We all know toys are a blast, but did you know they can make your cats more adoptable? Research from the ASPCA's Adoption Center in New York City shows that people spend more time watching cats who have toys in their cages than those who don't—and it doesn't matter whether the cat is even playing with the toy.
Cats love repurposed household items, so don't think you have to stretch your budget to include new purchases.
Paper bags. Not only are they tons of fun to pounce on and scoot, but they come with an added bonus: They provide a place for timid cats to hide, which calms them down and lessens their stress while in the shelter. (Don't worry that providing hiding spots means the cats will disappear from the view of potential adopters—studies show that cats who have the freedom to hide are more likely to approach the front of the cage.)
Paper balls. If you have paper headed for the recycling bin, wad some of it up and toss it to the kitties.
Pipe cleaners. You can make chains out of pipe cleaners—or have students in your humane education program make them— and hang them in front of cages. You can also let kitties bat them around.
Wine corks, milk caps, and paper towel rolls that have been cut into manageable sizes are all good toys. You can ask shelter staff, volunteers, and supporters to save items from home and bring them in.
Puzzle toys. Cut holes in a small box or plastic container and put the cat's kibble inside. This can be especially appealing to cats who are motivated by food.
Clicker training. This enrichment tool can also make cats more appealing to adopters by teaching the cat to respond positively to simple commands.
Make sure you rotate new toys into each cat's enclosure every day or two so there’s something new and fresh to pique interest. And remember to disinfect toys if you reuse them—or send them along with the cats to their new homes.