Tips For A New Shelter Volunteer?

abyeb

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I just came back from my first volunteer session at a local no-kill shelter, and I have kind of a silly question. A lot of cats who are there were born as feral kittens, then socialized at the shelter and adopted out. Some of the cats have been there a while, and are already a year or two old now. They need people to scoop litter boxes, and feed and play with the kitties, which is what I'm doing. I underestimated how hard this would be! My heart aches for the cats who have been in the shelter for several years, even though this is really one of the best shelters imaginable (the cats have floor to ceiling "playpens" with climbing space, no cages with bars). Any advice from seasoned shelter volunteers? How do you deal with the feeling of wanting to take every kitty home?
 

theyremine

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I've volunteered at a no kill shelter for 8 years both in your capacity, as a foster mom and handling adoptions. It's easy to fall for every cat and there are some that will surely steal your heart. But the pretty/handsome/ personable cats will be adopted sooner or later. That said there are the ones that are left behind. I have a soft spot for former ferals and abused cats. I try to get to "know" them and work with them. Then I do my best to try to "sell them" but am quite honest about their issues and needs. I've met some amazing people who have the experience, patience, and motivation needed to adopt and love those "not chosen". Offering continued support and open lines of communication, I've shared the wonderful moment when "he slept with me", "she jumped into my lap", or just "she purred when I touched her", and I knew that cat had found his/her forever home. Once you have that experience, you will feel more hopeful. A two year old cat is quite adoptable.

With time, you'll realize you can't take them all home. If you did, you'd only be exchanging one "shelter" for another. Each one deserves a special home where he/she is loved and cared for individually.
 
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abyeb

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Thanks! Lol, I know that I can't take all the cats home, I just attached to the kitties there, even just after an hour. I just hope that I can help make the cats there feel loved and cared for, until their purrfect new human who can give them all the love. :hearthrob: This was just my first day, so I haven't seen an adoption happen yet, but I look forward to seeing a person find their new furbaby. :catrub:
 

Cat Sidhe

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Hi abyeb!

Are you still volunteering? How it´s going?

I volunteered some time ago and ended every saturday heartbroken and crying my heart out, just for the same reason you mentioned: I wanted to save them all. I had to take a break after moving to another county, but now that I had time to change my mindset to something more positive, I was thinking on volunteering again.

What did you learn from your experience? Do you have any favourite "happy ending" story?
 
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abyeb

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I've been crazy busy, so I haven't managed to get over there in a while. It's been hard though, there's this beautiful cat I fell in love with the first day and I can watch her forever her as she slinks gracefully around her "play pen" and leaps effortlessly to the seven-foot high perches. I can't take in another cat, though, because I would be worried about stressing out my Charlie, whose been an only cat for eight years here. I don't get to work upfront with the cats, like at adoption fairs, because new volunteers are put on litterbox scrubbing duty. I hoped to be able to do more, like working on socializing the feral kittens that come in, but I suppose I will get to do more as I'm there longer.
 

jcat

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The longer you work at a shelter, the more you realize, 1) there are always animals you're going to fall in love with, and 2) there simply aren't enough volunteers to give every furry resident the attention they need and crave. If you adopt the one(s) you've given your heart to, you're going to have less time to give to the shelter animals, and they really need you.

It's a terrific feeling when you run into somebody you placed a pet with or they drop by the shelter to show you photos and tell you all about what's been going on with the pet(s). It means an awful lot when the pet was a feral you helped socialize or a hard-to-place senior with health problems and you hear how they cuddle in bed every night, have a favorite toy they carry around, etc..
 

AmyFluffyMom

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Hi , I started volunteering at my local shelter 6 months ago and it was been the most rewarding experience. You do get attached to the cats, especially the ones that have been there a while. I enjoy the kittens, but the cats that have special needs ,I have a soft spot for. You are making a huge difference even if you only spend 5 minutes with one cat.
 
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