Here at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, we try our best to keep our cats as mentally stimulated as possible. Can you imagine sitting in your living
room all day every day, with nothing to do? You would probably get bored! The same thing would happen to our animals if we didn’t provide them with enrichment. Enrichment can be various things, such as moving toys, spraying perfume, sprinkling kitchen spices throughout habitats, etc. Enrichment is important because it not only keeps our animals amused, but it also encourages their natural behaviors such as stalking, hunting, and even drowning their “prey.” Often we will see our cats drown toys in their pools, which is an excellent way for them to stay in tune with their natural predatory instincts. We also provide enrichment by merely walking in their habitats, leaving our own scent behind! When we let our animals out of their night houses after providing enrichment, it’s always exciting to see how they react. We keep a record of how our animals respond, so we have a better idea of what they do and do not like. Our tigers’ favorite perfume is “Obsession” by Calvin Klein!
During the hot summer months, we like to make sure we give our animals a way to cool off. One of our big cats’ favorite enrichment items is meatsicles and bloodsicles!
We put blood or meat in a bucket, fill it water, and freeze it until it becomes similar to a giant popsicle. Our cats love it! This provides them with an excellent way to cool off and also gives them a special treat. We also offer our water-loving animals’ baths during the hottest parts of the day, especially our older residents at Rescue Ridge. We spray them down with a water hose and spray their night house floor to keep them nice and cool. Most of our big cats and bears have a blast playing with water. I guess you could say we do our best to provide our animals with an enriched life!