Cindy Ostrye provides direct care at the Cat by Cat shelter. She volunteers at least two half-days a week, but often serves up to five days a week depending on how many cats are in care—usually 25–30, sometimes more.
Cindy feeds the cats their first of two daily meals of wet food and fills their kibble and water bowls. She cleans their crates, scooping litter boxes and replacing soiled towels. She does the laundry. And most important, she spends time connecting with the shelter kitties one on one, showering each with loving personal attention.
“I try to socialize the cats who are not completely feral,” Cindy said, “in hopes they may someday be ready for adoption.” Most people want to adopt a friendly, socialized cat, she explained, though some experienced cat-rescuers take them in while understanding that almost all cats will come around sooner or later with time and love.
Many of the shelter’s residents are free-roaming community cats who are receiving medical treatment before returning to their outdoor colonies. “Those who are not adoptable or able to live outside stay with us permanently,” Cindy said. “The shelter is their home for the rest of their lives.” Some permanent residents are given the run of the shelter and not restricted to crates—“It’s not good for them to live too long in crates if they’re not adopted,” Cindy said.
It's wonderful when a shelter cat is adopted into a loving home or returned to their outdoor community. “But you have your favorites,” Cindy sighed. “It can be heartbreaking to say goodbye.”
You might wonder, Isn’t it hard not to take cats home from the shelter? Cindy laughed. “I already have three rescues at home, including Peach, who has medical issues and passionately hates other cats, and her two brothers, who wouldn't come up from the basement for a year.”
Cindy loves interacting with all the shelter cats, and she finds it hugely rewarding to watch them respond to her attention over time. “It’s hard to see them living in crates,” she said. “But I have to remind myself that for most of them, it’s a better life than they would have had fending for themselves.”
For those who love cats, Cindy recommends signing on to help with direct care in the Cat by Cat shelter. “It’s a lovely thing to do, even if you can only give an hour or two a week. I feel so much personal satisfaction—seeing them grow, seeing them go to loving homes.”