In an attempt to reduce disease and provide sanitary conditions, for their own safety, shelter animals are often left with a rather sterile environment. This type of environment can lead to unwanted behaviors due to stress and boredom. Our enrichment program provides fun activities that will keep the animals in our care mentally stimulated and happy. By providing enrichment we reduce stress AND disease since stress can lower an animal’s resistance to illness.
McKamey Enrichment Activities
Scent Spray- We use a variety of scents to stimulate the dogs’ sense of smell: mint, almond, lemon verbena, rosemary and vanilla. The spray bottles are donated and the herbs are grown in the Center’s herb garden. After the main cleaning is completed, volunteers and caretakers spray the mixture on each wall of the dog’s kennel and on his Kuranda bed. . This activity is for dogs only and gives the dogs something new to think about. The more positive mental stimulation we can provide for the animals the longer they can endure confinement at the Center while awaiting their forever home. Enrichment like this lowers stress and in turn leads to quieter kennels and happier dogs.
Chick Cubes-Chick cubes allow the dogs to explore and play with their mouths, paws and also allows for mental stimultion. Chick cubes are frozen cubes made in ice cube trays. Half chicken broth and half water they are a tasty, slippery treat! Volunteers and caretakers slide one cube into each dogs’ kennel and watch the game begin! Caretakers are sure to walk back through the kennel to slide any cubes that may have slipped out into the aisle. It is a stressful activity if the dog cannot reach the cube! This activity is for dogs only and is a favorite of the staff and the dogs.
Zen Music Rooms- Appropriate music can put a dog or cat at ease, on music days the McKamey Center is a pawsitively Zen environment!. We use Classical and New Age music along with music specially created for dogs and cats such as “Through A Dog’s Ear” and “Cat Calm”. Rock N Roll and Rap music is stressful for the animals, so our caretakers reserve that type of music for their cars and homes! CD players are kept in each ward and in the cat areas. Music can be enjoyed by cats and dogs.
Peanut Butter Kongs- Rubber Kongs give the dogs a tasty treat that allows them to explore with their mouths. Kongs are a unique way for the dogs to eat dinner, filled ¼ to ½ full of peanut butter and food then distributed to the dogs. These feeder toys can be frozen as well. This activity is for dogs only.
Feeders - Feeders allow dogs to explore with their mouths and makes feeding time more fun. We have four different ways to feed through enrichment: the large Kong Wobblers, the purple Twist N Treat, the purple ball feeders and paper bags. Volunteers fill the feeder with the regular amount of dog food, close and give to the dog. If the dog does not show any interest in the feeder after several minutes, they remove the food from the feeder and place in a bowl. Feeders are for dogs only.
Catnip Toys-Our catnip toys are usually made by volunteers or groups that volunteer. Each cat gets one catnip toy, once a week. We have two kinds of cat nip toys that are made out of toilet paper rolls or baby socks. Childen from a variety of scouting troops, clubs and schools are our best catnip toy makers!
Kitty Kongs/Easter Eggs- A way to recycle your Easter Eggs!! Easter egg enrichment is like a Kong for cats! Wet cat food is placed inside a clean egg, that is closed and placed in the cat condo. One egg per cat is permitted. The cat smells the food and bats the egg around until it opens up. An alternative to the wet cat food is cat nip in the egg. This is a favorite for cats and volunteers alike.
Bubbles-This enrichment activity is for cats only and is not on the regular enrichment schedule. This is easier for volunteers to do in the colony rooms or one at a time on the Purr Porch. It is simply blowing bubbles and letting the cat chase or bat at the bubbles. This activity can be difficult to do with a cat in the condo so it is best for colony room cats or cats that can have some outside time on the Purr Porch. Try it with your cats at home it is fun and interactive! For cats only.
All McKamey animals must engage in one enrichment activity each day. Even our most agressive, dangerous animals receive feeder bags, Kongs and musical enrichment. Enrichment plays a crucial role in mental health at McKamey. Your participation is greatly appreciated!!