There are a number of reasons to volunteer at the local animal shelter, but people find ways to talk themselves out of it.
Reasons include: It will be too sad, I’ll want to bring them all home, I don’t know what to do.
If you think it will be too sad, volunteer at a no-kill shelter. When you come back for your next shift and a cat is no longer there, you’ll rest assured he went to a new home.
Of course, the urge is to gather up every cat in sight and make a run for the door, but in reality, cats need a home where they can be the center of attention, not a face in the crowd. Curb the urge by keeping that in mind.
If you don’t know what you can do, present yourself and ask. Volunteers are needed in the office, the gift shop, to scoop litter boxes, socialize kittens and nervous cats, talk to prospective adopters, foster newborns or recovering cats and more. If you volunteer, the shelter staff will find a job for you—guaranteed!
Fostering in your home
“Fostering kittens is one of the easiest, funnest, hardest, emotional, challenging things I've ever done. Kittens are cute, funny and adorable and are such an amazing stress relief. More than one at a time makes it exponentially more so," TheCatSite.com forum member Cesg says. “As I have become experienced with neo-natal kittens, I've volunteered to take on more challenging cases. I've cared for kittens who needed enemas or fluids, and many with URI. The wins carry your spirit through many of the lows.”
One kitten Cesg cared for, Buffy, was so close to death she had to spend the night in an oxygen tank. Today she’s in a home with her two brothers. Cesg was happy to find a home to take all three kittens!
“I've fostered almost 300 kittens in the ten years since, and ended up adopting eight of them. Seven of them are still with me,” she says. “And yes, I currently have five foster kittens as well.”
If fostering isn’t feasible for you due to work hours, family or other pets, take a trip to the shelter to see what’s available. Forum member EmilyMaeWilcha found her soulcat at the shelter. “I spent the last eight years working with homeless cats because of a gray and white tabby domestic shorthair named Wilbur. My sister volunteered at Citizens for Humane Action (CHA), a private no-kill shelter for cats and dogs. I tagged along. I cleaned cages and doled out food, water, and litter. Wilbur had tested positive for feline leukemia. The first time I held Wilbur, he purred and licked my ear— it was love at first sight just like the movies. I waited more than five months for him to re-test negative twice.” She tells of one of her favorite experiences at the shelter, “I heard another volunteer tell a cat you're going home!” The cat was blind and not expected to be adopted so quickly.
Harry was a cat who spent way too long in the shelter and it began to affect his personality. Those who had known him from the beginning, though, knew he was a good boy at heart. At the last minute he was fostered and had a room to himself. That respite from all the commotion of the shelter was just what he needed—and the timing couldn’t have been better, says forum member Draco. “A Christmas Miracle happened. An email from the coordinator announced that Harry has found a forever home! An elderly woman had just recently lost her feline companion, and she was more than happy to take Harry into her home as an only cat.”
The foster who took Harry to his home says, "It was one of the best deliveries yet. Those who know Harry know how tough he has had it. When we left him with his new mom yesterday, he was playing with his new catnip sock puppet and curled up on the couch!"
Don’t have time to even go to the shelter? Tarasgirl06 found a way to help cats in her spare time, from home. She’s on the West Coast (USA), and the shelter she helps is on the East Coast—no worries. A computer makes it all much simpler. She uses social media and an impressive network of contacts to spread the word about cats in danger of euthanasia.
There you have it - all excuses gone! Help from home, behind the scenes, in the midst of cats or at adoption days - the cats need you. You’ll find the rewards more than you ever imagined.