Colorado Feline Foster Rescue: Cat Enrichment

What was the money or product used for?

The generous $500 Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment Grant was used to purchase cat enrichment items, including:

6 cat tunnels
6 small cat trees
6 scratcher poles with marble track built into the base
6 feather wand toys
70 catnip mice
30 mouse toys
24 bell toys
60 ball toys

These items were provided to 10 of our foster families to help in socializing our cats and kittens prior to their adoption to their forever homes.

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

CFFR is an all-foster based rescue with a network of about 60 foster families. One of each foster’s key responsibilities is to socialize our cats and kittens so that they can successfully transition to their permanent adopted homes.

Many of our cats and kittens have been abandoned or surrendered by their original owners, and oftentimes they are wary of people and hide or are afraid of being touched or held. This can be especially heartbreaking since these are innocent animals who may well have been neglected or abused, and it takes time and loving attention by our fosters to help them to begin trusting people again.

The cat enrichment items purchased through the Petfinder Foundation grant enabled our fosters to more effectively socialize our cats and kittens, thereby reducing the time it takes to socialize them prior to adoption and enabling us to foster and rehome more cats and kittens, ultimately saving more lives of these precious and innocent animals.

So far, 40 cats and kittens have benefited from the enrichment items, with 25 of those already adopted, five currently up for adoption and listed on Petfinder, and the remaining 10 not yet ready for adoption. Since many of the items purchased are durable, they will be available to help many more cats and kittens in our foster homes.

One of our fosters is a perfect example: She initially fostered a litter of four kittens who used the items (cat tree, tunnel, scratcher pole, and mice). Those kittens have been adopted and she is now fostering a second litter of three kittens who are also using those same items. We expect that our fosters will each use these items for multiple litters, as well as single adult cats, so in the end the Petfinder Foundation grant will have supported well over 100 cats and kittens!

How many pets did this grant help?

40 cats and kittens have directly benefited from the enrichment items so far, with many more expected over the next few months.

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

Our fosters work hard to ensure their cats and kittens are socialized since cats and kittens that are playful and comfortable around people are adopted more quickly and have more satisfying and loving lives in their forever homes. The cat enrichment items purchased through the Petfinder Foundation grant have played an important part in socializing our foster cats and kittens, as described below by two of our fosters.

CFFR fosters Mark and Heather H. write: “We received the scratcher pole, cat tree, tunnel and toys, and a few mice from the Petfinder Foundation grant and brought them home to our 2-year-old foster mama cat, Miley, and her five kittens — Margy, Milly, Miles, Meek, and Marven (first photo).

“The kittens were initially leery of the toys, but since we showed them how they worked, they have spent hours playing with them. They love climbing up the cat tower and pouncing on each other, sleeping in the cube on the bottom, and ambushing any siblings who walk by.

“The scratcher pole is also a very fun toy, as it has large marbles that roll around in the base. The kittens will pass the balls back and forth to each other and use the top to play king of the mountain (one kitten will climb to the tippy top of the post while their siblings try to knock them down!).

“Miley, our mama cat, is 2 years old and has spent much of her adult life raising kittens (this litter is probably her second or third). She is a great mama, but she has missed out on playing and being a kitten. Due to this, we haven’t been able to engage her with toys — she just wasn’t interested. One night after we brought home the grant items, I caught her wrapped around the scratching post and she was playing with the marbles! She batted them around for a good while and her kittens even joined her. We were so happy to see her being a playful cat! The second photo shows Miley playing with the scratcher pole with her kittens.

“All of the kittens were posted on Petfinder and have been adopted into their forever homes. Miley is currently available for adoption on Petfinder. You can meet Miley here.

“Once Miley is adopted, we look forward to using the enrichment items to help socialize another litter!”

CFFR foster Jennifer D. writes: “My foster kittens loved the enrichment toys! We put the assorted toys that came with the tunnel in a box and presented it to the kittens. They sniffed them and chose their favorites to pull out, which were the mice and the balls with the feathers.

“That particular group of fosters was still pretty shy, and they were hesitant to play and interact with us or each other much, but I saw one of the kittens bat a mouse to one of the other kittens to invite her to play. I saw it with my own eyes!

“The larger toys — the scratcher pole, the tunnel, and the tree — were huge hits with both recent groups of fosters I’ve had. The marbles to chase at the base of the scratcher pole got them interested right away. They love doing surprise attacks from the other side of the pole. The tunnel has been great for a group because they can pounce on each other from several entrances, or even from the top opening (third photo). They love the crinkly sound it makes when they’re running through. They also like to hide or relax while peeping out (fourth photo).

“The tree is so soft that it has become a favorite spot (fifth and sixth photos). Of course, they like to be up high, so the top perch is very popular, but the middle perch gets a lot of use when the top one is occupied. The bottom, partially enclosed, area doubles as a private sleeping area, but it might be used even more as a position for attacking and being attacked. The two openings are great because they keep every kitten on his or her toes, deciding which way to go.

“Last but not least, you can’t go wrong with a feather wand (bottom photo)! They love it so much that they’ll attack it and carry it around during solo play, but they will happily watch it and chase it for as long as a human will dangle it and shake it, so it’s a great way to spend playtime together. It’s a good way to get the kittens to interact with each other, too. It’s funny to see all their heads bobbing at once to watch it, and then they wind up wrestling each other, so it’s a win-win. Kittens will play together no matter what, but the right toys, like these, help them socialize no matter how shy they are. Play helps them become the best adoptable kittens they can be.

“All of these kittens were posted on Petfinder and have been adopted, and I am now fostering another litter of three kittens who are reusing the same cat enrichment items!”

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