Friends, homies and countrymen, today I am pleased to introduce you to a volunteer of many marvels.
Feast your hearts on the prose and passions of one fabulous Florie:
“I just celebrated my one-year anniversary of being a volunteer at Tabby’s Place. I’ve volunteered in many different ways over the years, but this is the first time I’ve agreed to a regular shift that I’ve not only stuck with, but looked forward to every single week. It has been therapeutic beyond explanation. Even though I have three pets of my own (one cat and two non-cats), I can never get enough animals. Yes, I’m that freak who stalks people on the street with their pets when I’m on vacation (read: anytime I leave my house) away from my own pets because I need to say hello and get a dose of animal love.
“Plus, being a computer nerd by profession leaves me longing for anything that has nothing to do with computers when I’m not actively working. So these and many other factors led me to Tabby’s Place, which I am ever so grateful for. I adore my fellow Friday afternoon feeder Kelly, who adopted her two furry babies from Tabby’s a few years ago. I’ve even hooked my 97 year old grandmother (who is a life-long cat hater <gasp!>), who calls me for her Friday report. Even she has been drawn into the comings and goings of the Tabby’s Place residents like some sort of feline soap opera.
“This first full summer of volunteering has been fun, with all the tiny kittens passing through. Goodness knows I will forever miss my little boy Sato, one of staffer Karina’s first fosters this year. He was mostly black with a white belly, and he would lie cradled in my arms, perfectly content and purring like a madman while he placed a paw on each of my cheeks and kissed the tip of my nose. Even my F.T.L. (First Tabby’s Love) was a little black puffball named Ada. I still think of her when I feed the other kitties in Suite B.
“But even though a certain show that shall not be named got snubbed by the Emmys this week, I am going to say orange is the new black in the kitty world. Personally, one of my fascinations while hanging out at Tabby’s Place is watching which kitty’s gravitational force pulls on whose heart strings the strongest. Each staffer and volunteer is drawn to their respective soulmate kitties for whatever reason (any sociologists out there studying this?). I find myself drawn to the orange tabbies – perhaps because I have my own 18-year-old orange tabby named Kiki at home, who of course is the handsomest boy in the whole universe (unbiased momma that I am).
“Maybe it’s because when Hobbes snuggles up in my lap, usually upside -down and drooling from bliss, my heart melts into a pool of goo on the spot. Perhaps it’s because, upon beginning my adventure at Tabby’s, I also volunteered for the socialization program and was assigned to Valencia. For those who haven’t had the joy of meeting her, she lives in my secret favorite, Suite A. This suite is home to several ferals, each of whom may have missed that day in kitty kindergarten where they teach how to relate to effusive humans cooing at you and trying with all their might to cuddle your every furry morsel.
“Valencia wouldn’t even look at me at first. But after months of working with her, one day as I cooed ‘Hi, Valencia! You pretty, pretty girl!’, in my sweetest sing-songingly singing voice reserved only for animals of all kinds, she did something amazing. SHE SANG BACK.
“She opened her tiny little mouth wide, and a sound came out that I’ve never heard from another cat in my life. ‘Mmmmaaaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaa!’ she said, looking straight at me from atop the ramp:
“Accuse me of anthropomorphizing all you want; I swear to you she was telling me something she had never told anyone in her whole life. It was awesome. I knew right then that my time with her was making a difference.
“As the months have passed, Valencia and I have had long, meaningful conversations of me saying ‘Hi sweetheart! Hi pretty!’, and Valencia responding, ‘Mmmmaaaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaa!’ in endless variations and iterations. Sometimes she sings so much, I’m convinced she’s trying to tell me detailed stories about her life, perhaps the secret of how to solve the Middle East peace crisis, or maybe lately just that she misses her buddy, Scooter. But no matter what she’s saying, make sure to sing to her next time you hang with my home-kitties in Suite A… everyone needs to hear her lovely a cappella.
“Perhaps Valencia will find a new home like Kelly’s first socialization assignment Chrissy, or like our first joint project Cecille — who I swear we worked with for a total of two seconds before she got adopted (we’re just that good). Perhaps Valencia will happily live out her years at Tabby’s Place.
“In any case, I will continue to fall in love with kitties that have black fur, kitties who have orange fur, and all types of kitties who steal my heart in all sorts of ways. Mostly I know that all my cooing and singing is helping to make all their lives more joyful, for however long they live at Tabby’s Place. They say every kitty has a story, and I can’t wait to hear more of them.”