Office Assistants That Sleep on the Job
by Lee Chambers
Away from the hustle and bustle of the adoption floor at our Springfield location, you’ll find many offices at Dakin inhabited by staff members who work in animal care, operations, marketing, development and other departments. And in many of those offices you’ll find an assistant who gets away with sleeping on the job. These are our Dakin office cats.
These kitties are sharing our offices for a special reason. When they were brought to Dakin, they had a tough time adjusting to the adoption center environment. Proximity to other cats stressed some of them, or they were overwhelmed by the sounds, smells and steady stream of visitors. Most of them would then become depressed and stop eating, which is very dangerous for cats.
A few years ago, Dakin started pairing these cats with someone on staff in an office. The idea was that the kitty would live in the office 24/7 while the Dakin staff member would come and go during their regular work hours. The cat would have some room to stretch out, live in a calm environment, get some one-on-one attention and love, and be encouraged to start eating regularly again. Cat beds, toys, lots of comfy blankets, a litter box and carriers or boxes for them to tuck themselves into created an ideal transitional environment for them to calm down, cheer up a bit, and become a better candidate for adoption.
This is a perfect example of how Dakin’s effort to be innovative dovetailed with a need to help cats in crisis. “We’ve had a lot of success with our office cats program,” says Carmine DiCenso, executive director at Dakin. “Some only end up staying in an office for a week or two until they level out emotionally, perk up, start eating regularly, and can return to the adoption floor and be seen by many visitors. Others take a longer period of time, and may stay in offices until the day they’re adopted, but the good news is that they go home, just like the cats on the adoption floor.”
Dakin staff members are often amused at the antics of their office mates. Once the new arrival gets comfortable, that office becomes their space, often with humorous results. Media and Public Relations Manager Lee Chambers has shared her office with “probably close to forty” cats in her four years at Dakin, each with their own personality. “Once they get bold enough to jump up on my desk, that’s when the turf wars begin,” she laughs. “I usually clear half of my desk for them to curl up and snooze, but that’s never enough, and they parade back and forth over my keyboard to get my attention. One of them hit a key that literally tilted the image on my monitor forty-five degrees to the right, and I had no idea how to correct it. I got a headache keeping my head tipped to the side until one of my coworkers showed me how to fix that.”
While their temporary digs suit them better than the adoption floor, office cats still need a home just like any other kitty available for adoption at Dakin. “We do our best to make these pets feel loved,” says Lee. “We play with them, clean up after them, and monitor their progress, but it’s still not as ideal as having them in homes where they can have a family, windows to look out and couches to enjoy naps.”
So, the next time you’re looking at the listing of Dakin pets available for adoption and you see one listed as an “Office Assistant” or there’s a reference in their write-up about them living in a Dakin office, you can be sure this is a special kitty who’s just waiting for a new home where they can really relax and finally retire from the “business world.”
Here's a look at some of the more "efficient" office cats in recent years...