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ACT V Rescue & Rehabilitation: Cat Enrichment Grant Report

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

We used our grant money to buy the following cat enrichment items: catnip toys, cat trees, wand toys, cat tunnels, turbo scratchers, freeze-dried minnow treats and a heated cat bed.

This grant helped ACT V Rescue & Rehabilitation by providing additional funds to purchase important enrichment items for our cats in foster care. Because we received these additional funds, we are able to send favorite wand toys with our cats to their adoptive homes. In doing this, our volunteers have an opportunity to coach adoptive homes on how important play is for indoor cats. Our cats will benefit from this engagement with their new owners in different ways. Cats who engage more frequently with their owners will become more social overall, which increases the likelihood of them remaining in their adoptive homes. Cats who receive enrichment and are given a chance to participate in instinctual play will be happier and display fewer undesirable behaviors.

The items purchased with scratching surfaces allow us to provide appropriate choices for our cats to scratch. Teaching and reinforcing these appropriate choices benefits our adoptive homes, as scratching furniture (or other inappropriate surfaces) is often an undesirable cat behavior. Our adoption contract requires adopters to agree to a strict “no declaw” policy, and we want to help set families up for success.

Cat tunnels provide a place for our cats and kittens to hide and stalk each other during play. Hiding, stalking and pouncing are instinctual cat behaviors (related to hunting prey). We posted a great video of this on our Facebook page (the Petfinder Foundation was tagged). Tunnels also provide a place to have some privacy and rest, something that is important for cats who like to have a quiet space to retreat at times.

The freeze-dried minnow treats have been used to make vet visits less stressful.

How many pets did this grant help?

Since receiving this grant, we have provided foster homes with enrichment items for 30 cats.

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

Penny (first four photos) is a 1-year-old female dilute tortie. Her mom was a pregnant barn cat who came into rescue through another organization. Once her kittens were born, it was obvious that two of them had serious health issues. In May of 2019, ACT V Rescue & Rehabilitation was asked to help, and the two sick kittens were transferred into our care. Since then, we have been unable to find a medical diagnosis for Penny. She has seen multiple ophthalmologists and a dermatologist; had skin biopsies, x-rays, and urine, blood and stool tests; been on multiple medication trials for her skin/eyes/ears; and been on food trials.

While we have made some progress, she continues to struggle with the same symptoms: flaky skin, coarse coat, eye drainage and ear debris build-up. She grooms as she should, but is unable to keep herself clean. This means she needs frequent eye cleanings and baths, something that is hard for a cat to have regularly. Because traditional medical interventions alone did not resolve Penny’s symptoms, and her health and quality of life are important to us, we decided to use an integrative medical approach.

Penny’s current treatment regimen includes having her eyes wiped out every one to two days, monthly baths and ear cleanings, and monthly acupuncture sessions (second photo), including both a traditional medical check-up and a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) assessment. Her medications are a low-dose steroid, TCM herbs, an anti-anxiety medication and a probiotic.

Penny has been in her foster home for more than a year. Her favorite things in life are sparkle balls, freeze-dried minnows (third photo), her dachshund foster sister, and her heated bed (fourth photo).

Penny enjoys her acupuncture visits. The vet staff take great care to make sure Penny’s vet visits are positive, since she goes so often. At these visits, we give her time to play with her sparkle balls and lots of freeze-dried minnows. At home, she uses her heated bed almost daily. We got this bed for her so she would have a warm place to dry off after baths, which she loves to do. Thanks to the Petfinder Foundation grant, we had funds to stock up on Penny’s favorite treats and toys and we also bought her heated cat bed.

The staff at Penny’s vet clinic love her personality and look forward to her visits. Penny’s foster family describe her as sweet, funny and adorable. We hope that someday a family will come forward who is willing to take on Penny’s chronic medical issues. Until then, we are committed to giving her the best we can. Thank you, Petfinder Foundation, for helping us do that!

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