Dakin Takes Manhattan at Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp

by Lee Chambers


By Danielle Cookish, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Every year, cat enthusiasts come together in New York City for a weekend convention perfectly catered to all things feline; Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp.  The event draws casual cat fans as well as people who work or volunteer in animal welfare, advocates and rescuers.  As an avid “cat lady” and feline trainer, I couldn’t pass this up, nor could a few of my Dakin co-workers, who joined me there.

(From left: Dakin foster Caitlin Delaney, Dakin staff members Danielle Cookish, Abigayle Hamel and Meg Delaney check out the Camp scene)

I arrived in Manhattan on June 1 early in the morning, hours before the familiar bustle of the city took over.  The front of the Metropolitan Pavilion was decorated by posters of familiar brands and The Cat Daddy himself, Jackson Galaxy.  I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Jackson Galaxy Cat Pawsitive Pro training team at Dakin in 2018.  With the help of experienced trainer-mentors, staff and volunteers learned training techniques to build our cats’ confidence and help find them homes.  Our cat high five skills landed us the grand prize in the 2018 National High Five Day competition, scoring a grant and 10,000 bowls of food for the cats in our care.

Entering the camp, there were food vendors, friendly staff members, and cat merchandise as far as the eye could see.  Rescue groups, shelters, advocates, and celebrities lined the walls of the indoor space, selling everything from kitty headbands to stickers infused with catnip.  Many vendors donate a portion of their proceeds to shelters, spay/neuter efforts, and other organizations working tirelessly to aid cats in need.

The event was set up to mimic a summer camp.  There were group activities, prizes to be won, and lectures from national leaders in cat advocacy.  Kitten rescuer and humane educator Hannah Shaw of Kitten Lady hosted a talk about municipal shelters and the importance of fostering, while feline photographer Andrew Marttila presented a live photo edit and spoke to a very engaged audience on how to better capture your cat on camera.

("Kitten Lady" Hannah Shaw addresses the crowd)

Jackson Galaxy, head Cat Camp Counselor, feline behaviorist, and star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” hosted the event and made sure to make rounds throughout the day meeting guests, welcoming vendors, and enjoying the atmosphere of hundreds of like-minded people with a mutual love and concern for the welfare of cats.

Having spent two years working intakes inside a high volume, open admission shelter, my respect and appreciation for cats only grew.  I met with other shelter workers, rescue managers, and creators of products made to help the most vulnerable kittens.  The work we do is physically and emotionally exhausting, but taking a break to spend a weekend at Cat Camp was refreshing, invigorating, and left me with a recharged motivation to do what we do best…offer compassion and high quality care to every cat we meet.

(Adoptable cats and kittens from NYC shelters were on hand to charm the attendees)

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