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Tenth Life Cat Shelter

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
You remember a while ago, I posted about being kicked out of my local government-run shelter, because "people might think I worked there"?

Well, I've found myself another shelter; and this one is a no-kill shelter! The Tenth Life shelter, near Dayton, Ohio, keeps its address secret to prevent people from dumping cats there; but of course they'll give you the address if you call them and ask to volunteer, which is what I did.

Phone Number
(937) 376-5550
They'll take donations and volunteers; and of course they want people to adopt. Call that number if interested.

The Shelter
They have 400 (!!) cats. Some are FIV or FLV positive... There are one-eyed cats, three-legged cats, and even one little girl who would be paraplegic if she were human, and has to be helped to potty like a kitten (she's the sweetest tortie; put her on your lap and she purrs away like a motor!--she's been "adopted" by the people who run the shelter, so she's still there; but she's a mascot now). Most of them are healthy, of course; and they're well-fed. They range all the way from completely feral to lap cats.

The cats live in small rooms instead of cages. There are about 10-15 cats to a room, and they have two windows, a sun roof, a cat tree, and two or three chairs and benches, a rug, pillows... (Yeah, the laundry guy has a lot of work!). They're a bit crowded, but they don't seem to mind; and if they want to hide, there are lots of nooks behind cat beds and under chairs. A couple of ingenious cats have taken to hiding under the blankets spread across the benches; one has to be careful before sitting down!

They neuter all the cats, and give them their shots, before they get into the general population. Also, they don't put a cat down unless it is in pain and can't recover; so that means the cats get vet care too. The vet who cares for the cats is the one paid worker there--they have their own clinic too. They do laser declawing there, if the cat's new owner wants it and the cat is still small. I don't like that, but at least it's laser (they told me laser declawing heals more quickly and with less pain). They say they've only ever met one cat who had trouble with declawing... *sigh* But, balanced out with all the good they are doing, and in light of the fact that I can't change it, and that I'm new, I'm not going to make a fuss about it. Maybe they will change their minds eventually.

On the Poo Patrol
I got assigned to four rooms; and all of them needed cleaning, feeding, watering, litter-box emptying, and blanket-changing. The cats helped me all the way through my work, which made it really quite charming, and much more interesting than my normal part-time job cleaning a church. And of course after I finished my rooms, I sat down, was immediately covered in cats, and cuddled them thoroughly.

I'm extremely sensitive to smells--so much so that I can't wear perfume or use strong-smelling soap or shampoo. So naturally the smell of 15 cats to a room (thank goodness there weren't any intact toms!) was a bit overwhelming. I brought some mint gum... it helped a great deal. And of course after I cleaned the rooms, they no longer smelled of cat pee. I imagine the cats are way more odor-sensitive than I am--I don't know if pee smells bad to them; but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like living in a smelly environment.

So I'm the newbie... naturally I got the room in which a cat refused to use a litter box; so there were three piles of cat poo on the floor. Thankfully, despite my odor-sensitivity, I'm not psychologically repelled by poo. Like many 12-year-old boys, I can talk about poo and eat at the same time, no problem--it's the smell that's bad. So that gave me an advantage, and I didn't throw up or quit. The floor had to be mopped, though, in that and one other room, in which the cats apparently didn't know how to aim for the litter box. But then, boys never do know how to aim!

The Inhabitants
Those cats... beautiful cats! There were sixty of them; so I didn't have any time to really get to know them all, but I did get to sit there and pet them, if they wanted it. There was this really long-haired black-and-white cat with the softest fur in the world, who loved to sit on my shoulders; and two cats, a black and a white, who shared my lap looking for all the world like a yin-yang symbol. They all have names, the cats; but to learn sixty names is going to be quite a task.

And the most special thing in the world happened: When I cleaned one room, a big tiger boy kept on hissing at me, crouching and scared. I guessed he must be a feral, or very shy; so I didn't push anything and just ignored him. Then afterwards I made a point to sit near him while I played with his roommates, making sure I never made eye contact (which scared him); and just before I left, I extended a hand to him, and he sniffed it!!

Sure, a lot of other volunteers have probably been working with him; but to have the big guy reach out to me felt so wonderful...
post #2 of 24
That's FABULOUS!!!

post #3 of 24
I am sooo happy for you. And for all the cats you will be taking care of.

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hey, if you're in the area, come and adopt a cat. They can always use the extra space! Or else dump off extra pet supplies... they need new cat trees right now, I think; the carpet on the old ones is all ratty. And naturally cleaning stuff, Lysol wipes, whatever. If you end up with extra cat stuff you can call & ask if they can use it. They probably can. And they usually have a lot of fundraisers... I think they're selling pies right now, and Christmas greenery.

Oh, yeah, and here's a funny thing:

You know you've been working at a cat shelter when...
... you blow your nose, and find bits of blue absorbent litter crystals on the hankie!

Seriously. Happened to me today.
post #5 of 24
Oh that is fantastic news! I was hoping you'd get to find a place! I'm soooo happy to hear it!
post #6 of 24
What wonderful news!! You are such a blessing to those cats! I hope that your posts lead to many adoptions and contributions to the Tenth Life Shelter. I congratulate you on a wonderful success, despite the discouragements from the last shelter - indeed, although a door closed, a window opened!
I could just close my eyes and imagine your being covered in cats! Last week, I was in Myrtle Beach, and by day 4 without a cat in it, was having serious withdrawal -- so off to the North Myrtle Beach Animal Shelter for me!! (The other ladies were going shopping). There were over 200 cats The staff was wonderful. They provided me with a wish list, and I got to go shopping after all
Please keep us updated on how things are going for you! Susan
post #7 of 24
That's fantastic- you found a shelter to volunteer at! This one sounds much better than the government operated shelter. The cats will love all the attention they get from you. I hope the tiger boy continues to make friends with you. Do keep us informed about how things are going.
post #8 of 24
I'm so glad you were able to find a place to volunteer. We all knew there was a place for you and congratulations to you for having the persistence to find it.
post #9 of 24
I am soo pleased you found somewhere you could volunteer, and I Cant wait to hear more about the ones you help look after. Fingers crossed there are people reading who are in teh area.
post #10 of 24
Sounds like you are a perfect fit for them! Kitty litter in your nose!! I MUST quit complaining about scooping 8 litter boxes for 11 cats!

You will be a great blessing to them, and I'm sure the kitties will bring you much happiness.

Do they have a website, or are they posting the cats on Petfinder? I know you are so good at telling us about the sweet kitties. If they are posting on Petfinder, maybe you can help with descriptions. And if they aren't, you can suggest it. (I know for now you are the newbie, and they are learning to trust you...the humans, that is!)

You really impress me, Callista! Good on you for finding a good place to help!
post #11 of 24
Originally Posted by peachytoday View Post
I am sooo happy for you. And for all the cats you will be taking care of.

what fabulous news! i'm really looking forward to reading about your experiences! you write so well!
post #12 of 24
Great news! I know they will be very appreciative of someone with you hard word ethic and your skills in communicating to others about the cats. Thanks for the update!
post #13 of 24
Callista, I am SO happy for you! That sounds like a wonderful place to volunteer.

I too am hypersensitive to many smells (among many other things ) so I can only think that cleaning out that many litterboxes must be quite difficult - we only have 1 cat and my husband is on litterbox duty wherever possible - I will deal with it if I absolutely have to but I was sick last time I had to do it, even though there wasn't much to be cleaned out. Fortunately my husband is quite tolerant, tbh he wouldn't stay with me if he wasn't!

Sounds as if you've really got lucky at this place though, and I'm glad it's working out better than the last place you tried to help
post #14 of 24
That rocks Callista!! I'm so glad you found a shelter that was willing to accept your help! I can only imagine what it must be like to go play with those kitties....and the wonderful odor of cat boxes...
post #15 of 24
This is great news!!
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
I went to volunteer again today; here's a bit of an update:

I am an IDIOT!! And the cats hate me.

*pity party*

So, the story:

It was 10:00 a.m. and I was supposed to be there at 10:30; and I was too wussy to go ride my bike both ways, so a housemate had agreed to cart me and my bike there, and I'd ride back.

First mistake: My housemate wasn't up yet at 10; so I figured, okay, she wants another half hour of sleep; that isn't horrible. And they did say that they're there all day Saturday, so technically I can come anytime Saturday.

Second mistake: While my housemate got her extra half hour of sleep, I decided to do the same. After all, a sleep-deprived volunteer misses half the poo in the cat box, right? Naturally, when I woke it was 2:00. Did I say I was an idiot?

So here I was, way late when I arrived; and for some reason I decided that this was the day that I was going to deep-clean my rooms. Half the volunteers, it seems, don't ferret out the cat pee in corners of the room, or the upchuck that somebody left under a chair, or anything really out of sight (but not out of scent)! [I know this because more than one wet spot had grown mold. Eugh.]

Deep-cleaning is all well and good. It needs to be done. But not by a new volunteer who doesn't know her way around, and is hours late.

Not to mention that cats are pretty much creatures of habit, and hate their comfortable (if smelly) little spots being upturned and shaken out and mopped with pungent Pine-Sol... I got more than a few hisses, and I think the big boy from last week really hates me now. Every time I had to mop something, it seemed he'd be right there and I'd have to tell him to move and he'd be startled and hiss at me. I was beginning to wonder if he was actually going to stick claws into me, he was that upset.

So by 7:30, I was only three-fourths done, the cats were in an uproar, and the couple who runs the shelter told me I had to leave; they feared for my safety if I biked home after dark.

So they did the rest of my work for me (at least I'd done all the poo cleanup, which is the least pleasant part); and here I sit, feeling very disorganized and ashamed.

I'm going back next week to make it up to them... I hope the cats (and the humans) will have forgotten my transgressions by then.

I should make up a step-by-step list that will tell me what to do next; so I don't get all confused next time and take forever.

Oh, yeah--I wore a mask today while doing the litter boxes to keep the dust from out of my nose. And it still didn't keep me from sneezing blue litter crystals afterwards!
post #17 of 24
Callista....PLEASE....you are not an idiot....you are a HUMAN!!! Do you know how often I have been a human with my own cats?? Do you know how many times I have been a human at the adoption events?? DOZENS!! You are a WONDERFUL, KIND, LOVING soul and I'm sure the shelter is just soooo happy to have you volunteering. Don't beat yourself up....the cats WILL forgive you.

post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Okay, you're right--I'm being a bit melodramatic. I guess I was just overreacting, and being perfectionistic. (I'm an extreme perfectionist. If I don't get something perfectly right, I often get overwhelmed or give up, or both. It makes me a good cleaning lady, which is my current part-time job, but it really gets in the way when I'm supposed to do something fast.)

Human = not perfect :P I should find some way of knocking that fact into my thick skull.

I'm going to work on that list. It should be a help next Saturday, so I actually know what I need to do next!

Oh, yeah--My mom has shown signs of thinking about getting me a digital camera! So if I do get one, which I might, I will be able to post pictures of the kitties without even worrying about film! *fingercross* I especially want to post pictures of a little black-and-white long-haired female, because she's absolutely beautiful... of course I'll have to convince her she can't have her photo op if she's sitting on my shoulder!
post #19 of 24
How frustrating! Sounds like you really have plans to whip that place into shape, which it needs. But do try to pace yourself, by only doing a small amount of deep cleaning each weekend.

You are improving the health of the kitters by really cleaning those rooms...but just pace yourself. And do NOT beat yourself up about it! I'm sure the humans involved are very greatful to have someone willing to work so many hours to care for the kitties!
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Yayy! I'm happy!

Okay, so my mom didn't send me a digital camera; but she did send me a really good thing--a $50 check!!

So I used $20 to buy a really cheap digital camera; and have promised to spend the rest on food and possibly library fines (I'm sooo bad about returning books on time!).

And I have permission from the shelter people to snap a few pictures of my favorite cats, so if I have time (I probably will; it doesn't take that long to snap a picture) you will get to see the kitties!!

It's a cheap camera and the resolution is low; but I've experimented a little and I think I can make it work right, so the cats should at least be recognizable.

Let's hope technology and me get along next Saturday, that the "cleaning routine" list I work out helps me finish the job, and that the cats have forgotten the travesty of last week's moppings!
post #21 of 24
Hey...just bring some kitty treats with you & all will be forgotten! I can't wait to see pics!
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

Click here.
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Oh, sorry about the double post. I should mention that I was quite lucky yesterday when I was at the shelter; because I guess there were enough volunteers to go around that day and somebody had been assigned my rooms. So I just vaccuumed/mopped the hallways (which really needed it), and then spent time with the cats! Almost felt like cheating, to do so little work and then get to cuddle the kitties.

(Actually I think they might have assigned me the hallways because I did so badly last time, but I won't do that again. I hope next Saturday I can go back to doing cat rooms. It's so cute when they "help" you.)
post #24 of 24
Dear Callista:

It's Nov. 14 and I'm just reading your post for the first time. BRAVO to you for doing this work of love! Tenth Life sounds wonderful; there is also a Tenth Life in Santa Barbara, CA, which provides loving, safe home-for-life for older and special needs cats.

I know the feeling! Having lived with, loved, rescued, and advoCATed for cats all my life, there's no feeling like the feeling one gets knowing that cats are loved and safe!
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