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Cats and Shelter Staff Alike Learn and Grow Together at LifeLine Animal Project

By Emily Hall of Kitty Cat Chronicles

The past several months have been ones of growth and progress for the staff and cats at LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta, GA. We were thrilled to hear about their accomplishments after checking in at the end of the Cat Pawsitive Pro (CPP) semester.

Trainer-Mentor Samantha Bell says, “I loved working with LifeLine so much this semester! They deserve so many kudos for choosing such challenging cats to work with. We got to see so many cat transformations, and I know the skills they learned will help shy cats in the future. It really warms my heart.”

Tom

LifeLine saw some amazing transformations indeed! Tom is one shelter cat who did a complete 180 after beginning training. When he arrived at the shelter in June of 2020, he would strike at the staff members and pursue them in anger. The staff recounted an instance when he escaped from his room, and they had to capture him with a laundry basket and walk him back using the basket as a shield. He bit employees on more than one occasion as well. To say he was a tough case would be an understatement.

Tom entered the CPP program on February 1, 2021, and quickly mastered skills such as eye contact, blink, and nose touch. The staff say he responded to training almost immediately, and his hard shell just melted away. He was adopted on March 8, 2021 – just one month after beginning training!

When asked if any adopters chose a cat based on the behaviors learned from CPP, the staff agree that Tom was definitely chosen after his adopter saw him perform during training.

The staff at LifeLine didn’t go into the training expecting to see such amazing results. Team Leader and Shelter Director Tracy Thompson admits that she was skeptical at first. “I did not realize cats could be trained,” she says. “I also was not in tune with the level of behavior-related stress cats feel while in a shelter environment. Just these simple tools really made them relax and become more accepting of being stuck in a shelter.”

Tracy and the others agree they have gained a new respect for how intelligent cats are and how quickly they can and do respond to training. They have learned lessons in patience and letting the cat lead the way. “This program gave us the tools to bring out the real cats behind the claws and teeth,” Tracy says.

Chief Operating Officer Andrea Peterson echoes everyone’s excitement, saying how amazing it was to watch the staff become so involved in the transformations of the shelter’s most challenging cats. “Building the staff’s confidence with both handling these cats and being able to get them adopted into forever homes has been truly inspiring and rewarding. We are very thankful to have been a part of this program!”

LifeLine Animal Project plans to continue training the remaining cats. They have high hopes and expect they will find homes now that they are on the road to success.

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.