A Publication of WTVP

Studies have shown that having pets in the workplace can reduce stress levels and increase productivity for some employees. A new program through SAMS Rescue (Stray Animal Midway Shelter) in Hanna City offers local businesses a way to enjoy those benefits while helping homeless cats find their “forever homes.” Through Cats About Town (CAT), businesses can foster a shelter cat in the office for varying lengths of time to give them more affection and expose them to possible adopters.

Rocor Industries was the first participant in the CAT program. The Washington-based bar, restaurant and industrial supply company has fostered Jones (FKA Tory) since the end of January, and the six-year-old gray and white tabby quickly became a beloved addition to the team. “He has a lot of room to run around and a bed in just about every office,” says Sharon Rouse, Rocor customer service representative. “He greets us in the morning and sits in on our meetings—he puts a smile on everyone’s face.”

Connie Davis, executive director of SAMS, adds that Jones has become “the quintessential office cat—very friendly, but not too needy.” The idea for the program, she explains, came from attending an animal welfare conference a few years ago. “We intended to implement it sooner, but we’re very particular about standards for qualifying businesses. The cats’ best interest is our top priority.”

A range of factors—such as entrance and exit security, the presence of toxic chemicals, and employees with allergies—must be considered before placing a cat with a business. A successful pairing offers benefits to the business as well as the cat. “Employees can get their jobs done without interruption,” she says, “but also get to enjoy the therapeutic lift of having a pet nearby.”

So far, the foster arrangement is working well. Davis checks in weekly with Rocor staff, stopping by every two to three weeks for a visit, while SAMS covers all medical expenses through the program. Rocor is responsible for providing food and litter, and employees make sure to check on Jones during the weekend.

“Everybody loves him—our UPS driver even brings treats for him,” Rouse notes. Jones even has his own Instagram account (follow his adventures at @rocorjones), and Rocor is considering a second cat to keep him company.

SAMS, a 501(c)3 no-kill shelter that relies on private donations, gets many of their animals from animal control and overcrowded county shelters, housing up to 20 dogs and 60 cats at a time. Businesses can call (309) 678-2532 or email [email protected] to apply for the foster program. iBi