We’ve all seen dogs sit, give a paw and master other commands, but rarely have we seen cats do anything other than yawn and walk away from their owners when they ask them do, well, anything. But that doesn’t mean that cats aren’t responsive to commands or capable of learning. Through CatPawsitive Pro, a program created by The Jackson Galaxy Project, our team is working as one of 11 shelters that were selected nationwide to learn how to connect and communicate with cats on a deeper level to increase their happiness and help them alleviate their stress and kennel boredom. (Or as Jackson Galaxy would say, the program helps increase these cats’ “mojo.”) Just three weeks into this program, our staff is already seeing great success with the cats they’ve selected to participate (who haven’t already been adopted). Currently, they’re working on methods that include teaching cats how to “sit,” “head bunt” and give a high-five.
Megan Yohn, our feline behavior and enrichment coordinator, works with 3-year-old Bogart on “bunt,” “high five” and “sit” as part of the Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive PRO program.
It’s an immense honor to be accepted into this competitive national program and is a real testament to our staff’s dedication to ensure that animals in our care are not only given daily love, but also daily enrichment to increase their happiness through physical and mental activity while decreasing their kennel boredom and stress… Our staff has seen first-hand how this enriching program leads to so many wonderful outcomes, which has been vital for our evolution into an innovative animal shelter. They’re thrilled to learn and embrace advanced skills that teach us and the cats more than just tricks–it teaches us about the human-cat bond through deeper communication and connection in transformational and life-saving ways. We have often found that some of our most difficult cats became some of our easiest to find homes for once they were taught a way to communicate and connect. Our staff is more engaged and passionate than ever before after seeing the power of this program.
Alexis Pagoulatos, the ARL′s executive director
Jackson Galaxy, star of the television show, “My Cat from Hell,” on Animal Planet, and founder of JGP, developed Cat Pawsitive Pro with a team of feline behavior experts. Highlights of the program include:
• Improving cat “adoptability” and feline social skills, particularly for shy or fearful cats and long-term residents
• Enriching day-to-day life for cats in shelters with physical and mental activity
• Promoting the human-cat bond
• Teaching and empowering animal shelter staff and volunteers
Cats who are exposed to the reward-based training methods of Cat Pawsitive Pro gain confidence, experience reduced stress levels and build connections with staff, volunteers and potential adopters. The program can help a shy cat learn to feel comfortable coming up to the front of her cage to meet an adopter, a feisty cat can learn to play nice and an outgoing kitty learn to give an endearing “high-five” to his visitors to seal an adoption deal. Cat Pawsitive Pro is the advanced version of the JGP’s introductory training program, Cat Pawsitive, which the ARL participated in 2020.
Since 2016, more than 1,800 cats have been adopted during Cat Pawsitive program semesters, with hundreds more cats benefitting from being in the program and continuing their training on the road to adoption. To date, a total of 168 unique animal welfare organizations have participated in Cat Pawsitive programs and conducted over 31,000 training sessions, with over 1,600 staff members and volunteers taking part in the training of thousands of cats.
The Jackson Galaxy Project is a signature program of Greater Good Charities that seeks to improve the lives of cats at risk and help the people who care for them through innovative programs that educate, inspire and empower staff, rescuers and adopters.