Pets are People Too: New Portals for Cats At the animal shelter

By Jennifer Keene

No, we aren’t talking about an opening to another dimension or a popular video game. The portals we are so excited about are basically doorways between cat kennels. Portals double the space each cat has and allows them to have a bathroom area separate from their living and dining area. For cats (as for many of us humans) this makes them MUCH happier and less stressed in a shelter environment. Studies have also shown that more space for each cat may translate to less disease and to cats getting adopted more quickly.

“Portals are an excellent way of utilizing housing the shelter already had and making it more cat friendly,” says shelter veterinarian, Dr. Lamb. “By installing portals, we allow the cats to have distinct areas to use for eating, resting and eliminating. This in turn will allow the cats to be healthier, both physically and mentally.”

Portals have been a goal of ours for a long time, and we are thrilled to finally see this become a reality. Many shelters have added portals to their kennels by using PVC pipe or welding the openings. We selected a pre-made product designed for use in shelters because it is easy to clean and sanitize and also allows us to shut the portals if we have a sudden need for more space temporarily, such as a hoarding case.

As you can imagine, there were some logistical challenges, even after we had the plastic portals themselves. We had to move cats around so that the large banks of kennels could be taken away by Washington County facilities to have the holes cut in them. Then they were brought back, re-installed and had the portals put into place. Then the glue on the portals needed time to cure. We had to complete the project in sections to ensure that we always had available kennel space for any cats that needed it. This meant that staff had to get creative, and volunteers and potential adopters had to be flexible during the installation process.

We are seeing great results already with cats being more comfortable and lots of great adoptions. Adding portals technically cuts the space in half, but in practice it more than doubles what we can do for cats in our shelter.

For more information or if you have questions, go to The Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter is located at 1901 SE 24th Ave in Hillsboro. The ASPCA also has a pet poison control page at