Giving Back

Giving Back

Photo by Audrey Pavia

Zani, this blue-pointed Ragdoll, is one of the cats I met at the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center.

I have a soft spot in my heart for homeless creatures, which might explain why so many of my urban farm animals are rescues. All four of my cats, two of my chickens and both of my rabbits were in desperate need of homes when I took them in.

I’ve spent many years making a living writing about animals, and I love to give back whenever I can. That truth, combined with my concern for abandoned pets, led me to sign up as a volunteer at the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center in Riverside, Calif.

The Mary S. Roberts Center is a no-kill shelter where cats and dogs are housed until they can find new homes. The facilities are beautiful, and the staff is amazing. It’s the kind of place I knew I could visit regularly without the compulsion to bring home half the animals in the place. They are well cared for and guaranteed to find new homes.

I signed up to be a cat and dog socializer. My task is to spend time petting cats and walking dogs. This helps break up the monotony and relieve some of the stress of shelter life for the animals.

Yesterday was my first visit as a volunteer. I decided to start with cats because they are easier than the dogs. With the cats, all you do is sit in a “condo” with a cat or two, and pet them and play with them. The dogs, on the other hand, need to be leashed and taken outside, where they can walk and play in the yard.

When I walked into the sunny, cheerful cattery, a handful of colorful, older kittens were romping around loose. It was their time out of the condo, and they were making the most of it. I looked at the roster to see which cats had not yet been socialized for the day. I saw that a cat named Buddy needed a visit, so I found my way to his condo.

Buddy is a beautiful red tabby, as mellow as can be. I sat on the floor of his enclosure, and he crawled into my lap, drooling with joy at having company. After 20 minutes of visiting, I stepped outside his condo and read the sign on his door. Seems Buddy is diabetic, so finding him a home will be challenge.

I went down the roster, taking turns in various condos with an assortment of cats. I saw a beautiful tortoiseshell named Mollyanna, a Siamese-pointed tabby named Nani, and two black and white cats named Lucita and Alanna.

Next on the list was a cat named Zani. I marked him off on the roster and started to make my way to his condo. Suddenly at my feet, a beautiful blue-pointed Ragdoll was looking up at me with beautiful turquoise eyes, meowing for attention. I stooped to pet him and suddenly realized that this was Zani.

Zani and I spent a good 20 minutes visiting. He rolled on the floor, purring loudly, as I stroked his thick fur. Someone handed me a brush, and soon I was grooming him, which he clearly loved. Every once in a while, he would stop rolling and look at me, staring deep into my eyes.

After two hours of cat visiting, I decided it was time to go. I was amazed at how different each of the cats was that I had met; each had its own unique personality, likes and dislikes. But as much as they were different, they were the same in one regard: They all need loving homes. I pray that they get them soon.

Tags California, cats, dogs, volunteer

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