It’s a while since we’ve had a volunteer feature on the Neko Blog, and I asked Alice to tell us something about herself and the cats she loves.
|with Kit-Kat & Blaze... - BC|
She has been coming to the Sanctuary almost two years now – she started in July of 2015 and took over my Friday shift in the Old Aids, when I moved to work in the back pens. She heard about it from her sister, whose friend had volunteered here, and she came to it from the perspective of a non-pet family member. She says “My family isn't big on pets - we had one unsuccessful try with a dog when I was very young (the dog was much too rambunctious for three-year old me) and after that, we only had a few lukewarm attempts at goldfish as I was growing up. But I definitely hope to get a cat when I settle down on my own.”
|coaxing Tara - with Shelley involved - BC|
Her Friday mornings in the Old AIDS/Val Jones area extend to most of the day spent at the Sanctuary, and she has recently picked up the Wednesday night feeding shift in the Double-Wide, as well as spending much of Sunday afternoons with the cats.
Like a lot of our volunteers, she’s reserved when talking about herself, but when asked about her favourite cats, the floodgates are opened! She says:
I have quite a few special cats that I always look for - it's why my days at the Sanctuary always run so long! To start, the leukemia cats have a special place in my heart - they're the first cats that I ever got to know at the sanctuary and the ones that I know the best.
|Merlin - MW|
I always make sure to get in some one-on-one time with each of them every week, be it for some grooming or just cuddling and treats. The group in Old AIDS also gets some special chicken time just before I leave for the day. (Shh, don't tell the Val Jones cats!)
|Puffin the King - PH|
I'm also a steadfast member of the Puffin fan club - he's not a bad cat, really! Despite his reputation, he's really a sweetheart. I think it's just that sometimes he gets in a Mood (ie. stressed out/on edge from the other cats) and he needs his space when that happens. I usually know to let him be if the tail doesn't come up or if I don't hear the purr when I offer him my hand for sniffing. But when he is in a good mood, he's a very affectionate boy - he loves to come sit on my lap and butt his forehead gently against my chest.
|Zimmer - MW|
Another cat that I always make sure to visit is Zimmer in New AIDS. I fell head over heels for his irresistible 'sad cat' face back when he was first introduced on the blog. Of course, the attraction wasn't mutual at all, and I spent half a year or so trying desperately to woo him. I'd even given in and bought a can of tuna and was prepared to use it as a bribe before he finally, miraculously, decided one day that I wasn't so bad after all. (He ended up getting the tuna anyway, of course.) All that time and effort was definitely worth it though, because he is the sweetest boy - he loves head rubs and he'll let you know it with the loveliest purr.
|Diamond - MW|
Another special cat is Diamond in the Single-Wide. I first fell in love with her together with Garfield and I would often spend time cuddling with them as they both snuggled together in the same bed on the Single-Wide counter. In the wake of losing Garfield late last year, and finding out about Diamond's own health issues, I've since made sure to dedicate extra time and love to her. I usually visit her in the evenings for a bit of a brush and a cuddle - she's one of those cats that will curl up and doze in my arms when I lay down with her (and she doesn't even mind when Simone wriggles in to get in on the snuggling action!)
|Paylan (KS) & Bossanova (MW)|
While I'm in the Single-Wide, I also pay a visit to Sarah Paylan and Bossanova, for a bit of grooming. They're both a little (a lot) on the chunky side, so it started out as a way to make sure that they didn't start developing matts in those harder-to-reach spots, but they both enjoy it so much that it's become a treat all on its own. What's actually quite funny is that both of them react in similar ways when getting combed in the bum area: Bossanova does his characteristic frantic licking of the floor, and Paylan begins to lick anything that's within reach, which is often my wrist!
|Riley - PH|
And last but definitely not least, my day is never complete without a visit to Riley in the Connor. I can't remember when it was that I first noticed him, but I do remember being immediately intrigued by his big-boned self. Of course, he was so shy that he'd only ever let me admire him from afar. Fortunately for me (although not so much for him), he had a rather long stint in a cage for his chronic congestion problems last November and I got the perfect chance to bond with him. By the end of it, I'd thought that we had built the start of something beautiful, but when he was let out, he promptly forgot who I was and would ignore all my attempts to visit with him! Luckily, he was easier to win over the second time around and he now recognizes my voice when I call his name and will come down from the cage-tops to say hello.
Alice wishes, of course, for long and healthy lives for all of the cats, and also hopes that RAPS and the Sanctuary can continue to grow and flourish and provide a safe haven for them and many more cats in the future.
Blog by Brigid Coult & Alice Lai
Photos: Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Katie Scragg, Michele Wright