Recently, I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend one morning a week volunteering at a local cat shelter called Good Mews. It's a cage-free no-kill shelter that is home to about 100 cats. I have done two shifts so far, and I've really enjoyed it.
You'll probably hear me talk about Good Mews a lot on this blog, so I'll try to describe the basics of how it works. I've never really had the chance to observe how an animal shelter is run, so this has been interesting to me. I'm on the clean and feed shift, which means that me and about 3 other people are in charge of cleaning the litter boxes, vacuuming and mopping the entire shelter, washing toys and bedding, washing and replenishing all the food and water dishes, and feeding each cat, in addition to other tasks. Other volunteers handle the medications for the cats that need that. There are two shifts every day of the year; I'm in the morning shift. All total, I was told there are 300 volunteers that keep Good Mews running!
Being cage-free, Good Mews is divided into rooms. The entire place is painted with bright, happy colors and has an overall pleasant feeling about it. There is the main shelter area, which is where most of the cats are. It has shelves where the cats can hide, several cat trees, benches, and even a TV with a DVD of squirrels and birds! (The cats seem to like it and that makes me smile.) There is a separate room for the kittens - it's closed off from the main shelters so any kittens 9 months and under are not at risk of being injured or catching diseases from older cats. There is also a separate room with cages for cats who are sick. This room is also separate from the shelter and once you enter this room and do any sort of cleaning, you aren't allowed to touch any of the other cats in the shelter again that day. New cats coming into the shelter go to a third separate room where they are kept in cages and observed for two weeks. There are other sections of the shelter, like the offices which just have computer desks and bookshelves, which I might talk about later.
I highly recommend volunteering at an animal shelter if you have the time! I think it's rewarding, and I do enjoy getting to play with the kitties! I was very overwhelmed at first by 100 cats not in cages running around! But the past two times I went I wasn't quite as overwhelmed and even have been able to play with the kitties. I'm still trying to learn their names and who they are so I can greet them by name when I come in to work every week.
Another thing I've learned is of the many things that can be donated to a shelter to help it functioned. One thing they are always in desperate need of is clumping kitty litter. I know how expensive kitty litter can be, and I can't imagine how much they go through each week! Perhaps I'll watch for sales and stock up in order to donate to Good Mews. Things to keep in mind. :-)