While many know Cat Town for opening the nation’s first cat cafe, so much of our mission is still rooted where we started: in foster-based rescue. Today, more than half of our cats find support in foster homes — so we’re delighted to feature foster Staci S. as Volunteer of the Month! She shared why she chose to volunteer with us, and more about the cats she’s been able to help: the formerly timid Toby, and Katya, a cat whose unusual grooming habits transformed Staci and our medical team into ace detectives.
Cat Town: How did you first get involved as a volunteer, and how did you decide to become a foster?
Staci S: I visited Cat Town when you first opened your adoption center in 2014, but I didn't start fostering until last year. I was looking for a foster program because I wanted some semi-ongoing cat cuddles and to do something positive in the community. I spoke with Dawn, Cat Town’s Foster Coordinator, and instantly loved the way she talked about the foster program. It's really all about Cat Town's mission — and I'm so in!
CT: Have you been a cat person your whole life?
SS: I got my first cat, Helen, when I was 12. I didn't really want a cat back then… but that kitty converted me! She had been abused, so was not very friendly or outgoing, but I worked really hard to get her to trust me. From that point on, I was hooked. So it's definitely been most of my life. Luckily I've surrounded myself with friends who are also a bit cat-obsessed.
CT: Do you have cats at home?
SS: Just my current foster, Katya. When she was at the shelter she developed a nervous over-grooming habit, so we wanted to keep her by herself while we helped her through that. At one point she had groomed the fur off of nearly half her body. After some trial and error, we've finally figured out why she was over-grooming — it was an allergy, and now her fur is growing back beautifully!
CT: What do you love most about volunteering?
SS: Honestly, it's hard for me to think of fostering as volunteering. All the folks at Cat Town are so lovely and grateful, but I feel like I'm getting the better part of this deal. My fosters have been, generally, the cutest little floof-monsters in the world, and hanging out at Cat Town, surrounded by playing kitties, is definitely not a problem. I get to hang out with cute cats, and feel awesome about doing something good? Yes!!!
CT: What is your favorite thing about working with vulnerable shelter cats?
SS: These little guys and gals are in such a tough spot — they're scared and in a rough environment. But people want them to just cheer up and be super outgoing and playful when adopters come to look at them in their cages. It's just not realistic. What we do at Cat Town is give them a chance to show their true colors. It's amazing how cats who were at first so terrified — or in Katya’s case, a quarter bald — end up being so loving. I love that I get a chance to show that side of them to potential adopters.
CT: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat or kitten?
SS: They really have so much to offer! Just because they're not outgoing or super cuddly at first doesn't mean they're not going to become a great pet.
CT: Is there a Cat Town cat or foster cat that you’ve met who really helped solidify your volunteering experience?
SS: All of them! My first foster, Toby, was terrified when he first came to my apartment. He didn't come out of his carrier for days. By the time he was adopted, he was a complete cuddle-monster and would drool while I gave him tummy rubs. His adoptive parents still send me pictures of him snuggling and begging for pets. It's so rewarding to see that shift as we give shelter cats a chance to show who they really are.
If you’d like to get your own feline fix, reach out to Cat Town to become a foster! We take care of transportation, food, medicine, to us and all other supplies. All you need to offer is time and love to help these cats show their true selves to potential adopters. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!