shelter-kittyI clean out cat cages. It’s what I do. It’s an ugly job, but someone has to do it.

Every Thursday morning I pry myself out of bed at what, for me, is an unnatural hour: 6 a.m. My ‘shift’ at the Paws and Claws Care Center begins at 7. By the time I arrive, typically at 7:10 or 7:15 I am but one step above Zombie. Luckily my job doesn’t require much in the way of wits, see first sentence above.

But wait – some background: Paws and Claws is the animal shelter of Apache Junction, Arizona, a town with a broad mix of inhabitants of all species. It’s not uncommon for residents to find abandoned animals in their yards, or to come across a new family of (typically) cats in the desert, result of feral hanky-panky. While ‘my’ animal shelter cannot describe itself as no-kill, it is extremely low-kill. The sad truth is some animals are simply not ever going to be adopted – they may be terminally ill, they may be vicious. Not their fault, to be sure, but no one is going to take home a biting dog or cat, nor should anyone be asked to. Having said that, P and C sends 90+% of its temporary residents on to new homes, and there is no rule for how long they can wait. Sometimes an animal is special and it will take a bit longer for the right new owner to show up. Thank goodness the Care Center is willing to give every adoptable animal the time required. If you clicked the link above to the shelter you will have already seen that they ‘market’ their guests in the most appealing way possible.

There’s a reason they call themselves a Care Center. A remarkable staff and a host of volunteers take terrific care of the animals. Sick or pregnant animals are identified, put in quarantine and given whatever is required, be it medicine or just a quiet place to give birth. Every day every cage is cleaned from top to bottom and fresh new bedding is put out. Each dog has a kennel in the air-conditioned dog area. As well, volunteers walk and play with the dogs outside (though often the spoiled brats just want to come back in to the air-conditioning. It goes without saying that the cats demand air-conditioning.)  A professional photographer volunteers her time weekly to take portraits for the web-site, and groomers volunteer beauty treatments for cats and dogs. Staff and volunteers spend a lot of time with timid animals in an effort to socialize them.


It’s just a great place to spend a few hours even if, like this morning, some over-active little kitten dumps her box of litter on my head (I’m not kidding). As I said, 7 a.m. is not My time. And that’s why little missy below is giving me that wary look.