Camp season is in full swing at HAWS. Each year I look for new things to do with the campers. Many of the kids are repeat campers from previous years, and we have quite a few that attend multiple sessions. New activities are important so that these children have opportunities to experience and learn something new.
Over the years we've seen that some of the cats in our adoption ward are stressed or even afraid of the environment while in their cages. In an effort to help these cats our staff and volunteers will frequently drape blankets over a shelf to provide a tent where these kitties can hide.
And now that we have our shelter cat Toby I noticed that he adores sleeping in boxes, and I've learned that this is common with cats in general.
One of the Five Freedoms of providing for humane treatment of an animal is the freedom to express normal behavior. Cats love to hide in general, and stressed cats need to hide to feel better. Giving a cat a choice about whether he will hide our come out will make a cat secure, and many times stressed cats will take a break in their hiding spot and then make a choice to come out once they feel better.
Given this information I decided that making hide boxes for the cats would be a good camp activity. Boxes are pre-cut and handed out to the campers to decorate. They're given magazines, construction paper, and drawing material and told to get creative.
The kids love this activity and we found that they needed more time than originally anticipated to finish up. The boxes are adorable -- the campers really outdo themselves. And best of all it seems that the HAWS cats are loving the boxes too - many times we'll see them snoozing in their cozy boxes.