How can we reduce or utilize sight and visual stimuli to help animals feel more calm and comfortable with us during their stay in our care?

Reduce unpleasant visual stimulation:

Avoid housing animals facing each other with continuous visual contact


Minimize the exposure of visual contact of different species. For example:

  • Avoid walking dogs through cat areas.
  • Avoid housing birds in cat rooms

Use of barriers between dogs:

  • To decrease visual over stimulation, especially for very reactive dogs, install inexpensive barriers on the “working” side of the kennels where dogs are taken in and out.
  • Below is an inexpensive solution for a visually stimulated dog, courtesy of Dane County Humane Society in Madison, WI
  • Some animal centres install “Dutch doors” where the bottom half of the kennel door is covered so dogs can't see other dogs as they walk by

a great idea or useful thing to know Retreat areas for all species can also be created using a plastic carrier, curtain, or other cage cover or hiding places within the enclosure

  • Cats feel more comfortable being up high. Avoid using floor level cages
  • Cats should be provided with a hiding box or a towel should be hung on the cage door. Hiding is the best coping mechanism cats have to deal with stress. A day or two with a place to hide will help the new cats adjust to the animal centre environment

Introduce pleasant, calming visual stimulation:

  • Within their enclosure cats prefer to have an opportunity to perch, such as on a shelf, sturdy box, or a hanging hammock
  • Add visual interest to animals’ rooms, such as aquariums, mobiles, television. For more ideas see the various Enrichment Sections
  • Support Circadian rhythms by providing day/night cycles with no or minimal lighting during the sleep cycle
  • Natural light helps support normal circadian rhythms, therefore rooms with windows are preferable
  • Create “low traffic” quiet areas