Roice-Hurst Humane Society Makes Advances for the Future Thanks to CPP
By Melissa Lapierre of Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries & Meows
Cat Pawsitive Pro (CPP) training has come to an end at Roice-Hurst Humane Society in Grand Junction, Colorado, but what staff and volunteers learned over the course of the semester will be used to help cats for years to come, especially those that enter the shelter with behavior issues.
When asked about the greatest success to come out of participating in the program, Mila Revelle, Cat Project Field & Outreach Coordinator reports, “We saw a faster adoption time, without a doubt. We’ve taken on many behavior cases in our shelter before and noticed that, without a structured program like CPP, it takes significantly longer to find their forever homes.”
Mila singles out 1-year-old calico Zahara as an example. Zahara was adopted in December of 2020 but was very shy in her new home, and she ended up being returned to the shelter in February 2021 for not making enough progress or bonding with her adopter. Once back in the shelter for a few weeks, she began to socialize with the other cats enrolled in the CPP program and enjoyed watching staff do their sessions. “We decided it was best to officially enroll her in CPP and after only a couple of days, she was ready for adoption. She found her forever home almost immediately after she was made available, making her total length-of-stay 2 months. It was rewarding to witness how social she became after spending time with the other CPP cats and trainers.”
Team Leader and Cat Behavior Counselor Arlena Philipy agrees, citing Bob Meowly, the star of Roice-Hurst’s mid-semester article. Bob wasn’t well socialized when he arrived in December 2020. Initially he was hissy, scared, and shut down, so the decision was made to enroll him in CPP for extended socialization. “Within the first few weeks of the program, staff was getting little response from him until one of his target training sessions, when he showed lots of interest and began to perk up. That was the start of our witnessing major behavior changes from him. Over his sessions, he became playful and confident to a point that we knew he was ready to find a home and start bonding with an owner. After his 3-month stay at our shelter, Bob’s adopter fell in love with his sweet demeanor and head bumps, and decided to take him along with his best friend, Ebony.”
Bob Meowly also made an impression on Dog Behavior Counselor Laura Taylor, who had never worked with behavior cats before CPP. “For me, it was terrifying to approach a fearful, hissing cat in a kennel. I was very impressed by how quickly each cat enrolled in CPP developed confidence and trust in us. My biggest encouragement was my experience with Bob Meowly. Being able to see him hit every milestone: coming out of his kennel, making friends with the other cats, eating treats out of my hands, and performing tricks like high-fives was a very rewarding process and I was honored to be a part of his journey.” Laura adds, “It is rewarding to witness each cat’s heightened trust in humans. It was incredible to see them start with having no comfort with our presence to a shift in craving interaction from us.”
Mila remembers a special moment she shared with calico Harley, one of the shelter’s most fearful cats. Mila approached and leaned over her, expecting her to run away. “She did not flinch and actually came forward! She was the only active-aggressive cat we had in the program at the time, and from the beginning staff was told not to get too attached to her as we might have to return her back to her cat colony. Her improvement amazed all of us and now all the staff are witnessing how much she loves pets and being brushed now.”
Mila continues, “Cat Pawsitive Pro taught me so much. Beyond the feline behavior knowledge itself which I will carry with me for life, seeing the cats’ improvement meant the world to me. We have proved that the cat’s stay at the shelter does not have to be as stressful or as long, no matter how fearful they are.”
The successes they’ve seen through their participation in Cat Pawsitive Pro has inspired Roice-Hurst Humane Society to make behavior work a priority. Witnessing unique and profound transformations in each cat enrolled in the program was daily motivation, and they intend to use the lessons learned in CPP to implement an ongoing feline and canine behavior program. Each cat and dog enrolled will continue receiving personalized interaction and deliberate socialization from staff and high-level volunteers.
“This program has equipped us to work with significant behavioral challenges at the shelter and will be a key tool for surrender prevention, as we will use the skills learned during CPP to teach owners how to address behaviors of their pets that would otherwise be surrendered to our shelter. We are honored to have been part of the 2021 Cat Pawsitive Pro program. Our participation is directly in line with our mission, and we will continue to create, promote, and strengthen the bonds between pets and their people through our behavior programs,” says CEO Anna Stout.
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 Cat Pawsitive Pro and support our work at www.catpawsitive.org. The Jackson Galaxy Project is a Signature Program of Greater Good Charities.