Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Cat Socializer

My brother has signed on as a volunteer at the Humane Society as a Cat Socializer. He will visit with the cats on a regular basis, giving them human attention and if they don’t want to be ‘petted’, maybe just some supervised or assisted play time.

I love cats and think they are fascinating creatures.

The following is taken from an E-mail my brother sent me about his second day of orientation. Apparently there is a separate room where cats are taken one at a time for social time, and a record is kept so every cat has an opportunity to be given some love. And there’s a binder that tells the volunteer what each cat seems to like, or not like, and which ones are ‘difficult’ and need special handling.

Here’s what he had to say:

So, under the watchful eye of my guide I'm ready to pick a cat. I choose an all-white cat named "Jasmine." I check the binder and she's okay to be picked up. Before I go to get her I squirt some hand-sanitizer on my hands and give them a clean. I go to her cage and start talking to her. I don't think she saw my OMHS Volunteer badge because I think she was a bit surprised when I opened her cage. They're used to people coming in and out of that room, but they don't usually open the cage. But she came with me easily and we went to the other room.

Once in the room she went to the far side away from me while I set the 15-minute timer. I grabbed a pillow and sat on the floor. Little by little she got closer to me and did a few walk-bys as I rubbed my hand down her back. She had a lot of fun with a feather toy on the end a string I made dance around. So while she didn't let me touch her too much, she did interact and play. The buzzer went off and she was returned to her cage with a few scratches behind the ear before I closed the cage door.

Back to the room to pick my next cat. While I look at the list I sanitize my hands again. Next up is a black and white named "Vanna." She was easy to pick up and take to the room where she looked around at everything in the room, including me. My guide started the timer and said she'd leave me for a bit. "Vanna" was fun to play with, she'd stop playing sometimes and sit or lie next to me for a few scratches, then off again. When the buzzer went I returned her to her cage with no problem.

So here I am about to solo for the first time. Back to the room I pick my next cat, "Nora." Sanitize again. Read the write-up. I opened her cage and went to pick her up. It was really funny as it felt like she had no bones, she didn't help at all. As soon as we were in the room she went under a storage cart and hid. I'm talking to her the whole time as I kneel down and look under the cart. I really don't want to reach in there. So I decided to appeal to her sense of cooperation, told her about my pal "Jumper." Nothing. I told her this wouldn't look good if my guide came back. Nothing. I tried the feather toy, dangling in front of the cart. Nothing.

I figured there one thing she couldn't fight against, and that was if I lifted the cart off the ground. So I did and she ran to the other side of the room. I put the cart back down and moved the pillow over to block entrance to going under the cart again and laid down. I "scratched" the pillow a few times and she eventually came over, cautiously. The guide came back and "Nora" and I were doing fine. When the buzzer went I picked up the cat and returned her to her cage like an old cat pro. "Nora" immediately lay down just like I had found her.

I’m jealous, I miss having a cat. The Humane Society is lucky to have him as a volunteer, and the cats even more so.

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