During my last volunteer shift at the shelter, one of the kittens fell asleep on my lap.
I had other cats to visit so I couldn’t stay there all day but I was also hesitant to move and wake him up. Since I had already been in that pod for quite some time before he fell asleep, I decided to let him sleep for five more minutes but then I had to move on.
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.
Okay, maybe Berry is not really a wonder cat but he is quite the love bug. Barry had one eye removed a week ago and the last time I looked he was still available for adoption. If you live in the Tampa Bay area you can’t go wrong with such a loving cat.
Berry is available for adoption at the SPCA in Largo, Florida. Check out their listings for cats here. If he is no longer on the list that means he was probably adopted.
I mostly stopped volunteering when I got my lastest job early in the year. It was supposed to be part-time, about twenty hours a week, but the other part-time employee quit and it quickly turned into about thirty-five hours a week. I did manage to squeeze in a day here and there but then we went to West Virginia for two months.
Things have slowed down at work lately and it seems I might be able to consistently get Fridays off so I signed up for a shift last Friday. When I got there I noticed things had not changed much. Cats still needed homes and people still came around looking for cats
There were a fair number of kittens as well as adults cats. It seemed there were a lot of very friendly black cats that day.
There was also a Siamese kitten there.
I texted Rose his photo and she wanted me to adopt him but several minutes later someone came in with his paperwork wanting to adopt him. When a person wants to adopt a cat they take the cat’s paperwork to the adoption office. I imagine these people grabbed his paperwork so nobody else would take him and then wondered around the shelter in case they found a better option.
The Siamese was part of a group of kittens that were very cute and funny. I learned later they were all from the same litter even though only one was Siamese. I know a litter could be from more than one father so maybe that was the case.
While I was standing outside the cage talking to someone, one of the kittens climbed up the door and poked me in the back to get my attention.
Later I saw the same black kitten climb up the door but this time he had a copycat.
The Siamese cat climbed all the way to the top of the door.
I was worried he might hurt himself jumping down from that hight but I had to wait for him to get above the door so I could open it. Once inside I pulled the bench over to stand on and then had a hard time separating the cat from the cage.
The friendliest cat in the shelter and the one I most wanted to bring home was Berry.
Berry had a bad eye infection that the vets could not get under control so they had to remove his eye on Monday. I felt so bad because he was so very much in need of attention. I opened his cage a few times to pet him and he was just all over me. I have a video that I will try to post soon.
Alas, as much as we want to save them all it is just not realistic to think we can adopt another cat, especially since we already have two more than we are suppose to have.
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.
I returned to volunteering at the SPCA three Fridays ago and was pleased that the number of cats had not increased since before I went to West Virginia. Indeed, it may have even decreased.
When I first started volunteering, about a year and a half ago, the shelter was close to full. There are eight pods designed for eight cats each and all the pods usually had between five and eight cats. In addition there are two more rooms that often house either a group of kittens or special needs cats, such as FIV positive cats. Then there is a room that contains about eight to ten individual cages. They call that room “Shoreline” for a reason I am unfamiliar with. There is also another room with about eight more similar cages. These usually house cats that are fresh out of surgery, cats that are on a special diet, or cats that don’t play well with others. I would estimate that there was a consistent number of between 50 and 75 cats at all times.
Then COVID hit and I feared that the number would go up because of restrictions on visitors and people’s general fear of going out. I was wrong. People stepped up and adopted like never before. By the time we left for West Virginia in November there were probably around twenty cats up for adoption.
When I returned there were cats in two of the eight pods and a few in the Shoreline cages. I was mostly happy that the shelter was low on cats but part of me was perhaps a little sefishly glad there were still a few there because I missed being able to interact with these cats.
The following week most of the cats were gone but were replaced by new cats.
I think the only holdover was this orange and white cat.
Yesterday there was a total of five cats when I came it for my shift. I did not get a photo of the tortie but here are the other four. The first two were adopted together while I was there.
While the woman was getting her adoption paperwork finalized someone from medical brought back two more cats that were now ready for adoption. One of them was six-year-old male ginger with the best name ever, “Lasagna.”
The other was a three-year-old female Bengal cat named “Phoenix.”
I was given the heads up about Phoenix and Lasagna before she brought them back so, knowing my wife wanted a Bengal cat, I texted her that a girl Bengal cat was coming. I told her if she wanted her she needed to come to see her right away and bring a carrier. She was excited at first and then was worried that four cats would be too difficult to bring to our other home. She also worried that she might disrupt the harmony in our house.
Indeed, she did some growling and hissing when she first arrived and when I opened the cage to see if I could calm her down she bolted and escaped. It took some effort to catch up to her and bring her back and she did not go back willingly.
Before I left, someone from medical came and brought back Lasagna. I’m not sure why but apparently he was not supposed to come out for adoption yet. When I left there were only four cats up for adoption, the lowest number I have seen since starting there.
This morning my wife changed her mind and decided she wanted to go see the Bengal cat. She asked me if I thought she would still be there and I said, “I doubt it but I will check.” I looked on the SPCA website and saw there were only two cats left and neither one was Pheonix. I checked again now, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, and there are now zero cats up for adoption. This really is good news but now I wonder if I will be needed next week.
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.
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.