My first idea to help out at the animal shelter was to just sit and spend time petting the cats -- just helping to socialize them, while giving me the pleasure of being with them.
However, when I learned that there are 80 cats at the shelter, it seemed only right that I should help out with some of the daily maintenance chores.
So when I go, I am assigned to a room that can house 6 to 9 cats. And for each of those cats, I clean out the litter box, refresh the food and water, wipe out the living area, and sweep the floor.
While I perform these tasks, I talk with the kitties, and get to know them. Each one has a written description on its cage telling the age, the likes and dislikes, and the reason for it being there at the shelter. Some have been left by owners who had to move, or who went into nursing homes. Others are strays brought in from off the street. All of them have been checked and monitored by a vet, and have been neutered.
And, of course, every cat has its own special personality.
There is the brother and sister team of Sebastion and Sherrie, two big and beautiful white and grey striped cats whose owner entered a nursing home. They are 10 years old - and they can only be adopted as a pair -- not to be separated. If I sit in a chair, Sebastion will quickly jump onto my lap, curl up comfortably, and start to purr. (Sherrie is content to sleep in one of the cubbies in the room.)
I learned today that they have been adopted and will be leaving the shelter next Wednesday. Apparently a bunch of volunteers have been coming in to the shelter during their off hours to say a final good-bye to these two sweet cats.
The one cat that caught my eye was a new entry to the shelter the week I started. His name is Gomez, and he is mostly white, with a few black spots. The first time I saw Gomez, he was lying in his dirty litter box, with his head resting on its rim, looking out very sadly, with one weeping eye. He is 3 years old- fairly young still, and he was left there because his owner had to move out of state.
I looked at him, and called his name, and he responded with a very low-energy squeak. Every time I spoke to him, he would squeak in response.
I love a cat that talks. Both my own kitties would answer me when I talked to them. They both knew their names and would come running to me like puppies whenever I called them (that is, unless we were on our way to the vet, in which case, they would both run and hide in the cellar.)
Anyway, today I was in Gomez's room, and it was a pleasure to see how well he has adjusted in only a couple of weeks. The folks at the shelter have given him a second empty, clean litter box with a soft towel in it so he no longer hangs out among the litter.
Also, he now will get up and play with toys and move around. His eye seems to be drying up. And he still talks to me. Also, when I pet him, he started to purr. (I think he purrs and talks in Spanish.)
This two-hour weekly commitment that I have made is turning into a real labor of love for me.