A tale of 2 kitties: Zoo, Banfield Pet Hospital open new catio

May 1, 2018 - 11:18am
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New exhibit offers domestic cat enrichment, and the rare chance to adopt a zoo animal

A pair of frisky felines has taken up residence at the Oregon Zoo. Their new home, the Family Farm Catio, gives visitors a chance to meet the zoo's cuddliest residents, learn how to create a catio environment at home and maybe even adopt a cat of their own. The new habitat, which opened this week, is presented by Banfield Pet Hospital.

Featuring places to scratch, climb and play, the Family Farm Catio is furnished with comfortable chairs and cushions, a known favorite of domestic cats come naptime. The space might look familiar to visitors – it resembles a front porch. It's enclosed by a mesh screen, which offers the cats a way to experience the outside world safely.

"The catio protects the cats from hazards they might encounter outside," says Brianne Zanella, a keeper at the zoo's Family Farm. "And it helps to keep wildlife safe."

The catio is part of an ongoing partnership between Banfield and the zoo that includes camps, an enrichment guide for big and little cats, and Big Cat Care, the zoo's lion keeper talk and enrichment demonstration.

"At Banfield, we're passionate about helping pets," said Dr. Carla Lerum, a Banfield veterinarian. "The Family Farm Catio offers its feline residents the safe environment and outdoor enrichment they need to thrive — and is an excellent example of our ongoing partnership with the zoo to educate cat owners on responsible pet ownership."

Catio residents Betty and Buddy came to the zoo from the Pixie Project, a Portland animal adoption and rescue center. Buddy, a loveable orange tabby, is the resident catio ambassador and will help socialize adoptable foster cats from the Pixie Project shelter. Betty will be available to a loving home through the Pixie Project's foster and adopt program after spending a little time settling in.

"The catio is the perfect place for these two," said Amy Sacks, founder and director of the Pixie Project. "Buddy is friends with everyone he meets, and he and Betty love to keep each other company."

"The catio represents a couple things that are really at the heart of the Oregon Zoo's mission, as well as our work with Banfield and the Pixie Project," says Zanella. "One is animal welfare, and the other is education."