Animal Shelter cat

Nika, a 13-year-old cat at Williamson County Animal Center, is learning new behaviors from trainer Katrina during the shelter’s new Cat Pawsitive Pro program.

The Williamson County Animal Center has been selected by The Jackson Galaxy Project to participate in the 2021 class of Cat Pawsitive Pro, a life-saving initiative that introduces advanced, positive-reinforcement-based behavior training and enrichment to shelter cats. 

A signature program of Greater Good Charities and supported by the Petco Foundation, this innovative training program aims to increase feline adoption rates as well as empower shelter staff and volunteers to maintain and improve cat “mojo.”

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 Positive Pro is the advanced version of the JGP’s introductory training program, Cat Pawsitive.

“It's hard to believe that it’s been five years since our inaugural class of just nine shelters went through our fledgling Cat Pawsitive Pro program,” Galaxy said. “In my wildest dreams I never imagined that five years from then 168 organizations would have been part of Cat Positive, Cat Pawsitive Pro or both. 

"That's 168 animal shelters and rescues conducting over 4,700 hours of training for more than 2,650 cats, with over 1,600 staff members and volunteers reached. It's a humbling and beautiful process to witness — with each incoming class, our mission becomes more crystallized, our program more refined, and the ripple effect grows throughout our country's animal welfare system.” 

A JGP feline behavior expert will lead the program for the shelter through April 30. Throughout the spring, staff and volunteers from the select animal welfare organizations will participate in weekly seminars with their expert and will have direct access to the entire training team for specialized consultations about the cats in their care.

“We are honored to be selected as one of the 11 Cat Pawsitive Pro shelters in the country,” WCAC Director Ondrea Johnson said. "This program will allow us to better prepare the cats in our care for life in a home, and it gives our staff and volunteers the tools and training they need to modify and improve cat behavior. We hope our cats will soon be handing out ‘high fives’ to potential adopters.”

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 Projectis a signature program of Greater Good Charities that seeks to improve thelives of cats at risk and help the people who care for them through innovative programs that educate, inspire and empower staff, rescuers and adopters. 

Jackson Galaxy will be sharing highlights of the Cat Pawsitive Pro program on The Jackson Galaxy Project FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages.

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