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Jackson Galaxy has announced the winners of the 4th annual Cat Pawsitive National High-Five Day Contest, a life-saving positive reinforcement training program for cats. Galaxy developed the program to help shelter cats become adoptable, including previously feral cats.

So, who says cats can’t learn tricks? As you will see, they can, and more shelter cats can find forever-homes as they learn how to socialize with people. 

Although the contest showcases high-fives, cats can learn many other tricks too! With easy clicker training, cats can learn to give a high-five, sit, go for harness walks, and “view their carrier as their safe place.” With some training, some cats even learn to jump through a Hula Hoop or over an object on cue.

“That’s right, folks…high-fives most definitely save lives!” Galaxy says.

See more of Jackson Galaxy in the video at the end of this article.

 FELV+ Tudie Wins High-Five Contest

This year’s first-place winner, Tudie, is a FELV+ cat and long-time participant in the Cat Pawsitive program. 

“Congratulations to our first place winner, Tudie, who has won $5,000 for Chattanooga’s McKamey Animal Center (MAC)!” wrote Galaxy on Facebook. “Tudie has been participating in Cat Pawsitive since it was first introduced at MAC, and has fully embraced it! So far, he has learned sit, head-bump, eye-contact, and most excitedly, high-five. Despite being an FELV+ kiddo, Tudie serves as a wonderful example of how cats with an FELV+ diagnosis can still go on to live happy and fulfilling lives (and even learn some neat tricks, too)!”

Tudie, the winner of the high-five contest

Image via Facebook/ McKamey Animal Center

In response, MAC wrote:

“We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected as the first place winner for this contest! Tudie is a little super star of a cat!”

Mostly-Blind Foster Cat Jill Wins Second Place 

In second place, Jill, a “mostly-blind foster cat cared for by a foster provider Carin from Austin Animal Center (AAC), won. On their Facebook page, the AAC explained how training works:

Jill does High-Five with Carin from Austin Animal Center

Jill does High Five with Carin from Austin Animal Center

“How it works is you encourage the cat to do a specific behavior, then when they do the thing you want them to do, click, and immediately reward. They learn to associate the click with the reward and then repeat whatever they did to get the click/reward,” the AAC stated.

Even though Jill is mostly blind, she quickly responds to the clicker training.

“What is so cool about this video is Jill is a mostly-blind cat, and look how smart she is and giving all the high-fives! It is no wonder they were a top finalist! Jill was born with feline entropion…a condition where the eyelids/lashes grow inwards.

Look at her picture in the comments- how she started, and now she’s living her best life- adopted and winning contests! Good girl, Jill. Thank you, Carin!”

“Baby Jill💕💕💕💕 you’ve come so far sweet girl! Thank you for being so smart & getting 2nd place!!!!! 👏👏👏”

Jill the blind cat

Phil the ‘Mini Bobcat’ Takes Third Place

Next, an outgoing 1-year-old cat named Phil, dubbed “the mini bobcat,” took third place for the Homeless Animal Rescue Team in Cambria, California.

“This is our silly BLOOPER. Our Medical Director Stacey, couldn’t help being class clown. WAIT FOR IT!” they shared on Facebook. 

In a previous video, HART explained why Phil is called the mini-bobcat. 

“I’m Phil, and I’m a 1-year-old mini BOBCAT (Ok, ok! I like to pretend I am!) I came to HART after living on the streets. Soon after I arrived, my caretakers discovered that I had a broken tail, which needed to be amputated to make me feel better. That’s ok – I’m even more like a bobcat now!”

Sometimes, playful Phil could behave like a wildcat, but the Cat Pawsitive training helped him learn how to have more “pawsitive interaction with humans.” 

“Now that Phil is learning new “moves” through his Cat Pawsitive training, he feels much less inclined to show off his wildcat side. He has been a joy to work with for all of us,” wrote HART.

FIV+ Thanos Gives a High-Five

Aside from the three winners, there are cats across the country doing high-fives and other tricks through the Cat Pawsitive program. For example, Thanos, a 15-pound 2-to 3-year-old FIV+ cat from the Heartland Humane Shelter in Corvallis, Oregon, is in the news today.

“He used to be a really shy cat that’s now come out of his shell with positive reinforcement with this program,” Courtney Williams said.

Thanos from Heartland Humane Shelter in Corvallis, Oregon,

Thanos from Heartland Humane Shelter in Corvallis, Oregon, Corvallis Gazette-Times

With Cat Pawsitive and lots of high fives, overlooked shelter cats get a spotlight they wouldn’t otherwise, a moment to shine.

“Cat Pawsitive is an awesome program,” Heartland Humane Society Executive Director Chuck Tourtillott said in a statement. “The National High-Five Day is a great way to showcase shelter felines who don’t get the high-profile attention they deserve. Thanos’ progress has been an incredible inspiration.”

As more people were at home during the pandemic, teaching cats with Galaxy’s easy steps helped alleviate boredom and helped overwhelmed shelters. People shared posts of their cats doing high fives with the hashtag #quarantinecats. 

Learn more about Clicker Training from Jackson Galaxy below:

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