Cozy Cat Companions

Volunteer cat companion, Nicki, comforts a nervous shelter cat while it awaits a new family.

Pet Tips ‘n’ Tales

I am jealous of my friend Nicki’s purr-fect hobby! 

“A family member is allergic to cats, so I solved the dilemma of not being able to have one by volunteering at the animal shelter as a cat companion,” said Nicki.

Every Sunday, she leaves her busy work week behind and heads to the shelter to pet and cat-chat with kitties looking for homes. Many shelter cats arrive with no purr-evious hiss-tory. Are the felines: Loving? Cuddly? Shy? Bold? Do they like being held, petted, played with or have a hidden injury? Nicki helps the cats settle and, often, teaches them how to trust again. Learning what the kitties like when and how to pet and play, who wants to be brushed and for how long, helps paw-tential pet parents meet calmer cats and speeds up placing the homeless animals in their paw-fect  homes.

If we love cats and dogs as children, we will at any age. The following is one of Nicki’s observations:

“Last week, an eight-year-old child arrived at the shelter carrying a $10 bill and a bunch of change. She had saved the money to donate to the animals’ care,” said Nicki. “She had also learned how to make a cat toy out of a roll of toilet paper on the internet. She cut and curled the ends of the roll, added a piece of yarn that extended two feet out and tied this to a wooden skewer — all for the cats’ entertainment. Her wish to make a difference in the lives of others and volunteering shows that one is never too young to start.The shelter staff gave her a pair of wire cat ears, and then I introduced her to some cats wanting to play. This wasn’t her first donation, and I’m sure it won’t be her last. I bet she won’t forget her trip to cheer up the kittens for a long time. Neither will I.”

Shelters are always in need of volunteers’ time, help and compassion. Some of their needs: dog walking, fund raising, organizing events, feeding, animal socialization, cleaning, laundry, children to read to dogs, office help/answering phones, the pet food bank, writers and photographers to post incoming pet bios on the website, adoption counseling, making cat posts/animal beds. Whatever your skills, they will find a “job” for you. Check out a shelter’s volunteer website page and see if you or your family can help in the bunny/hamster room, cat cattery or dog kennels.

“A few loyal volunteers wake up early to drive our dogs to radio and TV stations for the, ‘Pet of the Week’ segment,” said Megan Brezovar at Greenhill Shelter.

“Sixteen years ago, I began volunteering in the shelter’s cat quarters,” said Nan. “The day I arrived. they had 25 cats and loads of kittens. I cleaned, washed and refilled litter trays. It was not a glamourous job, but a much needed one. I also washed and dried cat towels for their kennels and lookout posts. The jobs were more fun than they sound like. The entire time I had a room full of cats to talk to and pet. It was lovely meeting and chatting with the public searching for a new furry family member. One thing we volunteers always needed were donations of good mops, brooms, etc. to clean the place.  It was a lot of work keeping the cats’ rooms and cages clean, but the cats were wonderful and I loved every minute.” 


“I loved the ‘Saving Jimmy’ article on the senior dog,” said Dick. “Years ago, I rescued an elderly Airedale. He was one of the most devoted and loyal pets I ever had. I am currently looking to rescue another dog. The time and love that we devote to our furry friends comes back many times over and we are richer for it.”

 “The best way people can help with animals is to neuter and spay their own pets or the strays in their area. If this was done, then we’d be gratefully out of a job!” said Janetta Overholser, president of the Humane Society of Cottage Grove.

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Humane Society for Neuter/Spay Assistance Program. 541-942-2789