Creature Comforts

Five-star care at PAWS

A healthy and comforting environment has always been a basic tenet of animal care at PAWS. When the animals are more comfortable, they are apt to be calmer, quieter and less stressed. This improves their health and creates a safer environment for them and the staff and volunteers who provide for their needs.

Paying attention to the small yet essential parts of the animals' surroundings helps dogs and cats stay mentally sound which enhances their adoptability, and helps our wild animal patients quickly heal so we can return them to the wild.

We call this "enrichment" and it can take several different forms because of the wide variety of animals in our care. For the dogs and cats, it often means fresh bedding, clean toys, grooming, and play time with people or other animals. For the patients at our wildlife hospital and rehabilitation center, it involves elements that mimic their natural habitat, teach them foraging skills, and keep their bodies busy.

Harbor Seal in pool

Plastic tunnels and other objects provide important stimulation for young Harbor Seals in our care at PAWS.

Bear cub

Bear cubs at PAWS play and cool off in large pools. Frequent dips help keep the bears’ fur clean and in good condition. Wildlife rehabilitators put fish and other interesting bits of food in the water to entice the bears to swim.

Douglas Squirrels

Natural foods are one of the best forms of enrichment we provide to our wild patients. These Douglas Squirrels were visibly excited when volunteers put a maple branch covered in seeds in their cage. The squirrels collected and munched the seeds just as they would in the wild.


In the wild, beavers build lodges out of sticks and mud, and access them through underwater tunnels. To simulate a natural lodge, PAWS' staff fashioned this wooden structure for the orphaned beavers in our care, and situated it over their pool.


Hiding food, or putting it a bit out of reach, provides a stimulating challenge for wild patients. It also encourages them to practice skills they will need when they are returned to their natural habitat.

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