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    • 15 Sep, 2017

    Our Volunteers Get Crafty to Help De-stress our Cats

    Our volunteers were feline crafty this month when we held a cat enrichment feeder making session at our Home.

    Caring for our feline residents’ mental well-being is just as important as caring for their physical well-being, and at Mayhew our Cattery staff are always looking into new ways to provide our cats with environmental enrichment and stimulation.

    Enrichment is the stimulation of the cat’s brain by its physical and social surroundings, which not only helps the cat to express the most natural behaviour possible, but also helps reduce stress and prevents boredom.

    Arriving at a shelter can already be a worrying experience for a cat, and if they’re unable to express their normal behaviour, then this can cause stress and frustration, which can in turn cause the cat to become aggressive or even become ill. This is why it’s so important for us to provide our cats with enrichment – and who better to help us than our wonderful volunteers who give up hours of their time to help care for our animals.

    On a moggie de-stressing mission, our Deputy Head of Animal Welfare, Tanya Madden, set up a session with our volunteers to make enrichment activity feeders for our furry residents. Using activity feeders are just one of the ways we provide enrichment to our cats, as they engage our cats for much longer than just using a bowl, keeping them mentally stimulated and entertained as they try to work out how to get the treats. It’s also a great way for us to feed any overweight cats, as it helps to slow down their feeding and get them moving whilst they eat.

    Though there are many activity feeders you can buy, you can easily make homemade feeders from recycled materials, and Tanya thought that this would be the purrrfect chance to get our volunteers involved making their own feeders for the cats they help to care for every day.

    Ready for the crafty session, our staff and volunteers collected up an array of recycled materials which could be used to create homemade feeders, including toilet roll tubes, egg boxes, cardboard boxes and yoghurt pots. Our volunteers then gathered at our home, where Tanya demonstrated the different types of activity feeders which they could make – and then they were ready to get crafty!

    Our volunteers made some fantastic activity feeders, which would make any cat purr with delight. They made stationary puzzle boards where the cat would have to use their paws to push or knock the food to where they want to eat it and also moving feeders, where the cat would have to tip a pot or bash around to get the treats out.

    Once they had finished making their feeders, our volunteers took their crafty creations into our cattery for feeding time to see what our cats thought of it all. With all the munching and purring, our volunteers’ feeders appeared to be a big success with our cats!

    Tanya, said: “We feed some of our cats using activity feeders, either bought or homemade. They’re such a fantastic way to feed our cats, as they engage more with the activity feeder than with their bowl, working out how to get the food and being instantly rewarded when they do.”

    “Activity feeders are so simple to make, and you can use most of the recyclable materials you find around the house, and it was great to get our volunteers involved in making the feeders. We not only wanted to provide our cats with more enrichment, but also give our volunteers the hands-on opportunity to learn more about enrichment and why it’s important for our cats.”

    “I think the volunteers did a fantastic job of making the feeders and know that our cats certainly enjoyed finding the treats. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made an activity feeder.”

    A massive thank you to our volunteers for taking the time to make these feeders! We hope to continue with more enrichment sessions with our volunteers and supporters, and keep your eyes on our social media channels for videos on how to make your very own enrichment feeder.

    Are you ‘Feline’ inspired to make your cat an activity feeder? Read our top tips below:

    • If your cat is using an activity feeder for the first time, try to choose one which is easy for your cat to work out and where they can easily see the food. If they are unable to see the food or work out how the feeder works, their motivation won’t be very high.
    • Make a quick and easy feeder by taking a toilet roll tube, sealing both ends and put holes in the tube for the dry food to fall out of as your cat pushes it across the floor.
    • To help keep your cat as stimulated and interested as possible, try spritzing the feeder with a catnip spray.
    • Homemade feeders aren’t built to last, so don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t last forever.
    • Cats prefer variety, so it’s a success if your cat uses the feeder even for a week , and if that’s the case, give it a break and try a different type of feeder.


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