Behind the scenes: Shelter enrichment & socialization – cats
by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society | Cat Care | November 7, 2019
A few weeks ago we shared with you tips for shelter enrichment and socialization for dogs. Now we’d like to give you a behind the scenes view on how we enrich and socialize our cats!
The first thing to note is that we make a plan for every cat. This means the cat is assessed for personality to determine what types of enrichment, activities, or games will benefit the individual cat.
Here are a few examples of this from our Feline Activity Selection Chart.
The Buddy System
This is a daily form of cognitive/social stimulation meant for cat friendly cats or kittens. This works well for individual kittens housed alone. Placing a needy or lonely cat or kitten in a kennel with another suitable friend. Staff members will then monitor the situation to ensure the cat’s stress is lessened and not increased.
The Water Game
This activity can be used twice a week to help with cognitive/physical/tactile stimulation, and is suitable for all cats and kittens. How does this look? It’s quite simple really. All you need is a shallow container filled with water and a few floating toys (ping pong balls work well). This activity is best done in a play room or communal room.
Clicker for cats
This activity is especially beneficial for shy cats, but can be used for cats or kittens. It’s a cognitive/social/stress reduction stimulant that can be applied daily. What you’ll need is: clicker, popsicle stick, piece of wooden dowel, or tongue depressor, high value food reward (tuna or canned food). See our website for more instructions.
Cat Cabin for hiding and perching
This one is all about stress reduction. This is good for all cats, but absolutely necessary for scared, fearful cats. In all of our cat rooms we place a Hide and Perch box, or other item to provide hiding and perching (ie. small plastic step stool covered with a towel, or cat carrier with door removed.)
These are just a few examples of what feline enrichment and socialization can look like at our animal centres. For a full list, checkout our Feline Activity Selection Chart!
Hats off to you
To all kind-hearted and hard-working people at SPCA: hats off to you. I love animals and admire the work you do.