Here are some examples of how your donations are helping shelters and rescue groups, in the organizations’ own words.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kong donated a selection of dog toys for our shelter dogs to play with while they are waiting to be adopted. We let the dogs select one they like that they can play with outside or in their kennels. Periodically, we fill them with peanut butter for a treat.
We like Kong toys because they are very sturdy and the dogs can’t chew them up and don’t end up swallowing pieces. Many of them become attached to their toys and we like to send the toy home with them as a transitional object when the dogs are adopted. If we do that, then we need to replace the toys. This grant will keep us in Kongs for some time to come, freeing up that money for other things.
Eight so far and more to come
Apollo, a husky/German shepherd mix (first three photos), is still waiting to be adopted. He was surrendered by a family whose circumstances changed and they could no longer take care of him. He is very high-energy and is timid around people until he gets to know them. He was given first choice of the Kong toys and, as you can see in the pictures, once he made his choice, he was attached. He shows his toy to anyone who comes to the shelter. Meet Apollo here.
Grady (fourth and fifth photos) is still at the shelter but has some health problems resulting in incontinence that we are working with the local vet to address before putting him back up for adoption. In the meantime, he is enjoying his Kong bone.
Fava (sixth and seventh photos), who came to the shelter as a stray puppy, showed a clear preference for the traditional Kong toy. She has since been adopted.
We purchased two tall cat towers for our foster cats.
The cats LOVE the high towers! We added one to a room that just had regular furniture and the free-roaming fosters have been using it nonstop. They even use the hammock/bucket-type perches that I have not seen many cats use in the past. It gave us more vertical space in our foster room and helped a new cat who was introduced to the other fosters, as he had more space to climb and hide.
Ernesto came to us from a crowded North Carolina shelter. We only had space for one cat, so we had to pick one — the oldest — from a group that was surrendered. Ernesto was nervous about new friends and picked a spot in the new tower as his own. Now he is friends with everyone and doesn’t mind sharing his space.
Unfortunately Ernesto is still fighting an upper-respiratory infection and is not available for adoption YET.
Enrichment toys for animals in our program
The kittens (and cats) loved the toys that were sent. The Kongs gave them something to play with and chew on.
Six currently, but more are coming in shortly
Lilo (first four photos) was found as a newborn stray on a farm. Luckily for her, her litter was found and brought into a rescue. Unfortunately, Lilo tested positive for feline leukemia (FeLV), a highly contagious virus which attacks the immune system and can lead to death. Most cats testing positive for FeLV are euthanized immediately in a shelter environment. But Lilo had a guardian angel who pulled her in time and brought her into a rescue situation, and she eventually made her way to Furever Home. Here, she can live a happy and full life for whatever amount of time she has left. Because all our cats are FeLV+, Lilo is not only safe, but has friends to play with in a family environment.
The $250 was used toward the purchase of an order for vaccines from ValleyVet.com. The order total was $468.35.
Any dog who is placed in our rescue who has not been vaccinated receives a vaccination.
Mickey (first photo), pictured with A Forever Home Animal Rescue president and owner Lori Mastrantoni, is a 7-year-old dachshund who is paralyzed in his back legs. He is one of many dogs who have received and are receiving the vaccines partially paid for by the $250 Petfinder Foundation grant. We are tremendously grateful for this help. With the exception of BrynLee (second photo) and Olaf (third photo), these dogs will require careful placement. We are hopeful that will happen soon. In the meantime, they are being well taken care of at the rescue.
The majority of the cat enrichment grant was used to purchase cat trees and condos for our shelter to provide durable replacements for the well-worn ones. In addition, we also purchased cat toys, which our shelter kitties really appreciated.
The enrichment grant was a tremendous help to our organization. With the many costs of operating a no-kill shelter, replacing our cat trees/condos had to take a back seat, especially during the COVID time. There are cats/kitties who stay with us for longer periods of time. The enrichment grant enabled us to meet their needs on an emotional level. They can play and run around in the enclosed area, which includes cat trees and toys. I have included photos of the area — and boy, do the cats/kitties have fun!
This grant will help all the kitties who pass through our shelter. Last year we adopted 816 cats/kittens!
Wiggles and Percy are listed on Petfinder, waiting to be adopted. They are a bonded pair, both under one year old. Their owner passed away suddenly, and they were surrendered to the shelter by family members. They have laid-back dispositions, but wonder what happened and why they aren’t in their own home. They are looking for a forever home together. In the meantime, Wiggles and Percy are enjoying the enclosure and the new condos, trees, and toys purchased through the enrichment grant. This will help them pass the time until we find them a loving home — together! Meet Wiggles and Percy here.
The funding was for disaster relief from Winter Storm Uri. The funding covered repair of our AC compressor that blew when generators came on and off several times as we gained and lost power.
Funding had to be diverted away from our animal care operations in order to cover the cost of repair for our AC compressor. Having the Petfinder Foundation come back and cover the cost of this unexpected expense means that we won’t have any interruption in our capacity to care for animals in our facilities.
550, which is the average daily population count of animals in our shelter
Space is a Great Dane who is deaf and was rescued off the streets in the days leading up to Winter Storm Uri. He was undernourished and skinny. Thankfully, as it got colder, we had a few XXL dog sweaters that he was able to use to stay warm. As we battled the cold and the failure of our equipment, a partner shelter in Minnesota heard about Space and immediately snatched him up for rescue. He left our care just a few days after the storm and is living happily in Minnesota now!
The P.L.A.Y. pet cooling mats were provided to foster families as part of the supplies and equipment we send home with our foster pets. Each pet is provided with a collar and/or harness and leash, food and water bowls, a bed, toys and Hills Science Diet pet food. Cat foster families are provided with non-clumping litter and a litterbox. The P.L.A.Y. cooling mats were sent home with 12 foster families to make their foster pets comfortable in their temporary homes.
Since the pandemic started in March 2020, we had a huge increase in the number of families participating in our foster program. Because of this, we have increased the number of pets in foster care from approximately 40% at any one time to over 70%. While expanding our foster program has had many positive impacts on the pets in our care and on our shelter, it has required us to be able to provide many more resources to foster families. The P.L.A.Y. pet cooling mats helped relieve us of a small part of that burden by allowing us to provide safe, comfortable bedding to several foster families for the pets in their care.
The P.L.A.Y. pet cooling mats were sent home with 12 foster families, who have fostered 17 pets from December 2020 to March 2021.
Ducky, formerly known as Valerie, has had a bit of a rough go. She arrived at the SPCA back in 2017 as an owner-surrender. We provided her with routine veterinary care, spayed her, and she was quickly adopted. However, three years later, we heard that Valerie had arrived at the Fluvanna SPCA and her owners could not be contacted.
We transferred Valerie back into our care and provided her with some much-needed TLC. She was treated for internal parasites and kennel cough and sent to a foster home, where she quickly settled in with the help of a comfy P.L.A.Y. bed.
Valerie, now known as Ducky, was adopted by her foster family, and today she happily shares her P.L.A.Y. bed with the resident cats and a new foster puppy named Pip, a 5-month-old beagle transferred to the SPCA from Buckingham County Animal Shelter. Ducky’s foster (now forever) mom says: “Ducky and our foster puppy really like it — but the cats like it the most!”
The funds went toward helping get one of our pets neutered before adoption.
It was very helpful to have extra funds to put toward our spay/neuter expenses.
Mojito came to us as a scared young pup. He blossomed in a loving foster home and we used the grant money toward his neuter before he was adopted. Mojito is now happily in his forever home.
We supplied all foster families that currently have dogs in their care with one of the donated Kongs.
The Kongs are being used to help our pups in various ways. For some pups, we use the Kong as positive reinforcement in a new environment. It helps them cope with their new surroundings with less stress and fuss. Other foster parents use it as a training tool. It helps acclimate new fosters to crate-training and is a great reward in “reward-based” training exercises. Lastly, many dogs come to us with high anxiety or just excess amounts of energy. With these pups, the Kong is used strictly for mental stimulation.
Betty Bee came into our rescue off of a euthanasia list. She was a high-strung, temperamental little terrier who was being labeled unadoptable due to her behavior. Betty was transferred into a foster home shortly after joining our rescue. It was evident that much of her behavioral issues stemmed from lack of stimulation, exercise, and social skills. Despite great efforts to fulfill Betty’s exercise needs, she simply was not getting everything she needed from her daily walks and hikes. From there, we started working on her mental stamina and introduced her to a Kong. Not only did she love the extra treats, Betty thoroughly loved the puzzle game the Kong provided. Once put on a daily routine with physical and mental stimulation provided by her Kong, Betty Bee flourished into quite an amazing girl. Betty was recently adopted and is now living the life she has always dreamed of.