Pierogi Comes Out of Hiding Thanks to Cat Pawsitive Pro
By Kristin Avery of My Rescued Life
Pierogi originally arrived at the Independent Cat Society (ICS) with his littermate when he was 8 weeks old. Although the kittens were shy, they were adopted quickly and thrived in their new home. Sadly, in 2017 both his littermate and owner passed away.
With nowhere else to go, this beautiful grey cat returned to ICS. Once back at the shelter, Pierogi was depressed, confused and frightened. And who could blame him?
Pierogi has spent much of the last two years hiding under blankets, avoiding cats and humans. Just a few months ago, coaxing him out from beneath his blanket hideaway was nearly impossible. But thanks to Cat Pawsitive Pro, the once grief-stricken, shy Pierogi now sometimes greets visitors.
Pierogi before and after training
“Not only does he come out, he is often on top of his blankets when we enter the room,” says Beth Hayden, Cat Pawsitive Pro Team Leader “It’s so rewarding to see how far he’s come in such a short time.”
The Independent Cat Society in Westville, Indiana, is the largest feline adoption agency in northwest Indiana and has been helping stray and abandoned cats find loving homes since 1977. On any given day, there are typically 175-200 cats living at the shelter with an average of 6-10 adoptions per week.
ICS participated in the initial Cat Pawsitive Lite program and were amazed at how quickly the cats learned clicker training. This time around ICS is focusing on the shelter’s shy and less socialized cats affectionately known as the ‘Scruffys’.
“The Scruffys often get overlooked, but I see their potential and want to do whatever I can to help them find forever homes,” Beth says.
Although none of the Scruffys have been adopted (yet!), their progress has been remarkable. They are responding well to clicker training and a few like Pierogi are even greeting team members at the door.
Kevin, before and after training
“Some cats are motivated by treats and others are not,” says Beth. “And then there’s Cadbury who doesn’t like the clicker sound.”
Cadbury, a gorgeous deep brown, green-eyed cat is shy with humans and the noise level at the shelter has always stressed him out. The ICS team worked with Cat Pawsitive Pro Trainer-Mentor Lisa Stemcosky to come up with an alternative for this quiet-loving guy. They now make a kissing sound instead of using the clicker, which is less stressful and working well. Cadbury is also responding well to eye blinks.
“The ICS team is doing great with the program and making a big difference in the lives of the cats in their care,” says Lisa. “The cats are learning so much, their confidence is growing and most importantly, they are having fun!”
Beth admits that initially a few volunteers were skeptical about investing time and energy in the Scruffys, questioning whether the team should focus on more adoptable cats. But Cadbury, Pierogi and the other Scruffys are making such incredible progress that the community and volunteers are enthusiastic and many now want to join the Cat Pawsitive Pro team!
“It’s been so rewarding to see how far the cats have come in such a short period of time,” says Beth. “A few months ago, it seemed unlikely that Pierogi would ever get adopted, but now I’m hopeful and it seems very likely that he eventually will. Cat Pawsitive Pro has been truly life-changing!”
Want to keep up with news about the lifesaving work of The Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Pro initiative? Follow us on Facebook at The Jackson Galaxy Project. You can learn more about the program and support our work at http://www.catpawsitive.org. The Jackson Galaxy Project is a Signature Program of GreaterGood.org.