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This is what it feels like some days at the shelter:

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Actually, this lovely cat is just a talker (or singer, if you prefer). She has a lot to say off and on during the day. If I translate correctly, she is saying, “Help, there’s been a terrible mistake! I don’t belong here!! Look at me. I’m accustomed to pearls, a tuffet, and tuna for supper.” At least I think that is what she’s saying. She doesn’t have a card on her cage yet, which I imagine means she is waiting the requisite 10 days for an owner to reclaim her. When the waiting period is up she can go to the home, or castle, she so obviously deserves. Until then, she just offers her opinion on everything. She adores being held and scratched, so clearly she is, or was, a well-loved pet.

But I digress.

I wanted to tell you about the wonderful calm and fun there is at the shelter over a holiday, when the place is closed. Instead of the usual rush of preparation before opening to the public, cage cleaning, exercising and playing with the animals is done at a more leisurely pace. Sure, the staff wants to get out early – they need a holiday too! – nonetheless they are more relaxed, the animals are more relaxed (some exceptions) and the volunteers are way more relaxed.

For instance, there are 4 little feral kittens in the back room. They are too young to adopt in any case, but they are too frightened and shy to bring up front for the public to see. One in particular, a teeny little smoke grey, arches and hisses if you so much as look at him. While this is quite alarming behavior from a full-grown cat, it is just adorable and funny when the threat is coming from 3 ounces of fluff. Part of my assignment has been to handle these little ferals as much as possible. It is really fun. They begin by hissing and end up purring. Then when I go back in 5 minutes the whole exercise is repeated. The hope is that they will eventually become tame enough to forget the hissing part and just go immediately to the purr. During my regular volunteer hours there is often not enough time to give to these little guys. Yesterday there was plenty of time, and plenty of fun was had by at least one of us.

Black Friday was decorate the shelter day. Jenny put up the scrawny little artificial tree and we decorated it with beads, ornaments and small lights. The best decorations are the cards, though.

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Here are Margaret and Jean hanging the cards. Each one says either Cat or Dog at the top, and then underneath is written something that the animal would like to receive for Christmas – maybe some hot dogs (yes, good dogs get the occasional hot dog treat after their walks), or some small balls with bells inside, or some cans of food, or some litter, perhaps a wee sweater for a small stray. Shelter friends come and choose a card, and then return later with the requested item, or perhaps something completely different and equally useful. It’s a fun way to give to the shelter, and the shelter sure appreciates the gifts.

Probably a shelter near you does about the same thing, or wishes they did. Why not surprise them over the holidays with something for the beasties in their care? One of our cats requested “three blind mice (stuffed of course).” I am sure Santa will oblige.

Here are three kitties of the dozen or so at the shelter right now:

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This black beauty is full of fun and tricks (note the rumpled state of the cage).

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We all fervently  hope this little comedian will one day grow into her ears.

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This cat is a dreamboat – loves to be held, loves to purr, loves to be brushed – in short, just loves.

Please visit your shelter over the holidays and leave a gift – you’ll feel so happy.