Mar 262018

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.

Cages at the shelter

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.

Feeding the cats at the shelter

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.

Melody at the shelter

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.

Scooping litter boxes at the shelter

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.

Laundry at the shelter

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.

Folded blankets and towels at the shelter

After the laundry is washed and dried, it’s folded and stacked on shelves for future use.

The floor is swept

The floor of the cat room is swept…

The floor is mopped

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.

This is Melody

You met Melody earlier when I was trying to clean her cage. Now she gets that attention she craves.

Handsome Nathan

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.

Nala is new to the shelter

This pretty girl is Nala. She’s new to the shelter and is still getting used to being there.

Nala getting head scritches

Spending extra time with the “newbies” helps them adapt better and become more comfortable with their new surroundings.

Cats at the shelter

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.

  53 Responses to “My Experience as an Animal Shelter Volunteer”

  1. I’m glad you’re able to help those kitties in their quest to find their forever homes.

  2. How cool that you do that! We’re happy that Melody, Stormy and Yuki got homes and we hope the others do too.

    The Florida Furkids

  3. It’s great that some of those kitties got to go to new homes–and how great that you get to help them out too! 🙂

  4. Thank you for helping out those sweeties, they are all adorable and super special!

  5. Thank you for volunteering and for sharing photos of these lovely kitties!

  6. This was a pawesome post and you are to be commended for all of the good that you do! My step daughter manages Almost Home in Southfield. She volunteered for many, many, many years and they eventually hired her. Volunteers at Animal Shelters have an extremely hard job but the work they do is so appreciated! You rock!

  7. What an awesome post! Thank you so much for volunteering at your shelter. It is hard, hard work that fills your heart. That’s what we learned when we used to volunteer regularly at our shelter. Yippee for adoptions, especially for your FIV kitties!

  8. i’ve thought about volunteering at the shelter that i adopted the boyz from. this is helpful info…

  9. You are a real cat angel! We hope others are encouraged to follow your example.

  10. I’m so glad you finally did this post. Volunteering is rewarding and every shelter is so different with different jobs. Something for everyone 🙂 Especially glad the panther cutie Melody got adopted

  11. This is Pawesome, we hope others are encouraged to follow your example. God bless

  12. Oh my mouses, those kitties keep you busy, but it’s a REALLY GOOD kinda busy, for sure. Our shelter – the one the peeps help – is kinda far away, so Peep #1 helps in other ways like bake sales and plant sales and stuff. Shelters always need help fund-raisin’, too. PURRS.

  13. You’re so pawesome for volunteering! It’s great that your shelter has such a high adoption rate – that makes us so happy!

  14. I really enjoyed reading your story. I volunteer at The Cats Protection in Scotland. I was called the Cat cuddler as you can imagine I gave love and care to the cats. I groomed them. Played with them. I just loved helping out so I would empty litter trays wash down walls if a cat was sick. It is really such an rewarding job.

  15. That’s a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

  16. Thank you for this wonderful post…and your shelter for being such a top notch facility with all the excellent volunteers.

    Do your Wally, Ernie and Zoey react to your smell when you come home from volunteering?
    Hugs madi and mom

    • I’m careful when I come home and change my clothes right away so the cats don’t have the opportunity to smell strange cats on me. So far, they don’t seem to react.

  17. That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing all that you do. Wonder how the dog volunteers feel about cleaning litter boxes? MOL

    • They have to wash the boxes that get really gross. I don’t envy them. But then, you should see some of the blankets we get from the dog room that need laundering. Talk about gross!

  18. YAY!! We love hearing about everyone’s experiences with volunteering. It may not be for everyone, but it is so very helpful. We are glad your mom is helping out!

  19. My human says that helping out at the shelter is a LOT of work! But the kitties need it, and it’s so worthwhile. Oh, and the laundry never seems to stop!

  20. What a pawsome post ! Paws up for what you do for your shelter and for the kitties ! Claire wishes she had more time for doing this ! Purrs

  21. I never realized how much laundry and towels and such were required.

  22. guyz…..kudoz two yur mom and all thoz who helpz out at shelterz; we noe itz knot an eazee job; mentally ore physically; but we all sew noe how awesum it iz TWO see a pet goez two ther foreverz ~~~~~~~ 984 pawz up timez a bazillion two ewe all ♥♥☺☺

  23. Thank you very much. I always wondered what it was like. I have another question to ask but I feel that I shouldn’t do it here.

  24. Oh what a wonderful thing to do. I have always wanted to do that but I know I would bring too many of them home and the inn here is already full. Thanks so much for doing that and helping the cats so much. You are a good person.

  25. A big THUMBS up to you and your work! I volunteered for a number of years as a “cat socializer” when I had just one cat (Tucker). It was rewarding work, though sad at times–once there was a cat who didn’t do well in the cage and eventually bit someone, and she was later euthanized. 🙁

  26. Smart post, Island Cat Mom! So terrific that some kitties were adopted so quickly!

  27. What a wonderful inside look at shelter volunteering! I definitely want to one day when I don’t have as many obligations at home. Melody sure did make a mess, didn’t she? An FIV positive kitty just got adopted at our local shelter last week too.

  28. I know this must be rewarding, Sue. I would want to bring every one of these cuties home with me. Nathan looks a lot like your Zoey. Hugs, Janet

  29. It’s so wonderful for you to volunteer to help the kitties at the shelter! Our mommy cries in the parking lot before even going in so we know she’d be bringing cats home if she tried that. She’s a big wuss.

  30. I think it is wonderful that you volunteer, thank God for people like you. I do not volunteer because I would have 50 cats instead of 12 if I did. I do mane crocheted toys that are sold at the vet and all the money goes to a local shelter.

  31. Thank you for volunteering and giving us a tour. Great to hear they have a high adoption rate!

  32. WOW I really admire what you and they all do. I don’t know if I could. Glad to hear the adoption rate is high — and I am a little in love with Melody!

  33. This shelter looks like a nice facility. You and the other volunteers work hard taking care of all the kitties. I think it’s really, really great that you do this. I really want to as well and had my heart on volunteering at Tabby’s Cat Sanctuary. They’re a little far but I was still going to it. However, we have some big changes coming up and most likely will be living a lot farther.

  34. Angelique’s momma has volunteered before – my momma would be bad and want to take all da kittehs home!

  35. Oh, you wonderful saint of shelters. How lovely it is what you do with these sweet abandoned animals. It is heart-wrenching to see so many unloved and left to survive on their own. It’s humans who need cages, sometimes! Thank you for being such a kind and generous person and for snuggling all of these adorable kitties. And the work it takes is overwhelming. We donate when we can and it is to shelters and animal protection.

  36. Great post!

    Well done for volunteering. We’re so happy that those lovely kitties got adopted!

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

  37. What a great post! How wonderful most of FIV and FeLV kitties have found home as well as others. Thank you for helping those precious animals. xo

  38. How nice you are to help all those nice cats feel good and get new homes. Purrs.

  39. I’m happy to report that just in the last couple of days, Possum and Darla have found their forever homes!

  40. Bless your heart. And, every one of those who do this, as well as every cat who must be there. HUGS.

  41. It looks like a lot of work … but I bet the end makes the rest of it worth it. So many wonderful kitties!

  42. Volunteering at the shelter or at the fix your ferals is our mama’s dream. No time right now because aside from working full time she also takes care of our elderly human grandma – she can be a handful.

  43. Thank you for volunteering and making such a difference in these cats’ lives. It is a lot of work but I’m sure it is very rewarding. I have worked adoption days where we used to live but need to find an organization here to help.

  44. Mom Sue, we really enjoyed learning about your volunteering experiences! We have volunteered for many years at our local shelter, and find that the incredible rewards far outweigh the effort and time we devote to the cats there. Thank you for doing what you do. We (and the kitties you’re caring for) love and appreciate you!

  45. You lucky devils working in and around kitties. The work is hard but so satisfying. Sue you are an angel without the whiskers and wings. Thank you for your work with the kitties.

    Jean and Shoko

  46. Great post! I hope it inspires others to start volunteering at their shelter. Just this past weekend I went to the grand opening of the new county shelter here. I hope to be posting about it later. That’s great that your shelter has been able to place many of the FIV and FeLV cats! I love seeing the different setups at the various shelters. Looks like you have a good one!

  47. Mee-you Lady Sue thee next time LadyMum winess about doin a load or 2 of laundry mee goin to show her thee fotoss here of thee laundry! So much laundry an so much to do fur thee katss an doggies….yur an angel to volunteer at a shelter!!
    444 pawss uppy!! Siddhartha Henry =^,.^= & LadyMum 🙂

  48. What gawjus kitties. And what a nice clean shelter. That Nathan looks a lot like Zoey. Fanks fur helpin’ the kitties. Big hugs

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

  49. Thanks for sharing your day with us! I LOVED reading about what you do and the cats in your care!
    Love Barb

  50. I love that you shared your experience, and it’s so great that you do this. It looks like such a bright, clean, and well-kept shelter, and I’m sure that’s thanks to you volunteers!

  51. You are a kitty-shelter hero! Thanks so much for doing that!

    Petcretary doesn’t do that kind of thing, but she does bring things like food and supplies to our vet who has a shelter behind his practice for FIV and other considered not adoptable kitties. (Froggy’s Pond).

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