Stress relief measures and enrichment toys await urban cats at Harrow’s new low-impact homing centre
Harrow will become a wellness haven for London’s city cats and stressed-out strays, thanks to Cats Protection’s innovative new homing centre, opening on Saturday 14 March.
The nation’s leading cat charity has converted a former warehouse in Tudor Road into a state-of-the-art homing centre for up to 600 needy and abandoned urban cats each year.
Feline-friendly elements designed to minimise stress on a cat’s journey through the centre include 20 sizeable pens, divided by a waist-high wall to block line of sight and prevent cats from seeing each other; a common cause of elevated stress levels for some cats.
The temporary feline residents will be housed in spacious floor-to-ceiling pens heated to a constant 21 degrees. Each glass-fronted pen will include a bed with blankets and enrichment toys, feeding and litter stations, plus Cats Protection’s vet-approved Hide & Sleep®, a special resting perch to help cats feel safe and secure while napping.
Portable digital music players will be available for particularly anxious cats, with relaxation music to promote greater calm, while anti-anxiety plug-ins can be provided, if required for a particular cat’s wellbeing.
Daniel Cummings, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager, said: “Harrow Homing Centre has been specifically designed to limit how much cats in care see other cats, so reducing stress whilst they wait for their forever home.
“Cats are solitary, territorial animals. They like to have their own space away from other cats that they are not socially bonded to. As such, cats in shelters can have increased levels of stress due to the proximity of other cats as it is contrary to their natural behaviour.
“Increased stress can lead to the development of behavioural and medical problems, which is why Cats Protection does everything in its power to reduce stress for cats in our care. Not only does it improve their welfare, but with the cats feeling less stressed they are more likely to respond better to potential adopters and improve their chances of being rehomed.”
Environmental considerations have also come in at every stage of the conversion. Not only is it more eco-minded to repurpose an existing building rather than to build a new one from the ground up, it also allowed Cats Protection to incorporate a number of green features.
Dropped ceilings in the former warehouse provide greater energy efficiency, while, in a first at Cats Protection, a fully electric branded van will transport cats to and from Tudor Road, with a dedicated charging point on the premises.
Additionally, the entire cat-access area will be covered floor-to-ceiling in medical-grade polyclad laminate for better insulation, ease of cleaning and a reduced risk of infection.
The new Harrow Homing Centre will ease pressure on the charity’s other London centres in Mitcham and North London (Archway), helping more London cats in need and giving people in Harrow and the surrounding area the chance to find their perfect pet.
Cats Protection’s Regional Fundraising Manager Hannah Ashwell said: “Our existing London centres do a fantastic job giving unwanted and abandoned cats a second chance in life, but sadly there are many more cats in need. This new homing centre will take in cats from the local Harrow area, providing the care they need before finding a happy new home nearby.
Harrow residents hoping to find a new cat to join their family will be encouraged to visit Cats Protections find-a-cat online search tool or contact the centre directly to arrange to meet the cats available for adoption. Once a match has been made, the rehoming process has been designed to be relaxed for the cat and new owner, with a family-friendly seating area and video screens showing handy hints on understanding your cat’s needs.
Hannah said: “Cat care of this standard comes at a cost. We need to raise £6,000 to ensure all the pens are fully furnished with everything that cats need during their time with us, so we invite people to support our JustGiving appeal to keep each pen supplied with beds, feeding bowls, pheromone devices, litter trays, blankets, scratching posts and enrichment toys.