Okay, so maybe that title is a little too emotionally-charged. But anway.
I volunteered at the Humane Society near my house today. Let me tell you, I’m on the verge of theoretical tears as I type this. I volunteered in the cat room today, and now all I want to do is adopt all of the cats in that shelter and cuddle and love them unconditionally for the rest of each of their feline lives. I will definitely be going back to volunteer again, hopefully soon, and for many years to come.
There was a particularly heartbreaking moment for me when I went into the ‘quarantine’ room – the area for new, sick, or otherwise compromised cats – where a particular cat resident had just had kittens. They had just opened their eyes, and they were so tiny and helpless. What’s even sadder, is the fact that those kittens will probably be adopted as soon as they are available, bu the mother will most likely be left behind.
I think about all of the elderly cats – 8, 9, 10, 11 years old and older – that have next to no chance of leaving that shelter. Kittens (and puppies as well) have such a huge chance of being adopted, while the older animals, the ones who deserve love and sometimes never get to experience of a family setting, are left at the humane society. The closest they will ever get to a loving family is the life they live at the shelter. They are loved at that shelter, but it is a different kind of love than they would experience if they lived in a home.
As I sit here with my very lucky dog beside me, I am grateful that he is safe and loved. It is sad that so many animals will never know the love that he does. I know some people would say that it is silly to think this way about animals when there are so many people out there who have been abandoned, abused, or are suffering, etc., etc., but I guess this is a different kind of concern than that. If I can’t adopt children from the foster care system or foreign countries at this point in my life, I’ll take care of animals by volunteering.
There are so many heartbreaking stories. A twelve year old cat blind since birth, cats with feline AIDS, cats surrendered by the family members of a woman who passed away, leaving her five cats behind. A cat who was used for BB gun practice, losing the use of her back leg; cats abandoned and feral. But then there are the uplifting stories. Like the feral cats who, after three months of intense socialisation therapy, are currently up for adoption at the center. The cats who have a nice, warm, padded, loving place to sleep, whether a blanket, hammock, or kitty bed; food to eat; interaction with other animals and humans; and the affection they receive from these sources. I am proud to say that I volunteered at the shelter.
I’m going to share some personal stories about the experience I had at the shelter this morning.
Kodiak is a dark gray, long-haired cat who is very vocal and quite active. He is beautiful, affectionate, and playful. He loves to stick his paws through his cage and tease the workers and volunteers. I had my own experience with the lovely Kodiak – I had my back turned to his cage to empty out his litter pail, when I felt a tap on the shoulder! He gave me a nice little back massage with his paw through the door, it was just adorable. It definitely took a lot of strength to leave the shelter without toting Kodiak away with me. But my mother is allergic to cats, and we have a non-cat-friendly dog, so it’s a no-go.
We had let two fairly new cats, Smokey and Dassy, out of their kennel in order to clean it out and replace food and water. With a little coaxing, Smokey went right back in and parked himself in his favourite spot – the litter pail! However, little miss Dassy was not so cooperative. She scurried underneath a bank of other kitty kennels into a tight corner and refused to come out! We were able to get her out from underneath, but then she ran underneath the other bank of kennels! We eventually were able to recover her and get her back to bed, but it was just funny to see her so adamantly opposed to going back to sleep in her cozy kennel with her best bud!
There were also two cats in a kennel in the laundry room when I was doing the kitty food and water dishes, and one had this peculiar habit if sticking his/her paw out of the cage when they sleep! So cute. There was Baby, a gigantic old Tom cat in the room who loved to be petted and held and loved. Dolly, the kitten who loves to play with as many toys as possible at one given time. Patches, a very vocal and pretty kitty who bats and pokes with her paws but never bites or scratches. Georgie, another big old Tom cat who loves to snuggle and wind between your feet. Sassafrass, who enjoys exploring other kittys’ open cages in search of extra food since she’s on a diet. Hobo George, a beautiful cat whose only flaw – by no fault of his own – is feline AIDS, but he’s friendly as ever. Loretta, who doesn’t like to leave her kennel, another cat who doesn’t like to get up from his kitty hammock, one who likes to perch on your shoulder when you let him out, Trick and Treat, twins who love to wrestle, play and be merry, Merlyn, who is blind in both eyes but has an extraordinary ability to smell and hear you and just wants to be loved. The list could continue on and on; I learned so many quirks about so many different cats – and I was only there for a few hours in the morning.
I have so much respect for the people who work and volunteer at the Humane Society, and all of the others around the country just like them. I hope I can build a great relationship – with the people and the animals – at the Humane Society in my community. I am thankful for what brought me to this organisation: a college class concerning consumer decisions. I am thankful that my dog has a loving home and a place to sleep at night, and I am thankful that I get to help out many, many cats at once, even if I can’t afford to adopt them all.