A Reader’s Experience Working At A No-Kill Cat Shelter

Trisha has written for us before. She’s charming young lady who’s always got something to say. This time it’s about her experience as a volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter with some tips on how a volunteer can ease the load for employees so they can get more done.

As a former volunteer I’ll add a bit about how being a cat shelter volunteer has hidden perks for people. During my orientation at the San Francisco SPCA they said that many volunteers reported that their time there was better than therapy. I took that to mean: “Walk in depressed, walk out happy and at peace.” One high school aged girl who was trapped at her abusive parent’s house until she turned 18 said she could tell the cats all of her problems which became less of a burden because the cats listened. Others said that it gave them a mental health break from their own mind’s chatter. And dog walkers reported significant weight loss.


My Experience Working At A No-Kill Cat Shelter

By Trisha Miller

For the last 8 months I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering weekly at a no-kill cat shelter near me, called Simply Cats. Due to time constraints I’ve had to stop volunteering for the time being, but I enjoyed every second of it. If you have a few hours of your day to dedicate to a shelter in your area, I highly suggest that you do so. Even if on a small scale, I knew that I was making a difference in these cats’ lives. I was helping to provide them with a safe, clean home and did my best to provide them comfort. What’s more, I helped to relieve some of the full-time staff so they were able to attend to critical matters that demanded their attention. If you’re wondering if volunteering is right for you, I’d like to share my experience with you and hopefully help you form your own conclusion.

Why Volunteer?

I started volunteering at my local shelter simply because I’m a cat lover and I had a free day each week with nothing to do. Why not help out some cats and make the lives of the shelter employees a little bit easier. In addition, one of my two cats is a rescue cat, and sadly was not living at a no kill shelter. If I wouldn’t have chosen to take him home I’m afraid the worst possible imaginable scenario might have taken place. That being said, I have a soft spot in my heart for rescued animals.

If your local shelter is anything like mine, then you’ll agree that shelter employees have very little time to do so many tasks, and can really use the help. Running the shelter, greeting guests, accepting cats, and trying to organize events is more than enough to make an employee feel overwhelmed, I’m sure.

On top of all of that, my local shelter has about 20 individual rooms that house cats in each. These rooms need to be attended to twice per day. When you have, on average, two or more cats in each room, the room gets messy in a hurry. They need someone to clean up the mess and to just be with the cats and comfort them during their stay.

My Job Duties

My assignment at my particular no kill shelter was to clean the rooms of the cats. As I mentioned before, this needed to be done twice per day. So, I stepped in for an earlier shift on my off day, which only took up about 2 hours of my day. I would scoop litter, clean all surfaces, sweep and mop, and make sure the cats had fresh water. After I was done making sure their living area was sparkling clean, I was able to just enjoy my time with the kitties, play with them, and pet them (the best part!).

As volunteers we also had the opportunity to spread awareness about the shelter via social media and throughout the community. My shelter has regular events that we were encouraged to attend in order to help raise funds to keep the shelter open and get the cats all the necessities for maintaining a fulfilled and happy life while they are at the shelter.

What You Need to Know

A friend of mine recommended that I volunteer at the shelter because she is currently a volunteer as well. We discussed the possibility back and forth and among my many other delights, I was especially happy to volunteer for a no-kill shelter. However, even if you choose to volunteer at a no-kill shelter, you should prepare yourself for some things you might see or learn during your stay.

Some cats do come from hoarding or abuse situations. My local shelter has a veterinary staff on hand to help any kitties that need medical attention. You may come into contact with cats that have illnesses or impairments due to their neglect or abuse. So, you’ll want to mentally prepare for that before you walk in the door. As heartbreaking as it is to see, all of the cats that I encountered with illnesses or impairments were completely healed, thanks to the dutiful veterinary staff, and were as full of life as any other cat I came across in the shelter.

All in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience that I am sad has come to a temporary close. I plan on volunteering again as soon as my schedule opens up again and I suggest that you do the same if you are able. There is simply no experience like it. It is extremely gratifying, fulfilling, and rewarding!

Have you volunteered at a shelter? I’d love to hear about your experience 🙂
 
 
 
 

Fort McMurray fire hero who fed cats, bunnies, and dogs

Wasn’t that recent fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada just horrible! The photos were heart wrenching, and of course we always think about the plight of the animals. Thousands of people evacuated so quickly that many animals were left behind. Read this story about Lee Ellis, a very brave man who stayed, and using Facebook he was able to communicate with evacuees. They would tell him how to enter their homes and what animals to look for. In turn he’d post photos of the animals and their homes so they could see if there was any damage. In Lee’s charge were cats, bunnies, and dogs. We’ve read that Lee has gotten many marriage proposals! Not surprising! Real men do love cats!

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/kelowna-man-stays-behind-to-feed-pets-in-fort-mcmurray-1.3579610

 
 

Petting shelter cats might be better than therapy!

Many years ago I decided it might be fun and rewarding to volunteer at a local shelter as a “cat socializer.” The job of a cat socializer is to spend time with a cat one-on-one. Sometimes the cats just sleep when you sit with them. Some of them try to hide. Sometimes your visit prompts them to groom or eat. Some cats want to be brushed, some don’t. Some cats love being petted and some need you to back off and let them come to you. Some of those cats don’t trust humans so this quiet and gentle time is vital and allows them to overcome fear, adapt to people, heal from emotional abuse, and become friendly towards people. I saw most of the cats come out of their shell and shine.

During our orientation the leader said that working with cats can be like therapy. She related a story of a lonely and mistreated teenage girl who reported that she could tell the cats all of her problems and worries. She could cry into their fur. They’d look her in the eye and give love right back to her. Eventually she felt that everything would be ok and she overcame her past. She was as much a therapist for the cats as they were for her.

Being a cat socializer was truly rewarding, and certainly more fun than therapy! Just stroking them, talking to them about nothing in particular, feeling protective of them, and watching them blossom was doing me as much good as I was doing for the cats. It was almost meditative and Zen like sitting on the floor while letting a cat take all the time needed to approach me. They’d slowly check me out, sniff at my shoes, purr at me, meow at me, rub against me, all those darling things that cats do. There were no rules about how much time I could spend with each cat and I loved that. The quiet time was priceless for me. I found that hanging out and being silent was very meditative and problem solving. I left floating on air, my troubles dissolved, and I was ready to face anything.

When you look for a shelter talk to other volunteers and ask if the shelter’s paid staff treat their volunteers like the pieces of gold that they are, or if they are treated like they are a dime a dozen. Sadly I found that many of the volunteers, myself included, seemed to threaten the status quo with our enthusiasm and new ideas. This shelter was highly political with much game playing, back stabbing, and broken promises. They had a total disregard for the volunteer’s enthusiasm and time.

But don’t let that stop you because great shelters are there, and they want and need you. Once you find the right one dive right in. The time and effort that you generously give will come back to you in the form of peace and courage, as well as a deep satisfaction. You’ll see cat after cat find a good home. I still remember the names and faces of my favorite shelter cats just as I remember some of the beautiful people who adopted them.

Pet cats. Feel good. Get perspective on your troubles and cares. Let the love inside of you flow to the lucky felines who get to have you in their presence. They’ll become your feline therapists.

 
 

Sick Abandoned Kitten Becomes Big Handsome Fluff Ball!

See what happens to a kitten that was injured, abandoned and a mess… see what good food and love and care can do? The formerly skinny and sickly kitten is now a big fluff ball!

You can read more here…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3344557/Sick-scrawny-kitten-abandoned-road-rescued-Florida-family-remarkable-recovery-earns-online-fame.html

His Instagram page is here… https://www.instagram.com/sir_silas_kitty/

Silas was found by a Florida family by the side of the road. He was sick, starving and homeless. They nursed him back to health. Look at the handsome boy he became because of their love and care!

 
 

A Remarkable Story About a Cat Victim of the Lake County Fire

You probably know that Cat Faeries is located in San Francisco and that currently in Northern California there are two major fires which are destroying thousands of acres of land, burning homes and businesses, and displacing or injuring many animals. These animals range from cats, dogs and other domestics, to horses, cattle, and wild animals. One of the two California fires is in Lake County which is about 2 hours north of us – Lake County is the poorest County in the state.

While we were looking into where we can donate items and money we heard a remarkable story from Sebastopol based photographer Heather Wakefield about a severely burnt cat who was rescued by firefighters. The cat was found in the driveway at 19554 Highway 175, in Middleton, and was taken to Wasson Memorial Hospital. When the cat first arrived it appeared that the cat might lose his eyes but with treatment and round the clock care he’s improving daily and he’s begun to purr and rub his chin for the techs and doctors.

You might wonder why one of the places we are donating to is a for-profit vet hospital. Wasson Memorial is a very unique. They will not let the extreme poverty level keep locals from getting their animal’s medical care. They don’t turn away people who can’t pay; they believe that it can be worked out somehow. Dr. Cannon and Dr. Holmes are deeply committed to their community and created a special fund for the animals at their local Animal Control. You can read about the fund here: http://www.wassonmemorialvetclinic.com/donationfunds.html

We are very impressed that Wasson Memorial is boarding cats who have lost their homes from the fire or who have been found wandering, and they are doing this free of charge. They know that the people in their community who had very little to begin with now have nothing, including their homes which could mean they will never be with their beloved animals again. We are donating to Wasson Memorial because we believe that compassion before cash deserves to be supported.

As of today the fire is only 15% contained. Over 65,000 acres have burnt in that one fire alone. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed leaving thousands of people and their animal homeless. The town of Middleton is completely gone, every structure burnt to the ground.

If you have any information about the owners of this cat call 707-263-5380.

At Cat Faeries we feel very blessed – we’ve got the best customers! And we believe in philanthropy. We are in the process of getting more supplies to help cats and other animals (and people too!) where they are needed most – this is why you shop with Cat Faeries: 1% of our sales go to rescue efforts. In time of disasters like the two fires we order and pay for various supplies to feed and care for cats and other animals.

We’ve hidden the photos of one burnt cat behind this link to the Wasson Memorial Facebook page so that our readers who are children or very sensitive adults won’t have to see them unless they choose too. The photos are dramatic, but the good news is that the cat is getting better every day.

A Heartwarming Kitten Rescue Story from a Customer

Here’s a wonderful charming story about some kittens from our customer Carol…


The kittens soon after they arrived. A neighbor who worked in the old Lincoln Heights Jail found them huddled in a corner. Some of the building was adapted for other uses, but large areas remained empty. He waited for the Mom to show up, but she didn’t—so he picked them up and wrapped them in a towel. They were thin, dirty, and scared. Obviously Mom was having a hard time feeding these little ones. Other cats had been found in the building, too.

He drove around the neighborhood trying to find someone to take them in. The local shelter had told him that they were overwhelmed with kittens and would have had to euthanize immediately. At two weeks old, they would need constant care and feeding, unless Mom or a surrogate could be found.

We needed a team of people to take care of these little guys— they were so tiny, and keeping them warm, clean and fed was a challenge. They were covered with dirt and fleas. And they had never seen humans before. But soon, they were thriving. And we all developed a deep respect for cat moms— we needed several people feeding around the clock to approximate the love and care of one Mama Cat.

Clio liked to help mix up their baby formula.

At six weeks, they were tearing around their playground. They all grew up to be beautiful, loving kits.