My Experience Volunteering at a Cat Shelter

College takes a lot out of us, right? The fall from busy times leaves many students falling into depressed states of mood. While we certainly learn to manage this stress more or less, a new adaptive coping mechanism never hurts to look into.

My best friend and I took to visiting a cat shelter last semester when tensions were running high. She has an Emotional Support Animal, but I am not allowed to have animals in my apartment complex unless there are severely extenuating circumstances. Thus, we took a trip to Kitty City in Macon, Georgia last year.

Our lives have not been the same since.

Since the New Year began, we’ve been hopping over to this no-cage, no-kill shelter every Saturday. We joke that it acts as our weekly endorphin fix that gets us through the upcoming week of Neurophysiology and work-study positions.

Volunteering at animal shelters definitely helps build up a resume or vitae, as it can fall under required or expected areas of community service. Of course, this is appealing to us as college students applying for graduate school or a job. That being said, I want to focus on the actual benefits that volunteers provide to these shelters rather than the benefits we receive. At Kitty City, anyone can come in, speak with the owners, slap on a pair of gloves, and begin cleaning. It’s important for the cats that reside in this space to live clean and healthy lives, so any help that can be offered is greatly appreciated and truly makes a world of difference. 

Feeding time is also an experience that requires more than just a couple people- volunteers are needed to continuously provide clean water and refill bowls of dry food for the cats. Wet food time is a whole other event. If you want to make friends with these cats, be the volunteer to serve them wet food. It is absolutely comical to pick one’s way through the sea of kittens and grown cats alike in an attempt to serve them some sloppy chicken on a paper plate. Many of these cats come to the shelter malnourished, so feeding time is their favorite time of the day.

One of my favorite ways to volunteer (though it may not sound like much) is to play with and love on the cats. The goal is for them to get adopted into loving homes, so it is vital that these animals learn how to interact with humans. Volunteers can provide this by simply coming in and snuggling a bit. Once you go a couple of times, you’ll begin to learn every cat by their name and understand all of their strange and endearing quirks. 

For example, there is a fluffy black cat named Casino. He is a damn king. He sits in such a regal manner that it is clear he is in charge. He loves attention. He does not meow very often. He is incredibly chill and gets along fine with other cats but will put someone in their place if they act out. There is another cat named Satin. She is the softest cat I have ever freaking touched. She loves to be pet but is still getting used to being picked up. She doesn’t quite know what to do with her body when she gets any attention, so she simply meows very loudly and flops into your arms. She is precious.

I could spend a whole article just describing all of the different cats- maybe I will do that another time. They really grow on you in a way that just warms the heart and gets you through the rest of the week. I highly recommend stopping by your local animal shelter every once in a while to get a dose of feel good endorphins, get to know the animals, and raise awareness about the shelters in your area.