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Make Pet Blankets and Toys for Animal Shelters

by Katherine Noyes
The Challenge

Making pet blankets and toys for animal shelters is a way to provide homeless animals with a little bit of homemade comfort. Even more significantly, it's also a way to help increase their chances for adoption and survival.

Homeless animals in shelters are usually subject to enormous stress as a result of their isolation and confinement to cages. Add to that the profusion of unfamiliar smells, a broad mix of germs, the noise of virtually ceaseless barking, and a steady parade of strangers peering into their cages, and the animals' demeanor can't help but suffer. Even the most well-adjusted animals can have a hard time adjusting to shelter life, and the longer a homeless animal remains at the shelter, the less friendly, outgoing – and adoptable – they tend to seem.

In response, many animal shelters across the country have implemented a Cage Comforter Program in which volunteers make and donate pet blankets and toys for the homeless cats, kittens and small dogs in shelter care. What they've found is that the homemade items not only help shelter animals relax and get comfortable, they also increase their rate of adoption, according to the Compassion Action Institute, which launched and runs the Cage Comforter Program for New York City's Center for Animal Care and Control.

After embracing a Cage Comforter Program, for example, one animal shelter in Pennsylvania didn't have to euthanize any cats for an entire summer – a first-time event. Meanwhile, there are countless stories illustrating the transformation in homeless animals who receive homemade blankets or toys. For example: Mittens was a little black-and-white kitten in a Brooklyn shelter who had been hiding under newspapers in the back of his cage – not a good sign for his adoptability. When he got a comforter, however, he immediately settled down on it at the front of his cage and began treading, making him infinitely more likely to be adopted.

For a small investment of time and energy, you can help give countless shelter animals a better chance for a new life. Making the pet blankets and pet toys requires no prior sewing experience and can be done by hand or with a machine.

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