Shelter Cats Join Psychology Students in Classroom


Spring 2023 will mark the first semester that students in the Psychology Department’s PSYC 303 Learning course will work with cats instead of rats.

According to Associate Professor of Psychology Shlomit Flaisher-Grinberg, the cats are from a shelter, which is part of the reason for the change.

“Although rats are social, clean, friendly and smart, they are bred especially for the lab portion of the course,” said Flaisher-Grinberg. “Shelter cats, on the other hand, are always in abundance, and in great need of training, socialization and human connection.”

According to the ASPCA, of the approximately 6.3 million companion animals that enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year, about 3.2 million are cats.

“This offers an educational, ethical and socially relevant approach that can be implemented into the psychology classroom – a shelter cat-integrated PSYC 303 Learning course.”

In the course, students will have to train their cat to perform a trick.