By Janet Blue of The Cat on My Head
After being notified they had been selected for The Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Pro, excitement and an eagerness to begin training was immediately noticeable among the staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Parkersburg in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
With COVID restrictions, it has not been a normal year for the shelter, and Trainer-Mentor Sara Russell is pleased with the dedication of the staff and volunteers to improvise and adapt as needed to overcome any stumbling blocks.
Executive Director Gary McIntyre expected the shelter to have five to seven cats participate in the training, as they were looking for quality in training as opposed to having large numbers of kitty participants. They have, however, far exceeded this number, as many cats in the program have been adopted allowing for new cats to be added.
Shelter Manager Samantha Tannous found the training to be a bit overwhelming at first, but with an amazing team and support group, she says that they have stayed motivated and excited. Team Leader Rose Wilson adds, “We all make a great team!” Seeing photos and videos of other CPP shelters on Facebook has also helped to keep them excited.
According to Executive Director McIntyre, participating in CPP has given the team more confidence in their abilities to interact with the shelter cats.
The team feels the participating cats have responded well to clicker training. According to Team Leader Wilson, “This is so great for the shelter kitties and will help get them adopted.”
One cat who has benefitted from training is Rylee. Just 24 hours after being adopted, the tabby cat was returned to the shelter due to aggressive behavior. However, once enrolled in CPP, according to Trainer-Mentor Russell, Rylee loved her training so much, she would “wave” on cue with her trainers. And good news for Rylee, she has since been adopted again.
Team Leader Wilson notes, “…something literally ‘clicks’ (pun intended), and [the cats] gain their confidence and become superstars!” Volunteer Diane Smith says, “What I love so much is when you get that real connection with the cat. It’s so rewarding for the cat and volunteers and eventually with cat and adopter.”
Trainer-Mentor Russell is amazed at how quickly transformations are occurring. Nervous cats are beginning to come out of their shells and show confidence, and aggressive cats suddenly become social butterflies and show their true, sweet personalities.
The Humane Society of Parkersburg has a whole line-up of superstars. To date, 11 CPP cats have been adopted: Alex, Taylor, Morgan, Asher, Marty, Misty, Mufasa, Grayson, Sable, Baba Noel, and Rylee (the previous returnee)!
Executive Director McIntyre and the Cat Pawsitive Pro team are grateful they have adopters willing to continue the training at home to make certain each cat continues to progress.
The shelter has received several updates on the adoptees’ progress since leaving the shelter. After being given the necessary instruction by the Cat Pawsitive Pro staff and volunteers, adopters are loving the opportunity to continue the training and to discover just how smart their new feline friend is.
YOU can improve the lives of cats at risk. Donate today to The Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Program and transform the places and people that support at-risk pets!