Falling in Love in the Feline Suite

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Photo by Kim L.

The feline suite is a “real-life” room upstairs where cats go to take a break from the stress of shelter living. There’s a small couch, a big window with a screen that lets in fresh air, a giant cat tree (donated) and shelving that scales the walls. It’s a cat’s idea of a cruise vacation.

The feline suite is a great place for people, too. I go up there sometimes to catch a snooze or much-needed rest, play one-on-one with a cat, and snuggle. It’s a great place for two volunteers to go and chat, and most importantly, it’s a place where potential adopters can see cats in a more natural home-like setting.

Continue reading “Falling in Love in the Feline Suite”

A Cat Saleswoman: Working in Adoption

Charlie_Liz_8-8-11A Hypothetical Situation

I walk over to the couple who are peeking at the animal inside a cage. The cat’s arm reaches out and paws at the man’s fingers.

“Are you looking to adopt a cat today?” I ask.

The answer is either something like, “No, we’re just looking,” in which case I smile politely and say, “Okay, let me know if you have any questions” and walk away. People sometimes just want to look a cute animals, and that’s fine. Or, the answer is, “yes” and that’s when I kick into the role of Car Saleswoman. Or rather, Cat Saleswoman.

My job when volunteering in the adoption center of an animal shelter, is to play match maker for humans and animals. I want adopters to walk away with a feline that is the right fit for their home and lifestyle, and has the least likely chance of being returned. (Yes, even shelter animals have a return policy.)

Yet, as much as the job is like setting two people up on a date, it’s also a lot like selling a car. I find myself using many of the same techniques, except that the “product” I’m selling is a living, breathing being.

For instance, everyone loves kittens, but many people don’t realize how much work they are. Everyone knows that a puppy needs to be trained, needs to go outside every few hours to go to the bathroom, and are only slightly less work than a human child. But not everyone knows that kittens are also work. Sure, they go to the bathroom in a box, and generally it’s not something that needs to be taught, but kittens need tons of playtime, are often up at all hours of the night, get into everything, and need to be trained just like puppies. Otherwise, that kitten grows up and around 6 months of age, becomes a bratty, out of control teenager. Plus, with a kitten, you really don’t have a sense of its personality until about 8 months. Continue reading “A Cat Saleswoman: Working in Adoption”

Fixing Ferals

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At 6 a.m. I tumbled out of bed, fed the alcohol cats breakfast, pulled on some clothes, and left my apartment. In the blue winter light of Boston I walked, through the Public Garden, down Arlington Street, to the animal shelter. We covered the floor of the vet clinic in sheets of plastic and gathered all of the supplies that were carefully boxed and labeled from the previous clinic. At 8 a.m. the trappers arrived. We tagged each cage with a number and surgery card, surveyed the cats to make sure they were not sick or injured, and lined them up in the heated garage.

One by one, each cat was brought into the welcome area of the vet clinic where they were sedated, weighed, and given Genteel (a Vaseline-like gel that protects and moistens their eyes). Most cats, let alone feral ones, aren’t super happy about getting poked with a needle, but Deb was swift and a couple cats jumped back, completely unaware that they were about to be given an injection. For the more difficult ones, a pitch-fork–like instrument  kept the cat to one corner of the trap, making it easier to get at them. Continue reading “Fixing Ferals”