Building a Feline Behavior Volunteer Program…from Scratch

Nov 1, 2021

Cat behavior volunteers Friends for Life Animal Shelter Houston Texas

One of the duties of BV2s, like Beverly Burns, is carrying out matching assessments to help adopters find the right fit © Friends for Life Animal Shelter

At Friends For Life Animal Shelter, keeping pets with their families is at the core of our mission. But Houston has a problem: there are an estimated 1.4 million pet cats living here (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2017) and very little behavioral support available to caregivers. We can’t know for sure how many cats are at risk, but municipal shelter data helps us guess that well over 3,077 local cats are given up due to behavioral concerns every year (City of Houston, 2020; Harris County. n.d.; Weiss et al., 2015). That’s a lot of missed litter boxes!

Overwhelmed with the daily calls for help on top of meeting the enrichment and training needs of our shelter’s animals, we decided to add a cat track to our existing dog behavior volunteer (BV) program. Since then, this mentorship has been training feline behavior consultants to provide community support, especially for at-risk populations of companion animals and their caregivers.

(Issue 50, September 2021, pp.38-42). Read article