They Did It: Enhanced Cageless Cat Housing with Local Landmark Décor
WHO: San Francisco SPCA, San Francisco, CA
DID WHAT: When the San Francisco SPCA remodeled their adoption center, they added 8 San Fran-themed wooden decorations to their cageless cat housing.
WHY: The wooden decorations provide enrichment for cats and help them noticed by potential adopters.
Krista Maloney, Communications Manager, shares how SF SPCA utilizes the innovative décor, the benefits they provide, and the feedback they get from visitors.
We used designs, colors, and themes that are attention-grabbing and appealing. Our goal is to make visitors stop, take a closer look, and hopefully notice and adopt one of our long-stay cats.
ASPCApro: When did SF SPCA install this space?
Maloney: Our cat "condos" were the first of their kind in a US shelter when they were installed in 1998, making SF SPCA the first cageless adoption center. Today we continue to house cats in roomy condos, most about the size of a walk-in closet. When we remodeled our adoption center in 2014, we decided to add wooden landmarks in the condos shortly thereafter. One room near the adoption center entrance features an 8-ft. high and 12-ft. long Golden Gate Bridge replica, which is where we often place cats who have been at the shelter for a long time and need more exposure.
ASPCApro: Did you have help from a professional?
Maloney: One of SF SPCA's former employees is a skilled woodworker who created the clever decorations inspired by cable cars, a Volkswagen bus, the Castro Theatre, the Painted Ladies—replicas of Victorian homes—and others.
ASPCApro: How did you cover the costs?
Maloney: We budgeted for the wood and other materials. The woodworker built the decorations during his normal work hours, so there was no additional cost for labor. Each room also has cat beds, scratching posts, and toys, which were either purchased or donated.
ASPCApro: How exactly are these decorations utilized?
Maloney: All the structures enable cats to climb and perch, and some, like the Transamerica Pyramid and Volkswagen Bus, incorporate elements like scratching pads and nooks for hiding. The Golden Gate Bridge room, near the adoption center entrance, is typically used to house our long-stay cats or felines who need extra exposure.
ASPCApro: How many animals per week benefit from the space?
Maloney: All our rooms are designed for single cats, bonded pairs or trios, or litters. Up to 3 cats benefit from being in the Golden Gate Bridge room each week, for example.
ASPCApro: What are the benefits of these decorations?
Maloney: This decor not only brightens up the adoption center but provides enrichment designed with felines in mind. The room with the Golden Gate Bridge is visible to everyone coming into the building, which helps our long-stay cats get more exposure to potential adopters. We used designs, colors, and themes that are attention-grabbing and appealing. Our goal is to make visitors stop, take a closer look, and hopefully notice and adopt one of our long-stay cats.
ASPCApro: What kind of feedback have you received from visitors?
Maloney: Visitors often remark that the decorations are unexpected and that they add to their experience. Others are surprised when the first thing they see is a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge. Some people don't want to visit an animal shelter because they think it will be too depressing; we're working hard to change that perception. At SF SPCA it's a fun and uplifting experience, and it sets the tone for their visit.
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