Did you know that Ten Lives Cat Rescue is run entirely by volunteers? We currently have over 60 volunteers in various roles helping us achieve our mission—to save homeless, abused, and abandoned cats by providing veterinary care, rehabilitation services, and then placing them into loving adoptive homes.
Angie has played a crucial role as a Ten Lives volunteer for a little over a year now. Over her time with us, she has been a foster, a caretaker for our adoptable cats at PetValu, and a trapper. Most recently, she has generously opened up her garage as a temporary landing place for cats who were trapped and didn’t have a permanent foster secured at the time of their trapping. She has also made her garage a safe haven for the feral cats we have TNR’d over the last year. Since she started volunteering with Ten Lives, Angie has helped 55 cats to date! Angie has one resident cat named Zen, who she says is spoiled rotten.
1. How did you originally hear about us, and what made you decide to become a volunteer?
My cat’s Instagram account (you read that right!) followed one of the Ten Lives Cat Rescue volunteers, and they posted about needing fosters critically. I wanted a cat friend for my resident cat, but I felt like fostering a cat was like renting to own. And there was a need, so it seemed like the time to give it a try.
Unfortunately, my cat, Zen, was not at all zen when it came to foster cats. She is spoiled rotten (she has a heated bed, couch, a million toys…), but she will not be bribed into allowing foster cats in the house.
When Zen hated my first foster cat, Hope, I was so disappointed. I felt a bit like a failure, like I joined the rescue and I wasn’t able to fulfill that commitment. I needed to find new ways to help the organization. I started visiting PetValu to check on the cats that were there. The cats and I would take walks around the store, and sometimes, they did some toy shopping with me. When COVID hit, that unfortunately stopped. So I started to keep feral cats in my garage prior to their spay/neuter appointments. I taxi them to and from the spay/neuter clinic, and then back to my garage as a recovery area for them. Then, I became one of the first stops for hard to place cats until we could find a foster family for them. Today, I am the “garage foster and feral mom” I also take way too many photos of any cat in my possession and I plaster them all over Facebook and Instagram. Sorry, not sorry.
2. What is your favorite story or memory while volunteering with us?
Liam Neilson. He came to my house with his neck ripped open, and I was so scared he would die in my garage. He was a mess—I mean a near death mess. I had been having ferals and other temporary foster cats in my garage, and the rescue had nowhere for Neil to go. So I took him. I read books to him in the garage, and we hung out. I sometimes even took my work into the garage to be near him. He was great at walking on my keyboard and locking it in ways I didn’t know existed. He survived his wounds (many, many wounds). He was appreciative of the time we spent together, and so was I. He gave love like no cat I have ever seen, and I fell madly in love with him. All he wanted was love. He was with me for a few months before he went to another foster home. I cannot imagine a cat that will surpass how he made me feel.
3. What have you learned during your time as a volunteer?
I have learned how to trap cats, how to keep cats, how to re-trap cats, and other useful skills. I have learned a lot about cat behavior. Most importantly, I have learned that while you think you are volunteering for the cats, and you are, you are also volunteering for yourself. It feels good to help a cat that needs help. Without you, that cat may not make it. You can make their lives 100% better, and it doesn’t always have to take a ton of effort. The times it takes a lot of effort, it is worth it—it is always worth it.
4. What do you wish other people knew about us?
This is a fulfilling thing to do, and you can be as involved as you want. You want to drive cats to appointments? Great! You want to do administrative work? Fantastic. You want to love on some deserving cats? Perfect. There really is a role for everyone.
5. What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I work, a lot. I work for a biotech company that specializes in oncology drugs, but also makes a few other biologic and small molecule drugs. I am involved in two oncology drugs, one that treats relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia and one for multiple myeloma. I have the honor of working through with manufacturing issues, deviations, authoring of regulatory submissions, and working with regulatory agencies. I say honor and I mean it, as it is extremely fulfilling work that impacts lives of grievously ill patients.
6. How do you think Ten Lives Cat Rescue will change over the next five years?
I think we will continue to grow. Some of it will be painful, because growing quickly brings with it issues. However, it is necessary, and we will be helping more cats than ever.
7. Why should others consider volunteering with us?
You get to help cats have better lives, and also improve your own life. Doing for others can make you sleep better at night, as well.
8. What have you gained while volunteering with us?
I feel like a better human being. I needed this. I didn’t know I needed it, but I needed an outlet that brings me joy. I have helped cats and I have met some fantastic people. This is a part of my life now.
9. How much of an impact do you feel your volunteer work has had with Ten Lives Cat Rescue?
I do what I can. Some days I feel fine about my contribution, other days I feel like I should be doing more. But like I said previously, you can be as involved as you want to be. I hope I am making a difference in the rescue. I know I have made a difference in some cats’ lives.