Caturdays are the Best
Caturdays are the Best
By EW, Age 12, Surfside 4-H
I’m a cat person. Unfortunately, since my brother is allergic to cats, we only have a dog -- a dog that’s been known to chase cats. But I’ve found a way to spend time with cats, through volunteering. I first heard about this volunteer opportunity through one of my 4-H leaders, Lea O’Reilly. My mom and I signed up as volunteers and we now go to a local PetSmart every Saturday (or Caturday) and take care of the rescued cats there.
When we first arrive, we let the cats out of their kennels so they can explore for the entire two hours we’re there. We get cats in a range of ages, colors, and breeds every week, but the felines all have one thing in common: a messy kennel. Each kennel has a blanket, litter box, bed, scratch pad, food and water bowls, and a variety of toys. We take out all the toys and bedding and shake out any loose litter the cats might have kicked out of their boxes. We clean their litter boxes. Then we spray the entire inside with a cleaner and wipe them down before putting everything back. Some kitties are definitely messier than others.
But not all of my volunteer time is spent cleaning: I also get to socialize with the cats and play with them. They all have unique personalities - shy cats that hide in the corners, outgoing cats who would sit in your lap all day, tiny kittens that spend their whole time pouncing and tackling one another, and adult cats who spend the entire two hours napping. Recently there was a tiny kitten named Tater Tot: she was well-named because she would curl up on people’s laps like a little potato.
We have some other duties too. We have to feed the kittens their wet food (adult cats get their food from the morning shift) and sometimes we have to give cats medication. Before COVID, if someone was interested in adopting a cat, we helped with their interaction so they can get to know the feline. If they agreed to adopt a cat, we also helped them fill out the adoption forms.
Even during this lockdown, Caturday is the best part of my week. We work behind the kennels, in a room completely closed off from store visitors, so this has been a great outlet for me to spend time out of the house without being at great risk during the pandemic. The organization that I volunteer through is called LYFF (Love Your Feral Felines), a non-profit, adoption organization to help the feral cat population in North San Diego County. I’m able to put the hours I spend volunteering in my record book as community service, but I’d do it anyway because it gives me an opportunity to have fun with cats and help them find forever homes.