Today was an easy day and went by fairly quick. One of the volunteers came in earlier to start his shift because he had to leave for a Good Friday service. He had already done the morning feeding by the time I got to the shelter at 10:00am. This meant the other volunteers and I could start cleaning already since the cats/kittens had finished their wet food breakfast.
I started off into the back room and then progressed to the laundry room where Cubs was at. He was a complete punk today and would not let me or other volunteers clean his cage. Each time we attempted to the open the door, he would try to use his head and weight to budge the door completely open.
My supervisor suggested that since he’s being noncompliant, if he wants to be held we can try doing that. I stuck my arms out and he moved towards me. I scruffed him and carried him out of the cage like he was a baby. Well…he is kinda like my baby. Boy is he heavy! He must be at least 20 lbs and when he stretched his body out on my lap, his legs were on my knees and his head to my head. I always knew he was a big boy, but never knew he was this big in comparison to me.
He’s a curious boy and loves looking around, but when he started to look up and above the cages I got a bit anxious. I was scared he would dart out of my arms and up above the cages. I scruffed him even harder and he probably knew that I knew what HE was thinking. Then he started looking at the other cats in the cages around him and his tail started to sway side to side. Uh oh, might not be a great sign. He is could be alarmed, excited, or a bit startled. Whatever he is thinking or feeling I didn’t like it and neither did my supervisor. She stood in front of the other cages so Cubs would stop getting so startled. I stared to baby talk him and his swaying slowed down and stopped.
After cleaning, I moved him back into the cage and he was reluctant to go in. I didn’t want to let him go either, but I did not want him to get spoiled. This was one of my longest interactions with a cat. I have never held one for such a long period of time, but it was very fun and fulfilling. I was happy to hold my love, Cubs, and at the same time analyze his every movement. I feel that I am really starting to get to know cats and their body movements! Today was a great success :).
I certainly hope not. I got bit by a cat named Susuki today. She’s a regular at the shelter and can occasionally be sweet but can also be very nippy at times. My supervisor has seen me work with her a few weeks back and Susuki seemed to like me a lot. She was very pleasant to me, so from that time on, my supervisor had me clean her cage each week. This was probably my third or fourth week cleaning her in a row…and she BIT me :(.
Susuki has the habit of not pooping and peeing in her litter box all the time, so her cage smells…TERRIBLE. It is like she aims for the litter box and misses. Poop gets onto the newspaper under the litter box and pee runs down the sides of the litter box. I think they should consider a bigger litter box for her, but then it would reduce the amount of space she would have in her small cage…
I try my best to keep whatever I can in her cage while cleaning so she can have her scent, but it smelled terrible! Her towel was stained (I was sure it was dried pee) and it made me upset. I know no one wants to live in their own feces…so I decided I would change her towels and everything in her cage. I did this the last time and she became calmer after the cleaning. I was hoping it would be the same case today…but unfortunately not.
I wiped down the nasty and dried smear marks in the back of her cage and brushed her with my other hand to keep her calm. I changed her litter and made her a nice plush bed with two new towels. I was able to put almost everything back until I got to the towels. She just would not move and I placed the towels next to her and I somehow must have freaked her out. She bit my wrist! It cut into my skin a little bit and I knew she immediately felt regret because she let go and leaned her head on me slightly.
I immediately went to disinfect because other volunteers had heard that someone earlier in the week had got bitten and they ended up in the ER. It got infected quickly from something in the cat’s saliva and their arm swelled up really bad. I was nervous, but I thought “well now we’ll just wait and see because there is nothing I can do since it has already happened.” After disinfecting I went back to check up on Susuki and she immediately got up to rub her body on the cage door at the sight of me.
I was not mad at her because I understand all animals have their instincts. If they get startled or feel alarmed they will bite as a defense mechanism. I was honestly more upset that volunteers had let her cage get this messy each week. The room she is in reeks of urine and it is all from her cage and the pee
stained dried towels. Maybe she was in a bad mood as a result of her living conditions.
On a side note, here are the pictures of the kittens I had promised last week. Enjoy!
Susan and Lucy
Peter and Edmund
It poured all morning. Lots and lots of rain. But it was just a simple day.
Nothing too exciting happened today. The only excitement was that we have some new kittens today. Peter and Edmund (two siblings white and gray), Lucy and Susan (possible siblings one tabby and one white/gray), Ash (gray/white, dirty not vet checked yet and hard to tell), and Oreo (6-7 week old black kitten). I mean don’t get me wrong, new kittens are super exciting but it was just a simple day.
Peter and Edmund and Lucy and Susan are in the back room. Peter and Edmund are full of energy and love jumping and leaping around in their cage. They are like the bad neighbors who play their music too loud. Their cage happens to be next to Maisha (older black cat who would rather be in a quiet setting) and they startle her a lot. Lucy and Susan are possible siblings who were found together and are absolute sweethearts. They’re sweet, calm, and love affection. Ash and Oreo are located in the laundry room. Ash is a sad story. She/he has not been vet checked yet and is extremely dirty. She/he has an ashy looking colored fur. She looks roughed up (nose is scraped up and one of the ear is snipped). One of the volunteers asked me to hold her while he cleaned her cage and she was scared in my arms and shy. Nonetheless, she wanted me to hold her. Oreo is absolutely the new center of attention. He/she is a kitten, super tiny and super cute. Everyone wanted to hold Oreo.
This made Cubs extremely jealous. He was a bit moody today. Could have been the weather? He stuck his arm out of the cage every time someone was playing with Oreo. People had to turn their back to Cubs when they were playing with Oreo. I tried to comfort him, but after some petting he turned around and laid on his towel.
It is hard to explain this feeling, but today was kind of boring. I felt upset to see Ash in that condition because it reminded me of Bojangles that went to the vet and never came back. I hope this is not the case with Ash. I realized it is important to not get too attached to the cats, especially the new ones because when they are put down…it is hard to accept. I feel I might be unconsciously feeling indifferent to everything today because I’m scared to see another cat put down. I have definitely grown attached to some of the cats…but keeping some sort of distance might be the new thing to learn.
Side note: Pictures of the new cats next week only if you keep reading 😉
This is the week of my Spring Break! I did not think I would look forward to volunteering since it is technically my “week off,” but I was. I missed all the cats, especially Cubs. I was excited to go see him and excited to see how he was doing. I was honestly a bit nervous because I hope he is not cranky again this week because of his cage.
I walked into C.A.R.E. and went straight for the main front room. “WHAT THE…WHERE IS MY CUBS?” I thought. I did not see him in the bottom right cage anymore. It was EMPTY. So many thoughts ran through my head at once. “Did he get adopted?” “Is he sick?” “Am I never going to see him again?” “Is he at the vet?” I walked over to the adoption bulletin and did not see his name up there. This means he is not adopted yet. I walked around and looked in the laundry room and there he was! He was relocated again to a new cage. No carrier in the cage this time. This means his cage is spacious. He is in the laundry room top left cage (you can look at my previous blog to see the picture of where his new cage is). I looked at his pretty green eyes and said “Hey sweetheart there you are.” He walked over and gave me the biggest stretch. I petted him for a few seconds and remembered I was here for all the cats, not just him.
My supervisor was not in yet, so I asked the other more experienced volunteers where I should start. They told me the morning feeding was just done and can check the back room. If they are done eating I could start. This is my first day working by myself. How exciting! Yet…how nerve-wracking… I walked over to the brothers first (Kenny and Edwin) who are in the same cage. I would put them in their play space below the cage before I would start cleaning. They are some playful boys. I had a second thought. Actually, I need some help. I got an experienced volunteer to help me move them into their play space. Two kittens at once are hard to handle. Especially when they are super playful and want to just go off and explore. I was not going to risk them escaping their cage because the back room has a high ceiling and have a lot of shelves where they can get into unreachable places.
Finally, I cleaned their cage in peace without any worries. We usually leave them in their play space until all the cleaning is done in the back room so they could get their play time and exercise for the day. Instead of cleaning the cage next to Kenny and Edwin, Maisha, I moved onto the kitty condos. Maisha was hissing when I looked at her and sitting on top of her carrier. I was a bit scared. She is notorious for being a feisty girl. I might need some help later with her… All the kittens just want to play. Cleaning the kitty condos required some multi-tasking. One hand on them, one hand maneuvering the towel, food/water dishes, etc., and BOTH eyes on them. After all, they are kittens and they are more energetic than anything else. They play bite and then stick their paws out at you for some lovin’. I cleaned Sarah, Panther, Cutie, and Pie’s kitty condos. It was very challenging, but I knew it was time I learn to acquire some independent skills. My supervisor asked if I preferred help or wanted to be alone and I told her I would try being alone today.
YES! Cleaned all the cages mostly by myself…but now time for Maisha. I walked over to her and her eyes are much softer this time. Is she trying to be nice or is she playing a game with me? I opened the cage door just slightly and she darted off the top of her carrier. She rubbed her body against the door as a nice sign, but I had a feeling. She’s trying to get me to lower my inhibition so that I would fall for her tricks. I closed the door and went to get another volunteer for help. Once I closed the door I heard a hiss behind me. The experienced volunteer came over to try to hold her back while I cleaned the cage but she started to swat. It was time for “the glove.” The volunteer got this huge thick glove to hold her back while we worked together to clean her cage. The glove would prevent injuries from her swatting with nails. After some time, we finally finished the whole back room.
Today, I felt great getting the opportunity to work by myself for the first time. I felt I had a lot more responsibility and felt I had more value. It is a lot harder to work alone, but manageable. I had to keep my eyes and mind focused to predict their moves and behavior, but I was able to do it. With any challenges such as Kenny and Edwin or Maisha, I was careful not to risk my safety or their safety by trying to be “brave” by doing the job on my own. I know when to get help and will when I need it. I feel like I am progressing a lot as a trainee. Progress definitely feels good and satisfying. I will continue working hard at the shelter and hopefully my help will soften up feisty cats like Maisha. I noticed after cleaning the cage she was much calmer, but I knew she had many tricks and games up her sleeve. I just need to continue growing and learning from these experiences I acquire each week to provide the best care and love for these cats.
On the other hand, I played with Cubs for a bit while I was waiting for the laundry to dry.
I gave him his favorite green mouse and look what happened…he hugs it like it is his baby. Awe.
Once I figure out how to upload videos…I’ll upload a cute one of him 🙂
My alarm went off and I looked out the window to see a dark cloudy sky. I was really not feeling it today and wanted to call off. I felt sick. All the midterms I had this week and my lack of sleep really contributed to my migraines and runny nose. I snoozed. Twice.
I managed to pull myself together and did not use any excuses for missing my day at C.A.R.E because I have commitment and responsibilities. I know my fellow volunteers would appreciate my presence and so would the cats. I skipped breakfast and managed to get there on time. I knew I was not in the best mood, but I would try hard not to displace it to my job or at anyone.
Once I walked in (back door in the laundry room), I looked at the cage where Cubs was originally kept. I did not see him. I walked into the front room and found him in a new cage in the corner. It was the worst cage of all. It was in my main front room and in the bottom right hand corner. It was dark and stuffy in that spot. I looked at him and he put his nose between the cage bars to ask for some affection and petting. He had a carrier in the middle of the cage and it gave him no room to walk at all. He seemed trapped and upset. He only let me pet him for a few short seconds before he turned away his head. I knew he was definitely not feeling his best today either. I looked at his cage notes and volunteers left notes that were “sweet but moody,” “only wanted out, pushed forcefully at door,” or “cranky.”
I spoke to my supervisor and she was already aware of the problem because another volunteer had already notified her. She told me we can go help him first. We wanted to clean the cage first, but it was a big mistake. Cubs already cranky would not comply and kept trying to push his way out the cage door once we opened it. Now remember, he’s a big boy and he has a lot of strength. Since the cage was so cramped we could not even hold him inside the cage to do the cleaning. My supervisor suggested we lure him into the carrier to clean the cage and then to move things around. We used A LOT of treats and finally got him into the carrier. Since Cubs was safe and secure, my supervisor told me to proceed doing what I need to do. I cleaned his cage, wiped it down, changed his litter, gave him new water, and put some more dry food in the bowl for him. He watched me as I cleaned. I saw the saddest eyes. I felt that he was saying “why did you lock me in here…I really want out.” After cleaning, my supervisor brought in a new carrier. It was still big, but just a tad smaller than the one he was already in. We arranged things around and he would finally have some room. We let him back into the cage and he immediately walked around once to sniff out the new place. He stuck his head inside the carrier and adjusted himself. He stuck his head out and looked pretty content. I said “hey baby, come here” and he did. He walked over to me and rubbed his head all over my hand. Awe.
This was a new experience for me. Helping a cat become more comfortable in their cage and switching things around. I walked into C.A.R.E. not feeling the greatest but left feeling satisfied and content. I helped Cubs and it felt great. I did not realize how animals can greatly affect my mood. Working with all the cats in the front room just made my day today. It was a nice stress reliever to all the midterms I had earlier in the week. (By the way, this was my first day working in the front room, a nice change and worked with cats I have never had to before.) From now on, when I see an upset, hissy, swatty, or moody cat, I am not just going to thing “cranky a _ _ ” (you can guess the word) in my head. I need to remember they are the way they are for a reason. It may not be as simple as just moving things around in their cage (like for Cubs). It could be a deeper problem and will take more empathy and patience to ensure we can help them feel better. It definitely takes time…
On a side note, here are some pictures to show you how C.A.R.E. is organized.
This is the laundry room:
This is the back room:
They call this configuration the kitty condos…
This is the main/front room: (Poor Cubs is in the bottom right corner)
Waking up to find that my car is covered under snow is no fun at all. This meant shoveling the sidewalk and brushing snow off my car. It was a pretty nasty morning…but I was excited despite the weather. I am going to see Cubs today. I was looking forward to seeing him all week.
I walked into the shelter just as some of the more experienced volunteers were doing the morning wet food feeding. I watched them distribute the appropriate kinds of food to the cats and kittens. I walked over to Cubs and realized he was too busy eating his breakfast to notice my existence. He looked up for a slight second and went back to eating. I thought he must not remember me…
I walked around the shelter and I realized my supervisor was running a little bit late. I started to feel kind of lost because I am still a trainee and always depended on her guidance on what to do. I walked into the backroom (the one I started training in/was most familiar with) and asked the more experienced volunteer if I should start cleaning. She told me, “Sure, start wherever you want.” I looked around and wasn’t sure where to start… I started to get butterflies in my stomach. What an exciting feeling…getting to work on my own, but makes me so nervous at the same time…working on my own. I guess working on my own has both its positive and negative side. I told the volunteer I might need a little extra help here and there because I’m still training. She said she’d help keep an eye on me.
I started cleaning the kitty condos (4 cages attached to each other) for kittens. I looked at the notes on all of their cages and realized one of the kittens has a runny eye. I decided I would clean her cage last to prevent spreading any bacteria or sickness she may have. I started with Panther (black female kitten) and she was in a mess! There was an old bowl in the back of her cage with dried crusty wet food in it. This should never happen because each shift is responsible for taking out their wet food bowls. They are never supposed to stay in the cage after their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I immediately distracted her with a toy in order to get the bowl in the back of her cage. I took out her towels and water/dry food rack. I looked and there is NO WATER in her bowl! I got a little worried so I went to the sink to fetch her a new bowl with fresh water in it. I restocked her dry food and cleaned the floor of her cage quickly so that I can put all the bowls back. I grabbed her new towels too because her two bath towels that she uses as a bed was completely soaked through! She must’ve spilled all her water last night. Panther was kind of feisty when I opened her cage and now I know why. She’s dehydrated, has no where dry to lie on, and must feel super uncomfortable. Once I placed the water bowl/dry food rack in her cage she immediately sat in front drinking water for at least 2-3 minutes. Poor baby. Earlier when I first opened her cage she was biting softly on my arm and now she is pushing her head on my arm. I realized she was trying to tell me something earlier with the soft biting— “HELP I’M THIRSTY” and her head rubbing on my arm was her saying “Thanks!”
My supervisor had come in by now and she just told me to continue what I was doing. I felt my tensed up heart relax a little. Finally, my first cage cleaning without supervision. I felt great! I was ready to move onto the next one. I thought it was going to be just the same routine, but it turned out differently than what I had expected. Sarah (female black kitten, Panther’s sibling) only wanted to barge out of the door. She would not let me take out any of her bowls. She was dying for affection! But I had to do my job… I wanted to play with her but just not right now. I asked the volunteer in the room with me to help me out. She offered to hold onto Sarah and to socialize with her while I cleaned. I agreed.
So this experience taught me that things are not as easy as they may look or seem. I thought that because I was able to clean one cage without a problem…it would be the same for the rest…but I was wrong. Each kitten/cat is going to have their own personality and reaction to when you decide to clean them. Especially when you are by yourself…it is a lot more to handle. I need to reassess myself. I was getting a little overconfident that I can work on my own after I cleaned one cage by myself…but I realized I need way more experience.
After cleaning the backroom, I discussed with my supervisor my experiences working on my own. I told her I still need more experience and am not fully comfortable yet. We were talking in the laundry room where Cubs was at and I looked at him. He looked like he was sleeping, but then I saw his head rise up and gave me a stern serious face. I walked up to him and his green eyes looked so powerful and firm, but they softened as I moved closer. He rolled onto his back and stuck his paw out of the cage to reach me. He wanted me to pet him. I put my hand on his paw and he rolled closer to me. He started to rub his head and body all over my hand. I never felt so welcomed by him! I was getting butterflies in my stomach again. I must be falling in love. I sure hope he feels the same way too! My supervisor said he must like me a lot because he’s being such a sweetheart. So I guess he might remember me after all! I petted him for a long time, but I knew I had to stop soon because I would probably end up falling deeper in love with him. His charming green eyes are so hypnotizing. What a cute big boy.
My experience with him confirms that it is possible for abandoned or given-up cats to become affectionate again. Cubs seems to have opened his heart back up for people. I am really proud of him and the volunteers. Each and every person’s TLC helped him open up to humans again. I can’t wait to work with other cats in the shelter to help them make progress just like Cub’s. it is all a matter a time…
Here is my cute big boy.
(On a side note: Cubs lost his neighbor Mr. Bojangles because when he went to the vet that afternoon after I left…he was in a really terrible condition with multiple internal problems and had to be put out of his misery…RIP Bo)
I had a super long day at work, but was looking forward to getting off. This is because I was going to attend C.A.R.E.’s 25th annual appreciation dinner/meeting.
It was my first time seeing a majority of C.A.R.E.’s volunteers. This is because volunteers work on specific days of the week and the people I have met are limited to my shift on Friday mornings. There were about 100-125 people at the annual appreciation dinner. There were volunteers ranging from teenagers to retirees. It was fascinating to see the crowd of people there. Everyone was completely different, but they all shared the goal of helping animals at the shelter.
My guest and I did not know which table to sit at. We randomly chose one near the stage just so that we could hear the speakers when they talk. Everyone we met was so nice and outgoing. Everyone had something to talk about or something to share. There was nothing uncomfortable about this experience because everyone at the table conversed with each other. We talked about what shifts we worked and whether we worked with the felines or canines.
My guest and I met a super cute and friendly couple. For confidentiality reasons, I will refer to them with the initials of their first names “KB.” K happened to be the publisher/editor of C.A.R.E.’s newsletter called “Pawprints.” It was interesting to meet some of the people that run the show or take part in different parts of C.A.R.E. other than the volunteering. After conversing for a while, I found out that KB volunteer together because they both have a love for animals. They asked me if I had a soft spot for any of the cats and Cubs (mentioned in Happy Tails #3) immediately came to my mind. I told them about my encounter with him and they told me he is a complete sweetheart this week. He’s changed from a “cool and stern” cat to a little sweetheart. I was unable to see his progress this week due to some personal events that came up, but I was happy to hear of his progress. This just shows that a little TLC from all the volunteers can get him to open up and show his affection. Hearing of this just makes my role at the shelter feel much more successful and accomplished. I always had the feeling that with a bit of TLC, Cubs would be a much happier fella. I just did not think it would happen this fast. I can’t wait to see him next week and of the progress he is making.
Aside from stories about Cubs… I heard a lot of speakers talk at the annual dinner/meeting. They talked about the progress of the shelter after 25 years of service. They spoke of fundraising events that would happen and goals they had of expanding the shelter. Then they gave thanks to a majority of the volunteers with certificates (volunteers that have been there 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or went above and beyond…). I did not think I would get one…but apparently they give one out to the newest volunteers like me. They said we are the future of C.A.R.E. Being told I am doing a good job where I am at feels pretty good. I feel that when my efforts are being acknowledged it makes me want to work even harder. Even though a certificate is just a sheet of paper…it is like a pat on the back…feels good intrinsically. I hope to stay with C.A.R.E. for as long as I possibly can. I am already looking forward to their next annual appreciation dinner/meeting 🙂 .
Today was an extremely exciting day for me at C.A.R.E. Two new cats have temporarily joined the C.A.R.E. family since Thursday (they still have to pass their vet exam and immunizations). Their names were Mr. Bojangles aka “Bo” and Cubs. Mr. Bojangles is actually a girl, but when she was rescued they thought she was a boy. She is extremely skinny, short haired, and white furred with some tan/ginger spots. She was rescued from an alley in Evanston. Cubs is a big boy and is the size of a small dog. He is short haired with dark gray fur and a white tummy. He was a “given up” cat. His previous owners gave him up because he did not get along with the other male cats. He only got along with the females.
Their stories are somewhat depressing, but it can only get better. As a policy of C.A.R.E., new felines are not given wet food on the day they are taken in; they are only give dry food and water. This is to monitor their diet/health. Since this is the second day they are at C.A.R.E., we were able to feed them wet food for their breakfast. I shadowed the more experienced volunteers as they partitioned the wet food and distributed it to each cage. I watched Bo eat all her food within 5 minutes. She was starving. Poor baby. I watched my colleague clean her cage and she meowed for attention and affection. She rubbed her head against my colleague’s arm and meowed until she pet her. I think she just needs some TLC to get all better.
Cubs was the next one fed and he stayed inside his carrier and did not even get tempted by the sight of wet food. It is usually very rough on the cat when they are given up by their owners. He has an extremely stern facial expression and look in his eyes. His eyes are bright green and he would give off this cold stare. My supervisor told me to pick a toy out for him and I got him a neon green mouse. I observed him for a long time but he showed no signs of weakness. Bo started meowing again so I look at her cage which is next to Cubs and I petted her a little bit. Just as I was doing that, I noticed that in the corner of my eye Cubs placed his paw on the green mouse to claim ownership. He showed some sort of interest in it, but did not want to make it obvious. I realized he must be trying to put up a cold front since he was probably scared of all the new faces. I left the room and I immediately heard him shuffle a bit in his cage. I peaked in and saw him with the green mouse inside his carrier. He saw me peaking from the door and immediately put up his cold stare again. How CUTE this was. All the notes on his cage were “nasty” and “mean,” but I think it is because people haven’t given him the chance! I told my supervisor and we pet him with a scratcher. He rubbed his face slightly on it showing a minor sign of affection. In my opinion, I think he is just a big baby trying to protect himself!
This experience is new to me and it made me extremely excited. I feel like I want to be the one to give a lot of TLC to Bo and Cubs. They both need a lot of lovin’ to get better. This experience shows that even with new shelter felines, a little bit of TLC goes a long way. Even though felines may give off a cold and stern face, they are sometimes pretending to keep themselves safe. This shows how patience is necessary to win the approval or acceptance of the cats. They were heartbroken or have experienced traumatic events and need time to adjust and open up to people again. I feel that today, I made a difference for Bo and Cubs. Even though I am just one person, I helped them and in a way gave them hope. I let them know that things can get better from here. I am optimistic, but I honestly feel that they can sense it too. Cubs was extremely cold at first, but at the end of my few hours at C.A.R.E., there is already noticeable difference in his character.
After having this experience, I will continue to grow on it by providing this hope for all the felines at C.A.R.E. I will provide them with TLC and hope that life will only get better. I hope that both Bo and Cubs pass their vet examinations and get immunized. I can’t wait to see their progress next Friday. I hope to learn more about cats like them and to gain more experiences. Even though these are all shelter animals, I want to try to step into their paws (‘shoes’) and see life from their perspective. I want to learn how I can make their life better and more comfortable. I want to transform their fear into something positive.
I will try to take pictures of them next week if possible. I am not sure how my supervisor feels about me taking pictures. The flash or camera may scare them… Hopefully I can because I cannot wait to share their cute faces with you.
Overslept. Scurrying out the door in my baggy sweat pants and large t-shirt I was off to the shelter. The first thing that came to my mind on my way there is “thank goodness I don’t have to dress nice or I would be super late.”
Arrived exactly at 10:00 AM on the dot. I walked into the shelter and had no idea what would be in store for me today. This would my second day at the shelter and still a trainee. What is there to learn today?
My supervisor and I began to change the water and dry food dishes for the cats in the backroom. Then we moved onto their litter pans along with other volunteers. I was quite familiar with the cleaning process after training from the previous week. We cleaned about 8 cages in record time. All the cats/kittens behaved extremely well and were extremely tidy. No one left poop smears all over the walls or floor. No one spilled their water dishes. No one peed in their towels/blankets. Success! In about three hours, everything was done. Cages were disinfected, laundry is folded, and dishes were cleaned. What a smooth day to the rough morning I had. I guess it is my lucky day.
After finishing my work, I stayed around for a little longer to look at all the cats in the different rooms. There is a front room with cats readily for adoption, a laundry room for new members waiting to be vet checked, and a backroom with a majority of the younger crowd. While playing with some of the cats, I chatted with my supervisor and asked her questions about the training manual she had given me the previous week. She gave me a few pointers here and there about the work I have been doing. She said I need to be more alert because shelter cats are unpredictable and their sweetness can often be deceiving or sporadic. She taught me the lesson that cats at home is different from cats at shelters because of their background. Often times they are skittish and can react negatively to the smallest things. Thus, I need to be more alert of their actions when I disinfect.
This lesson made me understand my role better as a volunteer and the things I need to be more cautious about. I thought I learned most of what I needed to move up from trainee, but I was wrong. There is much more that I need to learn because a manual does not teach it all. Hands on experience are what I will benefit most from.
From this experience today, I realize that people are often times not aware of the responsibilities they have when they own pets. Understanding how to take care of pets takes a lot of time and with insufficient experience can lead to animals escaping the house as a result of carelessness. There is much more to learn outside a manual, especially with being observant and alert. I will work on this lesson my next week.