Volunteer Spotlight: Johanna

Did you know that Ten Lives Cat Rescue is run entirely by volunteers? We currently have over 90 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.

Johanna has been volunteering with us since September 2018, and she wears many hats! Not only is she a crucial part of our foster team, but she is also our Foster Intake Coordinator, our Pregnant Cat Mentor, and one of our Supply Coordinators. Johanna’s resident cats are two sisters named Pecan and Cranberry, who were adopted just over a year ago from a litter of foster kittens that were born in the rescue. Johanna and her family love them dearly, and thankfully, they are very accommodating to all the foster cats that they take in.

1. How did you originally hear about us, and what made you decide to become a volunteer?

Before joining Ten Lives, our family had already been fostering cats and kittens for about two years with another local shelter. We really enjoyed having fosters in our house and found it very rewarding to know we were helping save a life. However, the organization that we were with at that time didn’t give you a lot of flexibility when you needed to bring your fosters in for vet appointments. With two young kids aged 3 and 5, it was difficult to accommodate that lack of flexibility. I remembered seeing social media posts for Ten Lives, and so I decided to apply to foster with them and see if their vetting system worked better for us (it did!). 

2. What is your favorite story or memory while volunteering with us?

Gosh, do I have to pick just one?! I primarily take in pregnant cats so there are a lot of exciting birth stories. I think what stands out about most of the pregnant cats I have fostered is their palpable sense of relief to be in a safe space to have their babies. Once they settle in and figure out that they are in a loving home, you can actually see them let go of the stress of being outdoors and struggling to find a safe place to give birth. To see an initially stressed pregnant cat find her nesting box, go in, and start purring, padding, and then settle in for a good nap is so rewarding. Having a pregnant cat trust you enough to come curl up in your lap and let you put your hand on her belly to feel all the baby kicks is also a magical feeling.

3. What have you learned during your time as a volunteer?

So much! I have a background in physical therapy and have always had an interest in science and medicine. Most of our fosters come directly from outside, so they often have medical issues that need to be addressed. This has given me so many opportunities to learn about feline anatomy, physiology, pathology, and treatment. I love asking vets questions during appointments because I really want to deepen my understanding of not just what needs to be done for illnesses and injuries, but the why behind it. All this learning has led me to a place where I finally feel confident that I can handle just about any cat issue that comes into my foster room.

On the human side, I have learned that there are AMAZING people in this rescue. I have seen time and time again that Ten Lives volunteers are fully invested in ensuring every cat has the best life possible. From the trapping team being out working in the dark on cold, rainy nights, to the bottle feeders stepping up on a moment’s notice to take in newborn kittens, and all the administrative volunteers that keep Ten Lives running smoothly, I am continually blown away by what an awesome army of volunteers we have.

4. What do you wish other people knew about us?

I wish people knew that Ten Lives always needs more help. There is a lot of work that goes into keeping a rescue of this size organized and funded. We want to do even bigger things for RI cats, but that takes (wo)manpower. In addition to fosters, we need administrative help with screening applications and record keeping, we need help with fundraising and grants, and we need help with transporting cats to appointments. If people have some extra time, I encourage them to apply to volunteer in whatever capacity they have.

5. What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?

I have two kiddos (now ages 8 and 10), so they keep me pretty busy. I volunteer quite a bit at their school as well by assisting teachers in the classroom, and I am also on the leadership team of the school’s parent-teacher group. When I do have some down time, I am an avid reader and also love gardening (flowers, not food).

6. How do you think Ten Lives Cat Rescue will change over the next five years?

Having our own vet clinic and possible adoption center would be amazing.

7. Why should others consider volunteering with us?

Ten Lives is extremely reputable and absolutely goes above and beyond in helping every cat possible. We are very well structured and organized, and have a volunteer website that helps you through every aspect of fostering. We also have a network of foster mentors in place so nobody should ever feel like they are not supported while fostering.

8. What have you gained while volunteering with us?

A deeper sense of gratitude to everyone involved in animal welfare organizations. It’s humbling to see how much blood, sweat, and tears go into keeping a rescue going. Big shoutout to our founder and Executive Director, Melissa, for dreaming big and going for it!

9. How much of an impact do you feel your volunteer work has had with Ten Lives Cat Rescue?

It’s hard to pat myself on the back too much. I feel like I have gotten so much more in return for the time and energy I’ve put into volunteering!

Are you interested in volunteering with Ten Lives Cat Rescue? Read about our open volunteer roles and fill out a Volunteer Application, become a foster, sponsor a Forgotten Feline, and purchase needed supplies through our Wishlist!

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