Across the UK, thousands upon thousands of generally domesticated animals are left as strays or abused in their own homes – meaning that, hidden away in animal shelters, there are huge numbers of potential pets that are forgotten about. I’ve always been a sucker for these places – from the age of around 10 I used to beg my mum to take me to our local shelter and ended up nagging her to bring home kittens.
Now, I live away from home and I decided to volunteer at the Lancaster Animal Care shelter, where they take care of cats, dogs, rabbits and ferrets – along with an isolation care unit for sick wildlife. I visited the premises for a look around, unsurprisingly fell in love with every single cat and signed my name on their volunteer form before you could say ‘Meow!”. At the time, I was horribly disheartened to find that they didn’t have any vacancies, but they would give me a call if anything came up.
And it did.
Within two weeks or so, I received a call asking me to attend a health & safety induction, where I was taught all the proper ways of handling the cats and dogs, along with general safety advice on the site. After the induction, I was granted with the coveted ‘cat key’ that I’d been desperate for ever since laying eyes on the cattery. The main part of my volunteering is, literally, cat-cuddling. I let myself in to one of their little rooms, give them some love, attention and, if they don’t mind the mauling – a quick brush, then repeat for as long as I can. The cats are absolute sweethearts. If you’re dubious of the feline variety and think they’re a bit inattentive; you’ve clearly never been to one of these places. These cats want attention and they will fight for it – I’ve had full-sized mogs trying to climb up onto my shoulders for a cuddle! And, if that isn’t enough to sway you, it’s Summer: there are kittens EVERYWHERE.
If you have a bit of free time this Summer, why don’t you find your local shelter and sign up? It’s a great little pastime that can be such a help to a frightened, abandoned animal – and you can go whenever you choose. You can take the dogs for a walk, which is what my boyfriend and I have started to do on Sunday afternoons – last week we took out a little dog called ‘Dave’ who could literally jump about 4 times his height – he was adorable, and I’m slightly scared of dogs!
Here are some pictures I’ve snapped of my new furry friends: