Volunteer of the Month: Leslie R.

So much of the incredible, life-changing and life-saving work Cat Town is able to accomplish is because of our volunteer team. Whether it’s transporting a cat to the vet, helping with laundry, or working with Forgotten Kittens in our Studios, everything adds up to make a big difference in the lives of vulnerable and at-risk shelter cats in Oakland. It wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers!

This month, our spotlight falls on Leslie R., who has been volunteering with us for a year. She tirelessly comes in each week for her regular shift in the Cat Zone, talking with visitors about Cat Town’s mission and what makes each of our cats unique.

I talked with Leslie about how she came to love cats, and how her volunteer service at Cat Town adds to her life.

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

I have never been a cat person. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I only started liking cats about five years ago after moving from Sausalito to the East Bay. Most of my friends who live here all had cats — often senior cats. As I spent time with the friends, I spent time with their cats. When my friends would travel — noting that I now seemed to like cats — they’d ask if I’d cat sit. I got to know a lot of cats with distinct personalities, including several Maine Coons. Now, I love cats!


LC: Do you have cats at home?

I don’t. I’m in a sublet by the lake and while the building allows cats and dogs, my landlord does not. So, I volunteer at Cat Town and also take care of a friend’s rescue dog once a week.

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LC: What role do you play at Cat Town?

I’ve been a regular in the Cat Zone most Saturdays for the past year. It’s almost always busy with a diverse group of visitors from kids with their parents to couples to folks visiting from overseas or other parts of the country. I’m always amazed by how many people are in town for a wedding or conference and make a special point of visiting Cat Town — literally sometimes on their way to the airport!  

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

LR: So much: the cats, of course, as well as the friendly and interesting staff and volunteers. I really love the variety of people who visit — looking to adopt their first or second cat or just spend time with the cats. Visitors are rightly impressed and moved by Cat Town’s mission and achievements! People are always excited to be at Cat Town, especially the kids!

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

Besides knowing they’ll go on to a forever home — I love watching their progress. Because I usually volunteer once a week, I get to see how the confidence of each cat changes from week to week. It’s inspiring.

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

It’s incredibly rewarding to work with animals in need of help (and people, too). You’ll help discover the personality of your cat as they become more socialized and confident. Contrary to myth, cats have distinct personalities. And, c’mon—kittens?!


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

Go for it! You’ll be happy you did. The devotion of staff and volunteers is great. No one gives up on a cat! Also, there’s flexibility in how and when you spend your volunteer time at Cat Town. I just started to help out where needed in the Cat Zone and now it’s a regular part of my life. The old friends who know I didn’t always like cats are pretty amazed by my devotion.

If you’ve thought about volunteering before but haven’t completed a volunteer application form yet, why not do that today! We’re always looking for more volunteers to help more cats. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available, including helping with transportation, outreach and adoption events, fundraising, working with the Forgotten Kitten Project, and more! Complete the volunteer application form today to learn about our upcoming volunteer orientations, or email info@cattownoakland.org to see how you can get involved.