Just like us, our pets need to be entertained and stimulated daily. The strategies used to do this, whether it's physical or mental stimulation, are called "enrichment"! At the shelter, our team uses several methods to ensure that our little residents don't find the time too long.
Appeal to the five senses
Enrichment can stimulate hearing, sight, taste, touch and smell. This allows the animal to open up to new perspectives and to be more balanced, less stressed and less anxious during its stay.
At the shelter, the first step is to assess the animal's behavior in order to better understand its needs and to choose appropriate strategies.
- Case 1: The cat who is fine/not too stressed/eats well/is open to humans
For these types of cats, we will usually have our dedicated volunteers spend time petting, cuddling, comforting and playing with the cat. This attention does the animal a world of good!
This is especially true for kittens, who are at a crucial time in their lives. If they can't be placed with a companion, volunteers play a crucial role in providing them with affection!
We also make sure to provide interactive bowls, licking mats and digging mats to as many cats as possible. This allows them to work for their food, a healthy and beneficial occupation!
Kickeroo toys also work well to let off steam, and quiet music in the afternoon helps them relax, as well as camouflaging outside noise.
Help our little residents by purchasing enrichment items from our Amazon listing
- Case 2: The cat that runs around in circles in the cage/needs to move more/seems anxious
A cat that vocalizes a lot in its cage, rubs against the bars, spins around or turns everything upside down is probably experiencing difficult emotions!
When we notice that a small resident seems uncomfortable in their cage, we try to place them in a shelter staff office whenever possible. They always receive a lot of attention and stimulation there!
Otherwise, it is especially important to play with these cats on a regular basis. Placing an electronic tablet with a movie in front of their cage also works well to provide visual and auditory stimulation. Like us, cats are entertained by screens!
- Case 3: The fearful/stressed/afraid cat
Some cats adapt very poorly to the reality of the shelter. Our primary goal in such cases is to lower the animal's stress level. Since they are generally not very receptive to human contact, we use a treat that is particularly effective: Creamy!
This lickable treat works small miracles. When we are able to pet the cat while it’s eating it, it creates a positive association with the human in the feline's mind. This quality time is sometimes all it takes for the cat to relax a bit and start eating again, which greatly improves its well-being!
These cats also benefit from the aforementioned tools to keep them entertained or occupied.
An excellent example of a scared cat coming out of his shell is Liam, who was adopted a few months ago. Inert, apathetic and closed when he arrived, he opened up little by little and finally showed his true colors: those of a sociable, friendly and infinitely nice cat!
To help us enrich our felines, you can purchase items for them via our Amazon wish list: https://a.co/d9HlyU3. They thank you in advance!
Read our next blog post : Enrichment, an essential ingredient for Kitty's well-being at home (part II)