Communal Cat Rooms

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"The biggest benefit of communal cat rooms is potential adopters can spend time with the cats in their environment. We have seen plenty of cats arrange their own adoptions! The other big benefit is the additional room each cat has to move, stretch, climb and lounge in the spot to their choosing – it's a more natural environment for them." Peggy Weigle, Executive Director, Animal Humane New Mexico

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Photos and information in this section generously provided by Animal Arts Design Studios and CRIJO Pet Products.

Sanitation for Communal Cat Rooms

Proper cleaning and disinfection is critical to shelter disease control and should occur on a regular basis. In conjunction with ensuring your sanitation protocol is adhered to, be careful to track disease so you can monitor whether your sanitation program is effective.

Cleaning should occur on a daily basis to ensure a comfortable and sanitary environment for the cats. However, if a colony is stable and healthy, disinfection may occur less often – but it still should be a regularly scheduled event. In the event of disease outbreak, cleaning and disinfection should take place on a daily basis.

Dr. Miranda Spindel, Senior Director of Shelter Medicine at the ASPCA, provides the following recommendations for making cleaning and disinfection as easy and effective as possible.

Organize for Efficiency

  • All cleaning supplies and cage set-up supplies should be stored in closed containers that are restricted to each room and stocked before cleaning begins.
  • Items should not be stored on the floor or where cats can reach them.
  • Clean items should not be placed on the floor.
  • Dirty items should not be placed on clean surfaces.
  • A new set of disposable gloves should be worn or hands should be sanitized between touching or handling different animal groups.

Daily Group Cat Room Protocol

Grab this handy poster of your daily protocol and post it in the communal room.

  • Enter room and observe cats for any signs of ill health. Fill out daily observation sheet.
  • Leave cats free in room while performing daily duties.
  • Cats should have free access to food and water at all times, with multiple bowls of food and clean potable water provided in various locations throughout the room. To ensure availability, water bowls should be checked twice daily and refilled as needed. If the water is dirty it should be discarded and replaced. Heavily soiled bowls should be taken to the kitchen for washing and be replaced with clean ones.
  • If cat beds/towels are soiled, shake off excess debris into the trash can. Place items in the appropriate container (e.g. laundry hamper or bag) and take them to the laundry for washing and replace them with clean ones.
  • If disposable items are soiled or ruined, discard and replace.
  • Scoop litter boxes daily, removing excreta and any soiled litter and replacing with clean litter.
  • After scooping litter, sweep the floor.
  • Wipe down soiled areas of the floor, walls, and doors with detergent or disinfectant solution if necessary. Stubborn areas, stains or materials that cling to surfaces should be addressed with a scrub brush.
  • Remove room trash.

Weekly Group Cat Room Protocol

Grab this handy poster of your weekly protocol and post it in the communal room.

In addition to the daily protocol, these tasks should be performed at least once every week.

  • Remove cats from the room, using transport carriers or other suitable temporary housing. Each cat should be assigned his or her own carrier that is used whenever the cat needs to be removed from the group for the duration of the stay.
  • Remove all litter boxes, cardboard boxes, toys and food and water bowls.
    • Discard disposable items.
    • A bag for dirty laundry should be set out. Remove organic matter from laundry and empty into trash.
    • Water bowls should be emptied and collected for dishwashing.
    • Food bowls should be emptied into garbage and collected for dishwashing.
    • Litter boxes should be emptied into garbage and collected for dishwashing.
  • If there are cages in the communal room follow a traditional cage cleaning protocol.
  • Wipe down soiled areas of walls, doors and any vertical surfaces with disinfectant solution.
  • Sweep and mop entire room with detergent/disinfectant solution following floor cleaning.
  • Place clean food and water bowls and litter boxes, bedding and enrichment items in various locations.
  • Before returning animals to the enclosure, weigh each cat and record weight on physical exam sheet.
  • Return cats to room and release when floor is completely dry.

Monthly Group Cat Room Protocol

In addition to the daily and weekly protocols, these tasks should be performed at least once every month and when a room is emptied for a new group of cats

  • While cats are out of the room, pull any cage banks back from the walls.
  • Tops and backs of cages should be wiped down with a disinfectant that is effective against ringworm and calici and panleukopenia virus. They should be washed with hot water and soap and rinsed before applying the disinfectant for the proper contact time.
  • Floors should be cleaned while banks of cages are pulled back.
  • Trash barrels should be replaced or wiped down (inside and outside) with detergent/disinfectant solution.
  • Exteriors and lids of feed barrels should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Interior of food barrels should be wiped with disinfectant solution, rinsed, and allowed to dry before new bags of feed are placed inside.