There’s been so much going on in our lives the past month or so. It’s not that I haven’t had time to write- I think most of us make time for SOME things- it’s that I haven’t been able to focus in on any particular event or theme, they all seem so… deserving of reflection.
So tonight, as I rocked Babyboy and read “Night Night Construction Site” I pondered what I could write about. I tucked him into his big boy bed, turned on the Dream lights and cuddled next to him to tell one last story, a running series of on-the-fly Mommy-made-up stories about Babyboy and his pet/friend Kitty Cat, and how they go riding on Fire Engines and save the town or go riding on Ambulances and Help People, etc. (He loves these) and I thought,
I’ll write about the cats.
So, I beg pardon for everything that I am not writing about. Especially to my brother who just had a baby yesterday.
I’ve written recently about feeling a weird need to volunteer my time in our community. This has struck many as insane, seeing as I’m a doctor, mother to two kids in diapers, one with special needs, and wife to a guy who travels every week at baseline.
But, like I said, most of us make time for SOME things. For some people, that’s cooking some amazing dinner; or taking the kids to some enriching event; or watching a favorite TV show; or sewing or going to a salon or having date night with their Hubby or whatever.
I was trying very hard to volunteer at our local animal shelter, but the place is so disorganized, and frankly, dysfunctional, that it was difficult to just get registered, never mind oriented. My first stint ended up with me calling the police (see previous post about that, No Really, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished).
But I did have a very easy time setting up a volunteer “date” at our local food pantry. One Saturday, I showed up at the appointed time with a bag of foods, and a Person In Charge immediately gave me the 3-minute tour and a job. I was able to be helpful in a relatively simple yet necessary role: accompanying “clients” around the “store” to pick up the items on their list, i.e. the food items they were allowed based on their preregistered, vetted number of family members. And no more. I guess if you didn’t accompany people, cans of beans, jars of peanut butter and and frozen chickens would just disappear.
It was all fine and good, but it was also pretty boring. I didn’t get into it and was relieved when there were no more clients.
But I kept trying at the shelter. This week, one of the People in Charge called me and apologized for the disorganization of his organization, and we again set up a time to meet and get me oriented to the Cat Room.
I went, and, guess what, he wasn’t there. BUT the place was unlocked, and there was one very odd lady manning the front desk, and two high school girls in the Cat Room, cleaning cages. I popped into the Cat Room and asked if they could just let me help.
And thus, two teenagers oriented me to my new volunteer job. They were adorable, talking me through each step, kind of finishing each other’s sentences (they were close friends who had been working there for 3 years together).
Basically: We are to do one cage at a time. You let kitty out and you can let kitty hop into the window seating area to sun itself, or you can attempt to exercise kitty a bit with one of the feathered cat wands in the old plastic jug. You take everything out of the cage, and if needed, you spray a dilute bleach solution and wipe down the insides. You usually sift the kitty litter to get the cat poo out but the sifter was lost a few months before an no one replaced it, so we’re just dumping the litter and refilling each cat box. If the cat bed has pee you throw it in the laundry pile in the other room, if not it’s Ok to put it back. You don’t put any food at this time ‘cuz someone else came in the morning and someone else comes in the evening. But you do replace the water. And you never let more than one cat out at once, and be prepared to get scratched ‘cuz some of them are kinda scared of you at first.
So, that’s what we did. There were only seven cats. Each one has a little blurb with a name and where they came from and any other pertinent information, like, “Mocha Frapuccino was found in a dumpster behind the local Starbucks, who realized she was a friendly young kitty. She’s been spayed and vetted and is eager to make new friends. She would do well with someone who wants to play with her and gets along with other cats.”
Indeed, Mocha was super-eager to get out of her cage, and then was head-butting and purring and basically wrapping herself all over our legs, falling into a veritable purrfrenzy when we scratched behind her ears. She looked very healthy, but also so petite and spare-framed and light, I realized how fat my own cats are.
While a few of the cats clearly didn’t like other cats, letting out the low cat growl warning when they were able to see the other animals in the room, they all were very fine and friendly with us. I really enjoyed bouncing the mouse-on-a-string toy for the kittens; scratching and petting and giving under-chin-rubs to this one and that; handing out Temptations treats here and there.
When the cages were done, I was kind of bummed.
And so I find myself with one more thing to do on my one day off from clinic every week: the Thursday 1 pm cat cage-cleaning slot. The high schoolers go to the late afternoon slot, once school starts again. I’m a little worried that if there are more than seven cats, I won’t get through all the cages, but they said not to worry, just do what you can, and leave a note for the late shift to finish the ones I don’t get to. And if I have to miss a week, just call and let someone know.
So, I’ll do my best, because, I had fun, and felt better after handing some love to these attention-starved felines. I think they appreciated my time and effort, too.