Celebrity Cat Expert Jackson Galaxy joined Charleston Animal Society in the dedication ceremony for the Maria Panella Enrichment Cat Garden Wednesday morning. Sadly, most animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time in any shelter environment. Shelter animals often become de-housetrained, hyperactive, noisy, anxious, or lonely and withdrawn. Unless a vigorous socialization and training program is in effect, animals can become less and less adoptable with each day that they stay. A shelter environment is particularly hard on adult cats.

By partnering with the Master Gardeners at Clemson University, we created a Cat Enrichment Garden at Charleston Animal Society to keep resident cats mentally stimulated and physically engaged through scent enrichment. Cats love rubbing their faces on carpet or socks sprinkled with dried or fresh catnip or mint. Utilizing herbs like lavender not only provides a structured activity for cats but also helps to calm frightened animals. By eating small amounts of freshly grown lemongrass, cats benefit from the activity of chewing. Sunflowers, zinnias, snapdragons, and gerbera daisies are also safe for cats and can be grown in the garden. Keeping cats busy with physical activities like gnawing, scratching and sniffing helps them stay mentally engaged and stable while we work to place them in homes.

This enrichment garden was installed to honor a marvelous volunteer and donor who was particularly involved with cats. Our animal care staff, including our behavior specialists, will now have additional tools specifically to help our resident cats! We will share exciting news on the official dedication soon.