Since starting as a volunteer at the SPCA a few months ago, I have noticed a surprisingly high number of cats who spend there time lying in litter boxes. I don’t know why. The pods at the SPCA are about 100 square feet with plenty of vertical sleeping areas. Perhaps it is a reaction to stress. Considering there are between four and eight cats in each pod and the pods are constantly changing as cats come and go, I can understand why it would be stressful, especially for the more timid cats.
Since today is National Cat Day, a day to raise awareness of homeless pets, I thought I would share some recent pictures I took while volunteering at a local SPCA in Largo, Florida. Most of these cats are very friendly and still available for adoption. If you don’t live near me, I’m sure your local shelter has plenty of cats that would love to share your home with you.
As you can see, many cats need a home and the pictures shown here are perhaps five to ten percent of the shelter’s total.
Lately, my wife and I have considered adopting a female cat to help keep our boys in line but we are currently two cats over our legal limit so I don’t know what will happen. If we do decide to adopt, one possibility is the cat shown below. Forgive the quality but I couldn’t get a decent photo of her face because of low light and too much movement.
This girl came to me as soon as I walked in. She got on my lap and purred up a storm. I was a bit concerned because she was practically skin and bones. When one of the shelter employees saw this she said, “Wow, Mama Girl is coming out of her shell.” This surprised me for two reasons. First, out of several cats in the pod, this one seemed the most outgoing and affectionate. Second, I thought she was still a kitten. How could she be a mother? I was told she was about a year old and had already had a litter of kittens.
I expressed my concern about her weight and the employee said she would make a note of it and watch her. If she didn’t improve they might have to remove her from the pod and isolate her. I hoped that wouldn’t happen but sometimes a bully cat can keep another cat from eating. She brought her a container of wet food and asked me to watch and make sure nobody took it from her, which I did. I then noticed a sore on her front leg which I also mentioned.
I will keep on eye on her for as long as she is there. Hopefully she will gain a little weight. Perhaps if I bring her home Chris could show her how to eat for weight gain.
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.