I have not been volunteering much lately at the SPCA because of my job. I work part-time but I rarely know in advance when I will be off. Usually, I come in in the morning and work until everything is done. Sometimes that is all day and sometimes not. When I do work all day I often have to call the next morning to see if and when I should come in. The shelter likes people to sign up a day in advance but I can’t do that so the few opportunities I have to work I sign up a few hours before the shift starts.
Before Covid I had a regular shift every Friday from 1-4 as an adoption counselor. Back then I had a different job and was able to do that. Now I just go in when I can. Last week I happened to have Tuesday off, which is a day the shelter is closed. I decided to go in as what they call a “Cat Cuddler.” It is what I did when I first started volunteering. The idea is to just pay attention to the cats. Many cats need to have human interaction. I think because they like it, number one, and number two, they become less afraid of humans and more easily adopted. The last one applies to some cats but not all. Some are just naturally social or they come to the shelter already socialized.
When I arrived I went first to the isolated cats, which are cats that just had surgery or cats that need to be seperated for some other reason.
The first cat I saw looked like a Persian, which I have never seen at the shelter before. I opened her cage to get a better photo but she kept trying to escape and wouldn’t stand still.
The shelter was less than half full but there was still plenty of cats for adoption. Many were mellow adults.
There were a couple of black cats that were very friendly. I took many photos of them being friendly but none were good enough to show.
Then there were the youngsters.
This one had a littermate but it was difficult to get a good photo of both of them.
See what I mean.
Both of those kittens were shy, as was this one.
Lying in their litter box is a sign of stress and another reason that human contact is so important.
A couple of the young ones were not shy at all.
Then there were the in-between cats. The cats that were not shy but also not eager to come out for attention.
It was nice to get back to the shelter and I am looking forward to my next opportunity to go back.
I have a couple of part-time businesses where I make most of my income but work has slowed recently and I ended up with too much free time so I decided to get a part-time job. The person working there wanted to semi retire so it was decided that we would each work 20 hours a week or less, depending on how busy it was. I thought that was perfect for me except there was a problem. The other employee quit the day I started.
That left me working almost full time on top of the work I already had. I had no time to volunteer anymore. I decided to quit my position at the Red Cross and I put the SPCA on hold. After about two months a new person was finally hired and I was able to get Friday off.
There used to be a lot of volunteers at the SPCA but since the pandemic it seems many of them have dropped out. When I signed up for a Friday afternoon shift on Friday morning there were no other volunteers scheduled. That has been common for the last year or so (there used to be two or three per shift) which makes it even more important that I go.
This week the shelter was moderately full. Four of the eight pods had cats in them and about another five or six cats in solo cages. While I was there a few more cats and kittens were added and two cats were adopted.
Many of the cats there were very friendly and wanted attention.
One female cat was friendly but was also being harassed by a young male cat so she would alternate between coming out for pets and hiding. He wasn’t fighting with her but he was doing a lot of growling and hissing.
As much as I like the friendly cats, I feel it is equally important to pay attention to the shy ones, perhaps more important. I think the more attention a shy cat gets the more likely he or she will be less afraid of future visitors and thus more likely to be adopted.
For example, this cat is a two-year-old male named Tony. He was very nervous at my presence at first.
But I slowly gained his trust and before I new it he was rolling around and letting me pet his belly.
Another great thing about volunteering is that sometimes you get to watch kittens play, which is more entertaining than most televisions shows.
On anther note, I am having trouble with Facebook and I can use your help. For some strange reason, Facebook has decided that my blog is a threat to the fabric of society and sharing it could be the end of the world as we know it. Basically they think it is spam. I don’t know why they think that, it’s just a cat blog. I tried to appeal the decision but I don’t think real people work at Facebook anymore, at least not in a customer service capacity.
Can you please copy and past the URL of one of my blog posts and try to share it (the Facebook button below won’t work for this purpose). You will get a message that says “This URL goes against our Community Standards on spam.” Just hit continue three times and then “Disagree with decision.” If you actually agree that it is spammy please let me know what you are seeing so I can try to correct it. Thanks.
By the way, the reason I think real people don’t work at Facebook anymore is because about three weeks ago Facebook sent me a notification that there was suspicious activity on my account and I should change my password. I did that and when I logged in I discovered I was kicked out of Facebook marketplace. I know I did nothing wrong so I explained that I might have been hacked and I got a notification from Facebook that they would review it and get back to me within 24 hours. That was three weeks ago and I still get that 24 hour message every time I click on the marketplace icon.
Since I am taking a break from volunteering due to our pending move, I thought I would share some memories from the shelter. Here are three kittens. I do not know if they are siblings. They probably are but sometimes more than one litter is put in the same pod.
These photos were taken six weeks ago so I am sure they have homes by now. If you want to see cute cats and kittens like these on a regular basis, I would recommend volunteering at a shelter. Sometimes all they need is someone to pay attention to the animals there. Bring a coffee with you and it would be like going to a cat café for free.
My wife and I spent a few days in St. Augustine earlier this week. We decided to go there instead of Nova Scotia, where we planned on going until COVID put an end to that idea. If anyone is looking for a good place to go on vacation, St. Augustine is a great choice. If you do decide to visit St. Augustine, be sure to plan a visit to the Frisky Cat Cafe. You won’t regret it.
I noticed it in passing on Wednesday morning as we were heading to Tuesday Morning. Our destination was not important but in this case it sounds funny to say it. I suggested to my wife that we check it out later and on the way back we did just that.
The place is located in a retail plaza at 1092 S Ponce De Leon Blvd. It must be fairly new because when I looked on Google Street View it wasn’t there.
Inside there is a cafe that sells coffee drinks and pastries. I’m not a big fan of pastries so I just got an iced coffee.
The cats are in a separate room and there is a fee of, if I remember right, $10 for an hour-long visit. The fee is like a donation that helps pay for the care of the cats. We paid for our coffees and for the visit and went into the cat room. A reservation is recommended but we came at a good time and didn’t need one. If you do decide to go make sure they are open first. I believe COVID has limited their hours somewhat.
It was well designed for both kitties and humans. I especially like what they did with plain cardboard boxes. I want to do that in my house but I don’t have the room.
The barista soon brought us our drinks and during the course of our visit, we had a chance to talk more about the Kitty Cafe. It turns out she was not just the barista but also the founder of the cafe and the organization that it helps, Small Lives Matter Kitten Rescue. She told us that they help pull cats and kittens from high-risk kill shelters. The ones that are sociable go to the cafe where they can be adopted. The ones that are less sociable will go to Petsmart where they will get noticed more easily.
I do think that having one or two shy cats in the cafe is actually a good idea becase a shy cat in a group of outgoing cats sticks out like a sore thumb. This calico, for example, was somewhat shy and the girl that was here before us was planning on adopting her.
I checked out the cafe’s website and their about page says this:
We are a cause-focused business, which means that our business operates in order to support our cause to save the lives of homeless cats and kittens.
The cat experience fees enable us to pay for housing, medical care, spay and neuter surgeries, food, and supplies for these cats that are looking for a home for life. Using a cat café business model allows us to support Small Lives Matter Kittens Rescue and their work. This partnership provides the rescue with a full-time foster home where the cats may stay and provide the funding to pay for their care.
We need visitors and we will fail without your support.
When we were there, there were mostly kittens in the cafe, which makes sense because it is a kitten rescue organization. Many were very playful.
Some were resting.
Others were just hanging out looking cute.
One little girl paid so much attention to my wife that she decided she wanted to adopt her. The only problem was that we were not only hundreds of miles from home but our next stop was Melbourne to visit Rose’s Dad. It just wasn’t possible to bring a cat with us.
While we were there we enjoyed a few laughs too. How can you not with a room full of kittens?
I think the funniest thing was the interest that the cats showed in my coffee.
It was as if they were addicted to coffee and this was a coffee rehab center.
Another funny incident happened when one of the kittens noticed the cat food container was left open.
Soon, others took notice.
After a good long visit we said goodbye to the kitties and went back to our hotel, but the visit remains one of the highlights of our trip.
If you are planning a visit to St. Augustine I encourage you to visit Frisky Cat Cafe. If you can’t visit, perhaps you will consider a small donation to help them out. If you click here it will bring you to their donation page.
What do you think? Would you visit this place? Have you visited another cat cafe. I’d love to hear what you think.
When I started my shift last Friday at the SPCA, I noticed there were over 25 kittens there. That was the most that I have seen at one time. I took several photos but the kittens were very busy so it was hard to get a good shot. Fortunatly, these two were resting at the right time.
Everybody loves kittens so I am sure they have been adopted by now. It is the older cats that I worry about. Some have been there for too long and need a home.
Several months ago the SPCA was looking for volunteers to help transport animals. At the time, I did not really know what that meant but I thought it would be something that I might like to do so I signed up for it, submitted all the necessary paperwork, and waited. I then waited some more, and then forgot all about it until I got a group email that said they were looking for people to transport animals. I signed up again and this time I was not forgotten.
I went to orientation a couple of weeks ago and learned they were taking in injured and sick wildlife. I’m not sure why but all the wildlife being cared for at that location consisted of just opossums and baby blue jays. I watched as she fed the blue jays and she cleaned and fed the opossums, which are very dirty considering they poop in their water bowls. We then went to a local vet to pick up a baby blue jay.
After orientation I was set up as part of a group in an app called GroupMe. I was also given a carrier, several cardboard boxes and some envelopes in case someone wanted to make a donation. The app is similar to a Facebook group. If someone calls the SPCA and says they have an injured animal, it will be posted to the group along with the address and the caller’s phone number.
At around this same time my wife got sick. She had a fever of 102 degrees and very bad headaches that no amount of pain killers would alleviate. She also had other minor symptoms that caused us concern. We wanted to get her tested for COVID-19 but it turned out to be very difficult. CVS was completely booked and other places did not answer their phone. We drove to a testing site at 9:00 a.m. one morning that didn’t require a reservation but there were about 50 people standing outside in the hot sun in close proximity. Rose was already sick, there was no way we were going to stand in line with a bunch of other sick people.
We then went to Tropicana Field where they were doing drive-up testing but they, we learned later, only did 350 tests per day and were already closed. This was on a Monday. We eventually learned that you have to sign up on CVS’s website just after midnight because they only have three days worth of appointments and midnight is when they add the next day. So we set an alarm and just after midnight we made an appointment for that Thursday morning.
My wife was very sick for about three days and then she improved significantly over the next few days after that. By Thursday the fever and headaches had diminished but we still wanted to get her tested. Actually, we needed to get her tested because even though I never got sick, I was exposed to what she had and I didn’t want to spread it, so I felt compelled to cancel my shift as a cat counselor, cancel my shift with the Red Cross and not take any animal transport calls until the results came back. I was also not allowed to go to work during this time.
When Rose took the test they said it would take 2-4 days for the results. They then changed that to 5-7 days. She got the results back on Sunday evening, over 10 days later. The test came back negative.
Rose and I were actually hoping for a positive test result. I know that sounds weird but considering that Rose had already recovered and I never got sick that would have meant that neither one of us needed to worry about this disease again for a while. Instead, we ended up back in the same boat that we started in.
A negative test result was also good news because it meant I was able to get back to work. I signed up to work in the shelter on Friday and I started paying attention to the texts so that I could get started transporting animals.
Friday morning, as I was getting ready, I noticed a text that said “Rabbit at…” And gave an address and a person’s name and phone number. I replied that I could get it and quickly got dressed and left. I called the number as I was leaving and the man that answered gave me instructions on how to get to his apartment. When I arrived, he met me there and showed me where the rabbit was.
He was just sitting there eating grass (I say “him” only because it sounds better than “it”). At first I wondered what was wrong with him but as I got closer I could see that his fur was missing in several areas on his body. I had brought a carrier with me and I grabbed a towel from my car. I put the towel over the bunny and gently picked him up and put him him the carrier. I probably should have photographed him first but I didn’t think about it until I got to the car. By that time it was too difficult to get a good photo. The photo I did take is not worth sharing.
I drove the rabbit back to the shelter but I think they needed to bring him to another building so someone could examine him so they just gave me another carrier and I was on my way.
That afternoon I was back at the shelter working as a cat counselor. It had been a couple of weeks since I had been there so most of the cats there were new to me. There were also several kittens as well. Two kittens were adopted as soon as I arrived.
This one was very friendly and let me pick him up and hold him.
This calico was also very friendly but she was not a big fan of being held.
Then there were these cuties.
There were more kittens but my phone’s battery was almost dead and I wanted to conserve energy.
While I was there, a woman asked me about a certain kitten. She said it was white with black ear points. I thought maybe she was talking about a Siamese kitten but there was no kitten like that, at least not in the adoption room.
She then told me that her roommate found it under a truck’s axle when it was about four weeks old. They brought it to the SPCA because they didn’t know how to take care of a kitten that young and because they didn’t know if it would be safe to bring it home since they had an older cat in the house.
They wanted to adopt the cat but normally you can’t turn in a cat and then have it back. I think since this was a special circumstance and because it was never their cat to begin with, she was told to come back in four weeks when the kitten was old enough to be fixed and adopted out.
Coincidentally, my wife texted me this photo the evening before while she was at the hairdresser with the words, “I want her.”
She told me her hairdresser fostered cats for the SPCA. It suddenly occurred to me that this might be the same kitten so I took my phone out and showed her the photo. She agreed that the kitten looked similar but her kitten was a boy and this was a girl.
We talked to one of the employees who did some research and found out that the kitten was being fostered and the name was “Ewok.” I texted my wife and asked what the kitten’s name was that she wanted and she said “I think her name is Opal.” That pretty much settled it. These were two different kittens. Or were they?
When I got home Rose asked me why I wanted to know the kitten’s name. I said because someone was looking for a kitten named “Ewok.”
“Ewok was her name,” Rose said, “but she (meaning the hairdresser) didn’t like it and changed it to “Opal.” Mystery solved.
I guess this woman is not going to get the boy she was expecting but I’m sure she will be happy. Rose is disapointed but she did the right thing by giving up the kitten to the people who found her.
The SPCA announced recently that they were allowing the volunteers to come back. I took that opportunity to trade my 4-7 shift on Thursdays for a 1-4 shift on Fridays. This means that I will be volunteering at the same time I am on call at the Red Cross but I have gone on two calls in six months so I thoght it would be no problem.
When I walked into the cat room I noticed that all of the pods were empty, at least all that I could see.
I thought maybe they moved the cats and didn’t tell me but as I continued I saw a pod with four cats in it. I was pleasantly surprised to find seven of the eight cat pods empty. The next room has the smaller cages where cats are kept in isolation, either because they are recovering from surgery, they have a special diet, or the don’t play well with others.
There were four cats in that room, including a very friendly black cat named Sassy who had a skin condition from a flea allergy. I took her photo but it is too blurry to post.
There were also six kittens in the room in three separate cages, probably separated by litter. There were two black kittens that I failed to get pictures of. There was also a single gold and white kitten who was curious but shy.
Then there was three kittens together in one cage, a ginger boy and two females including one tabby and one tortie.
The ginger kitten was the most outgoing of the three and would come down from the shelf for attention.
The four cats inside the pod were pretty shy except for a white and gold cat named Max.
When Max wasn’t busy catching some rays he was busy looking for attention
While I was there, a man and his two boys came in shortly before a woman. All of them decided they wanted to adopt the ginger kitten but the woman recognized that the man was first and let him take the kitten. Perhaps if he didn’t have two young boys who wanted the kitten, he might have let her have him. Unfortunately, the woman left without a cat.
Another woman, who had been in earlier, decided to adopt an eight year old male Siamese cat named Sage. He was hiding under their homemade cat tree so I had to pull him out and put him in a carrier. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it then but today he is living the good life.
While I was there I spoke with someone about doing animal transports. It is an on call position that I know almost nothing about yet but she did ask if I would be comfortable handling wildlife and mentioned birds of prey and a few others that I don’t remember. My guess is these are animals that are injured and need medical attention but I don’t know. I have an appointment to meet with her at 7:00 am this morning where I will learn more about the job. I think it will be interesting.
As some of you know, I found Chris in 2009 at a shelter that I volunteered for in Myrtle Beach. I left Florida and moved to Myrtle Beach in July of that year because my wife was offered a promotion to go there. I could only find a part-time job so I volunteered at the Grand Strand Humane Society to fill my time. I was not happy there, partly because I didn’t like that all of the 200 plus cats were kept separate in small cages, and partly because we were not able to take out more than one cat at a time and there was no way to know which cats had already been let ot that day and which had not. I did not feel very useful.
After a month or so I left the Humane Society and volunteered for a place called Sav-R-Cats. I liked it there because the cats were kept in groups in larger cages and most were let out into the large community area during the day. Some did not even have a cage and stayed out in the community area full time. I was also able to be more useful there. I set up their Petfinder profile and photographed the cats and put them on Petfinder. I also updated their website and created a brochure for them. In addition, I helped clean cages occasionally when they were at PetSmart, which is where I met Chris.
We moved back to Florida in late 2010. This was after the economy collapsed and I again could only find a part time job so I again signed up to be a volunteer at a place called Suncoast Animal League. I was only there for about a month when I was offered a full time job. I kept my part time job for awhile too so I had to give up the volunteering.
I now have two businesses that keep me fairly busy but also give me a lot of flexibility. I will be losing some of my work next month because the company is for sale so I decided to look into volunteering again. I signed up to be a volunteer at the SPCA many weeks ago. I chose the SPCA not for any particular reason except it is the closet shelter to my home.
After about three weeks, maybe more, I still had not heard back from the SPCA about my volunteer application. That is when Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas. I heard about volunteer crews that were being sent there to help out and I had a strong desire to be part of it. I knew that was impossible. People sent into disasters have training and experience so I decided to start at the bottom. I signed up with my local Red Cross.
About a week later, and within a couple of days of each other, I got a call from both the Red Cross and the SPCA. I did phone interviews with both and then went to an orientation with the Red Cross on Friday and then with the SPCA on Tuesday.
At the SPCA I was with one other new volunteer while we were shown how everything works. Most of the cats that are for adoption are kept in small groups of eight or less. Each group has their own room that is about half the size of a typical bedroom. While it is not ideal, it is way better than small, cramped cages. They do have the smaller cages but cats kept there are either in isolation for health reasons or they new intakes.
We were brought into one of the larger rooms and spent some time interacting with the cats there. There were two young ginger kittens and a black kitten that was a little older.
It was fun playing with the kittens but then we moved to another pod where there were two adults and an older kitten.
Both of the adult cats were loving the attention and the gold kitten was quite playful, when he wasn’t eating. After about ten minutes we realized there was another cat in the room, hiding in the cat perch tube.
This fellow was not exactly exited about us being there. Perhaps he, or she, just needs more time to get used to people.
It looks like I will now be helping out there every Monday and/or Tuesday afternoon. I am also on call tomorrow, Friday, for the Red Cross. I am a little nervous about that since I have had no training and don’t really know what to expect but going out on calls is the training so I also look forward to it.
I understand that many of the calls are for house fires. When someone’s home burns down they are put in a situation where they have nothing. The Red Cross helps by giving them access to money to buy clothes and stay at a hotel. It is only short term help but it is desperately needed and I look forward to playing my part.
I saw these kittens at my local PetSmart on Thursday. It’s amazing how many need homes. The funny thing is, I was most attracted to the only cat that wasn’t a kitten. She is a Russian Blue with no age listed. Too bad I am already over my cat limit.
These kittens are at the PetSmart in Largo, Florida if anyone is interested.