Cat Pawsitive Pro is our quintessential socialization program. From GreaterGood.org and the Jackson Galaxy Project, Cat Pawsitive Pro is an in-depth clicker training program designed for hard to adopt cats (yes, cats can be trained too!). By clicker training cats through the program, it provides mental stimulation and socialization to cats otherwise “shut down” in the shelter environment and improves their quality of life while at the shelter. At Town Cats, we knew we needed this program, but it is not an easy program to get into. We competed with shelters across the nation waiting a year or two to get one of the six available spots. Being fortunate to enter the program the first time around, we were very excited to be a part of the program, but we had our work cut out for us as the program required rigorous training, regular check ins, and data submission.
With our initial team of 6 volunteers and 5 staff members, we trained 8 cats through the 3-month long program. Each cat required two sessions a day, 6 days a week with documentation about the session. We started with a few of our Legacy Cats: Nadius, Pollyanna, Rose and Yoyo; a couple of cats with unpredictable behavior: Victoria and Tuscon; an FIV+ cat with unpredictable behavior: Elvis Purrsley; and a shut down/shy cat: Nomi. It only took us a week to notice a difference in all the cats we entered in the program! We noticed how much more comfortable they were. Nadius started coming out during our staff meetings, Pollyanna stopped hissing when people approached her, and Victoria and Elvis allowed people to pet them for prolonged periods of time. While the goal is to work towards a command such as high five, something as simple as eye contact can be huge for our shy cats. All the cats’ progress continues to unfold even though the program officially ended in November. Nadius is our high-five king, Victoria is our high-five queen, Nomi is our head-bump master, and Elvis is the jack of all trades, having mastered high five, nose bumps, spin and roll over! But we can’t discredit the progress made by Pollyanna and Yoyo who can make eye contact now and are starting on nose bumps. We’ve had three adoptions of our Cat Pawsitive cats, but the most notable is Nomi! Her very own Cat Pawsitive trainer fostered her and then made it official by adopting her early in December!
We are proud to say we now have a total of 16 cats enrolled in Cat Pawsitive Pro! All but 2 Legacy Cats and the majority of our shy/shut down cats are now in the program! Two of our Legacy Cats enrolled in the program are now in foster where we are hoping a home environment will continue to bring them out of their shell. We had a lot of high schoolers interested in volunteering, and Cat Pawsitive Pro seemed like the best way to get them involved! Both the cats and volunteers have been making tremendous progress, and we look forward to including more youth in the program!