Humane Society partners with pet food company, expands food bank

The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society is part of an initiative that introduces positive-reinforcement training to cats in shelters with the aim of increasing feline adoption rates. In this 2018 photo, Zimba snuggles with WVHS volunteer MikyleeGrace Vaughan.

WENATCHEE — Wenatchee Valley Humane Society has been chosen from a competitive pool by The Jackson Galaxy Project to participate in the 2020 class of Cat Pawsitive, a life-saving initiative that introduces positive-reinforcement training to cats in shelters and rescues.

Supported by the Petco Foundation, this innovative training program for cats aims to increase feline adoption rates and maintain cat “mojo.”

Jackson Galaxy (star of the television show “My Cat from Hell” on Animal Planet and founder of JGP) developed Cat Pawsitive with a team of feline behavior experts. Highlights of the program include:

  • Maintaining cat “adoptability” and feline social skills by enriching cats’ day-to-day lives
  • Increasing adoptions
  • Decreasing length of stay
  • Engaging and empowering volunteers and staff
  • Showing potential adopters that cats are cool and can even be trained!

“As a shelter worker in the early ’90s, I found myself frustrated by the lack of resources and know-how afforded to the cats in my care. Unsocialized cats, traumatized cats, adoptable cats whose spirits were dwindling from lack of stimulation — were all being euthanized. Dogs, however, were being saved thanks in part to burgeoning enrichment programs geared towards physical exercise, confidence-building and the bond created with the humans participating in these programs,” said Galaxy. “With the help of a dog trainer, I adapted these clicker-based programs to cats — and the results were immediate and, at least in my eyes, profound.”

The program has helped more than 1,200 cats in 174 shelters find their forever homes, with hundreds more receiving enriching training every day, he said.

The Cat Pawsitive program is designed to keep adoptable cats mentally and physically active in a shelter or rescue environment. The focus is on fun, positive reinforcement-based training sessions that go beyond playtime-as-usual to help cats maintain their mojo and connect more quickly with potential adopters. From teaching high fives and head bumps to “sit” and “come when called,” caregivers at Cat Pawsitive participating organizations engage with cats in a brand new way to really help cats to “click” with adopters.

“I’ve had the privilege of hearing Jackson Galaxy speak at a few conferences. His approach is fun, inclusive, engaging and effective. He is like a rock star in the world of cats, so I was excited to hear about the opportunity for WVHS to participate in this program. We applied last fall and are honored to be accepted. The training itself is very intensive and requires a commitment from shelter staff and volunteers,” said WVHS executive director Dawn Davies.

Galaxy will share highlights of the program on The Jackson Galaxy Project Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Renee Parkins is development officer for the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society. Founded in 1967,WVHS is a non-profit organization with a mission to serve Chelan and Douglas counties through education, protection and pet adoptions.