Like cats? Consider volunteering at the Humane Society of West Alabama


Small cats, big cats, old cats, mean cats: If you’re a fan of any and all cats, the Humane Society of West Alabama is in need of more volunteers at its Cat House in Northport.

The shelter relies on an all-volunteer crew seven days a week, 365 days a year to take care of the cats that live at the Cat House. Volunteers strive to ensure the cats who live there are spoiled rotten and socialized, so when they do find their forever home they’ll fit right in.

HSWA Cat House Coordinator Kathy Box said the need for volunteers is always dire in the summer because many volunteers are college students who head home between May and August.

While playing with the cats is a big part of the job, that’s not all volunteers do.

“We’re looking for dependable volunteers who will come at least once a week and are willing to clean this house,” Box said. “We do basic housecleaning every morning.”

Morning shifts start at 9 a.m., except on Saturdays when they start at 8 p.m. Volunteers can work as little as an hour or as long as two or three hours, depending on how much time they have available and the number of volunteers that day.

Duties include raking cat fur off cat trees, dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning out litter boxes, washing dishes and laundry. But that work is, of course, interspersed with plenty of playtime with the cats.

If you’re not much of an indoor cleaner (or are too allergic to cats to hang out inside for long), HSWA is also searching for people who can do yard work or help with household repairs.

“We’re all, all volunteer,” Box said. “We run strictly on donations and don’t get any funding from the city or the county. We’re funded strictly on the kindness of people. That’s how we run the Dog House and the Cat House.”

Most of the cats who wind up at HSWA come from the community itself, and spring through fall is always hectic because of the number of kittens born every year.

Box said most volunteers start because it’s a way to help cats in need, but they often discover it’s about so much more.

“Most volunteers say ‘this is like therapy to me,’ ” Box said. “And it’s relaxing. Most people consider it therapy, and that’s what it’s been for me. It’s my therapy job.”

If you don’t have the time to volunteer, Box said fosters are also desperately needed.

“I think a lot of people fear they’ll be stuck with the animal,” Box said. “But we completely support our fosters. We give them everything they need. All we ask is that they take their fosters to vet visits.”

In many cases, fostering is short-term and a way to get the cats or kittens in their fosters’ care away from the shelter so they can experience an at-home environment.

“It’s hard but it’s fun,” Box said. “You get to enjoy them and take care of them, and then you see them go up for adoption.”

Kittens are the most likely to be fostered, Box said, because most of the older cats at the shelter are at home there.

If cats aren’t your thing but dogs are, the Dog House is also always seeking more volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering can learn more or fill out an application right here.

But the No. 1 thing you can do to help HSWA and all the other West Alabama animal shelters and charities is pretty simple: Get your pets spayed or neutered.

You can learn about low-cost options right here.

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