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Operation Kindness: Cat Enrichment Grant Report

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

We very gratefully used the $1,000 for the following enrichment products for our shelter cats and kittens:

Window-mounted beds: $200
Robotic cat toys: $200
Kitty Kongs: $175
Hide-a-beds: $125
Cat scratchers for all cats: $200
Special-diet cat treats (calming, hairball): $100

The Petfinder Foundation Cat Enrichment grant helped us grow our existing cat-enrichment programs and help 145 cats and kittens enjoy their stay at the shelter until they found their forever homes. Shelter animal enrichment is an important element of the care given to the animals at Operation Kindness. Enrichment is essential to animals in shelters, since traditionally they are confined for long periods of time, which can cause stress. Further, animals experiencing prolonged stress are subject to more illnesses due to a suppressed immune system.

While, on average, animals are in our care for 22 days, we recognize the importance of giving them the very best overall healthcare while they are with us. In order to combat the stress they may feel, we offer physical activities and mental stimulation to help keep their minds active and healthy while they are waiting for their forever homes. For cats, life is all about predictability and control. In a shelter environment, those are two things that are hard to come by for our kitties. We make our best effort to make sure each of our cats is comfortable and confident by providing them with all of their basic needs as well as toys to play with -- both interactive and solitary-play toys -- as well as things to climb on and beds to hide in if they choose.

Our largest and most effective enrichment program for our cats is our Smarty Cats program. We have more than 60 volunteers who work with our fearful and under-socialized cats to get them feeling more comfortable in the shelter and socializing with people. We also provide free-roaming time for all healthy cats in our catio (a 700-square-foot screened-in porch with views of birds, squirrels and people passing by the shelter). Every week, our cats are provided with novel enrichment such as treats stuffed in paper balls and kitty Kongs (frozen cat treats). We also make sure that all of our cats have their preferred type of bedding, whether that be a soft rug, a tall cat tree, a covered hideaway bed or a cardboard box. Our cat room is full of comfy beds; sisal rope-covered towers for climbing, stretching and scratching; cat trees for napping and climbing; and large windows to watch the world go by. Our cats receive specialized training to build confidence, and learn tricks to help them become more adoptable.

How many pets did this grant help?

145

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

Birdie was a transfer from Hood County Animal Shelter. She’s a beautiful kitty who had a lot of trouble adjusting to the shelter. She was severely matted and would hiss and swat at all of the staff. Nobody was able to touch her. She was very scared and malnourished. After entering our Smarty Cats program, where we were able to give her calming treats, play with her throughout the day, allow her in to sit in the window of the catio, and gave her a safe space to hide when she was scared, after a few months Birdie came out of her shell and started showing her true, sweet personality. We are so happy to report that she has been adopted by a wonderful mother who dotes on her, spends a lot of time with her and has given her the best life Birdie could ever dream of.

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