In 2006, Purrfect Pals, a cat sanctuary and adoption shelter in the Puget Sound region, partnered with the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, WA to introduce a program called The Kittens Connection program. Since then, over 500 kittens have been successfully placed in foster care with offenders who have proven themselves responsible enough to share their lives with these furry companions.
It’s actually a very symbiotic relationship. Unlike other cat foster programs, The Kittens Connection places its kitties with offenders who suffer from mental illness. Likewise, the kittens themselves come from “troubled” backgrounds. These kitties are the ones that would normally be euthanized because they’re poorly socialized and deemed “unadoptable” (because they’re either too shy or too angry and hissy to be handled).
Fortunately, the prisoners have all the time in the world to develop the skills necessary in caring for these kittens. And it’s this incentive that brings them together.
The inmates must meet certain criteria to enter the program, like having exemplary behavior, a pro-active attitude, proper hygiene, and mental stability. When approved, they learn how to properly care for their kitten.
The results have been immeasurable. The program has taught inmates about responsibility and dependability, and thus, increased their self-esteem. A change in demeanor in even the most aggressive inmates has been noted, and many have been motivated to enroll in school and obtain jobs. A new-found calmness has entered this space and lives have changed, human and feline alike.
Prison Foster and Animal Care Programs like the one at the Monroe Correctional Complex are cropping up all over the country. And cat and dogs aren’t the only animals helping to rehabilitate prisoners. A prison in Colorado matches inmates with horses. And one in the Florida Keys sits near a rescue facility that houses over 150 different animals. Inmates who have earned certain privileges have become the animal keepers for the facility.
Hopefully, we will be seeing more programs like these in the future. For more information on the Kitty Foster Program at Monroe Correctional Complex, see the link below.