Volunteer of the Month: Maureen F.

Cat Town wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. From helping with laundry to adoption counseling to event planning, volunteers help make our life-saving work possible.

Maureen F. is one of our rock star volunteers who is heavily involved at Cat Town and has been helping our cats now for more than 3 years. She's connected countless families in that time and helps new volunteers get started in our organization. I talked with Maureen about the magic of Cat Town, and why volunteering is such a rewarding experience.

Maureen (right) regularly helps connect cats and adopters in the Cat Zone.

Maureen (right) regularly helps connect cats and adopters in the Cat Zone.

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

Maureen F.: I heard about Cat Town when the Kickstarter to open the café was happening. I donated some money by sponsoring a cat, showed up for the soft opening, kept coming back over the next three months, and finally realized I should just volunteer.

LC: Have you been a cat person your whole life?

MF: Yes—one of the very first photos taken of me is me as a baby grabbing handfuls of my family cat Mitsu. I loved her so much and have never lived without a cat. A house is not a home without at least one feline friend.

LC: Do you have cats at home?

MF: I have one lovely kitty named Scylla who was an under-socialized kitten when she first came home. She has been with my husband (official volunteer Cat Town bartender Cody Gates) and I for 10 years now and is a the sweetest, most devoted kitty, who insists on laps and love as often as possible.  

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

MF: I primarily work in the Cat Zone, both as an adoption counselor, as well as a new volunteer trainer. I also do socializing stints in the Studios and am very excited to have recently been trained in working with our Forgotten Kittens.

Maureen and Buttercup, a Cat Town cat who Maureen helped socialize.

Maureen and Buttercup, a Cat Town cat who Maureen helped socialize.

LC: What do you love most about volunteering?

MF: I love two things the most—the moment when an under-socialized cat accepts and likes pets for the first time and when a patron truly understands our mission to help Oakland’s most vulnerable cats. It makes me even happier when I see them return as a volunteer.

LC: Working with vulnerable shelter cats takes time and patience. What other qualities do you think makes for a good Cat Town volunteer?

MF: Animal rescue work is not always easy. I didn’t truly understand just how many animals needed help when I started volunteering and I doubt most of our patrons do either. Folks don’t always get why our cats are extra special or what our mission is when they walk through Cat Town’s door. Taking the time and being willing to teach and educate our visitors takes both compassion and patience.

LC: What is something you’ve learned about under-socialized cats during your time at Cat Town that you think people wouldn’t expect to be true?

MF: I didn’t realize, but LOVE, how much the cats learn from each other. The Cat Zone ends up being finishing school for so many of our under-socialized cats and forgotten kittens. I don’t think any other shelter space would foster this type of modeling so well.

LC: Why would you encourage people to volunteer at Cat Town?

MF: Cats and community. Period. Our cats are special and the feeling of knowing we are saving their lives is truly gratifying. Additionally, the opportunity to learn is amazing with the ground-breaking and unique programs that can only be found at Cat Town. Finally, the community of staff and volunteers is wonderful—I have made friends for life. Cat Town saves special cats but also has a way of attracting the best of humanity.

LC: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat from Cat Town?

MF: Giving an under-socialized cat a chance is rewarding. You can feel good knowing you are giving that cat an opportunity to have a home and live their best life, no matter how social that cat actually becomes. And, more often than not, you will be rewarded with a loving and devoted companion for life. That last part might take longer than with a socialized kitty, but it’s worth the wait.

Maureen during a Cat Zone volunteer shift.

Maureen during a Cat Zone volunteer shift.

Interested in joining Team Cat Town and helping us save Oakland’s vulnerable and under-socialized cats? Lots of opportunities are available, including helping with transportation, outreach and adoption events, fundraising, and more! You can start with completing a volunteer application form to see how you can get involved and start making a difference.

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