[Volunteer] I did it once, I did it twice and I’ll do it again.

by Suryati

It was a late Saturday afternoon when I arrived at the designated spot as requested. I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time. All I knew was that I wanted to be a part of it.
Sounds like a cheesy mystery novel but that was how I felt the first time I arrived at LKP’s shelter as an ad-hoc volunteer for the play/ clean session.  Most of its resident kitties were out that day for an event. There were only 3 cats left at the shelter – 2 adults (Poe and Bo) and a newly-rescued kitten (Emily). The shelter was much calmer than usual.
On that day, I was the only ad-hoc volunteer and altogether there were 5 of us. I started by acquainting myself with the cats there. Poe is a timid adult Tuxedo who was a bit fearful of my presence. Bo, who had health concerns, preferred to be left alone. And Emily captured my heart. She is very “manja” with everyone and ever-so-ready to cuddle with the volunteers.

Once the meet-and-greet the cats was completed, I set about helping with the chores. Having had cats for the past 20 years (I’m currently a cat-mom to a 15-year old cat diva at home), I am familiar with cleaning up after them. I started with cleaning the cages and wiping them clean. Then making sure that they have clean drinking water (my cat diva has trained me to a point where I have to give her water fresh from the tap each time she wants to drink).
In between the cleaning, I was also playing with Emily and observing Poe and Bo. What I saw Bo did made me laugh out loud. While all the volunteers were busy with the chores, Bo quietly crept out of his opened cage and on to the floor using a step stool. He walked stealthily to a cushioned cat bed that was placed on a book shelf and made himself comfortable. What he didn’t realise was that the flower pattern on the bed was so incongruous to the grumpy expression on his face!

My treat for the day was to have Emily curled in my lap once the cleaning was done. She stepped on to my lap (I was sitting on the step stool), turned a few times to find a comfortable position, curled into a ball and promptly fell asleep.   
I enjoyed myself so much at LKP’s play/ clean session that I signed up for it again. There were more cats at the shelter this time. I was greeted at the door by Aiko (one of the kittens that I’ve read a lot about on LKP’s Facebook and whom I wanted to meet). He was waiting for me behind the closed door, sniffing and circling my ankles when I entered the shelter and then urging me to play with him.

There were also 4 other kittens at the shelter – 3 black kittens (I could not tell them apart) and a white and brown playful kitty called Damai. Cleaning up is not so straightforward when you have 4 little balls of energetic fluff zipping around the floor and being interested in the broom and dustpan. They were curious about everything that the volunteers were doing.
The highlight of this second play/clean session for me was when I was cleaning the kittens’ eyes and ears. My philosophy for cleaning a cat’s eyes and ears is to make it as enjoyable as possible for the cat. That way, it becomes a win-win situation for the cat and owner – the cat will look forward to cleaning his/ her eyes and ears, the owner does not have to chase the cat around the house to do this. I applied this philosophy on the kittens at the shelter.
With the help of another ad-hoc volunteer, we started cleaning Damai’s eyes and ears first. Damai was quite boisterous and took some time to settle down. After several gentle ear massages, he sat quietly on the table, started purring and submitted willingly to my care. Next in line was one of the black kittens which, showed the same behaviour as well.  
However, the second black kitten didn’t quite behave in that manner. First, he struggled more and didn’t want to stay still. We finally managed to get him stretched out (on his own accord) on the table and started to clean his eyes. When that was completed, I started cleaning his ears with a gentle massage. His eyes soon closed and in the next minute his head flopped down on to the table. His body became limp.
The other volunteer and I looked at each other. We weren’t quite sure what just happened. We nudged his limp body but there was no response even though he was still breathing. Both of us decided to gently lift our hands off his body to see whether there was a reaction. Still no movement. He remained motionless. We called his name a few times. He still did not move or acknowledge us.
Suddenly, after the third time we called his name, he sat up and shook his head twice. He blinked blearily at us. He had fallen asleep while having his ears cleaned! (This had never happened to me before!) It was hilarious and had the volunteers burst out laughing.

I’m definitely volunteering again at LKP for another play/clean session.
[Update: Bo has crossed the rainbow bridge and I am glad that he is no longer in pain. I’ll always remember him seated with nonchalance on that flower cat bed. Emily has since been adopted and found her furrrever home. Hurrah!]
To sign up for a play/clean session, you can check out lovekuchingproject.org/volunteer.php
Reasons why you should sign up for the play/ clean session:  

  • You love cats but can’t keep them due to some constraints.
    Example: a family member may be allergic cats; your mom makes you choose –  either you stay (and the cat goes) or you go (and the cat stays)!
  • You love cats but have a busy schedule, and can’t commit to the responsibility of keeping a cat.
  • You want to volunteer and do your part in taking care of the cat community in Singapore but you can’t commit to a regular schedule.
  • You are not a cat person but you are interested to get to know them better.
  • You just want to play with the cats.

Donate to our cause by making a deposit to our Love Kuching Project DBS Current Account 027-907655-0 or via credit card.
Donate food or litter to us at charity rates with free delivery via Pawfection
Please email fundraising [at] lovekuchingproject.org after giving.
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