Arizona Animal Welfare League: Cat Enrichment

What was the money or product used for?

The $400 received from the Petfinder Foundation was used to buy cat-enrichment items to build out a full cat-enrichment plan for our cats in the shelter. With these funds, we were able to purchase Happy Habitat play tents, kitten harnesses, target sticks and clickers, agility hoop jumps, and puzzle feeders and toys.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

In order to reduce the amount of stress for our cats and kittens housed at the shelter, we implemented an enrichment plan that will provide overall enrichment to the cats and kittens in our care and provide special, targeted training and activities for cats and kittens whose enrichment needs are not met by general enrichment alone. This enrichment plan would be in addition to our current socialization and reading-to-shelter-animals programs.

Targeted populations of cats (kittens, teens and active adults, geriatric cats, and shy and unsocialized cats) also had enhanced enrichment plans that targeted the use of specific items purchased with this grant for their specific needs.

By providing enrichment activities that lower the animals’ stress levels, we are reducing our incidence of illness and helping our cats and kittens put their best paws forward when meeting and interacting with potential adopters.

How many pets did this grant help?

1,800

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This is the story of River, one smart and bored 6-month-old kitten. River is a Bengal cat who had known personality traits that made it harder for him to find his right adopter. He stayed with us for almost three weeks before being adopted.

These enrichment items came at the right time for him. Cats who are both smart and bored face special problems in the shelter environment. They require an enhanced level of enrichment activities to keep them engaged and to prevent their boredom from becoming destructive behavior.

River used the puzzle feeders and puzzle toys to keep his mind occupied by a learning activity. We also harness-trained him, so we were able to take him for walks around the main shelter building, giving him the opportunity for exploration and interacting with the people he met on his walks. The volunteers were able to use the target sticks and clickers to work with River, teaching him basic behaviors and simple tricks that kept River engaged while also increasing his chance of adoption.

Because of his breed, it was very important for River to have opportunities for both physical and mental enrichment. Thanks to the Petfinder Foundation grant, we were able to offer River suitable enrichment by providing him with appropriate toys like the Kick Stix, a puzzle feeder, and a harness and leash for taking walks outside his room.

River finally did get adopted into a great home. His new adopter has already shared pictures with us and says that she believes he was just lonely in the shelter, as he now is living with many animal friends and is a great addition to their family. He even has his own Instagram page, @RiverMonster2020.

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