We strive to be the Feline Friendly Shelter in the Pikes Peak Region and guarantee safe haven for all cats we take in.We believe that cats are valuable, lovable and trainable, not disposable. Feline Friendly means we treat our cats as individuals–with respect, compassion and positive reinforcement–to make their stay as stress-free as possible until they are adopted.
Cats are not small dogs; they need different handling, nutrition and socialization to keep them healthy and stress free. We make every effort to keep up with current best practices in feline care, such as the Feline Friendly Handling Guidelines from the AAFP.
Every cat and one kitten from each litter with possible outside exposure who comes to stay with us will be tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) before admission. Only those who test negative for FeLV will be admitted. Most of our cats live in feline-appropriate colonies and this virus is too contagious to allow in a multi-cat population.
We are taking in a limited number of FIV+ cats as long as we have room in foster care for them. We will test them twice to make sure they have FIV, as well as provide a blood panel for their baseline health. Well-nurtured cats with FIV can live near-normal lives, so we recommend retesting according to AAFP guidelines and offer counseling for those who test positive.
We build our cat-specific handling on our Five Cat Wishes, five ways that all cats wish their people would treat them:
- Respect their body language. Cats can be subtle communicators, but they will always tell you what they are thinking with their behavior if you pay attention.
- Offer choices without forcing. Being closer to the wild state than dogs, cats especially respond to letting them choose their actions as much as possible.
- Always connect with their names. This is especially important in a shelter where their name may be their last connection to their former family.
- Reward, reward, reward. Keeping every interaction as positive as possible means a stronger bond with their humans.
- See the world through their eyes. Probably the most important principle, this one helps us to empathize with what our cats go through to live with us unpredictable humans!
Basic shelter care should always be based on the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a feline appropriate diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from Discomfort – by providing a feline appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of other matched cats and kittens.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Our colony rooms were designed to the standards of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Colorado State Agriculture Department to provide these freedoms to the best of our ability. Our staff is committed to consistent monitoring and learning about our individual cats to make their stay at Happy Cats as humane, brief and (yes) happy as possible.