Girl Scout Gold Award candidate Leah J. from Colorado Springs constructed a catio, an outdoor cat shelter for feral cats, for the rescue group Look What the Cat Brought In. On Sunday, November 4, 2018, she hosted an open house at the shelter to showcase the catio to the public.
Leah describes her project:
I have always been an animal person, but I am particularly drawn to animals in need. I know I cannot adopt every animal out there that needs a home, so I do everything I can to help make their lives better. Feral cats are a particular challenge. People don’t want them running loose and creating a bigger problem by having more cats. But, rescue organizations are often ill-equipped to adequately address the needs of cats that are used to roaming the great outdoors. Until they are adopted to live out their lives as barn cats, feral cats must be kept safe at a rescue, which usually means in indoor spaces. To help improve the lives of these cats, I built a cat patio, a catio, where the cats can go to feel the sun and wind, but still be safe. My catio is connected to the rescue’s building so that cats may use the windows to go indoors or outdoors as they choose. The positive effect this choice has had on the cats has been seen in terms of calmer cats; they are no longer always afraid, they have become more accepting of humans, and some are even showing trust towards humans. It thrills me to have made such a difference in the lives of the 12 cats currently living with access to my catio. I hope other organizations with feral cats will build their own!
Open only to girls in high school, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn. The Gold Award project involves seven steps: 1. Identify an issue, 2. Investigate it thoroughly, 3. Get help and build a team, 4. Create a plan, 5. Present the plan and gather feedback, 6. Take action, 7. Educate and inspire. Of the skills learned through Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards, leadership, organization, and critical thinking are the fundamentals of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.