Going to the Cats

C and TWhen I lived in California, I volunteered at a cat rescue at a local Petsmart that was managed by Cats in Need.   Once a week I would go in during the evening to clean cages, feed the felines their dinner and give them some human attention.   There were typically 6-10 cats ranging from kittens to seniors and the goal was to find them homes.   Adoption events were held every weekend.   I adopted my first cat from Cats in Need, a senior tuxedo named Claude that cancer took almost exactly a year after he come home with me.   You can read about him in Friend for a Year.  When we moved to Utah, I adopted another tuxedo, this one only two years old by the name of Tyson.  You can meet him here.  Like all the tuxedo cats I’ve known, Tyson has a lot of personality and loves … sometimes demands … attention.  I love him.

BFASIt was always my plan to find another cat rescue to volunteer at in Utah, but because of the COVID pandemic and my wife’s breast cancer, I put it off.    When the pandemic had subsided (temporarily as it turned out) and my wife’s treatment was done, I began looking for a place to volunteer.   What I found was Best Friends Animal Society, a national leader in care for homeless animals and in the quest to make all shelters no-kill.   In addition to a huge animal sanctuary in Kanab, I found that they had a Lifesaving Center located in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City.   The center includes a kitten nursery, a spay/neuter clinic and a boutique-style pet adoption experience with adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from other No-Kill Utah Coalition partners. Their very nice website offered opportunities to adopt or foster cats and dogs, donate, and yes, volunteer, so I filled out an online form.   Within hours I received a reply – an invitation to schedule my first shift online of course … after completing several short online courses (with tests).

In order to begin Cat Care, I had to volunteer for the cleanup crew 3 times, which I did online.  Each shift was two hours and included washing and disinfecting food containers and cat carriers and doing laundry, which included blankets, cat toys, towels and mopheads.  Best Friends is a fairly large facility, housing I would guess 40 to 50 cats so there is a lot of laundry.    I took several online video classes on the specifics of cat care at the facility, including special care to avoid spreading feline diseases, to which kittens are particularly vulnerable.  Then I served a couple of Buddy shifts with Marylyne, an experienced volunteer who taught me the ropes, which included cleaning and sanitizing of holding spaces in order to maintain the health and well-being of the cats.  Cats that are sick are segregated to separate spaces and require additional precautions during care, such as wearing of gowns and shoe coverings.  Complete medical care, including spay and neutering, is provided for everyone.  Each cat has a worksheet listing special need (like prescription foods) and space to record observations about the animal.

So, now I have a regular Cat Care shift once a week, Thursday mornings at eight am.   A shift is theoretically 2 hours but it normally takes 3 by the time we clean and sanitize the cat holding spaces , scoop and clean litterboxes, refill or replace food and water bowls as needed, remove and replace soiled bedding and launder the old bedding; clean and sanitize floors and hard surfaces; clean or replace toys as needed; and clean and put away all tools and supplies.  It is tiring for a 77 year old cat lover (I usually need a nap when I get home) and I don’t get as much time to visit cats as I used to at Cats in Need.   But it is so rewarding to work with a group of people that love cats as much as I do and to see so many new arrivals, some so scared or sick it’s hard to imagine them finding a home, finding their way to homes or foster care.   When we take in a group of kitties scheduled to be euthanized elsewhere, my heart smiles.  Every week when my shift is done, I still spend some time just visiting kitties that seem to need some love.   And I text a few pictures to my wife, daughter and granddaughter.  Here just a few:


If you would like to learn more about Best Friends Animal Society (or make a donation), you can do so on their website, here.  As for me, I will be Going to the Cats as long as this old body lets me.

Explore posts in the same categories: cats, pets

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One Comment on “Going to the Cats”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Of course you know I love this post!! We should meet at Kanab for a couple of days.

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