Cats & Doves
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Dove was looking for a volunteer opportunity that involved animals. Because her family’s three cats; Suki, Oliver and Theo, were adopted from Dakin, she visited our website and submitted an application to volunteer. “Sophie showed it to my wife and I, and I said it sounded good to me, too,” recalled Alan, Sophie’s father. “My wife Laura said, ‘Well, don’t leave me out!’”
Sophie and Alan were asked to help with the newly-formed Cat TLC program and happily accepted. Laura chose to volunteer with Tiny Spirit Kittens, offering to help socialize them and better prepare the mini ferals for life as domestic pets. The Dove Family was now in the cat business.
Dakin’s Cat TLC Program provides comfort, companionship, and much-needed stimulation and interaction with shelter cats. Volunteers generously offer their time, love, and attention to these kitties, many of whom become withdrawn and depressed in the aftermath of losing their families. Those who spend time with these cats are truly making a difference in helping them recover their bright spirits and unique personalities.
“If people come to Dakin and see a cat cowering in a corner, that’s not really who that cat is,” noted Alan. “Anything that can be done to alleviate that sounded good to us. Once we started volunteering, it became incredibly rewarding.”
Sophie fondly remembered seeing Marcus, a sleek black cat, undergo a transformation. “He’d hide in his cat cave and wouldn’t come out, then a little later he was out and about. I was pretty happy to see him change.” Three weeks after Marcus came to Dakin, he found a new home.
Being patient and gentle with Tiny Spirit Kittens is the most effective way to connect with them, and Laura gives them plenty of love as well. Recently she worked with a tuxedo kitten named Moonlight who, at their first meeting, hissed at her and plastered himself against the back of his cage in fear. Undeterred, Laura sat by him and spoke softly to him, even singing him a lullaby at one point.
“I walked past them about 25 minutes later,” Alan recalled, “and Laura was petting Moonlight, who was purring, rubbing up against her, and slow-blinking at her (a friendly feline gesture). It was a wonderful breakthrough.” Laura stated, “I felt so wonderful and warm, full of love and gratitude that Moonlight was working with me and trusting me.”
Moonlight’s transition underscored why Laura is dedicated to helping Tiny Spirit Kittens. “It’s so critical. They are in a formative time, and if they’re not socialized soon, they may never be. You don’t have forever to help a cat learn to live around people.”
Volunteering together brings rich rewards to the Dove family. According to Laura, “It’s fun to be able to talk about the cats we see and understand who we’re describing. I enjoy sharing this with my family.” Sophia added, “Having cats is therapeutic. They make me feel happy. I didn’t know how involved people are at Dakin, or how many volunteers there are. It’s a very fun environment.”