Sometimes having fewer animals get more adopted

When Cat Adoption Team (CAT) in Sherwood, Oregon (just south of Portland) decided to implement an Adoption Driven Capacity Model, a huge change in thought and processes had to be made to support this initiative. CAT opened in 1998 and has been a local leader in helping re-home cats that are largely from local shelters, especially cats that have struggled in county or other shelter and rescue situations.

Until 2014, most of the cats at CAT were housed in single-unit kennels. In 2014, CAT looked into increasing kennel size as part of the organization’s move to adoption driven capacity. Research has shown that increasing the amount of space each cat has can significantly reduce stress by giving the animals more room to stretch their legs, sit and sleep comfortably, and have separate eating and elimination areas.

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When cats are stressed and uncomfortable, they can become prone to anxious behaviors such as meowing, nipping, hiding or swatting which caused longer waits for adopters and often times behaviors that had to be corrected or, possibly overlooked by potential adopters. CAT does amazing work, and were trying really hard to be a great place for the animals. They decided to make a big change and implement a new concept in animal care, with the hope that more animals would be adopted and that the animals would have a better life while waiting for their forever home.

They added portals (open doorways) between most of the kennels throughout the shelter, which allows individual cats 2-3x the room they used to have. Litter boxes are separated from living space,. and for cats who are shy or still adjusting, the kennel can be covered in a blanket to provide extra privacy for the kitty. Every single animal has room to stretch and a comfy place to curl up.

In addition, there are extra special places for the animals to spend their days – the shelter has a number of larger free-roam rooms with climbing ladders and shelves, where the cats can see and be seen by the visitors that wander through and, hopefully, win their hearts! Large rooms are available for cats that require a little more space for activity, and these cats get a lot of visitors that play and cuddle with them. There’s no happier sight than a cat lounging on a shelf in a really big play space, waiting for it’s next playmate to walk in.

More interesting is the concept that CAT uses around “office cats” – some of the staff offices can house one or more cats who share in their space, gaining  individual attention and extra playtime-and being an overall happy distraction for the employees, too! It helps socialize the cats and gets some of the kitties that spend their time alone to get used to the hustle and bustle of a busy environment. These cats are obviously, gloriously thriving in their space.

Since moving to the Adoption Driven Capacity Model, CAT has seen tremendous positive changes in cat behavior and adoption numbers. The cats are more relaxed and better able to show their true personalities and adult cat adoptions have increased as well. That means more cats are finding the right families!  

Want to read more about the idea of Adoption Driven Capacity Model that CAT has implemented? Check out this article online. Or reach out to Cat Adoption Team (CAT) at for more details. They are happy to share their success stories and show just how big a difference this has made in the life and health of all the cats that cross their doorstep!


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