With cats coming to Cat Town or getting adopted every day, our website is constantly in flux. Sometimes it’s more activity than we can keep up with, and that’s where Volunteer of the Month Tina comes in! Tina not only helped revamp the website in 2015, she also keeps it updated on a weekly basis to reflect which cats have been adopted, who needs a foster, and who’s new at our Adoption Center. She even volunteers in the Cat Zone as well. We talked with Tina about how she first got involved with Cat Town, what she loves most about volunteering and how she stays inspired.
Cat Town: How did you get involved with Cat Town?
Tina Y.: I first visited Cat Town a few months after it opened in 2014 and started volunteering in September of 2015. At first, I was mainly interested in volunteering at the Adoption Center itself, but I heard about the need to migrate Cat Town's old website to a new domain and offered to help. I didn't have a lot of technical web developing experience but knew a little about SquareSpace — I loved the thought of helping revamp the website in positive ways. I jumped right in and helped the team to develop what now is most of the infrastructure to the website, and we have been adding new touches on the regular ever since!
CT: What role do you play, or have you played, at Cat Town?
TY: Besides doing small updates to the website, such as taking down and putting up new cats weekly, I volunteer in the Adoption Center once every two weeks or so. It's always wonderful seeing new cats (or seeing that cats have been adopted!), so I try to make it in to be inspired regularly. In the past, I’ve also been on our Marketing Committee to help plan promotions and upcoming events.
CT: What do you love most about volunteering?
TY: I love watching the progress our cats make over the course of a few days, weeks, or months! Following a cats journey from when they arrive at Cat Town — mostly shy and scared — and seeing them from week to week during my shifts gaining confidence, to having that email come into my inbox saying they have been adopted is so rewarding. And seeing our foster cats find homes, too! Every cat is so unique and really has their own pace to follow. Giving them space and time to prepare for adoption is something that is very special about Cat Town.
CT: Is there a Cat Town cat or foster cat that you’ve met who really helped solidify your volunteering experience?
TY: There have been so many cats I've adored over the last four years at Cat Town. One of my favorites was Mac, a big, cross-eyed, goofy black cat, who would roll on his side like a dog and ask for pets. At the same time he was at Cat Town, a very shy black and white cat named Hector started following Mac around, as if Mac was his big brother. One day Hector mimicked Mac and flopped on his side also asking for pets. That was his breakthrough and he slowly came to love pets from humans as Mac did. One day they both got adopted TOGETHER, despite being originally bonded with other cats (Hector and Mac both had siblings at Cat Town) — Cat Town staff could see how much they loved each other. There was another similar pair, Gibson and Ranger, who were adopted out that way as well (Gibson was also cross-eyed, maybe I have a favorite type of cat) and I love that Cat Town takes into consideration the comfort and happiness of each cat when they seek and find adopters to create these happy endings.
CT: What is your favorite thing about working with vulnerable shelter cats?
TY: Shelter cats are just someone's future pet waiting for a home. Many of these cats haven't been afforded the opportunity to sleep in a cozy bed or be fed meals at regular times by a family. Letting them have the best chance at meeting their future family in an environment that makes them most comfortable, and seeing how that changes their disposition, is magic. Meeting so many cats over the last four years has really made me appreciate the time and dedication Cat Town puts into each cat so that 'unadoptable' becomes an outdated concept.
CT: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat or kitten?
TY: Shy or under-socialized cats can oftentimes be the cats that will love you the deepest. When you've taken the time to meet the cat at its own level of comfort and have shown them patience and love, their reward to you is the trust that they give you back, which you have earned. For me, I love when a cat is a bit shy and apprehensive because it tells me that our interactions have room to grow and improve, and the breakthrough moments with these cats will shape their view of people positively for the rest of their lives.
CT: Have you been a cat person your whole life?
TY: I definitely have. If there was a cornerstone of my life to highlight, loving cats would be it! I grew up with four to six cats at almost all times in my family, plus most of my extended family had cats as well. We are ALL cat people. Most of my friends, acquaintances and coworkers know me as a 'cat lady' and my apartment and desk at work are pretty reflective of that.
CT: Do you have resident cats at home?
TY: Surprisingly (to everyone), I currently don't. My apartment complex doesn't allow pets which is one of the main reasons I felt a strong desire to start volunteering with a cat rescue. After being around cats constantly my entire childhood, going away to college and living on my own without a cat felt like a part of my life was missing. I do end up as the designated cat sitter for nearly all my local friends who have cats, though—so I care for their cats at their apartments while they are traveling and get my fix that way as well.
If you have a specialized skill that you think would help Cat Town, you can make a big difference by volunteering. Learn more about how you can get involved with Cat Town today!