Volunteer Spotlight: Ali

Did you know that Ten Lives Cat Rescue is run entirely by volunteers? We currently have over 80 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.

Ali has been volunteering with Ten Lives since May 2018—only a few months after our rescue was founded. Ali started as a foster, and over the last few years, she has become our Post Adoption Follow Up Coordinator, our Ten Lives Alumni Facebook page manager, and a mentor for our fosters and volunteers who are new to working with under socialized cats.

Ali has two resident cats, who are both Ten Lives alumni: Lily, a one-eyed domestic long hair cat who she adopted in 2018 after fostering her for less than two weeks, and Furnando, a former ringworm kitten she fostered in 2021. She is currently fostering Emma, a three-year-old under socialized cat.

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

I originally heard of Ten Lives through my hairdresser, Rebecca (who founded the non-profit, RI Kitten Kits!) Prior to this, I honestly had no idea that fostering cats was even a thing! After seeing so many cats, especially seniors, needing help, I applied to foster around May of 2018. At the same time, I saw on Ten Lives’ Facebook page that a senior cat named Marmalade needed a foster. Seniors always have tugged at my heartstrings! Unfortunately, when our co-founder, Melissa, went to pick him up, he was very ill and passed away very soon after. Melissa then asked if I would be able to help foster another cat, Lily, from that same location. I soon fell in love with Lily, and in less than two weeks, I foster failed her.

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

This is hard to narrow down! One of my favorite memories will always be the story of my first under socialized foster, Oreo, whose owner was homeless. The shelter told his owner that he was too aggressive/unadoptable and had he stayed, they likely would have euthanized him. Oreo was 14-years-old when he came to us, and was dirty and matted and had a deformed ear and horrible ear infections (one ear ultimately had to be surgically removed). Oreo was terrified, full of hisses and growls, was unable to be pet, and did not like toys. Initially, I was a little afraid of what I had gotten myself into! However, over the next six months, thanks to the close guidance and support from Ten Lives, Oreo had an amazing transformation. He blossomed into a cat who played like a kitten, loved being pet, immediately greeted you at the door, and ultimately even became a lap cat who constantly followed his adoptive family around like a puppy!

Another favorite story is when I fostered a senior cat named Merlin, whose family abandoned him and left him outside to fend for himself despite winter temperatures being right around the corner. Merlin was in rough shape and very ill –  he was riddled with tumors, among other medical issues – and given a prognosis of only days by the vet. However, by a miracle (and maybe the power of love?!), he got the chance to enjoy three months of high-quality life. He even started playing with toys! Although it broke my heart when it was time to say our final goodbyes, I felt honored and grateful for having had the chance to help such a sweet and deserving boy like Merlin get off the streets and be able to experience what it’s like to be LOVED.

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

So much! Prior to joining Ten Lives, I had always heard from people who never had fostered cats that “you can’t teach an old cat new tricks,” and how skittish cats, especially older cats, “are stuck in their ways” and “can’t change.” If one does, those are labeled as a “rare exception,” which “can only be successful for people with a lot of experience.” I never questioned these assumptions until I began witnessing these amazing transformations firsthand and from other fosters in our rescue.

I have learned that the truth is with patience, consistency, and willingness to follow the step-by-step guidance the rescue provides, progress will happen. I was also shocked to learn, but can personally attest to it now, under socialized cats require significantly LESS physical space to foster and is a lot LESS of a daily time commitment compared friendly cats.

Ali's former foster, Oliver
4. What do you wish other people knew about us?

I wish people understood how expensive it is for rescues to provide care. Rescues often spend more than the cost of adoption on cats. In our rescue, a fully vetted, healthy cat at requires a minimum of three vet visits for vaccines, exams, spay/neuter, blood and fecal tests, deworming treatments, and flea/tick treatments. This isn’t counting cats who are ill or injured, who can often have additional medical expenses. Ten Lives is constantly going above and beyond to provide the best care to our cats, including emergency care, specialist visits, dental surgeries, medical surgeries, etc. when necessary. At the end of the day, medical expenses often far exceed adoption fees. I wish people also understood they can make a significant difference even by just doing little things like sharing our posts or making purchases via Amazon Smile and choosing Ten Lives as the recipient charity.

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

Working (I have two jobs), self-care, such as acupuncture, being on the water, listening to audio books, and binge watching Netflix and crime shows.

6. Why should others consider volunteering with us?

Our rescue won the prestigious Best of Rhode Island award again in 2022 for a reason – Ten Lives Cat Rescue truly is the best! Ten Lives steps up to care for the cats who need the most care, and who are the most overlooked, such as the injured, sick, under-socialized, seniors, or neonatal kittens. Fostering with our rescue means you will be joining the most incredible team of human beings who will elevate you and provide with you with endless support, inspiration, and help.

7. What have you gained while volunteering with us?

I can sum it up best by saying everything I have received by volunteering with Ten Lives Cat Rescue has always far exceeded anything I have ever given. Volunteering with Ten Lives has been a life-changing, extremely rewarding experience for me and has really helped me find my passion.

Furnando and Lily
Ali's former foster, Ishmael
8. How much of an impact do you feel your volunteer work has had with Ten Lives Cat Rescue?

I think the impact that all volunteers make is truly immeasurable. For acutely ill cats like Ingrid/Ishmael (a senior cat who was recently adopted by one of our volunteers), the impact of volunteering can quite literally be life-saving. Knowing that the bonds between the cats we save and their adopters can also be life-changing for adopters as well as equally as rewarding.


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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