Volunteerism + Bereavement

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Kitty cuddles are the best

For the last few weeks, I have volunteered at the Ohio Alleycat Rescue (OAR) shelter. I have had a great experience and have grown to love the cats—cats ranging from 4 weeks to 14 years old.

I originally volunteered at the shelter as a foster volunteer, meaning that I would foster a cat for several weeks or months to give them a break (more like a vacation) away from the shelter. The cat I was fostering was named Anna. She was 12 years old and was an orange tabby. She enjoyed going on walks, eating treats, and basking in the sun. Unfortunately, she had stage 2 renal failure and lost a lot of weight. After taking her to the vet, we knew it was her time and the vet put her down. It was heartbreaking because she was such a sassy, sweet old kitty. However, the loss and grief I was feeling made me realize how much I love cats.

Last picture of me and Anna (aka Ralph)

I ended up reaching out to the volunteer coordinator a week after Anna passed and was assigned to be a volunteer for the Cat Care team. Through this role, I care for and clean after the cats. The room that I specifically clean and replenished with food, water, and toys, has 12 cats in it. They are all so sweet and come from different backgrounds– from as far as Texas to as close as down the road.

Overall, volunteering with cats has given me a sense of relief from the stress of graduate school and has helped me with the grieving process, as I still miss Anna. I miss her excitedly greeting me after work and class with her cute meows. I miss her excitement when she ate. I miss her adventurous personality (she was always so intrigued by the bathtub). She is gone, but I will never forget her; she was my first pet and will forever be the best.

With the love that I have for Anna, I make sure to pour this love into every cat I pet, feed, or play with. I am extremely grateful for the volunteering opportunity. And while I am giving back to these adorable cats, they are also helping me in a way they couldn’t imagine. <3

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