This winter, with the help of our friends at Petplan and F.E.E.D.Co, we are piloting an exciting new initiative designed to improve the lives of cats in rescue. Open Paw for cats focuses on feline environmental enrichment to reduce stress in the cattery, alleviate boredom and encourage natural behaviours; helping abandoned and unwanted cats to feel relaxed and content while they wait for their forever home.
Over the last year, NAWT have introduced Open Paw for dogs to all five of our centres. The original programme was developed in the US in 2000 by respected behaviourist Kelly Dunbar but NAWT are the first UK charity to become an Open Paw organisation. It all began with six dogs in our Watford Centre; all of whom found their loving, responsible new owners within a few weeks of completing Open Paw training.
Open Paw works to enrich the lives of animals in rescue, whilst also teaching them the valuable life skills that they will need to help them successfully settle into life in a new home. It also helps the animals present themselves well to potential new owners. We have seen a 15% year-on-year increase in dog rehomings this year and believe that this is thanks, in large part, to Open Paw.
The programme for cats has required further development, but we now feel that it is ready to be trialled with a selection of cats in our pilot centre. The trial is underway with a small number of cats whilst every aspect of the training is perfected and prepared to be rolled out to the rest of our pilot centre in Watford. Visitors are invited to come along and take part in the training by feeding and interacting with the cats.
At the centre of the Open Paw for cats scheme is a pioneering new product from the US called the NoBowl Feeding System, a feeding system offers cats a fresh approach to eating that entices them to "hunt" for their food and derive great pleasure as a result. More information on the NoBowl System can be found here.
You can follow the progress of the Open Paw for cats trial via our social media channels, to keep up-to-date on every step of our journey implementing this exciting initiative throughout each of our centres. For more information please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
We are very excited to begin work on this project helping to find homeless cats loving new owner’s sooner.