Female inmates at the Travis County Correctional Complex are training cats and kittens with the goal of increasing their chances of adoption. The inmates have helped raise four litters of kittens through the Austin Animal Center program.
Felines as young as three-weeks old live inside the jail and selected inmates are chosen to work with the kittens. Pam Gerritsen said it’s a great opportunity for both the inmates and the animals.
“It gives the women a sense of purpose to be able to have something to do and give back to the community while they have nothing but time on their hands,” Gerritsen said. “Handling them, playing with them the kittens are starting to learn how to use their legs and motor around on the floor and play with toys and that’s the time socialization becomes real important so that kittens grow up to be well adjusted pets.”
The mother of the most recent litter has been trained to high-five, jump, “sit-pretty” and walk with a leash. Gerritsen said trained and social-able pets often get adopted. All of the past litters have been adopted.
Training the kittens has also been beneficial for the inmates. Gerritsen said one of the women was inspired to become a Vet Technician through the program.
Four of the five kittens in the litter have been adopted but potential parents can adopt the fifth one and the mother Saturday. All weekend long pets can be adopted for $20 dollars.