|The wonderful staff at Indy Humane who helped make my|
Essentials of Low Stress Handling Seminar possible
I traveled to Indianapolis last week to present a full day seminar on Low Stress Handling at Indy Humane. Colleen Benson, director of shelter behavior, gave me tour of the facility when I stopped by the day before my event. Indy Humane is the central Humane society of Metropolitan Indianapolis. The facility has grown since the founding in 1905, with a vaccine clinic, behavior program for dogs and cats, and assists other humane societies by taking on transfers .
As I walked into the seminar room, I noticed that someone was painting small crates a lovely lavender color. Colleen then explained Dr Liz Rose, one of the shelter veterinarians, was busy hanging shelves, painting the crates and creating an enriched space in a second feline open room. I met Dr Rose, drill in hand, working away transforming a basic room into cat wonderland.
|Like Vanna, Dr Liz Rose points out the optimal spacing for cat launching|
from shelf to shelf
This central room, which is kind of a traffic zone for staff , was needed to create more space for the well socialized cats to play while they were awaiting adoption. Brett Kruger, the feline behavior lead recognized the need for extra space and worked with Dr Rose on the design. The ideas implemented here, using color and fabric are not difficult to use in your home if you have a little time, money and are a bit handy .
|A simple wall hanging using the custom fabric|
in the signature lavender color and logo
One wall has many shelves strategically placed for stepping and jumping between them. This is important – watch how your cats stretch, and the space and height between shelves to be easy for them to navigate. The bridge over the office doorway is creates the “ off the floor runway” most cats want. Central floor areas can be a competitive traffic zone, so having the ability to walk around the room off the floor is essential in an enriched space. The litterboxes are located here , so providing this off the floor runway also reduces the “ stare down” between cats when the box is in use.
|bridge for a cat runway - note the crates|
pretty and functional
The cubbie organizer shelving units are great and can alternate between cat storage and actual product storage for the area. The pretty lavender crates so carefully painted the day before, now hung from the walls near the shelving areas. These crates provide that hiding space but with some peeping cracks so the cat can see out. I love this idea – they can hold the weight of the cat, are lightweight themselves, and can be painted or stained to match the décor of the home. Tee pee tents, cat trees and an open floor space round out the enrichment area. ( picture) There is plenty of room for people to go about their work, for the cats to be safe and happy.
|nice tee pee, scratching pad - they can be moved|
about as the cats like
As far as costs go – I did not ask, but looking at the crate, shelving, and cubbie cases I would estimate it was under $200 for all the materials new. You could save some money by asking at a construction site if you can take scrap shelving or go to a Habitat for Humanity store for materials. Not handy with a drill? Maybe a friend can help or a few hours paying a handy person. With your plan in hand, it would not take more than a few hours to get everything up and in place. If you do not sew, use fleece for cubbie and shelf pads. Fleece does not fray,it comes in all sorts of patterns and colors and cats love it. Staple guns and hot glue guns make quick short cuts of creating framed wall hanging, and upholstered pads.
I post hope this gives you some ideas for creating a “ Cattastic” space in your home. Cubbies, shelves and runways can resolve a lot of cat problems in a home. Enriching the home does not mean it has to look like a cat house – it can be fun and creative for both of you. So, share some of your stories of how you made your home more enriched for your cats – I would love to see your creativity!
Sally J Foote DVM Jan 2019