Kennel Enrichment for Kitties 101: Fun on the Cheap
In-kennel enrichment… it’s not just for dogs. The ASPCA’s Alex Mirontschuk, Manager, Shelter Research & Development, kicks off a four-part series with low-cost/no-cost ways to repurpose everyday items into the coolest-ever cat toys. (And P.S., she also explains how this can help more of them get adopted!)
For many of us, when we hear the words kennel enrichment, we first think of dogs. However, enrichment is just as important for the cats in your care. Luckily, there are many things that you can do for your feline friends, even with budget and time limitations.
Unsurprisingly, toys are a great way to provide shelter cats with enrichment. Not only that, but having toys in your cages may help your cats get adopted! Research conducted by Jackie Fantuzzi at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City showed that people spent more time viewing cats who had toys in their cages than they did viewing cats who didn’t have toys – even if the cat wasn’t playing with the toy.
In addition to store-bought toys, you can come up with lots of great toys by repurposing everyday items.
- Paper Bags – what cat doesn’t love playing in a paper bag? This item has the added bonus of providing a hiding place for the cat, as called for in The Association of Shelter Veterinarians Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters.
- Paper balls – just wad up some scratch paper and you have a great toy! Use those phone messages you’ve already returned or ask your community to bring in their used wrapping paper after the holidays – just make sure to check that there aren’t any choking hazards, such as ribbons or bits of tape, still on the paper.
- Toys made of pipe cleaners can be great fun to bat around in the cage, or they can be hung on the front of the cage. Making small chains of pipe cleaners is a great project for young students in your humane education program.
- Other easily repurposed items that need little to no adjustments to be used as toys: milk caps, cut-up paper towel rolls and wine corks.
Take care to rotate new toys into each cat’s enclosure every day or two so that they always have something new and interesting to investigate and play with.
Found other low-cost ways to enrich the lives of the cats in your care? Please share your experiences in the comment box.