Shelter Turns Cat Room Into Kitty Disco

Photo credit: elycefeliz/Flickr

Check out the hottest paw-ty at the shelter.

This little kitty disco here is the brainchild of Linnea Ramberg, animal care supervisor at the Humane Rescue Alliance — Washington, D.C.’s municipal shelter.

Like people, cats — and other animals — need variety and stimulation in their lives. It can be hard to get that in the shelter, which can then lead to mental and physical deterioration.

“Boredom can be very stressful,” Ramberg tells Shelter Me.

Ramberg went looking for new ways to keep the shelter’s cats happy and engaged, before they get adopted into their new homes.

Blinking lights, colored lights, and laser pointers are all tried-and-true cat enrichment tools.

“So I thought a disco ball would be a fun way to combine elements from all of those options,” Ramberg says.

The disco balls only spin for about three minutes at a time, so the cats won’t get overstimulated, or lose interest.

Ramberg’s got other enrichment tricks up her sleeve, and in the cat rooms, as well, designed to activate all the cats’ senses.

Smell-wise, the cats are getting sponge squares and wine corks infused with scents like coconut, lavender, and mint. Treats and catnip are hidden in socks, and and dry spices are sprinkled around the kennels.

In addition to the disco ball, the cats’ are getting great things to look at like Christmas lights, ribbons tied to their doors, and soap bubbles. (Non-toxic, of course.) To make their taste buds happy, they get treat puzzles, paper bags smeared with with baby food and treats. For touch, they’re petted and brushed.

And of course, no disco — or cat enrichment program — is complete without a good soundtrack.

Humane Rescue Alliance is putting on CDs “that were created specifically to relax or stimulate cats, playing classical music, playing with wind chimes, and ambient/rain noise makers,” says Ramberg.

Photo credit: Humane Rescue Alliance

Another added bonus: The disco room helps give potential adopters a sense of the kitties’ true personalities. That way, they can pick a new furry friend who will be a great match for their families.

Course, if you’re going by the disco time alone, most of the cats probably seem like *that* guy at the club. You know the one.

“For the most part so far, reactions to the disco have been just very intense staring at the lights,” says Ramberg.

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Arin Greenwood

Arin Greenwood is an animal writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previously, she was animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post. Arin is a former lawyer (J.D. from Columbia Law School, member of the New York Bar), life long animal lover, pit bull advocate, and devoted fan of cats and dogs who run for public office. Her first novel, Tropical Depression -- based on her five-odd, sometimes very odd, years living on a small island near Guam -- was published by teeny indie publisher Back Porch Books in 2011. Her second book, a comic young adult mystery called Save The Enemy, was published by Soho Teen in November 2013. Hello From Dog Island!, Arin's third book, will be published by Soho Teen in 2018. Know a shelter with a great, innovative program? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at!