Upcycled Engagement Items for Cats
Does your cat need a $250 exercise wheel? $20 motorized mouse? $30 play tent?
With trendy cat toys dominating social media and new kitty products emerging constantly, it can be difficult to decide which enrichment items will benefit your cat without breaking the bank. Worst of all, many cats seem to have a radar for expensive toys and steer clear of anything worth more than the receipt you received after purchasing it. Even the most technically perfect toy with feathers, lights, chirping noises, scratch pads, and catnip can go unnoticed by a finicky feline, and every cat owner knows the sigh-inducing sight of a brand new toy being passed over for the box it was packaged in!
When you’re a foster parent cycling between litters, the price of toys can become an even bigger issue. While Southern Pines Animal Shelter provides foster parents with toys for their kittens, many will want to spoil their itty bitty kitties with tons of enrichment op-purr-tunities. (And when your fosters have such adorable faces, who wouldn’t!)
It is an unfortunate reality that many kitten and cat toys will go unused in most homes, and because they are made of unrecyclable plastics, bleached and dyed feathers, batteries, and cheap fabrics, they hurt the environment even more than our wallets. The good news is that cats don’t always need the newest, most expensive toys, and as a general rule, the less effort put into a plaything, the more interesting they find it. Use this to your advantage by upcycling household items into fabulous feline fun.
From bubbles to boxes, here’s our list items that can be recycled, repurposed, or homemade for your cats to create the ultimate toys!
While the toys listed above can be easily upcycled from household objects, there are a few items that pose health and safety risks for our feline friends. You'll want to leave these items out of any DIY cat toys:
Our list might be over, but there are tons of household items that present fantastic upcycling opportunities for the crafty cat-owner!
What was your favorite toy idea on our list? What is your genius upcycled cat toy idea? Share your thoughts below!
Clinic Chat: Canine Parvovirus
The virus is invisible, ubiquitous, and deadly, but the defense is affordable, effective, and more convenient than ever before. With the odds in your favor, is your dog protected from parvo?
Canine parvovirus, more commonly called “parvo,” is a highly contagious, life-threatening disease that attacks a dog’s rapidly multiplying cells, particularly in the intestinal tract. Parvo is everywhere, and once it contaminates a surface, it can survive anywhere from months to years, indoors and outdoors. Direct contact with an infected dog is not required for a susceptible dog to contract parvo. It can be spread indirectly through virtually any surface an infected dog comes into contact with, from muddy park paths to kitchen counters.
To make matters worse, most common household disinfectants and antibacterial soaps cannot kill parvo. Bleach and REScue are two effective disinfectants proven to kill the virus, however, and both of these products can be used to reliably clean contaminated surfaces within homes, clinics, and shelters.
Young, elderly, immunocompromised, and unvaccinated dogs are particularly susceptible to parvo, and without swift and aggressive treatment, parvo is usually fatal, especially in puppies. Because parvo has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days before a dog becomes noticeably ill, it can be difficult to diagnose, making it even more difficult to treat once a dog is infected.
Even with an early diagnosis, treatment for parvo takes time. Between visits to a veterinarian, antibiotics, antiemetics, fluids, supportive treatments, and general care, treatment for parvo is expensive and exhausting. And heartbreakingly, it is not always effective.
Prevention is the key to protecting puppies and adult dogs from parvo. Because parvo is virtually everywhere and practically impossible to eradicate, every dog will come into contact with the virus at some point in its life, making vaccinations vital to the survival of puppies and adult dogs.
With low cost vaccinations from Southern Pines Healthy Pet Clinic, it is now easy and affordable to protect your dogs from parvovirus and many other diseases. The DAPPv vaccine offered at the Healthy Pet Clinic protects dogs against parvo (as well as distemper, parainfluenza, and two types of adenovirus). At 8 weeks old, dogs should receive their first vaccine. Afterwards, consistent follow-up vaccinations and check-up appointments with a veterinarian are essential to protecting your dog from parvo.
Through education, preventative care, and affordable vaccinations, our community in Hattiesburg can take effective steps to limit the spread of parvo and protect our dogs.
While canine parvovirus is a deadly disease that can be fatal to young, elderly, immunocompromised, and unvaccinated dogs, there are thousands of parvo survivors every year. In 2021, Southern Pines Animal Shelter has helped numerous dogs successfully fight parvo with the aid of swift medical action, generous donations from our supportive community, and tireless work from foster parents, adopters, and volunteers. Here are a few survivor stories:
When Colt arrived at Southern Pines Animal Shelter in January of 2021, he barely weighed 6 pounds and looked sickly. His concerning weight and demeanor were explained when his canine parvovirus test revealed that he had the deadly disease.
Treatment began immediately for Colt, and he was moved to a foster home where he would have a better chance of recovery. After two weeks of medical care and attention, Colt beat parvo!
Now, Colt is a healthy pup who spends his days playing fetch, taking long walks, and meeting new pups at the dog park with his loving new family.
Several days after Trinity arrived at Southern Pines Animal Shelter with her two littermates, these sweet puppies tested positive for parvo. The puppies were immediately isolated in Southern Pines' sick room and were started on treatment by our medical team. After 18 days of one-on-one medical care, Trinity and her littermates beat parvo and were ready for adoption!
In addition to surviving parvo, all three puppies found new beginnings with families who gave them happy homes.
Trinity is now a happy, healthy pup living her best life!
Parvo isn't just rampant in the summer months, it's active all year long. In January of 2021, five puppies tested positive for the virus.
Riggs and his littermate, Rufio, were among these sick puppies, and with so many dogs needing medical treatment and one-on-one care, the outlook looked grim for Riggs and his furry friends unless they could find foster parents to closely monitor their condition and administer care.
Luckily, Riggs found a compassionate human buddy, Brooke, to help him through his illness. Not only did Brooke foster Riggs while he was sick, she also adopted him and gave him a happy home to recover in.
All five puppies recovered from parvo thanks to the hard work of our medical team and the tireless care of our fosters and adopters who committed themselves to saving these sweet pups.
Riggs is currently a happy, healthy dog who lives with Brooke and enjoys going for walks, playing fetch, and learning new commands!
Protect Your Pup
Is your dog vaccinated against canine parvovirus? Make an appointment today at our Healthy Pet Clinic and make sure your pup is protected.
Rewrite Their Stories
Support from our community made all the difference for Colton, Trinity, Riggs, and so many other pets who need a little extra TLC. Southern Pines Animal Shelter depends on generous donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations to fund our lifesaving programs and operational expenses.
Will you consider making a gift today to rewrite the stories of homeless and hurting pets like Colton, Trinity, and Riggs? Your donation will go towards providing animals with food, shelter, veterinary care, enrichment, and resources necessary to find a loving home.
Update: Big Boy Troy!
Having spent 5 weeks with this sweet guy, our team is so thrilled that our buddy is adopted and doing well and we are so grateful to be a part of such a caring community that makes these transport opportunities and new beginnings possible.
Help more dogs like Big Boy Troy find their happy, new beginnings!
Southern Pines Animal Shelter is proud of the work we are able to do across Mississippi. As an open admission shelter, Southern Pines takes in more than 7,000 pets each year. While this number is overwhelming at times, we are so thankful for community support, a thriving adoption program, and a robust transport program. We are also proud to work with a network of other shelters and animal welfare organizations in our state and nationwide to make a lifesaving difference for thousands of pets each year. This year alone, our transport program has saved the lives of more than 3,500 dogs and cats.
While we celebrate these successes with our community, this year, our shelter was rocked by tragedy. An accident claimed the lives of 11 of our dogs who were traveling North to find their new homes. We feel these losses everyday as we search for answers and push forward to continue our lifesaving work. Over the last two months, Southern Pines has worked tirelessly to understand this loss of life and to ensure that our transport program remains safe, continuing to save lives in a responsible way.
We hold our transport program—and all of our programs—to a very high standard, and we continually search for ways in which we can improve. We turn to national experts and best practices to strengthen our policies and procedures. And we remain committed to transparency with you, our community, as we carry forward with a promise to always do everything we can to protect the animals in our care and bring them to a happy life in new, loving homes. Below, is an update on the accident and the steps we have taken to strengthen our program.
Once again, we thank you for standing by us through this devastating time; for supporting our work; and for helping to make a difference for pets in need.
On July 6, 2018, Southern Pines Animal Shelter loaded a scheduled transport of 50 canines. Approximately 4 hours after leaving the shelter, the transport vehicle broke down and 11 dogs and puppies were immediately found to be deceased. Despite some initial misinformation given by observers at the scene, the dogs were found to have become deceased prior to the breakdown of the vehicle.
The Southern Pines transport vehicle is a 2016 Ford Transit. The van has a front and rear AC, both with no history of malfunction. The van receives regular maintenance to include oil changes, tire tread checks and alignments, fluid checks, and general mechanical inspection.
Upon departing from Southern Pines, the vehicle appeared to be in working order, and both AC units were operational and cooling. Following the incident, the vehicle was moved to a shop for inspection. At that time the mechanics performed a multi-point inspection including checking the gas gauges, the fuel system, the exhaust system, and both ACs. Their report identified no issue with any of these systems. They were able to identify at the conclusion of the overall inspection that the relay controlling the engine cooling system was faulty and had caused the vehicle to overheat and shut off. Once the vehicle was cleared, it was moved back to Hattiesburg for a second inspection. They also could not identify issues with the AC units or the exhaust system.
While no definitive answers regarding cause of death for the animals was discovered, it was speculated that the overheating engine could have caused the power to be pulled from non-essential systems prior to shutting off. This may have put strain on the systems or impacted the overall temperature of the vehicle; however, there was no way to determine when or if during the trip that may have occurred. The back AC was functioning appropriately when inspected but was taken apart and cleaned to ensure continued optimal functionality.
Both drivers report that during the 4-hour drive, the vehicle remained cool. They also reported that at the time of the breakdown, as they immediately opened the doors, all areas of the van felt cool. Additionally, the drivers did not indicate feeling sick, dizzy, or unwell during the drive. At no point did they see or hear any animals in distress from the time of departure until the breakdown.
The July 6th transport included 50 animals of which 21 were puppies, and 29 were adult canines. Each animal was checked prior to departure to insure they were healthy and ready to travel. Prior to departure, Southern Pines staff completed an additional headcount of all animals and observed each animal to ensure they appeared bright and alert and fit for travel. At this time, one small breed, obese dog (not included in the above count) appeared to be very stressed and uncomfortable. The staff removed this dog from the transport for her safety and comfort. All of the other animals appeared healthy and ready for travel.
When the van broke down at approximately 5:30pm, the drivers immediately began opening the vehicle doors and removing animals from the vehicle to prevent the possibility of overheating while the engine was off. At this time, they report the vehicle felt cool. Upon unloading the crates, they determined that 11 dogs were deceased and their remains indicated that they had become deceased prior to the breakdown. Two additional surviving dogs were sent to a nearby emergency vet clinic (one for blood in urine, and one for lethargy) to be monitored overnight. These dogs were found to have issues not related to transport. The dog with blood in his urine was thought to have a complication from heartworm treatment, and the lethargic dog was suffering from an unknown GI infection. Both were cleared and released by the vet the following day. We completed treatment for the GI infection and continued to monitor both dogs once they were back at Southern Pines Animal Shelter. The vet indicated that he did not believe either dog was suffering from heat-related or carbon monoxide related issues. They both made a full recovery.
The animals that passed away were housed primarily near the back of the vehicle. Two of the deceased animals were sent for necropsy the Monday morning following the transport incident. The reports and follow-up consultations with the performing veterinarian were unable to provide clear cause of death. Heat-related death and carbon monoxide-related death (the two primary suspects) could not be confirmed or ruled out. It was determined by the veterinarian that sending more samples for necropsy would not result in more conclusive results.
In the absence of definitive results on the cause of death for the animals on board, Southern Pines has made an effort to address all suspected causes and areas of concern as well as to reexamine existing protocols and procedures for transport to ensure safety and success of future transports.
New Carbon Monoxide sensors, rear thermometers, and temperature monitoring were installed in the vehicle. These allow drivers to monitor the temperature of the rear of the vehicle at all times. Additionally, Southern Pines purchased a secondary cooling unit which operates independently of the vehicle’s power to be used in the event of a power failure or emergency.
In order to better monitor and oversee transports while on the road, Southern Pines is also researching the installation of a device that allows for real-time monitoring of the transport vehicle and issues related to speed, location, stops, and break-downs. This would allow for better control and monitoring of active transports by support staff and quicker alerts and response in cases of emergency. Additionally, we are researching the addition of cameras that will give the driving team a better view of all kennels and animals throughout the trip.
We have also reviewed nationally recognized best practice transport guidelines and reached out to transport partners for copies of their transport guidelines in order to make sure that our program is operating at the high standard we expect. We have modified our guidelines to create more safety measures, structure, and accountability during all parts of the transport process, and we continue to work closely with other national transport partners and organizations to find additional areas in which we can strengthen these guidelines.
While the transport van has always been equipped with first aid supplies, we have also worked to strengthen safety protocols by ensuring drivers have access to listings of local vets and emergency resources along their travel route. Our transport drivers do have animal care experience and training, and we have worked to insure that they are comfortable with transport guidelines and protocols, especially during emergency situations.
Southern Pines takes this accident very seriously, and in the wake of this devastation, we have worked to examine each part of our transport program, identifying and addressing areas where safety measures and protocols could be strengthened. Transporting more than 5,000 pets per year is an incredible responsibility, and one that we do not take lightly. We value the commitment and support from our partners and community, and we are working diligently to ensure that our program continues to be a safe and responsible life-saving effort for the pets and people involved.
Thank you again for your support, compassion, and outpouring of love as we have grieved and grown from this tragedy. We look forward to working with you all to continue making a difference for pets in need.
For the animals,
Southern Pines Animal Shelter
Would you lend a paw to Zelda?
It only took one look at Zelda to know that her story would be a hard one to tell.
She was found emaciated, dehydrated, and wandering alone through the streets. Her white feet were stained yellow, and we could make out the bones along her back and ribs. Her feet were painfully swollen from infection, and we were heartbroken to see that her front paw pads were completely gone. Where the paw pads had once been, it was now a gaping mess of raw flesh filled with gravel and other debris.
We don’t know know how long she’d been wandering the streets in this condition, but the damage to her feet was extensive and the pain she’d constantly been enduring must have been excruciating. Despite this, Zelda was nothing but sweet, friendly and hopeful as we hurried to care for her broken body. She seemed to know that she’d finally landed in a safe place and that finally she was going to get the help she needed.
We’re not sure what circumstances led to Zelda’s current condition; like many of our dogs her past remains a mystery. However, what we do know is her future is now bright. We know that now instead of uncertainty, pain, and loneliness, she now knows hope, relief, and love. And we know that with YOUR help we can truly make a difference for Zelda, helping to provide her the opportunity to regain her health and to find her forever home.
Zelda’s immediate needs are being cared for. She’s receiving food, water, and medicine to help her gain a healthy weight and fight off the infection that is attacking her body. We are helping to manage her pain, and her feet have been carefully cleaned and bandaged. Our veterinarian thinks Zelda’s feet have been in a deteriorating state for a long while now, but we desperately need your help to find out what may have caused these wounds and how to help Zelda heal. In order to get Zelda the additional testing and medical care that she needs, we need to raise $500.
Will you lend a paw?
If you're interested in contributing towards the medical care that Zelda and dogs like her so desperately need, please click the “Donate” button attached to this post.
Thank you for being the difference for Zelda and for helping her get the second chance she deserves.
Blog articles are written by staff and volunteers of Southern Pines Animal Shelter.