PHOENIX — A senior dog is on the job at the Arizona Humane Society after they have made a decision that could potentially open up a whole new world of opportunities for the kittens at the shelter.
Meet the new head of socialization in the kitten nursery, Boots, a 12-year-old Chow/Golden Retriever Mix. His task? Preparing the young kittens for life outside the nursery, possibly in a home with other pets.
Boots is no stranger to being in a rescue situation, or the Humane Society either, after surviving Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Boots was rescued himself, and then later adopted by one of the workers who saved his life.
The Arizona Humane Society has some pretty good reasoning behind the decision to give Boots a job.
“Since our nursery is not the same type of environment in which these kittens will be spending the rest of their lives, we need to expose them to aspects of a more typical home life now in order to make the transition to that life easier.”
They also noted that there are studies which show that cats have a small window of time during kittenhood in which exposure to new things directly impacts their ability to acclimate to their environment as they age.
Using Boots as the nursery nanny exposes the kittens socially to dogs at an early age, which will greatly improve their chances of being adopted as it adds in a whole new group of possible adopters — people who own dogs. They write:
“By increasing our kittens’ comfort level with dogs, we increase their adoptability, since they will be more likely to adapt to homes with dogs in them. This also decreases the chances that the kittens/cats will be surrendered later in life due to problems between the cats and other pets.”
This very simple process begins when the kittens are between 2 and 7 weeks old, and they get to have playtime with Boots for one day each week. In the future, the Kitten Nursery has plans to expose the cats to other common situations in the future: riding in cars, vacuums, laundry machines, dishwashers, and children.