one more plaintive face.

 Read the full article.

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