Hi everyone! It’s the Island Cat Mom. Have you ever wondered what an animal shelter volunteer does at the shelter? Today I’m taking over the blog from the cats and sharing my experience as a shelter volunteer with you.
I’ve been volunteering at our local animal shelter, the Wyandotte Animal Adoption Center, for almost 2 years. The shelter has two areas…the dog room and the cat room. I spend a few hours one day a week with a couple of other volunteers in the shelter’s cat room feeding the cats, cleaning their cages, and doing anything else that might be needed.
Every shelter is a little different. Some have open areas where the cats wander around and co-live with each other. Our shelter is the more traditional-type where all of the cats are either in individual cages with open fronts, or in what we call “community cages” where several cats live together. The community cages are about 3’x3’ and reach almost to the ceiling with several levels for the cats to access.
When I first arrive at the shelter in the morning, I’m greeted by many hungry meows. The first order of business is to get the cats fed. Each cat is given fresh food and water.
Sara, one of the other volunteers I work with, is feeding Faith and Nathan, two FIV cats that occupy one of the community cages.
Sometimes the cats don’t make it easy for you to clean their cages.
Like little Melody here. This morning she wanted attention more than having the litter that she kicked out of the box cleaned up. Honestly, it’s hard not to stop and give the cats lots of cuddles, but we do have a job to do. And the other cats are meowing…some of them quite loudly I might add…for their breakfast. Play time comes later.
Litter boxes are cleaned out and fresh litter is added. Each cage is wiped out with a clean, damp cloth. It’s up to us to note anything of concern about each cat…like not eating, drinking too much, vomiting, diarrhea, or sneezing. Anything out of the ordinary is recorded on daily sheets for the shelter manager to review and take action on if needed.
Once all the cats are taken care of, we turn our attention to cleaning the cat room overall.
We do laundry. Lots and lots of laundry…blankets, towels, dog and cat beds, you name it. It sure piles up. The cat room volunteers are responsible for all of the laundry while the dog room volunteers are responsible for washing any dishes, litter boxes, and carriers.
After the laundry is washed and dried, it’s folded and stacked on shelves for future use.
The floor of the cat room is swept…
And then mopped. Carolyn, the third volunteer I work with, pulled the short straw and got the lucky job of mopping this day. We also wipe down all surfaces with a bleach-like solution.
Once all of the feeding, watering, scooping and cleaning is done…then the fun begins. It’s time for those kitty cuddles!
Let me introduce you to some of the cats at our shelter.
You met Melody earlier when I was trying to clean her cage. Now she gets that attention she craves.
Here’s handsome Nathan…one of the FIV cats that I mentioned before. One of the things I’m proud about our shelter is that we’ve been able to find homes for most of the FIV and FeLV cats that come in. Overall, the adoption rate for the shelter is very high.
This pretty girl is Nala. She’s new to the shelter and is still getting used to being there.
Spending extra time with the “newbies” helps them adapt better and become more comfortable with their new surroundings.
These four cuties are Yuki (upper left), Darla (upper right), Possum (lower left) and Stormy (lower right). The cat room has capacity for about 50 or so cats.
While the cats remain caged most of the time, there’s a separate room called the “Meet and Greet” room where we can take individual cats to spend more time with them playing, brushing and letting them be what they are…cats!
Oh and by the way, in the past week since taking these photos, Melody, Stormy and Yuki have all been adopted! Yay!
So there you have it…that’s what I do at the shelter. It may not be glamorous work but it’s fun and rewarding. I know some people say they could never volunteer…that it’s too sad seeing the animals locked in cages. When I first started volunteering, I felt a little like that, too. But once I began seeing the cats being adopted, I realized that I’m helping them…that I’m part of the process of finding them good homes.
Do you volunteer at an animal shelter? What’s your experience like? And if you don’t volunteer, I hope sharing my experience may encourage you to become one.