Samantha Bell DiGenova
Cat Behavior and Enrichment Lead for Best Friends in Los Angeles
Samantha Bell DiGenova is the cat behavior and enrichment lead for Best Friends in Los Angeles, where she has been entrusted with the well-being of thousands of felines. Increasing the save rate for cats is crucial to reaching no-kill in L.A., and Samantha has helped increase these save rates by record amounts.
Samantha started her journey with Best Friends in Los Angeles as a kitten nursery volunteer in 2013. After joining the team as staff, she moved quickly from roles as cat caregiver and foster coordinator to her current position as the first cat behavior lead in Best Friends’ Los Angeles program. In 2014, Samantha created the cat behavior department, which focuses on ensuring that the cat populations at Best Friends’ L.A. adoption centers are feeling confident and friendly so they can find homes as quickly as possible.
She leads a team of staff and volunteers in performing behavior work with shy cats and enrichment with longer-term residents. In addition, she has developed a program to help “working cats” (cats deemed unsocial with humans at the city shelters) transition into social cats who can then be adopted into loving homes. Samantha also leads the lifesaving meetings, in which representatives from each department brainstorm about creative ways to help long-term cats and dogs find homes, and she teaches innovative cat behavior classes to staff and volunteers.
Samantha has been working with cat behavior in shelters for more than 20 years. Over the years, she has been involved with rescuing, transporting, fostering and socializing thousands of shelter cats. She is a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and stays ahead of the curve in feline behavior through constant research, in order to improve Best Friends’ Los Angeles cat behavior department. In 2016, Samantha was chosen as one of four national trainer mentors for the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, and she works with shelters around the country, training their staff and volunteers in clicker-based positive reinforcement training for cats.
Samantha lives with three former shelter cats (and a diverse assortment of foster cats) who are fascinating cat behavior subjects and provide adorable photos for their many fans.