In our first 2019 spotlight, we’re featuring volunteer Randy H., who’s been a fan of Cat Town since the beginning. When his schedule opened up, he decided to get in on the action, and has been a stalwart volunteer force in our Adoption Center ever since. As one of our regular weekly volunteers, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Randy around or talked with him about one of our cats.
Find out what Randy’s learned working with Oakland’s at-risk and under-socialized cats and his favorite part about being on the Cat Town volunteer team.
Larissa C.: How did you get involved with Cat Town?
Randy H.: When Cat Town first opened up the cafe space, I was there on opening day. I joined the email list to keep up with what Cat Town was doing. Fast forward to 2017 and while I was recuperating from a hip replacement, I got the announcement about the Studio space opening. Having extra time on my hands, I decided this would be a great opportunity to take the next step in learning more and working with the cats that needed the most help with socialization.
LC: Have you been a cat person your whole life?
RH: I have been an animal person my whole life—I grew up in rural America and we had both dogs and cats, and had plenty of neighbors with horses, cows, chickens, pigs, and sheep. I became passionate about cats probably nine years ago, when I got Max, my very first cat of my own, who at the time was engaged to resolve a mouse problem I was having.
LC: Do you have cats at home?
RH: I am the domestic servant of five cats who allow me to share their home with them; (at least as long as I can still wield a can opener!) four males and a newly adopted little girl who is FIV positive.
LC: What role do you play, or have you played, at Cat Town?
RH: I participate as a volunteer in both the Cat Zone and Studios on a weekly basis, and on occasion, might be found helping with a special off-site event.
LC: What do you love most about volunteering?
RH: What I like most about volunteering is being able to make a difference in the lives of those wonderful cats that might otherwise be tossed aside. From my volunteer work at another animal organization, I know firsthand the heartbreak of losing a feline friend who was not afforded the time and attention we can give them here at Cat Town. What we do at Cat Town is vital and to be part of that is something that transcends description.
LC: What is something you’ve learned about under-socialized cats and kittens that people might not expect to be true?
RH: There is a difference between being under-socialized and being feral—and there is also a difference between being feral and terrified of just about every element in a new and strange environment. I guess what I am trying to say is that what presents itself as feral behaviour, may not be caused by the cat truly being feral and with time and patience, we can help the cat overcome their fears and return to “normal” behaviour.
LC: What is your favorite thing about working with vulnerable shelter cats?
RH: Knowing we are doing something really good by giving these cats the chance they deserve, that so many other organizations might not. The joy is immeasurable when you can see a cat go from a fractious, hissing ball of teeth and claws to a confident, biscuit-making love bug.
LC: Why would you encourage people to adopt an under-socialized cat or kitten?
RH: Every cat needs and deserves a home! By adopting an under-socialized cat or kitten, you are doing something extra special. You are not just saving a life, but giving that special cat or kitten a chance at a second life, where without Cat Town and our wonderful adopters, the cat would not find that second chance. As we have proven in the majority of cases, “under-socialization” is simply a state, and there is the added thrill and sense of wellbeing in watching that under-socialized cat become a confident, purring best friend.
LC: Is there a Cat Town cat that you’ve met who really helped solidify your volunteering experience?
RH: Yes, I think my greatest reward has been working with Tater, who with a lot of patience, trickery (and treats), finally allowed me to pet him, and even seemed to enjoy it.
LC: What would you say to someone considering volunteering at Cat Town?
RH: Just do it! You have nothing to lose and you can’t help but feel good about being part of the wonderful work we do saving cats’ lives and helping them find their forever homes.
If you’re ready to start helping Oakland’s at-risk and under-socialized cats, get started by completing a volunteer application form or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can get involved. We’re always looking for new volunteers!