Home-made Environmental Enrichment for the Indoor Kitty

by Crisia Tabacaru

As a loving cat parent, no doubt you’re already providing food, water and a warm home for your feline friend, but, just like you need more than the necessities to keep you at your best, your kitties will be happier and healthier if you understand their instincts, behaviours, and what will make them feel safe and content.

Let’s look at it from a biological perspective: Cats come from wild species that are both predators and prey, and many of their instinctive behaviours stem from this history. For instance, you’ve likely noticed that your kitties like to be high up, which helps them to both observe and feel safe. Providing such spaces in your home means that you’ll have a happier, less aggressive kitty, with fewer behavioural issues in general. For multiple cat households, increased vertical space will also help with stress related to territorial issues.

Many cat parents meet these needs with store-bought cat trees, hammocks or cat walks. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a cat tree, but a home-made one can be a very fulfilling project for both you and your kitty, not to mention a money-saver. In fact, one of our Zoe’s adopters built one for their kitty Neelix (Zoe’s alum, formerly Tator) and he loves his new cat tree!

This is one of my favourites. The instructions are very clear and it won’t cramp your style either. Seriously, check out those gorgeous branches!

 

Image courtesy of By Brittany Goldwyn

 

You can also take the scratching post approach and provide a climbing workout like this easy-to-follow project. Another way to give your cat observation powers is to provide cat shelves like this crafty cat owner did. The only limit is your imagination! (And maybe your handiness with tools…)

The next need to consider is mental stimulation and engagement. Boredom from a lack of environmental enrichment is often accompanied by stress and “bad” behaviours like urine marking and aggression. Increasing complexity in their environment is a way to engage cats and provide much needed mental stimulation. One way to do this is to create physical structures with attached toys and other complexities for them to play with, sleep on, scratch, and explore. This one uses readily available Ikea furniture and is attractive to boot.

Image courtesy of By Brittany Goldwyn

Another way is to provide a challenge in the form of toy or treat puzzles like these. Heck, have fun with it and make them a climbing wall!

Get inspired by these DIYs and let your imagination run wild!

Bonus: Geeky DIY cat projects

These projects are just so deliciously geeky, that I couldn’t resist!

Foster of the Week: Chance


 

Hi! Chance here!

It’s been a few months since we chatted. I’ve been learning so much and working so hard, I want to tell you all about it!

First of all, I attended Leash Monsters in October and have had a private training session. My people said I did very well, I’m so proud of myself! Working on my leash manners has been challenging, but also rewarding. (By ‘rewarding’, I mean I get LOTS of delicious food when I listen and do my best. Yum!!) I have a new leash and harness too, it helps me stop lunging and pulling. I’ve also been working on boundary reactivity. I often forget and bark! bark! bark!, but I’m getting much better at stopping and listening when my foster people call me. I still have some work to do, but I have come so far.

adore people. I really do. Love and affection are my favourite things. (Next to food, of course.) My favourite way to tell you I love you is to put my face right in your face and touch noses. I call it a Chance Smooch!

I also love other animals. There are two cats in my foster home, they are wonderful friends and great nap buddies. I very much enjoy playing with the kitten, however, there is a considerable size difference between us and I forget that sometimes. My foster people keep an eye on me to make sure I don’t play too rough or paw-sy. And, despite my excitability around other dogs while on a leash, I am happy as a clam and positive as a pickle when meeting friends off-leash.

I am full of life and energy. I love walks, runs and playing in water – the muddier, the better!! I love playing period. I join the cats chasing the laser pointer and play fetch in the house when it’s too cold to get out for long walks. I’m kind of a toy shredder. I love ripping the fluff out of stuffies. I don’t rip up anything else in the house! Just my toys. You might want to look into a wholesale stuffy supplier….

I am a huge goofball, I have no shame saying that. I am fun, funny, sweet and silly. If we meet, I know you will agree. Visit my bio to read more about me and apply to adopt me!

Five Tips for a Successful Adoption Application

We get a high volume of applications for some dogs and cats. The interest in great! But it also means we sometimes have to pass on wonderful homes. Our choices are based on each individual animal: their temperament, energy level, health, behaviour, likes, dislikes, and reactions we’ve noted during their foster care. We try to match every pet with the best possible home for its needs. Zoe’s Animal Rescue has a 4% return rate – one of the lowest in Canada – and it’s because of our commitment to ensuring every pet finds his or her purrrfect fur-ever home.

We’ve put together a list of five tips to increase your chances of being selected for a meet and greet:

  1. Fill out the adoption application entirely. Be free with information and elaborate where possible! If we have two applications for the same dog or cat and one is missing some answers or has one-word answers, we are going to be inclined to go with the one with the most information first. 
  2. Read the animal’s profile on the website and apply for animals that you are a match with. For example, if the profile says the animal is not good with cats and you have a cat, that is not the best fit for you or the animal. But if you have a separate area for the cat or a plan to keep the two apart, please let us know in your application! 
  3. Go to adoption events and meet our volunteers! It can be hard to get a sense of who someone is when reading their responses to the application questions. When we have a face and personality to put to a name, we feel like we know you. That will add weight to your application. 
  4. Apply for animals who have been in care for a while. Puppies, kittens, and other charismatic animals tend to get lots of applications and we might lose your application in the mix. Consider applying for one of our adult or senior companions who have been on the website for a bit. You might be surprised at how quickly you form a bond with them, and you probably won’t miss getting up at 3 a.m. to let a puppy out for a pee break. 
  5. Apply to foster or volunteer with us! You automatically have a leg up when you’re part of the team. We know you, know you are committed and trust you already! Plus you’ll know just who to bribe with cookies.

If you’ve submitted an application in the past and haven’t been chosen, don’t take it personally. Keep trying until you find your match. Your fluffy soulmate is waiting!

Paw Wax Fundraiser!

Zoe’s Paw Wax is an all natural product made from beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. It’s safe for your pet to lick, although my lick-a-holic dogs haven’t bothered to lick it yet, and it’s safe for your own skin.

Apply paw wax a few minutes before going outside on a walk. It will protect your dog’s paws from snowballs, ice, and painful salt! If you go through deep snow where a buildup of snow on the paws is inevitable, paw wax keeps the snow from sticking or becoming embedded between the pads. You’ll be able to wipe it off and continue your walk.

In the summer paw wax will protect paws from hot asphalt, although use caution for hot surfaces and reapply as needed.

To apply paw wax:

  1. Trim your dog’s paw hair, including between the pads. Be careful not to grip his foot too hard and hurt him, and careful with those scissors
  2. Scoop out some paw wax and rub it on the pads and the areas deep between the pads. The oils in the paw wax will absorb into your dog’s foot and the wax will form a protective barrier.
  3. Repeat for all 4 paws
  4. Paw wax is good for about a week before you need to reapply. You don’t need to trim the hair each time. Apply more often if it’s very cold or you do a lot of walking.

Apply paw wax on a washable surface in your home, or get your dog to stand on a towel. The paw wax will leave light footprints for the first few steps your dog takes but the majority of the product will be absorbed into the paw.

Purchase Zoe’s Paw Wax for $8 here. Proceeds to Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society.

 

Foster of the Week: Reinforcement

 

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I’m Reinforcement, but you can call me RiRi or Ri for short.

I came to Zoe’s about six months ago after being found seriously injured by a car motor. It was a very scary time in my life, but I was treated by the very best veterinarians and cared for by the loveliest foster mom until I healed up. I’m ready for my forever home, but I suspect my pesky medical condition, caused by that run-in with the motor, might seem overwhelming to all the great families out there.

Rest assured, I am far more than a medical condition. In fact, you will never meet a more perfect mix of playfulness and affection in a feline.  My foster mom describes me as ‘charming, friendly, outgoing, exuberant, mischevious, super-loving, and adorable.’ Quite the list, right? (My foster mom is the sweetest!)

I adore people and will greet you at the door when you come home or come to visit. (No bashfulness here, I love meeting new people too!) I am inquisitive and enjoy following my people throughout their daily activities. I also love curling up in a cozy lap or napping on a warm chest. I’m not all shadows and snores, though! I might be entering my teenage years, but I’m still full kitten when I play. And I do love to play! I’m always pouncing and playing tag with the resident cat in my foster home. He tolerates me very well, but I know I’m a bit much for him some days. My perfect home would have a cat who matches my energy level and loves to play as much as I do.

I am a bit of a, um, food-a-holic. And by ‘bit’ I mean there is nothing I won’t do for a morsel of food. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. I have eaten through plastic to get to cookies and dived into the recycle bin to find the very last lick in the tuna can. All manner of counter deterrents have been tested to absolutely no avail. I am an ‘incorrigible counter surfer.’ I cannot be free fed as I am a total glutton; I must be given small portions throughout the day or I will gulp down my food causing an upset tummy. While my foster mom chuckles at my antics (it’s amazing what a pretty face and sweet disposition can get away with) I have caused some changes in household habits when it comes to food handling and storage.

Which ties into my medical condition…… My run in with that motor caused permanent damage to my pancreas. Treatment for my condition was quite involved at first, but is now quite simple! I can only eat a certain kind of wet food, in small portions as mentioned, and need a monthly injection of Vitamin B – If you give my injection while I’m eating, I won’t even notice. There will always be a risk of a pancreatic flare-up, which is very painful for me and requires a visit to the vet, however, I have not had a flare up since getting my diet under control. (Which is why keeping me away from people food is so important.) With consistent care, my foster mom feels the chance of a flare-up is minimal.

I would love to meet you, I am certain you will fall in love. Submit an application right meow!

Fostering An Animal: What You Need to Know

Fostering an animal is one of the most rewarding things you can possibly do for an animal in need.  Without foster homes, many rescues would not be able to bring in and save the animals they do and they are constantly in need of people to foster animals until they find their furever home.

Today, I’m going to talk about everything you need to know about fostering an animal and hope that I can help answer and address some of the questions and myths regarding fostering.

To help get some accurate information, I spoke with an individual who fosters with a local rescue organization here in Edmonton.  They have been fostering animals since they were a child and are currently fostering their 73rd dog.  I’ve left the individual anonymous to respect their privacy.

What the biggest myths regarding fostering? “it’s too painful and difficult to let the animal go.  Another big one is that rescued animals are just too damaged to be saved.  That is simply not true.”

How hard it really is to say goodbye to an animal? “It gets a bit easier as time goes by. Knowing that I’m making a difference in that animal’s life makes the tears worth it.  I must admit that I cry every time but it’s short lived. I’m blessed to see where all my fosters go to live and that’s great closure for me.  The great thing is that all adopters keep in touch with me and provide me updates on how the animal is doing.”

If you follow any rescue organizations, you may or may not have heard of the term “foster fail”.  This refers to a person who is fostering an animal and becomes so attached to that animal that they decide to keep and adopt that animal.  While it’s always wonderful to hear that, it does create challenges such as potentially losing that foster home (though that’s not always the case in that animal is good with other animals). People who foster often hear “well why don’t you just keep the animal?”.

“It would be foolish to think that I’m the only one who could love these animals.  There are so many people waiting for a pet and the need for foster homes is so great that I need that spot in my homer another deserving animal.”

Like anything, there are challenges.  Fostering an animal is no different.

What is the most challenging parts of fostering an animal? “Getting people to understand the importance of spay and neutering your animals.  People also need to understand the  expense of vet care.  It’s not cheap and people need to be aware of that.  Alberta has one of the highest costs in the country for veterinary care, and trying to find more foster homes is always a huge challenge.  There are so many animals we have to turn away due to not having enough foster homes.  It’s heartbreaking.”

As I stated at the beginning of this post, fostering an animal is also incredibly rewarding. What the most rewarding part about fostering? “Helping a pet find their new home and seeing how happy they are.  I love seeing the transformation of these animals who often do not come from the best circumstances.  They learn what it’s like to be safe, nurtured and loved.  Plus, as I stay in contact with people who have adopted an animal I’ve fostered, I’ve made some wonderful new friends because of it.”

Why should people foster an animal? “My life is more complete and happier since rescuing animals.  Being surrounded by like minded people who are compassionate, empathetic and caring individuals has been a blessing.  If you have children in your home, teaching them empathy, compassion, responsibility as well as teaching them the values in volunteering will help shape them into caring and compassionate adults.  Also helping at risk communities stay safe from abandoned animals.  So many animals are able to give back by becoming therapy and emotional support dogs.  You are able to help give these animals an opportunity at a better life.”

One of the best parts about fostering is that it is very lost cost and depending on the rescue, FREE!  Rescue organizations will pay for any medical expenses and provide you with anything you will need.  All you need to do is provide a loving and safe home for them. While fostering that animal, they will have an opportunity to go to adoption events (great for exposure for that animal) as well as their bio will be up on the rescue organization’s website and on social media.  Most fosters are also involved with things like home checks for that animal and will definitely have a say in the adoption process of that animal.

If you are thinking of fostering an animal, please contact local rescue organizations and fill out an application.  Not sure who needs foster homes?  Then drop me a comment and I will help connect you to local rescues in your area.

You can make a difference and you can save a life.


Posted with permission from For the Love of Rescue

Fosters of the Week: Dog Squad

Like the Cat Crew last week, these four past Foster of the Week pooches are still waiting for their forever families to find them.

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We can’t believe Chinook hasn’t found his forever home. I mean, look at that face!! Chinook can be a little shy at first, but once he warms up, he’s ALLLLL heart. He loves all people, little ones too, and all animals (little ones too!) With just a little time and patience, this sweet and gentle guy will the best friend you’ve ever had. Given the bone-chilling temperatures lately, I think we could all use a little ‘Chinook‘ in our lives. Start 2017 with a new best friend, apply to adopt Chinook!

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Handsome, silly and playful Chance returned to Zoe’s this past summer. Since then he’s been splashing in ponds, playing with dog friends and, as you can see, lapping up peanut butter. Lucky dude!! Chance is a big ol’ sweetheart, but he has some leash issues to work through so he does need an experienced and patient family to continue working with him. He is very smart and eager to please; your efforts will be rewarded tenfold with more love than you can handle! Do you have fitness goals for 2017? Then this high energy guy is for you!

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Scruffy ain’t scruffy no more! Maybe we should change his name to Spiffy! This little man came in needing love, care, and attention inside and out. We tended to his medical, physical and behavioural needs and wouldn’t you know, Scruffy acquired a spring in his step and a flutter in his heart that turned him into the biggest little sweetheart around. What’s better than a cold evening in front of the Christmas tree with a piping hot beverage? A sweet Shitzu on your lap to enjoy it with you!

Arrow

Arrow is the perfect man: He is adventurous, he is playfully silly, and he is a superb cuddler. He’s a take charge kinda guy (read: stubborn as a mule), so he does need a strong and experienced owner to make sure he stays on the gentlemanly side of the scale. But if you put in the time and effort, your bond with Arrow will be unbreakable. Slovak Cuvacs are loyal and loving to the end, Arrow is no exception. If your perfect day involves hiking a new trail followed by relaxing in front of an intriguing movie, Arrow is the guy for you!

Fosters of the Week: The Cat Crew

This week, we are featuring past feline Fosters of the Week who are still waiting for their forever family to find them.

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First up: Beautiful bonded siblings, Miss Blue and George Weasley. These two have been adopted out twice and returned twice due to changing family circumstances. But when life handed them lemons, they, somehow, made catnip! Empty lap on a cold winter evening? Adopt these two furry cuddlers and never have a cold lap again!

Next: Two more bonded siblings, Wednesday and Merlina. You’ll never have a dull moment with these silly sisters! Their foster mom describes them as “Pirates” and “Partners in Crime.” They love playing and chasing each other and being adorably mischevious. Cut the cable! Entertain yourself with these sisters instead!

Does your home need a gentleman cat? Look no further than Moose Shrek! Described as quiet, unassuming, sweet, sensitive and soulful, Moose Shrek is the purrrrrfect man-cat. This guy is FULL of love and affection AND he’ll always help with the dishes. Looking for the perfect man? You’ve found him!

Looking for the perfect lady? We have you covered there, too! Heather Willow is as sweet as she is beautiful. She’s a little on the shy side, but there is nothing she loves more than curling up on a lap for a good, long snooze. She’s also a big, BIG fan of catnip. Adopt this gorgeous tortie sweetheart and you’ll have a best friend for life!

Foster of the Week: Cory Flower

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Hey there! How are you?

Oh, that’s good! Me? I’m wonderful!!

I’m Cory, by the way, but most people call me Mama.

I just moved to a new foster home. It’s so great! There are comfy beds, a fireplace, a dog to play with and SO many things to investigate. I just love it!

This is my first time living in a real house. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been good. The transition has been slow with very sweet and patient people, which has helped a lot. When I first came to Zoe’s with my puppies, I was very scared of people. They didn’t mind, though. They gave me a safe and warm space to take care of my babies and showed me I could trust them. When my pups were old enough, they found wonderful loving homes for all of them and I moved to a kennel where I met up with one of best friends, Vinnie. It was so good to see him again!! It was also nice to be around so many other dogs, I love dog friends.

After being at the kennel for a few months, a few lovely ladies came to visit me. They wanted to teach me about leashes, stairs, cars and all the other strange things about domestic life. Those stairs… downright scary at first! But I didn’t give up, and neither did they. (Treats on every step is darn good motivation!) Cars weren’t as scary. I was unsure about them at first, but I now I love car rides. They take you to all sorts of fun places – like pet stores, parks, and cozy homes!

A car brought me to this home and it’s been terrific! The first time I visited, I zoomed right in! I had a moment of fear, but it quickly subsided and I settled right in. There is another dog here, which helped tremendously. Being around another dog makes me feel calm and relaxed, plus I love playing with other dogs. It’s probably the best part of my day. I’m a curious girl; I like to spend a little time each day checking out a new part of the house. There are so many things to explore! I like to watch my foster people too, humans do all kind of interesting things. After all that, it’s nap time! There is no shortage of lush and cozy beds here, but sometimes I like to snooze in my crate or sprawl out as big as I can on the floor.

I’m a shadow of the fearful mama I was when I first came to Zoe’s; I’m so very grateful for the ladies who worked with me to show how good this life can be. And for my foster parents for teaching me how to live in a home. Because of them, my sweet, kind and gentle disposition can shine. Because of them, I am ready to find my forever home.

My ladies say I am a gentle and kind soul. I know if you meet me, you will agree. Visit my bio and apply to adopt me!

Foster of the Week: Heather Willow

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Hey there! HW again!

The lovely Zoe’s people asked me to chat you up again because I’m still looking for my forever home.

I was a little shy last time we met, sometimes people aren’t sure about shy cats. I understand that. Sometimes I’m not sure about people. I feel much more comfortable now, but that might be the catnip talking……

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That’s my catnip face. RAWR!

Don’t judge, sometimes a girl has to let loose and have fun!

It’s true that I am a calmer lady and I prefer a quieter home, but I can still get down! I love to play and chase toys. And I lurve me some catnip!!

I’m also very cuddly. My foster mom says if you have a lap, I will curl up and sleep on it. I don’t like to be picked up, but I very much like cuddling. I also like to chat. I chirp and meow at my foster mom all the time. She’s been very patient with me, I appreciate that. And she understands that sometimes I don’t want pets and that I can get a little overwhelmed if there is too much going on around me. She lets me go off on my own for some peace and quiet. It’s important to me that my people are patient and understanding.

I was asked what I would like in a forever home…… a warm lap. That’s top of my list! I don’t like lots of noise and activity, so I would like a quieter home. Dogs and small children scare me, but I do like other cats. I lived with a few other felines for a while, we got along very well. They make excellent cuddle friends! I don’t have many requests: love and patience. That’s really all I’d like.

Oh, and catnip! That’s a MUST.

If you have catnip and a cozy lap, you should apply to adopt me! I’m sure we would be great friends.