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Volunteers at cat shelters/rehoming centres - it is heartbreaking?

(10 Posts)
Tagetes Fri 16-Dec-16 13:42:05

I will have time to do some volunteer work early next year and am thinking of my local branch of Cats Protection. I have had cats in the past but don't at the moment and for various reasons can't accommodate any, so ownership or fostering is out. So this might be the next best thing. But will it be heartbreaking? Will I see lots of injuries/abused animals? What sort of jobs are available? Will I end up filling my pockets with kittens? I can look at the website but it would be good to hear personal experiences.

Tagetes Fri 16-Dec-16 17:50:18


ittybittyluna Fri 16-Dec-16 18:04:01

A friend of mine did this for a Scottish rescue centre. She adored every minute. After volunteering for a year or so she was in a position to adopt, and chose one of the least adoptable cats and his "best friend".

In terms of duties I think she helped out with the crucial scud work like cleaning bowl, changing litter trays etc. Right at the end of her shift she got to cuddle some of the cats, which obviously was her highlight wink

cozietoesie Fri 16-Dec-16 18:06:43

I've not done it myself but I guess that there might well be some sad stories - but also many uplifting ones to balance out. smile

pinkmagic1 Fri 16-Dec-16 18:18:13

I used to volunteer at a local cat rescue many years ago as a teenager. Work can be filthy and smelly, think of cats with upset stomachs!
There were sad cases but it was rewarding to see an animal go to a new home. If I hadn't have been a teenager at the time I'm sure I would have ended up rehoming lots! Like a previous poster said, there are cases that were very difficult to rehoming. These were often the sweetest most gentle animals and you did get quite attached.

ToEarlyForDecorations Fri 16-Dec-16 18:55:29

I loved volunteering at the SPCA animal shelter when I lived in New Zealand. OK, it was a cleaners job i.e., put the cat in a carry cage then clean out the litter trays, clean the food bowls, replenish the water bowls, sweep and mop the floors of the cage, shake out the cat's blanket.

Tell the centre manager if I found cat sick or runny poo i.e. if an animal was unwell.

Then put clean newspaper down underneath the litter tray/s. Make sure clean litter tray, toys, scratching post in place.

Repeat until all cages are clean and replenished.

Some cats were totally indifferent to me being there. Most cats went willingly into the carry cage whilst I cleaned and replenished their cage before returning the cat to it's cage. Some thought it was play time and a game of escape and evade was in order ! The top of the cages was a favourite because it was a couple of feet overhead and awkward for a person to get to !

We then cleaned and tidied the area where the cages were, bearing in mind the public were coming to see the cats during the centre's opening hours.

We also made sure there was a couple of bowls of fresh water and toys and scratching posts and blankets and beds for the cats in the common area. This was because they open the cats' cages at night in the centre so the cats can play with each other if they wish. There's also more clean litter trays for them so they don't have to go back to their own pen to go to the toilet.

This helps to socialise the cats and make them happier, calmer and easier to handle. Useful if a prospective adopter wants to pick up a cat.

We stroked the cats that wanted to be stroked. It was quite heartening that every week there were a few less cats than the previous week i.e. people were coming to adopt the cats.

There would be an influx of cats sometimes but sometimes a local district was at capacity so we were able to help out.

Cats would be quarantined and not put out for adoption until they were well and neutered. Kittens would not be put out for adoption until they were weaned, wormed, neutered etc. The 'nursery' where nursing mums were nursing their kittens in smaller more intimate pens had toys & blankets on the floor of the room so the litters of cats could have supervised play time. All far to cute of course ! They would stay in their litter in an adoption cage, with a blanket in a basket for them all to sleep in if they wanted to. Plenty of toys and adequate food, water and clean litter tray/s.

However, it wouldn't be long before one by one the cat cages were empty again.

Don't worry if one of the cats has a swipe at you or bites you. I've been bitten and scratched by a cat I've owned over the years. (I remember saying to a cat at the centre, 'please take your claws out of my's good.)

The cat's name and circumstances were sometimes on the door of the cage. One time a long haired cat who liked to be brushed was in. When I had replenished it's cage it was still whining. The I thought, ah, I know what he's asking for. So, I got a cat brush and cat comb from the drawer and gently brushed and combed his fur. He calmed down after that. Good I thought. When I returned the next week, he had been adopted. I got a bit of job satisfaction feeling like I was part of that.

Hope you enjoy it !

P.S. A word to the wise: there's nothing a cat likes more than a clean litter tray. There's something about a newly set out litter tray that reminds them that they need the toilet. Apparently it's a well known fact ! The centre manager said, it's like syrup of figs to a cat !

Toddlerteaplease Fri 16-Dec-16 19:08:42

I transport cats for a specialist rescue. I love it. Love playing with the permanent residents of the rescue and have met some lovely people.

Littlemissindependent Fri 16-Dec-16 21:55:27

I volunteered for a local sanctuary for a long time. Very very rewarding and loved seeing all the kittens and the happiness when a cat went off to a new home. BUT it's not all kittens and happiness. Its heartbreaking to see the ones that nobody wants to adopt sad. It's a lot of hard work, particularly in the winter when it's cold and dark and you're cleaning out what feels like a million litter trays, just for a cat to jump in the second you put a fresh one out! Saw a nasty case of parvovirus which wiped out far too many kittens sad but it's so rewarding and I'd love to go back to it one day.
Also, not good if you're a soft touch like me... Ive ended up with 5 rescue cats!

Botanicbaby Fri 16-Dec-16 22:32:33

I've volunteered before busy workload got in the way and it's very rewarding.

I only did a few mornings per week and cleaned out pens, litter, changing food bowls, water bowls and blankets. I did this in the 'homing' pens eg the cats who have been seen by vet and ready to be adopted. I also got to cuddle and brush some, any time you give is good though you do have to be reliable and consistent.

The permanent and experienced staff looked after the incomers, I think they are not all strays and poorly though of course they have those too. They also looked after ones in maternity pens, ones needing specialist care. I'm in awe of how amazing the cats protection staff truly are.

It really helps them having an extra pair of hands. I doubt you'd be subject to distressing things too much and yes to PP who said you feel for the cats still there after weeks/months of not being adopted.

after several months of working at rescue centre I adopted one who had been overlooked and I wouldn't be without her for a minute smile

Tagetes Sun 18-Dec-16 07:41:52

Thank you all for your kind responses. It sounds very rewarding. I will wait until the new year and contact the centre manager. -And make sure the old cat bed is still in the loft just in case-

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