Loma Cat House: Cat Enrichment

What was the money or product used for?

The Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment Grant funds were used to purchase items that align with our cats’ natural behavioral instincts, which include self-calming, scratching, hydrating, climbing, and playing. We selected items that encourage activities and enhance their physical and mental well being.

With spring here, we have seen an increase in pregnant feral cats (partly to do with the COVID pandemic), and we are tending to numerous litters of kittens and mamas at Loma Cat House. For calming the newborn kittens and their mama cats as they adapt to our shelter, we purchased calming beds. We noticed the kittens get the comforting feeling of snuggling while their mama takes a short break. Plus, new arrivals to the shelter enjoy the bedding, which creates a sense of security and helps them to relax more easily as they also adapt to their temporary home and wait to be adopted.

To tend to their scratching instincts, we decided to try the ZEZE Woven Rope Tellurion for its sturdiness and circular globular movements. When cats scratch, they get to stretch out their bodies and extend and retract their nails to help shed the dry outer layers of their claws. And with each spin of the globe, the movement will be a good form of exercise. Unlike the traditional scratch pads, our cats are slowly figuring out this new global adventure.

All species rely on hydration. Having a constant supply of fresh water is vital to a feline’s health. With a fountain, water is circulated and filtered to prevent bacteria, gunk, and odor build-up, which makes water stay much cleaner, tastier, and cooler than in a traditional water bowl. So we used the funds to add to our cat fountain inventory. The wellness benefits from fountains help our cats get proper hydration — to improve digestion, increase nutrient absorption, and aid in flushing out toxins and bacteria that can build up in their urinary and digestive tracts. Plus, Loma Cat House can attest that water fountains do encourage kitties and cats to drink more, making them healthier and happier.

What cat can resist a moving foxtail toy? The cats in our shelter certainly can’t. This interactive toy helps our cats exercise, swat, and pounce and provides mental stimulation. Our cats are very pleased with the Petfinder Foundation and its support of animal shelters.

Our shelter’s need for new cat trees was dire. We, and our cats, replaced two worn-out carpeted cat trees with two sturdy, hygiene-friendly, exploratory cat trees. Cat people know that cat trees cater to so many needs and activities. Cats enjoy climbing up high and hiding in the cubbies, presumably because it provides a sense of privacy and safety while they observe the world (shelter) around them. Our cats certainly enjoy the opportunity to climb, perch, hide, and scratch offered by cat trees — as witnessed by the worn-out ones replenished with new ones.

After purchasing the above items, we used the remaining funds to replace parts (litter pan and kittening pans) for our spacious Pet Ultra Light cages. These durable cages provide much-needed enclosed space for incoming cats in need of coping, cats in need of care, and mama cats and their litters. The two level space reduce stress on the cats, and provide easier access for maintenance and cleaning.

Last but not least, inspiration from this grant brought together a couple of shelter volunteers to gather recycled materials to put together a PVC-pipe cat condo with bedding. Though funds from the grant did not contribute to the purchase of this condo, the grant did certainly influence an effort to contribute toward the enrichment theme by introducing a tri-level cat condo for the cats to climb and relax in.

That said, we are thankful to the Petfinder Foundation for recognizing that all animals, including pets, have natural behaviors and needs that can be nurtured with enriching opportunities. We are grateful for its support in helping us, and so many other shelters, to enrich the animal-shelter environment.

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

The Petfinder Foundation recognizes that enrichment is more than throwing a few toys to sheltered animals. It’s about making the shelter environment as pleasing and stimulating as possible. The wellbeing of shelter cats is greatly improved if they are provided with the opportunity to tend to their hiding, climbing, scratching, and playing behaviors, and the ability to perform such behaviors does not hinder their likelihood of being adopted to loving forever homes.

So where rebuilding was not practical, Loma Cat House was inspired to discover meaningful ways in which our existing shelter space could further meet our cats’ natural behavior and well-being needs with new enrichment opportunities. We were able to make small but significant enhancements with the Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment Grant funds. We found that these small changes are making a huge difference from our cats’ perspectives, helping to ensure that their time in our shelter is a positive, but brief, stay.

How many pets did this grant help?

The Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment Grant helps between 35 to 75 kittens, young cats and adult cats at our shelter; from those who’ve just arrived, to those who’ve been adopted, to those awaiting forever homes. The enrichment items purchased were chosen to add to an environment that tries to align with their natural instincts and wellbeing, and to better their chances for adoption.

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

Construction Mama and her four helpers: A mama cat and her four kittens were rescued from a building site in Grand Junction, Colorado. They were fortunate enough to have a contractor seek them out and bring them to Loma Cat House. While at the shelter, the youthful kittens immediately enjoyed the cool, refreshing taste of the water fountain and played curiously on the cat trees purchased with the Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment Grant. Three of the four kittens were adopted quickly, while the mama cat and her fourth kitten opted to extend their stay in order to recover from an upper-respiratory infection. Both are doing well and enjoying the safety and care of the shelter, the stimulation of the interactive toys and fountains, and the attention of our shelter volunteers.

Meet Miss Torti. When brought to the shelter, Miss Torti preferred to be sight-unseen and hid in places where it was difficult for volunteers to socialize with her. Since introducing interactive toys like the foxtail toy, we discovered that Miss Torti has a playful side to her. She has been coming out of hiding and now plays with a variety of toys. Because of this interaction, she noticed the wood-based cat trees, which she prefers over the carpeted ones. Miss Torti is now comfortable hanging out in the main room watching the happenings of volunteers and her feline roommates. This has made it possible to socialize with her more, and to learn how much this beautiful, playful tortoiseshell cat just loves to be petted (once she gets to know you). Though she has not been adopted yet, we are certain that she will soon be discovered and adopted into a loving forever home.

Polly Tabby: We often wonder why anyone would abandon, dump, or neglect a living creature. This female polydactyl tabby was brought to our shelter, and we ask why (as we do with all our cats and kittens). She is loving, affectionate, sharp, playful, healthy, striking, attentive — the list goes on. Did we say curious, too? As soon as she was brought in, this striking green-diamond-eyed kitty explored the new cat towers, water fountains, and foxtail, and has not stopped there. Polly is posted on Petfinder.com, and we hope whoever adopts her will appreciate her loving, playful, curious ways.

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