Kids Can Help Animals, Too!
Animals and children have a special connection. They teach each other about trust, communication, safety, and caring for others. Children are naturally drawn to animals and animals often form quick bonds with children. We have seen it happen many times when a family comes in to adopt that a child and pet bond almost instantly. Children even form strong bonds with stuffed animals or imaginary pets. We know there are many kids out there who would love to do their part in taking care of our shelter animals, so if your little animal lover is eager to help, here are a few ways they can help care for pets at home or at the APA.
Easy-to-Make Enrichment Toys
Snuffle Mat: Use a sink mat, floor mat, or other mat with holes. Cut fabric strips into approximately 1 inch by 6 inch strips. Measurements do not need to be exact, and varying strip sizes can make “snuffling” more exciting! Thread strips through each hole of the base and tie off with a double knot. Sprinkle the snuffle mat with treats or kibble.
Cat Box: Use old cardboard boxes to build a cozy cat castle. Cut out doors, flaps, and windows, add a chimney, porch, or multiple levels. Let your imagination run wild!
Chew Toy: Cut fabric (fleece works great, but you can even use old towels or t-shirts!) into multiple strips. Tie trips together into a secure knot at one end. Braid or weave strips together. Knot securely at other end.
Pom Pom Cat Toy: Cut fabric scrap to about 2 inches wide and at least 12 inches long. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. Make small cuts down the length of the folded fleece but do not cut all the way to the fold. Unfold the fleece and tightly roll it. Tie a 18 inch length of cotton string around the middle of the roll. Double knot securely. Smoosh into a ball shape.
Peanut Butter Balls: Using an electric mixer, beat 1c pumpkin puree, 1/4c peanut butter, and 1/4 c milk until well combined. Gradually add in 2.5c old fashioned oats until just mixed. Use a cookie scoop to form the mixture into balls. Roll balls to coat in old fashioned oats. Cover and place in refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. These can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Apple-Carrot Treats: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 1c whole wheat flour, 1c grated carrots, 1tsp baking powder, 1 egg, 1/4c unsweetened applesauce and 1/4c olive oil together. Dough should feel like Play Doh. Roll 1tbsp dough and flatten slightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let treats cool completely before serving. These can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week, up to 2 months refrigerated, and up to 8 months frozen.
Banana Truffles: Mash 1 large banana, stir in 1/2c peanut butter, 1tsp cinnamon, 3/4c oats, and 1tbsp honey. Scoop a heaping tablespoon into your hand and roll into a ball. Place in refrigerator to firm up. These can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 3-4 months.