Volunteers of the Month: Victoria & Rob G.

Meet Victoria and Rob G., an incredible couple who have fostered nine Cat Town cats over the past few years. I talked with them about their experience fostering and what they love about working with more challenging cases.

Victoria and Rob are never afraid to take on a challenging cat. So far, nine foster cats have benefitted from their generosity, and countless others in our Adoption Center.

Larissa. C: How did you both get involved with Cat Town?

Victoria G.: Shortly after the café opened, I visited with a coworker who is also a cat lover...I had been interested in fostering, but Rob was a little nervous about the idea. One day in November 2015, I saw a post looking for an urgent foster for a handsome flame-point Siamese named Liam. He had an upper respiratory infection, and just needed a short-term home while he recovered before moving to the Cat Zone. Rob was a bit more comfortable taking the leap with a short-term foster, so I responded and shortly thereafter we brought him home! I think he stayed with us for about two weeks, and after he was healthy again, he moved into the Cat Zone and was adopted in three days. We absolutely loved the experience, and have basically been “serial fosters” ever since. We’re currently on foster #9.

Rob G.: Yeah, I was a little worried about fostering at first, because I knew we would fall in love with the cats and it would be hard to let go. And we do fall in love with them, but it’s been so rewarding to watch each cat grow and find a loving family—now we just can’t stop!

Victoria and foster cat Morris in 2016.

Victoria and foster cat Morris in 2016.

LC: Have you been a cat people your whole lives?

RG: When I was a kid, I was allergic to cats, so I didn’t get much exposure to them, but my allergies seemed to fade as I got older. I only started living with cats in college, but I became a cat person myself pretty quick after that.

VG: I have had cats literally my whole life, since I was a baby. I really love all animals, but cats hold a special place in my heart.

LC: How many cats do you have at home currently?

VG: We have two cats of our own, Charlie and Sweet Pea, and we also have a foster cat. Rob adopted Sweet Pea as a kitten 10 years ago when he discovered her living on the grounds of his apartment complex in Oakland. Four years ago, when we were living in San Francisco, we adopted Charlie from the San Francisco SPCA’s Holiday Pet Window at Macy’s in Union Square.

LC: What roles do you both play, or have played, at Cat Town?

VG: We started out with fostering, and eventually began volunteering in the Cat Zone and became adoption counselors. This past year, I was also on the planning committee for Cat Town’s inaugural fundraising gala, the Second Chance Soiree. I’m looking forward to working on this event again for next year!

Rob and Victoria (right) at this fall’s Second Chance Soirée, a fundraising event Victoria helped plan. Photo by Righter Portraits.

Rob and Victoria (right) at this fall’s Second Chance Soirée, a fundraising event Victoria helped plan. Photo by Righter Portraits.

LC: What do you love most about volunteering at Cat Town?

RG: For me, it’s connecting with such a warm community of cats and people.

VG: I agree. Being a part of Cat Town means you’re a part of a family. There are so many great cats and people that we’ve had the pleasure of working with.

LC: Having fostered and volunteered in the Cat Zone, what is something you’ve learned about under-socialized cats and kittens that people might not expect to be true?

RG: The environment that a cat is in can make all the difference. Sometimes the transformation takes time, but that’s what’s so important about the Cat Zone and Cat Town foster homes—they give under-socialized cats time and space in which to build confidence and grow.

VG: I think most people think under-socialized cats won’t make good pets or companions—that they will be aloof and lacking affection. And while I guess that might be true for the most severe cases, in my experience I’ve found that with time, patience, and love, you can form an incredibly strong bond and friendship with an under-socialized cat.. The love and companionship you will get from is special and unique and unlike anything else you will ever experience.

Rob spending time socializing one of our Cat Zone residents.

Rob spending time socializing one of our Cat Zone residents.

LC: What is your favorite thing about working with vulnerable shelter cats?

VG: Rob and I tend to take on pretty challenging, long-term foster cats … It’s hard work. But, it is THE BEST feeling in the world when a cat you’ve been working with for months makes that breakthrough and finally starts to trust you and accept your love. Watching the cat grow and make progress, and eventually seeing them find their forever home makes me so proud and happy. When a potential adopter comes to our home to meet our foster cat, you see how far the cat has come since we started working with them. When you witness the “click” between the cat and the adopter, you feel such a great sense of accomplishment.

LC: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat or kitten?

RG: Living with under-socialized cats always surprises and challenges me in wonderful ways. Cat Town cats bring so much love and fun into our home!

VG: For the same reasons that I described earlier—you will experience a special and unique love and friendship!

LC: Is there a Cat Town cat that you’ve met who really helped solidify your volunteering experience?

VG: As lame as it sounds, every single one of our foster cats has done that for me. Each of our foster cats has had their own quirks, idiosyncrasies, and challenges, and I learn something new with each experience.

RG: We had one particularly long-term foster named Allie whose transformation will always stick out in my mind. It really taught me a lot about working with under-socialized cats and the patience it requires as well as how rewarding it can be to see a cat grow and thrive.

LC: What would you say to someone considering volunteering at Cat Town?

RG: I don’t think that there is a more friendly and inviting place to get involved with helping cats than Cat Town.

VG: I don’t think I could have said that better!

We are endlessly grateful for volunteers like Rob and Victoria, working tirelessly to make a difference in our cat community. We had an incredible 2018, and we can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. If you’re interested in joining our volunteer team in the New Year, you can start by completing a volunteer application form or emailing info@cattownoakland.org. We have new volunteer training sessions each month, and we’re always looking for awesome people to help us continue this life-saving work.