MARION, Iowa — It’s the highest award a Girl Scout can receive, the Gold Award, and a Marion Girl Scout has achieved this honor.
JoLee Becker received the award for her project, which worked to improve the wellbeing of shelter cats with innovative exercise stools.
This sparked from Becker’s personal experience, when she and her grandma adopted a cat that was more than 20 lbs and aggressive.
She worked to establish a routine for her cat, which led to her losing nine lbs and becoming sweet.
After seeing her own progress, Becker wanted to help other shelter cats, in hopes of making them more likely to become adopted.
“Currently, shelters all around the United States are struggling to adopt out animals due to the increase in illnesses and obesity in animals and the lack of shelter space,” said Becker.
Becker created ten stools that the cats at PAWS & More Shelter in Washington, Iowa, are now utilizing.
These stools have toys and other interactive elements to help encourage the cats to stay active and comfortable while at the shelter.
“As soon as we put the cat stools into the cages, the cats went nuts,” said Becker. “The kittens were scratching and playing with the toys. The older cats were lying in the blanket baskets under the stool tops. The rest of the cats were playing with each other and running around the stools.”
Becker taught staff how to properly care for the stools.
Now, PAWS & More is collaborating with Cedar Valley Humane Society, Last Hope Animal Shelter, Iowa City Animal Shelter, SAINT Cat Rescue, and Coralville Cat Shelter to create more stools, in hope of getting more shelters to utilize them.