Kitty curtain call: Winnipeg Humane Society asks for kennel covers to give cats alone time

The Winnipeg Humane Society is calling on crafters to sew tiny curtains to help stressed-out cats.

Privacy helps cats feel safe, prevents stress-related illness, Humane Society says

Cats usually want a little privacy. That's why the Winnipeg Humane Society is asking for small, square curtains to cover the front of kennels, giving the cats inside a chance to relax. (Shutterstock/ANURAK PONGPATIMET)

The Winnipeg Humane Society is calling on crafters to sew tiny curtains to help stressed-out cats.

"It's a great way for our community to do a little project, especially if they're feeling a little crafty, and help out some animals at the same time," said Kyle Jahns, communications co-ordinator for the Humane Society.

The animal shelter is asking for small, square curtains measuring 27 inches on each side— about 69 centimetres — to cover the front of kennels, giving the cats inside a chance to relax.

"Some of the cats, they need a place to hide," Jahns said. "When they come into the shelter it can be a pretty stressful place."

Managing stress helps mitigate the spread of upper respiratory infections — essentially cat colds, Jahns said. The infections can be combated with a little TLC and time, Jahns said, but the shelter euthanized cats with the illness up until last year.

"When we're able to provide a larger space for them, allow them to have separate areas for their litter as well as for their food and water, a place to hide, a hard surface to play on, a soft surface to sleep on — when you give cats these basic necessities and these comforts, [upper respiratory infection] ends up decreasing because stress is the largest contributing factor," he said.

The changes are part of the Humane Society's response to the Million Cat Challenge, an international initiative to save the lives of 1 million cats in shelters across North America by 2019.

Other changes include larger kennels — about double the usual size — and reduced adoption fees.

Giving feline residents more space means the society has to take in fewer cats, but Jahns said it's still efficient.

"They get moved through quicker, they become healthier and it's just a more streamlined process," he said.

If you want to donate curtains, you can find more information on the Humane Society's Facebook page. If you want to help but don't have the time or skills to make a curtain, you can also donate materials.

With files from Janice Grant and Ismaila Alfa