The Shelter of the Future is Here Now

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Say goodbye to cages and and say hello to a light-filled adoption center featuring a cat cafe and full-service veterinary clinics.

Most shelters were built to house dogs, hence the name dog pound, “and cats were just an after thought,” says Jenny Schlueter of Tree House Humane Society of Chicago. During the 1970s, “Cats were going to dog pounds in increasing numbers, but the pounds weren’t prepared for them. Thousands were being killed and their existence there was miserable.” But change was in the air, thanks to Jenny and other cat lovers.

Tree House Humane Society is an award-winning no-kill shelter in Chicago that is about to open a state-of-the art cat shelter that will revolutionize the adoption experience for both cats and people. Much but not all of the work is done, and fund raising continues. “We’re upgrading our spaces for cats and for people too,” says Schlueter.

(Tree House Humane Society)

Open and light-filled spaces are part of the new facility, which will include Chicago’s first cat cafe. Instead of cats in cages, people who visit looking for a kitty to take home will see cats roaming and lounging in play areas and cat suites. It’s also more livable and less stressful for the cats who make Tree House their temporary home. Tree House has helped more than 16,000 cats like Evan since it was founded in 1971.

(Tree House Humane Society Facebook)

Both cats and dogs benefit from design-smart shelters that make visiting a pleasant experience instead of something to dread. Many people want to adopt, but stay away because old-style shelters are sad and depressing.

(Treehouse Humane Society)

“We have to quit making shelters a place where people dread coming,” says Carol Griglione, a cat behavior specialist and volunteer for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. “We have to make this a happy place.”


The welcoming facility operated by the Animal Rescue League of Iowa has changed all that. Visitors are soothed by classical music and public spaces painted in bright colors.

The ARL never turns away animals and is well-known for its caring staff. It offers off-the-ground dog beds, a Purreatrics Room, painted pale peach, with a television for senior cats and a Meow Fit Room where young cats can romp and socialize, Griglione says, so they don’t “go crazy by themselves in cages.”

(ARL of Iowa/Facebook)

All of this goes-hand-in-paw with  compassionate treatment of its residents, such as bonded buddies CC and Chewbacca, two dogs pals who were housed and walked together until they found a family willing to take both dogs.

(ARL of Iowa/Facebook)

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