We all know that animal shelters can be very stressful places for pets who are accustomed to living in a nice home, or who had been freely roaming outdoors. Shelters can be noisy, crowded and loaded with unpleasant smells associated with other animals. The animals are confined to small spaces and often have to share their “room” with other animals. Can you imagine living like that? You would be stressed too!
At the ARL, we have researched ways to decrease stress for the animals, especially cats who can be very susceptible. Cats are more likely to succumb to stress by not eating or grooming themselves and having a lower immune system resulting in illness.
Here are just a few of the things that the ARL is doing to decrease stress for the cats while they live at the ARL:
1. Cats love high places. No matter if they are alone in a cage or in a colony with other cats, they still enjoy sleeping on an elevated bed. Thanks to several generous donators, the cats at the ARL now have Kuranda beds in their cages! It didn’t take long for the cats to take to their new beds. And, of course, the four colonies have shelves where the cats can lie “above it all.”
2. Minimize moving cats from cages too frequently. When cats are taken out of their spaces every day for cleaning or to just rearrange the space, it places stress on them. Imagine yourself if you are staying at a hotel and you are told to pack up and move to a new room every night! It wouldn’t be a nice, restful vacation, would it? Cats like to be around familiar smells, their own scent, and each time they are moved, their scent must be re-established. Keeping them in the same space helps them to relax.
3. Cats love to hide! In our cat colonies, we have added easy-to-clean hollow cubes and boxes that cats can use to get away from it all. And even just a blanket that a cat can hide under helps!
4. Playtime! All cats need exercise and time to play. Each cat is given “recess” out of the cage to run around and play. We have a large variety of toys to increase their stimulation and reduce boredom.
5. Ability to be alone. That’s certainly not a problem for those cats in individual cages but for those living in the colonies, it’s almost impossible to find solitude. We’ve installed doors in each colony so that the cats can freely come and go outside to the ledge. Some love it out there where it’s quiet and others prefer to be inside to watch what’s going on.
Regardless of what we do for the animals, they will always be stressed when they are not in a nice, loving home. The ARL works with several cat rescue groups to find adopters and foster homes. Plus, cats are now a part of the ARL’s Grey Muzzle Foster Program. Please consider being a foster home to a homeless kitty!