Shelter Cat Prison Program Gives Inmates Opportunity To Show Their Soft Side

Written by: Julie Hunt
| Published on May 29, 2024

Every cat owner knows that their feline isn’t just a companion but also a soothing presence that can help ease anxiety and depression. Cats not only provide friendship and diminish feelings of loneliness, but they also infuse our lives with happiness. Interestingly, cats have developed a unique capability, particularly evident in a prison in Indiana, where they significantly impact the lives of inmates. This intriguing development began when the Animal Protection League collaborated with the state of Indiana to launch an innovative program at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Known as F.O.R.W.A.R.D., the initiative was designed to provide a nurturing environment for shelter cats while also allowing inmates to take part in their care. The program quickly demonstrated its effectiveness for both the cats and the inmates involved. Many of the cats in the program had previously suffered from abuse and mistreatment, which made it hard for them to interact with humans and lowered their chances of being adopted. The program gave these cats a vital opportunity to start anew. It included behavior modification and trust-building efforts that prepared them for adoption into loving homes.

For the inmates, the responsibilities of feeding, grooming, and cleaning up after the cats not only helped the animals become more sociable and trusting but also provided significant benefits to the caretakers themselves. Engaging with the cats allowed inmates to nurture another life and teach them responsibility and accountability. Importantly, it also offered them a chance to experience the unconditional love of a pet.

Similar initiatives have been launched in correctional facilities nationwide, with Purrfect Pals’ program at Monroe Correctional Complex being a prominent example. These programs have consistently succeeded in their goals.

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