Four Cat Enrichment Groups

If you like cats and Facebook, there are plenty of groups to meet your needs for advice, enrichment, and training. This week I’m posting about the cat groups I belong to in a three-part series. The second category is that of enrichment.

Animal Books: Hosted by Zazie Todd, this group has over 200 members. According to Todd, “The group is open to anyone who wants to chat about animal books in a more informal setting. Members may share new titles, book reviews, interviews with authors, opinions on books, and photos of the animal book you are reading. Nonfiction, fiction, poetry and photography books are all included. Although the main focus is companion animals, other animals are included too.”

Animal Books is a follow-up to Companion Animal Psychology Book Club which Todd started in 2016. I initially belonged to that group, but struggled to meet the commitment of reading at least seven of the ten books selected throughout the year. Also, I found that the majority of the books focused on animal science or on dogs, whereas I was looking for books about cats. Todd started Animal Books because she realized that a lot of people are interested in books about animals but want a less intense commitment, and I have found it the best match for me for this reason.

KCC Adventure Cats: There is a movement afoot, known as adventure cats, which is composed of cat owners who are exploring the great outdoors with their feline friends. The group KCC Adventure Cats is part of that movement, and Emily Odum Hall is the host of the group.

Emily didn’t start out with adventure cats. When she started blogging, she wanted to write about life with her cats. As her life changed, so did her Kitty Cat Chronicles. It expanded into a means to raise awareness for cats with cerebellar hypoplasia and other special-needs animals, and then grew to focus on adventure cats as well. Hall started KCC Adventure Cats to help grow her blog’s following, but also to “help build a community for people to share about adventuring with their cats and to help educate others on adventuring with their cats.”

KCC Adventure Cats started in 2018. In her description of the group, Hall encourages members to share adventure spots and suggestions, training tips and tricks, and fun photos and stories of their adventure cats, and more! “I don’t have a particular moment in my group that stands out in my memory,” Hall said. “I just enjoy having people share about their adventures!” Most of what I share is of Rainy going places around town and doing therapy work. Others in the group have taken their cats on hikes, boat rides, and other exotic places.

Therapy Cats: Hosted by Terri Jennings and Michele Tilford, the public group has almost 3,000 followers. Jennings explained, “The fan page was created by ICAT (International Cat Therapy) to raise awareness about the benefits of AAT (Animal-Assisted Therapy), that cats make good therapy animals, and to recruit and train new teams.

The About page defines therapy cat teams as those that “provide benefits to humans outside of their own family and can include emotional and mental enrichment, physical therapy, and many other roles. Cat-assisted therapy teams work in libraries, nursing homes, retirement centers, schools, community centers, to name but a few. Feline-assisted therapy teams consist of at least one human and one cat, and can also work in teams and even with other animals.”

I discovered Therapy Cats and I-CAT in 2017, when I started training Rainy to become a therapy cat. The Therapy Cats fan page mostly features inspiring stories of therapy cats, while the closed I-CAT group serves as a safe forum for handlers to ask questions and share concerns. Members supported me as I learned through trial-and-error how to be a handler, and at the same time encouraged me to become a therapy cat advocate.

Since starting the group five years ago, Jennings and Tilford have largely run the group, but will occasionally add more moderators. Jennings shared, “Memorable moments for me are when we’re able to connect therapy cats with local patients from all over the country.”

Kitty Gardens, Catios, House Cats and Catification: Hosted by a combination of nine administrators and moderators, this closed group boasts almost 20,000 members. The group has been around since 2016, and it serves as a place to share ideas, inspiration, videos, photos, and advice on how to enrich the lives of cats and to keep them safe.

Since joining, I’ve discussed common cat myths, swapped stories about cat toys and grooming tools, shared advice on acclimating former outdoor cats to the indoors and foster kittens to new homes, and offered condolences to owners on the death of their cat. Members have responded to questions of mine about how to remove a gnat/fruit fly/drain fly infestation from our litter boxes and how to “catify” or make our home to make it friendlier to our cats. Kitty Gardens, Catios, House Cats and Catification is the group I visit the least, due to it being the biggest and most catch-all of the enrichment groups. At the same time, it’s the only group that talks about catification, so it does meet an important need.

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