Most humans would probably be grateful if someone would come by a couple times a day and tidy up after them. Feral cats likely feel differently. They're often brought to Dallas Animal Services scared and stressed out, and their sparse cages offer nowhere to hide from kennel workers who feed, clean and water them. Shelter life can be pretty scary to cats who'd feel safest holed up somewhere small and close.
Enter Dallas-based Companions for Life, a shelter outreach organization, which donated 92 "feral cat dens" to Dallas Animal Services with financial funding from the Petco Foundation last week. The clear-fronted, white plastic boxes can be placed in the existing "Lost and Found" cages, where feline strays and night-drops are housed, and come with a small round door on the side that cats can slip in and out of. They can be locked shut when shelter workers need to reach into cages to clean and change out litter and food. That's a big step up from the wire traps in which many feral cats are brought to the shelter.
"Particularly with ferals, it helps them feel more secure," said Lt. Scott Walton, DAS' interim director, when I stopped by yesterday to check out the dens. And they're safer for workers, who don't have to wrangle with a scared animal: "They can get in and get out."
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(And for those of you playing along at home: Not only have I managed to become the Foursquare mayor of DAS over the course of my last few visits to the shelter, I finally broke down and became a proper cat lady. Stella came home with me last Friday and has been happily terrorizing my Whiskey and Sake cats ever since. So, that's it. I'm a single woman who broke the two-cat barrier, and I don't care who knows it. Can't wait to get home, put in my rollers, and eat a whole box of Swiss Cake Rolls.)