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Gold Award Girl Scout Crafts for Cats

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JoLee Becker from Marion, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve, by improving the wellbeing of shelter cats with her innovative exercise stools.

After seeing the transformation of her cat, Buns, JoLee wanted to ensure that other cats had the opportunity to find their forever homes. When she and her grandma adopted the cat, she was more than 20 lbs and aggressive. After establishing a routine and playing with the cat, she lost nine lbs and is now sweet and thriving. Her personal experience inspired her to take action and help other cats become happy and healthy and more likely to be adopted.

“Cats need a way to have fun and exercise to stay healthy and fit,” JoLee says. “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.”

She successfully created ten stools that the cats at PAWS & More Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa, are enjoying! The stools are designed with toys and other interactive elements to keep cats active and comfortable when people visit the shelter.

“As soon as we put the cat stools into the cages, the cats went nuts,” she recalls. “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.”

JoLee provided shelter staff with instructions on sustaining the stools and properly care for normal wear and tear like rips and messes. 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 and spread the idea to other shelters across the region.

“Cats will have a healthy lifestyle, so hopefully, they will get adopted quicker,” she says.


How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I have been a Girl Scout for about 13 years. I started when I was in Kindergarden as a Daisy and I am still a Girl Scout today in college.

What inspired your Gold Award project?

I volunteer for PAWS & More Cat Shelter at Marion’s Petco location. I fell in LOVE with an overweight cat named Cranberry at the time. I would walk her around the store on a leash and spend a lot of time bonding with her. Unfortunately, the cages at Petco are very small and don’t have much space to move around. Cranberry was getting very sick and overweight and had to be constantly transported back down to the shelter for vet appointments. I begged my grandma to adopt her to get her out of this situation when she came back up to Petco after 3 months of staying at the shelter. She is now named Cinnabon, or “Buns”, and she is very happy! She now currently weighs 12 pounds, compared to the 19 pounds she was in the shelter system.

What do you love about Girl Scouting?

I love the experiences I get to partake in and the community is amazing. I have gotten to do so much because of Girl Scouts and I will cherish every moment of it.

What role has Girl Scouts played in your life?

Girl Scouts has played a huge role in my life. The leadership and life skills I have learned have impacted my life greatly.

What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?

I am currently attending Kirkwood Community College to pursue a degree in English to hopefully teach English abroad in Japan! I am also making more stools and cat towers for local shelters in the Cedar Rapids area so more cats can enjoy them and begin to lose weight!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award and the steps to achieve this distinguished honor.