Hiding Places Mean Happier Cats
Your staff members aren't the only ones who need a break room where they can retreat from the shelter hubbub. Down time is crucial for good feline mental and physical health, and The Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) guidelines for shelter standards call for a retreat option for all cats in shelters.
Some agencies are hesitant to give cats hiding spots for fear they may remain out of view of potential adopters. But here's the good news: We may not have to choose. A study published in the journal Animal Welfare showed that cats who have a place to get away show significantly less stress than those who do not – and they're more likely to approach the front of the cage. Having the hiding spot did not increase the number of days to adoption or reduce the number of cats adopted.
Andy, a victim in an animal cruelty case, was brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital to recover from substantial injuries. One of the most important prescriptions he got was for privacy. "When we gave him a bag, he immediately turned it into his 'man-cave,'" says Dr. Bonnie Wong, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Veterinarian. As he spent time rehabilitating, Andy began using a folded towel for extra solitude.
At first Andy emerged from his bag for food and the litter box, but eventually he came out to interact with the staff and volunteers.
At AHA this simple technique is now used regularly. "We have many abused and neglected cats brought to us for care, and the first thing we try to do is get them acclimated and comfortable in their new environment," says Dr. Wong. "Providing paper bags is an easy way to give them their privacy, allowing them to mold and shape their little nooks for extra comfort."
Hide Your Love Away
Besides paper bags, shoeboxes can be used for super fast, super inexpensive retreat spaces.
An elevated shelf that is partly draped by a blanket or towel works great.
If you're dealing with an unowned, community, or particularly frightened cat, this cat den is a safe and humane transport tool that can also be used as a retreat.
If your budget allows, the Hide, Perch & Go™ box also serves as an elevated perch and converts into a carrier when it is time to go home.
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