‘There are cats everywhere!’

Kat Morrison shared her volunteer story working at the Colony Cats adoption center.

I have so many photos I could share about my volunteer work at Colony Cats (and Dogs) but I think this one sums it up the best, sitting on the floor, a big grin and covered in cats. My experience is this:

The first thing you’d notice about Colony Cats is “WOW, there are cats EVERYWHERE!”. Colony Cats is a cage free, no kill adoption center so the cats are literally running free in the store. There are more cat towers than you thought possible for a relatively small store, beds and blankets everywhere and even little boxes for the cats to hide mounted to the walls. The second thing you notice is the smell. It’s not exactly bad, they keep the store very clean, but you know instantly that there’s several hundred cats in here (right now I think there’s about 150-200 cats in both the intake/vet side and the adoption center because we had a ton of adoptions right around the holidays!).

When I come in in the morning the cats are always excited and alert because they’ve been alone all night long. I usually come in between 9:30am-11am to clean. The adoption center, where I usually work, is divided up into a main area when you walk in with 4 “rooms” along the sides with plenty of perches and hidey holes for the kitties, one even has a fish tank! Each room has at least 2 cat towers and a bench with 2 or 3 litter boxes underneath that roll away easily for cleaning. As you venture further back you come across several cages where they keep the small kittens (less than 6 months old) so they don’t loose them or they don’t get bullied by the bigger cats.

On your left of theses cages is a room with an actual door on it which leads to the “Serenity Room”. This is where we keep the cats that are new to the facility or who have a hard time adjusting to having over 100 roommates. It’s a small room but it’s painted blue and has a bubbling water dispenser for the cats and lots of spaces to hide. It’s even got a Buddha cat watching over them. This is where one of my favorite cats, Leah, likes to hide and I always make an effort to cuddle with her when I come in. Further on down the hall is another room with a door that houses more kittens less than 6 months old, though not as young as the ones in the cages.

Past that room you get to the laundry room where you can always find a cat or two on top of the dryer, soaking up the warmth. Across from this is our linen closet piled high with towels and blankets and some cats who just want to take a warm (and secluded) nap. Directly behind this closet is the reception desk, again piled high with cats wanting a pet and usually someone working on the computer. After a quick peek in the bathroom at the back of the shop (usually with several cats wanting you to turn the sink on so they can drink) there’s back door which leads to the next door area, the vet and intake center where we take care of the sick cats and newly processed cats to make sure they aren’t infected with anything. This large room is mostly full of cages of cats receiving treatment but the front of the store has a very special room I like very much. This room houses about 8 cats who are FIV+ and have to be kept away from the other cats so as not to infect them through bites (cats are not very nice roommates most of the time). These cats don’t get as much love from people as their neighbors in the adoption center so I make a point to stop in here and just sit with them.

The cats crave attention and as soon as I walk in, I’m welcomed by happy meows and have to sit down very quickly because they are all trying to climb up my pant legs to get to my arms for pets and cuddles. I like to clean the FIV+ room as much as possible. The cats here seem more relaxed than the ones at the adoption center (probably because there’s only 8 of them in there instead of 100) and I’ve even bonded with one I’ve been calling Cheddar (his real name is KevinKyle but I think that’s a stupid name). I’ve bonded with several other cats in the past too. Unfortunately the problem with being a volunteer here is that these cats are all adoptable and sometimes you come in and look for a cat only to find out they’ve been adopted or you read it on the weekly email. Each time I read a name of another cat I’ve know that has found their forever home, I’m filled with joy. But with that joy is a tinge of sadness because I won’t get to see my little furry friend again.

Someday I will adopt my own cat to take home with me but I’m waiting until I’m more financially secure (I still live with my dad and am basically relying a lot on him still). For now though, I enjoy my work with Colony Cats. The other volunteers, while a lot older than I am, are nice and talk to the cats like I do so it seems like I’m not so crazy. I’ve had my fair share of bites and scratches (I’ve even had several on my face) but I’ve had far more licks and purrs than anything else. Even being moderately allergic to cat dander can’t stop me from loving this work (that’s what allergy meds are for!). Working with these cats has helped me slowly move out of a depressive episode and look forward to better things. Cats truly are some of the best at bringing you happiness.

Reproduced from Facebook.com/truepridestrong with the permission of Kat Morrison.

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