A Corvallis animal shelter is taking a unique approach to helping cats find new homes: teaching them to high-five.
That’s how Thanos — an approximately 4-year-old cat at the Heartland Humane Shelter — went from skittish feral cat to friendly high-fiving housecat ready for a new home.
“He used to be a really shy cat that’s now come out of his shell with positive reinforcement with this program,” Courtney Williams explains in a video filmed by the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
The program, called Cat Pawsitive, teaches cats tricks like high fives and provides other positive reinforcements to help make them adoptable. The program was developed by celebrity cat behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy.
In the video, Heartland staff show Thanos performing high fives as they tell a bit more about his story. Thanos is a large white-and-brown tabby cat with puffy cheeks. He has feline immunodeficiency virus — an infection that’s similar to HIV, except FIV doesn’t spread to humans.
Staff entered the video into the National High-Five Day contest for cats. Galaxy announced the winners Friday; unfortunately, Thanos wasn’t among them. Still, Heartland staff say they hope his high-fiving video helps win the hearts of a family looking for a unique cat to welcome into their home.
Pet adoptions surged at the onset of the pandemic. A year later, most of those pets remained in their adopted families’ homes, according to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Even so, many local shelters in Oregon say they’re challenged by overcrowding and a slowing demand for adoptions, as reported by the Newberg Graphic in January.