The Acatemy proudly hosts advanced and masterclass sessions by boots-on-the-ground cat rescue powerhouses like you.

Certifications are available at the instructors' set fees. All other sessions and features are included in your registration.



Cat First Aid & CPR certification

with Arden Moore and Pet Safety Cat Casey

Sunday, January 19th |  9am-11:30am   

In class, you will learn:

* The importance of your emotional state

* How to tap all your senses to render aid

* Cat CPR and rescue breathing

* Give medicine to a fussy cat

* Handle an injured cat safely

* The most effective carrier and a makeshift option

* Two types of towel wrapping

* Treat bleeding and wounds

* Treat insect stings and spider bites

* Give aid to a cat who is choking

* Must-have items in a pet first aid kit

* Perform a head-to-tail wellness check


To learn more, visit


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Learn cat first aid/CPR with a real cat and one of the nation's top instructors!


Pet Health and Safety Coach Arden Moore and Pet Safety Cat Casey will present a veterinarian-approved cat first aid/CPR and safety class at The Acatemy Conference. Here is your chance to learn the latest in pet first aid in a fun, interactive class. Moore is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U and director of the Pro Pet Hero instructor training program. She and Casey, a confident, friendly orange tabby, travel the country to teach customized pet safety and pet behavior classes.

The $30 course fee covers the training, a detailed coursebook and a two-year certificate. Your graduation will be celebrated with a drawing for cool prizes! 

Class is limited to the first 30 people who sign up. To register, simply add a ticket for "Cat First Aid Certification Course" when selecting your Acatemy tickets .

Becoming a Cat Scene Investigator™:

Litterbox Issues Masterclass & Certification

Saturday, January 18th |  2:30pm - 4pm

In this class, you will learn about:

  • The difference between litter box avoidance and marking

  • Determining if the cause is medical, behavioral, environmental or a combination

  • Questioning suspects

  • How feline health affects litterbox use

  • Latest discoveries about “bladder infections”

  • Multicat homes

  • Rehabbing cats who have been surrendered due to peeing outside the box

  • Anatomy of a pee stain and how to properly clean it to prevent future mishaps


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The poop has hit the fan. The home smells like a frat house on Sunday morning, and that pissed off owner wants the cat outta there. How do you fix this so Fluffy keeps her home and you keep valuable cage space open for real life-and-death situations?


This Litterbox Issues Masterclass & Certification gives you tools to change feline behavior, and more importantly (and harder to correct) human behavior. Active cat rescuer and one of the country’s top cat pee experts, Dusty Rainbolt, views malodorous carpet crimes from the perspective of a detective. Is the cat the perp or the victim? The culprit in even the most obvious open-and-shut case might surprise you.


The $20 course fee covers includes a 90-minute science-based discussion of cat pee, an autographed copy of Rainbolt’s multi-award-winning book, Cat Scene Investigator™: Solve Your Cat’s Litter Box Mystery, and a Cat Scene Investigator™ certification in inappropriate elimination. Your graduation will be celebrated with a drawing for cool prizes! 

Class is limited to the first 60 people who sign up. To register, simply add a ticket for "Litterbox Issue Certification Course" when selecting your Acatemy tickets .


Sponsorship for Beginners: What have you done for me lately?

Sponsorship etiquette for non-profits seeking donations

Gina Zaro, Marketing Director with Dr. Elsey's Cat Products, will address how to approach businesses for sponsorship and donations to create lasting partnerships. Learn how to reach out in a professional manner, what documents are needed to receive donations, and how to support the partnership through social media.

• Who and how to contact

• Documents needed for sponsorship

• Logistics for receiving a donation

• How to support the brand

• Events and in-house activations

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Unclassified: Secrets of Working with the Military

with Wendy Kelly & Erika Kelly of Operation Git-Meow

Whether it's adoptions to military families or working with installations in the area, it's important to know "military" language to maximize your success. By understanding what to ask potential military adopters, your organization can minimize the number of returned pets when the military member has to move to a new location.


Your efforts can help prepare the adopter to plan ahead for the future lifespan of the pet while they remain on active duty.

  • Learn the right questions to ask to potential military adopters concerning deployments and reassignments  

  • Learn military policies for veterinary care and transportation of pets

  •  Lean about organizations which assist military members with pets during deployment, to assist in transportation to assignments within the USA or abroad

  • Learn the applicable Military policies and concerns regarding "pest management" and TNR

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Senior Cats: Worth Rescuing and Totally Marketable

with Laura Cassiday of Thomas the 27 Year Old Cat  & Stefanie Sacripante of NoVa Cats

Senior cats are some of the most overlooked animals that end up in the shelter environment. They tend to sit longer or face untimely euthanasia, as they don’t usually appeal to adopters -and sometimes they don’t appeal to rescues, either. How do we change this?


Laura Cassiday, Cat Behavior and Transport Coordinator at the Maryland SPCA and the face behind the viral Facebook page The Adventures of Thomas the 27-year-old Cat, and Stefanie Sacripante, Founder of NoVa Cats Advocacy, which specializes in marketing older cats, team up to argue the case for seniors. They will cover how to create a program that helps move seniors along through the shelter environment more quickly, how to work past adoption or rescue obstacles, and how to find them homes through specialized marketing.

• Learn how to fast track senior cats to make them and other harder sells stand out in the crowd, using specific marketing strategies.


• Find out why fostering or adopting a senior cat is not sad, but actually rewarding, and can work for adopters of all ages. Importantly, leave knowing how best to convey this message to the public in an easily digestible manner.


• Common myths about senior cats will be debunked, including the often erroneous idea that caring for seniors has to cost more.


• Find out how to get more senior and hospice fosters and where to get the money for it.


• Offering future support, whether it be financial or just guidance, makes a senior pet that much more attractive to adopters. Learn post-adoption assistance options without breaking your bank.


• Learn how to subtly craft a senior’s story, connecting with potential adopters by appealing to emotions- without the syrupy clichés or excessive poignancy.

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Personify the Pets: Focused Humor Saves Lives

with Alana Grelyak of Tree House Humane Society

Rescue is a serious topic, often times full of sadness and hurt. Bombarding potential adopters with it may get them to open their wallet once, but it isn't going to make them into long-term supporters. Instead, using humor and laughter to draw people into your mission is a great way to reach a broader audience, filled with people who love animals and want to not only adopt once, but to support you in an ongoing way. Learn how to make supporters look forward to your publications so they share your message, your adoptable animals, and support you financially, as well.

  • why humor makes people into repeat supporters

  • how (and when) to use humor to get animals placed into homes

  • tasteful humor vs bad jokes: know your audience

  • how to continue a campaign for hard to place animals

  • examples of successful applications of humor from the speaker's body of work


for the love of cats: what rescuers and breeders have in common

with Teresa Keiger of the Cat Fanciers Association 

Responsible breeders and feline rescues have more in common that they think. Discover how both work towards the common goals of ensuring good homes for their cats, and how activities within CFA help to strengthen the human-animal bond.

• Why some individuals want to to buy a pedigreed cat and why there is little crossover with individuals wanting to adopt a rescue.


• Why only 5% of all cats are pedigreed cats and


• Why pedigreed cats are rarely found in shelters and what to do if you actually find one


• What to look for in a responsible breeder


• CFA's opportunities & programs for non-pedigreed cats that help strengthen the human-animal bond.


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What Cats Can Teach Us About Marketing

with Lynn Maria Thompson, author of The Feline CEO

What do cats know about marketing? As it turns out, plenty! After all, their memes pretty much rule social media. They have conferences and film festivals devoted to them, all organized by their devoted fans (us). Using principles and examples from her book, The Feline CEO, Lynn will give attendees a new look at some basic marketing principles you can use to keep your cat fans engaged, while winning and educating new feline fans.

This interactive workshop will cover

  • going where you're needed (defining your target audience)

  • showing your best side (branding)

  • getting the view from above (investigating new opportunities)



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FeLV: the Next Frontier of Feline Lifesaving

with Monica Frenden, Maddie's Director of Feline Lifesaving at American Pets Alive!

Often shrouded in myth and mystery, this session will blow the doors open on feline leukemia! Using the latest research, we'll shatter misconceptions and bring you current on every must-know detail. You'll learn the best practices in shelter housing, testing, and treatment. You'll master how to find fosters and adopters for your furry FeLV+ friends. And most importantly, you'll gain the knowledge and skills you need to tackle the next frontier in cat lifesaving!

In this session, you'll learn: 

  • the best testing methods & how to interpret the results

  • strategies to get FeLV+ cats adopted 

  • practical sheltering and care guidelines

  • latest research findings and what they mean


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Fear Free Handling to the Rescue for ‘Fraidy Cats

with Arden Moore and Pet Safety Cat Casey

Yowl! Hiss! Swat! These are three actions you don’t want a cat to lodge your way. In this interactive session, Arden Moore, with the help of Pet Safety Cat Casey, will introduce you to Fear Free handling. She will teach practical techniques aimed at replacing fear, anxiety and stress in cats with feelings of safety, calm and trust. A Fear Free Certified Professional Speaker, Arden is here to showcase the new Fear Free Shelter track.

In class, you will learn:

* The physical and emotional toll fear takes on cats and you

* What is Fear Free and why it works in shelters and rescues

* F.A.S. (fear, anxiety and stress) in cats under your care

* The Four Feline Fs: Fight, Flight, Fret/Fidget and Freeze

* How to motivate, manage and modify cat behavior

* Fear Free enrichment tools, from food bribing to calming pheromones

* Transport tactics for smooth, sane rides to the shelter or vet clinic

* Enroll in the Fear Free Shelter track – it’s free!

To learn more, visit


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Cats as therapy animals

with Moira Smith of Pet Partners

Did you know there's a demand for therapy cats? Getting started can be daunting, so Pet Partners is here to help guide you through the nuances, advantages, and considerations involved with making sure your first steps are the right ones.  


In this session, you'll learn: 

  • what to look for in a potential therapy cat

  • the importance of a strong animal-handler bond

  • how to approach facilities about arranging visits

  • how to prepare for excursions

  • how to protect and support your feline partner on visits

  • how a therapy cat can be a 'gateway cat' for someone you visit  

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not so pawsitive encounters

with Sterling Davis of TrapKing Humane Solutions

A topic thats hard to talk about when it comes to race and TNR. Lets be real for a second.... most of TNR and community cat care has been and still is done by white women. We’re going to discuss dealing with race and negative feedback trying to rescue a colony that’s in an area where white people aren’t really accepted. Have you dealt with this before? Are you wondering how to deal with it when it happens? What would you do? Come holla at the King about the Not so Pawsitive Encounters!

In this interactive session, we'll talk about: 

  • trapping in tough areas

  • dealing with race issues

  • talking to the tough guys about TNR


  • communicating with feral humans

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Crisis Communications 101:

When the cat's out of the bag

with Mary Tan of Whisker Media and Animal Humane Society

How do you deal with that difficult volunteer who's spreading rumors about your organization on Facebook? What happens when a former shelter kitty causes bodily harm to an adopter and threatens to go to your local media? These are some situations every animal welfare leader can face at any time. Learn how to keep a crisis from escalating and what you can do to protect your organization's reputation.

In this interactive session, we'll talk about: 

  • how to stay calm and be strategic during a crisis

  • how to decide what social media posts and inquiries are worth responding to

  • how to hold a press conference

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Where did you hear that? 

How to Find Credible Sources and Bust Feline Myths

with Dusty Rainbolt

Accurate information educates people and saves kitty lives. Whether you’re writing an article about the downsides of declawing for a website, a blog on adopting a kitty with FIV, or assembling a taking-home-your-new-kitty handout for potential adopters, it’s important to make sure your information is accurate and up-to-date.


Unfortunately, any doofus with a keyboard can come across as an online expert, perpetuating myths and outdated or incorrect “facts” about feline health, behavior, and rescue. Rather than repeating misinformation from an author with unknown or vague credentials, go to an apex source and get the facts directly from the kitty expert’s mouth.

In this session, we'll talk about: 

  • finding alternatives to second-hand sources

  • how to find apex experts *How to properly quote a source

  • whether it's okay to use your own vet as an expert

  • whether Wikipedia trustworthy and a list of trustworthy websites

  • where to find current pet ownership statistics

  • using academic research studies

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Teaching cats to sit and stay in their forever homes

with Charmaine Evonne of The Amazing Acrocats & Rock Cats Recue

From very shy cats to super-friendly cats, clicker training can be used to increase any cat’s likelihood of being adopted sooner into a loving forever home. This method of positive-reinforcement training is easy-to-teach to your staff, new adopters, and anyone who will listen because you’ll want to tell everyone!


Imagine: A loving lap kitty who can high-five for treats? He’ll high-five his way right into his new Mom’s heart. A scaredy cat who learns how to stay on a mark where they feel safe and allow pets, and his patient adopter will be able to build a trusting, long-lasting bond with him by continuing his training at home. New pet parents will be able to recognize when something isn’t right with kitty faster, as well.


In this session of expert tips and live clicker training demos, we'll cover:


  • Improving repertoire of fosters and Adoption Counselors with the cats they are looking for that purrfect match for

  • How the bond formed by training helps humans recognize signs of illness faster

  • Building a stronger bond between adopters and their new companion, and how it decreases likelihood of relinquishment due to health or behavior issues

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Transporting cats? We'll show you how & tech to help!

with Chris Roy of

You may never thought you'd see the day when cat transport was a thing but it is. In this session learn how to start your cat transport program and what you need to know to engage volunteers, find partners and get your cats safely to their destination. We will cover everything from the rules and regulations around transport, to how to manage the different types of transport (local ride, rescue relay, high-volume, etc.). We'll even discuss how to get pilots involved (Yes the speaker is a pilot!).



In this session, you'll learn: 

  • step by step how to start your transport program 

  • options for transport (local rides, high-volume, rescue relay)

  • tech options for transport - including using Doobert! 

  • keeping up with the laws & rules and how to stay current

  • what you need to know about pilots and flying animals

  • 10 steps to successful rescue relay transports

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A Kitten Nursery for Every Rescue and Every Budget

with Marnie Russ of the Animal Welfare League of ArlingtonNational Kitten Coalition


In 2017, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington took a storage closet, $10k and one staff person and created an in-house kitten nursery that increased its intake of kittens by 400% while maintaining a live release rate of 92%, based on the program developed by Marnie Russ. Join Marnie for a detailed look at the program and how you can duplicate the success. 

This session covers
everything you need to know about: 

• how to effectively cultivate, motivate, and manage a large scale specialized foster program

• using social media to take the pressure off of your staff.

• how to maximize available resources and utilize extended resources available through the major animal welfare organizations 

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Redefining Special Needs Cats

with Michele Hoffman of Milo's Sanctuary

We as individuals and rescuers need to take a fresh look at what is currently considered a special needs cat and by doing so face our own biases and what we view as "different" so that we can come up with creative ways to find these deserving cats homes, that will view them as family members to be loved and cherished for their differences and not abandoned or killed because of them.


In this session, you'll learn: 

  • redefining the rescue communities view of special needs cats

  • how to find suitable homes

  • tailoring your adoption process to ensure adoption retention

  • honestly speaking to potential adopters of the cats individual needscost, time involved & ongoing medical care required if needed

  • using social media to showcase individual cats

  • successful fundraising techniques for medical care


Panleuk Pandemonium: Caring for an Afflicted Kitten

with Kierianne Hansen of the National Kitten Coalition

Panleukopenia can be a quick and devastating disease, but in this session rescuers will learn how to recognize signs of illness early and how to provide immediate nursing care that will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for affected kittens. This session will empower you with the confidence to immediately implement nursing skills to give afflicted kitten a better chance of survival.

In this session, you'll learn 

  • what Panleukopenia is, and how to prevent it

  • life-saving, early interventions that you can use to slow down disease progression and tools to share with your veterinary team

  • how to prevent Panleukopenia by implementing good cleaning and sanitation practices, isolation protocols and vaccination

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Putting Together Annual Reports

with Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Nonprofits are required to produce annual reports every year to let the public know what they do and how they use donor and grant funds, but putting together a well-written, graphically inviting version can be a real challenge. Experienced, award-winning writer/editor Ruth E. Thaler-Carter will walk participants through writing, designing, illustrating and formatting annual reports for nonprofits (and businesses), including the use of free software like Canva to enhance "the look of the book" and the likelihood it will be read and remembered.


This session will cover: 

• ideas for making content/text interesting and evocative

• basic design guidelines for readability and impact

• resources for layout/design, graphics, illustrations and related tools to make an annual report look good

• suggestions of what not to do in an annual report

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Video editing made easy

with Chris Roy of

Do you wish you could get more videos for your social media pushes? Are you struggling to keep track of how many cats are in a particular colony? YIn this session you'll learn how technology can help you capture video of everything in one place. We'll show you the best practices for getting the video, editing via mobile apps and even aggregating the video in one place. SPECIAL NOTE: You'll need to download the "Doobert User App" from the Apple, Google or Amazon app stores for this session. We'll show you real-time how things work.


This session covers:  

  • best practices for capturing video via a mobile phone

  • options for aggregation and collection of your media

  • how to best use video to promote your efforts for adoption, fundraising, and even field operations

  • brainstorm ideas on how video can help you do just about everything

  • using the Doobert app to edit videos real time

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Presenting News Releases - Effective Writing For Impact & Reaction

with Robbi Hess 

How can you get in front of the media? How can you even get your local news organization to even open the news releases that you submit? It's all about relationship building and, more importantly, showing the editor what is in it for his or her reader. Let the editor know why your news release should be printed, your event covered and why you should be the go-to expert.


In this session, you'll learn: 

  • how to format a news release, what to inclde, and when to present it 

  • the importance of submitting your news release to the right person

  • how to pull the salient points out of your news release and make it "newsy" and relevant

  • how to ask for coverage of your event

  • what can you do to set your news release apart from all the releases the editor receives

  • what you can do to become the go-to expert on all things cat-related

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Creating Healthy Foster Spaces

with Faith Wright & Jordana Moerbe of American Pets Alive! 

Opening your home to medical fosters doesn't have to mean putting your other cats at risk. This session will provide you with the current industry best practices for making sure your home is a great place for them to heal and convalesce. 

This session will cover:

  • considerations for your medical isolation room 

  • hygiene mistakes you didn't know you were making

  • how to manage observation periods

  • early detection of illness 

  • how to manage communicable diseases if they occur 

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Hitting the Wall Without Banging Your Head Against It

with Caitlyn McIntosh & ReBecca Dinger-Tedder

“Burnout” is real, but we’ve all heard the word thrown around so much that the concept is over-used. To make matters worse, the advice on how to cope is as worn-out as you’re feeling. Join two recent TNR and rescue group expatriates — one who worked her way up to running the show, another who spent time as a main attraction -- as they walk you through real life how-to's. No “self-care” fanfare, spa days or cheesy slogans. This is just plain discussion and practical advice based on personal experience and research from a pair of catvocates who very recently "Just Couldn’t Even Anymore".

In this session, you'll:

  • learn why it’s important to identify how your stress responses manifest, and when you’re getting close to the "red line"

  • get tips on how to read those signs in others and ways to help your volunteers manage the difficulties of participation in a rescue environment

  • recognize the ways our culture primes us for burnout before we even begin, and why we must reject that conditioning

  • learn strategies for those days when you’re ready to throw in the towel, and recognizing when you actually should - without shame

  • discover resources from proven experts who can help expand on the day's talk.

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Making cat declawing history

with Dr. Jennifer Conrad of The Paw Project

As the force behind the legislative action and resulting declaw bans in North America, The Paw Project wants to empower you as agents of compassionate change. This session will give cat advocates the facts and tools to confidently refute any argument, excuse, or rationalization made by people who want to declaw their cats. 

In this session, you'll  learn:

  • how declawing impacts owner retention, complete with statistics

  • what major health authorities like the CDC, NIH, USPHS, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America say about the impact of declawing on human health and safety

  • the truth about "pain free" laser procedures and its effects, according to current veterinary literature

  • the impacts on vet practices that voluntarily give up declawing

  • how being claw friendly is the only true way to be feline friendly.

This session will be accompanied by a showcase of Paw Project-approved products, curated especially for cat rescuers to recommend as problem-solvers to owners who are considering declawing.

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Budgeting to the rescue

with Jody Salbo of Halo Insights, LLC

To give your kitties the high life, you need some green stuff--and we’re not just talking about catnip. But if financial matters leave you as tangled up as a kitten in a ball of yarn, fear not: Jody Salbo, nonprofit financial management expert, has the super-simple, ultra-basic, dare-we-say fun seminar on how to manage your organization’s hard-earned scratch.


Over the course of the seminar, you’ll learn …


  • the how’s and why’s of building a nonprofit budget, on the organizational level

  • how to monitor your budget throughout the year 

  • top tips about the important stuff that even large organizations forget

Sure, spreadsheets may not be as much fun as a rowdy session with the laser pointer… but there’s never been a better time to get your organization ready for any financial climate, and knowledge is power.

Jody will be offering on-site consultations at a deep discount for Acatemy attendees, a raffle to win a full consultation, and more. Find out more and submit your questions here. 


Sessions & workshops