Most of our volunteers fall into one of two categories. The first one loves the cats, and comes faithfully to scoop or clean or feed; the second not only loves the cats but bonds closely with individuals, looks for extra cuddle time, worries when “their” cat is under the weather, and frequently does extra shifts to have more cat-time. Some of these volunteers end up turning into staff members – others are just long-term Sanctuary devotees.
Ann works various shifts, adjusting to her own schedule – she knows and loves many cats in many areas, but she will always make a point of visiting in the SingleWide in order to spend time with Jimmy. Jimmy came to us some years ago, and was living in the Moore House until it closed down; he is still very wary around most people, but he knows when Ann arrives that she is his safe person. Rather than hiding in his usual way, he emerges to dance on the shelf, looking for her attention; he has recently started to add little vocalizations in his excitement.
Barbara and Waldi are among the most long-term volunteers. They have recently ceased the cold, wet, Saturday night feed in the back courtyard, though Barb will continue a daytime shift; they always look for chunky grey Rookie in Newcomers. They actually brought him in to the Sanctuary, as a feral that had moved into their care-zone, and he settled well – initially in pen 5, though now he prefers the warmth of Newcomers. He always comes running when Waldi chirps to him.
Justin has many favourites; especially adoring the orange cats in Pen 6. Justin sings to Bentley (and to other cats as well) but can usually be found visiting with Roe. Roe particularly loves Justin, and will lie on her back having belly rubs as long as Justin’s time allows. She is jealous of the fact that other cats, especially Cher, want Justin’s attention too, leading her to sulk when someone steals her Justin-time.
Carol is another who has volunteered for at least ten years; she always arrives laden down with bags containing tasty cat-food other than the standard cans we offer them. She knows who loves chicken and who prefers the fish; she generally spends a good bit of time in with the Leukemia cats, who can sometimes be overlooked. She particularly loves front-courtyard Solar, who is the only one of a quartet of ferals who came to us from VOKRA to have warmed to human attention (though I’m working on his brother!). And she always looks for Autumn, who is the mother of her own Ben, who came to us as a little kitten called Treat – it’s because of him that she is still one of our most devoted volunteers.
Debbie started as a volunteer, served on staff, and now that she’s retired, is back to volunteering. She has a very close relationship with old Tugboat; she was there when he was brought in, she remains in touch with his family, and regardless of where she is working in the Sanctuary, she will always go and find him for some cuddle time. He seems to know when she’s around and his demand to be picked up can be heard around the back courtyard. He divides his time between the TeaRoom where he’s often found in the bed close by the heater, and the DoubleWide, where he shares cuddles with Colin and Plum.
Karen came in as a student volunteer and is now on staff; she works all the areas, knows all the cats, and has an uncanny gift for seeing the personality of the animal through her camera lens. She’s the creator of many of the blog photos, and half of those in this year’s calendar. She’s a cat-whisperer with a gift for approaching the most scared of cats; like many of us, she knows what it is to have her heart broken by the loss of a favourite. She’s particularly attached to our “bad boy” Jasper, channeling his intelligence into learning tricks and keeping that brain busy!’
Lisa also came in as a volunteer and fell in love with the place – she is part-time staff, fosters kittens, and waits patiently as a trapper to bring in strays and ferals. Some of her work was featured last February in the blog. She spends endless volunteer time socializing ferals – Sierra, Lloyd and Len in pen 4 have progressed under her care. Cornelius loves everybody but adores her, and she sponsors little tri-pawd Marmalade in the front courtyard.
I have so many favourites, it’s hard to limit the list! I’m having a love-affair with Elvis, who gives the best snuggles. I always make time with pretty Holly in pen 3, who really needs a home and a person to love and groom her. Bossanova knows my voice and is always ready to come for attention (and for treats). I’m known as the chicken lady – a bag of chicken tidbits is the best tool for making friends with ferals – and not-so-ferals as well. The DoubleWide deck cats hover hopefully – Bodhi, Hamlet and Luke are as keen for cuddles as they are for food. I’ve a longstanding lure out with the feral boys in the back courtyard – Sylar, Quinn and Midnight – and am excited that Midnight is finally taking food from my hand.
So many personalities, so much love – and so many lives that would not have been possible without the no-kill principles of RAPS, promising hope for our furry friends.
Featured Image: “Everyone loves Cornelius” (LBF)