Cuddly Catz: An Innovative Cat Foster Prison ProgramPublished April 24, 2012
Flickr User Katie@!
Shelter cats who otherwise might have been euthanized are getting a new lease on life, while at the same time contributing to the lives of prison inmates.
Cuddly Catz prison foster home program is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Launched two weeks ago at the minimum security prison at Larch Corrections Center, located near Yacolt, Washington, this innovative kitty foster-home program has already started making positive changes in the lives of inmates involved in the program.
Inmates participating in the Cuddly Catz program become foster parents for the cats living with them around the clock in a 12 x 10-foot cell resembling a dormitory room. Besides performing all necessary cat duties, the inmate’s patient, gentle interaction with their kitties (whose behavioral problems may have led to their shelter surrender) is helping to achieve a major program goal; rehabilitating the cats.
And the program is working. According to a recent news item in the Asbury Press, in just the short time that the Cuddly Catz prison program has been in place, the staff has already noticed a significant difference in program participant’s interactions with both fellow inmates and prison personnel. Cuddly Catz truly is an astounding win-win for both the cats and their caretakers.
But feline rehabilitation is not the program's only goal. The program is also looking to help inmates, who share a special connection with the cats they are paired with. The inmates inherently benefit from feeling a sense of purpose in helping to rehabilitate the forgotten felines.
One inmate, 28-year-old Joey Contreras said, "When you're doing prison time, you get set in certain ways and forget what it's like to have everyday interactions and be compassionate." His cellmate, 37-year-old Joseph Walter added, “Prison time can make inmates mean".
The cat’s unconditional love helps to ignite inmate’s more compassionate and gentler side.
An extensive screening process is required for inmates to participate in the program. Since safety for the animals is the program’s top priority, inmate candidates must not have committed a violent crime against animals or humans, be free of any prison infractions for at least six months and will be remaining in prison for at least a year after receiving a cat.
An outdoor prison enclosure was built to give inmates and cats fresh air and room in which to play, at a cost of nearly $2,028. It was paid for by the state Department of Corrections. No additional costs to the department are necessary, since community volunteers provide food, litter and other supplies.
Watch the fascinating MSNBC video about cats living in prisons, uploaded to YouTube by BamBookUK.
What are your thoughts about the Cuddly Catz prison cat foster program? Share them in a comment.