Saturday, May 8, 2010

The calm after the storm

Submitted by Alexis Raymond, UAN communications director

Friday was like the calm after the storm at the temporary cat shelter in Lancaster. The previous day was a whirlwind, non-stop effort to get 120+ cats relocated and resettled, but we spent much of yesterday listening to the silence of a happy, well-run shelter.

Because UAN operates so many temporary shelters for dogs rescued from puppy mills, the silence of an all-cat shelter was a major change of pace. Often times we heard a random “mew,” but we spent the majority of the day in a peaceful silence. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of activity.

EARS volunteers made sure all of the cats had plenty of food, water and fresh litter. A local veterinarian came to assess the most critical cases. Folks from HSUS began contacting rescue groups throughout the region to seek placement for the cats. 

And little by little, a few of the cats started revealing their personalities.

Since the animals are still getting settled and many are stressed from their relocation the day before, the volunteers kept their distance to give the cats time to adjust to their new lifestyle. But some of the cats showed that they have already made the transition and are interested in meeting the EARS volunteers.

Helen was one of the friendliest. The little black-and-white girl with gorgeous green eyes was always at the front of the cage, extending a paw or rubbing her head up against the bars. Helen was in the “sick bay” area (many of the cats have treatable conditions like upper respiratory infection and skin problems) but that didn’t stop her from greeting everyone who came by her cage.

EARS volunteer Sara Dawdy of Sunnyvale, California spent some time with Helen, and also reported on one tortoiseshell cat in her section who showed signs of progress in just the first day: in the morning she was pressed in the back of her cage, but by the evening feeding, she was at the front of the cage seeking attention.

Blue Boy is a black cat who is already in contention to be a volunteer favorite. He was so docile, UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies said it would be okay to take him out of his cage, so he got some cuddle time with EARS volunteer Barbara Forte of Downey, California. (I’m not sure who was luckier in this scenario – Barbara or Blue Boy!)

At the evening briefing, Janell said she expects that even more cats will start coming forward and warming up to the volunteers as they settle into the rhythm of the shelter. Then, they will find out what thousands of other animals around the country have learned in recent years – EARS volunteers provide the ultimate in care and love for animals brought out of crisis and into care.

Photos (top to bottom): a curious cat approaches the front of her cage; EARS volunteer Jody Kruger of San Jose checks on a friendly cat; Helen says "hello"; Barbara Forte and Blue Boy. 

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