Did you know that Ten Lives Cat Rescue is run entirely by volunteers? We currently have over 100 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.
Linda has been volunteering with us since the Spring of 2019 and has worn many hats since she joined us! She has been a Supply Coordinator, one of our Records Coordinators, a foster mom, our New Foster Mentor, and has assisted at our events. Currently, Linda is our Veterinary Coordinator—in this crucial role, she works closely with our partner veterinarians to obtain records for the cats in our care, she inputs the records and information into our internal management system, and she manages our veterinary bills and invoices. Linda also provides guidance when our foster families have medical protocol questions. We truly appreciate Linda’s dedication as a volunteer with our rescue!
Linda and her family have five resident cats—four-year-old Jasper and three-year-old Domino were in her family prior to her volunteer work with us. They also have adopted three Ten Lives Alumni—three-year-old Cheddar, 11-month-old Rolo, and 23-week-old Bongo. They also have two resident dogs: a six-year-old German Shepard named Patches, and a seven-year old Australian Shepard named Hunter.
1. How did you originally hear about us, and what made you decide to become a volunteer?
I learned about Ten Lives Cat rescue through Facebook. I was interested in fostering with a new rescue, and they were looking for fosters.
2. What is your favorite story or memory while volunteering with us?
I have so many favorite memories while volunteering with Ten Lives. One of my favorites is fostering my resident cat, Cheddar, when she was a few days old and bottle feeding her. I had never bottle fed a kitten or held a kitten so young before this. With the assistance of one of my fellow volunteers, Julie, I was able to care for Cheddar and watched her grow from a helpless neonate to a beautiful adult cat. Cheddar was my third “foster fail,” but my first with Ten Lives.
Another favorite story I have is about Bina, one of my foster cats. I was asked to foster a semi-feral cat, and found out that she was pregnant after she was in my care. I also learned that she was not a semi-feral cat—I could pet her and pick her up from the beginning. I had never fostered a pregnant cat before, but I agreed to continue to foster her through her pregnancy. When she went into labor, she allowed me to sit with her, and she even put her paw in my hand. I had the privilege of witnessing the birth of Bina’s five kittens, and of watching her take care of them until they (including Bina!) were adopted. Fostering her and her kittens was an incredible experience.
3. What have you learned during your time as a volunteer?
Besides learning how to care for neonates, sick cats, and young kittens, I’ve learned that my favorite types of cats to work with are kittens and neonates. While it is wonderful to see them grow and become confident cats, it is not all fun and games. It is a lot of work.
Being a foster mom tugs at your heartstrings, especially when they are ill or when they are adopted and you have to say goodbye. However, to see them thrive in their new homes is exciting and rewarding, and I know without my help, they may not have survived outside, and they may have been abandoned or euthanized. I love getting updates from my cats’ adopters.
4. What do you wish other people knew about us?
I would like people to know that that not all rescues are the same. Ten Lives cares not only for their cats and makes sure that they are taken care of medically, physically, and emotionally, but they care about their volunteers’ well-being, as well. I have personally seen the supplies and funds the rescue receives, and when Ten Lives says that 100% of donations are used to give the volunteers food, litter, supplies, medications, and medical visits, it’s true. Ten Lives goes above and beyond to help ALL cats, including medically fragile ones. They do not just euthanize a sick cat; they exhaust all options before making this difficult decision.
For Ten Lives volunteers, there is a support system in places that consists of the founders of the rescue and mentors. You are not just given a cat and are told “take care of it”—the support system is there to answer questions or give suggestions via the phone, email, or on our volunteer Facebook page. We also have a foster handbook that is a great resource. If needed, volunteers are always willing to help and teach new volunteers how to do something, such as how to feed a neonate by a bottle or syringe.
While the adoption process can sometimes take a little longer, it’s because Ten Lives has a team of Adoption Coordinators that review each application that comes in. Our Adoption Coordinators conduct interviews and completes extensive background checks on potential adopters. The foster family is also involved in the adoption process as they know the cat(s) best. We are transparent with adopters about whether or not a cat has medical or behavioral issues, and we provide resources for reference and to help a cat or cats acclimate to their new home. Adopters are given all the medical records for their cat(s). Ten Lives also stands by the statement “Once a Ten Lives cat, always a Ten Lives Cat.” After a cat or cats have been adopted, our Post-Adoption Coordinator will reach out to adopters to see how things are going, and our rescue is always available to answer questions.
5. What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
When I am not volunteering with the rescue, I am part of a Christian Women’s group. We send out encouragement cards, birthday cards, and notes to people who ask for our support from around the world.
6. How do you think Ten Lives Cat Rescue will change over the next five years?
I know the rescue will grow—hopefully, we will have our own veterinarian and clinic within the next five years! I believe Ten Lives will still teaching the public about cats’ and kittens’ care and will continue to make an impact through their Community Cats program. I also think the rescue will continue to be a soft place for cats and kittens to land when they need a new home.
7. Why should others consider volunteering with us?
I tell people that volunteering with Ten Lives is different than other rescues because our rescue is not here just for the numbers of cats we care for, adopt out, or trap-neuter-return (TNR). We are here to care, love, support the cat’s needs, and to help find a forever home that is right for the cat.
As a foster, you are supported through the whole process—you are never given a cat and left to figure out what to do. There is an incredible support system within the rescue who can help answer questions, assist in making medical decisions, and offer input on whether a cat needs more time in foster care or if they are ready to be adopted. The foster always has a say during the adoption process, which is important. Volunteers are also encouraged to take on only what they can handle. If they need a break or have something going on, the rescue encourages them to take a the time they need.
Additionally, volunteers are encouraged to take online classes, such as classes on TNR, bottle feeding kittens, or socializing cats. The rescue will reimburse you on the cost of the class as needed, which is wonderful.
8. What have you gained while volunteering with us?
I have gained a lot of joy, self-confidence, and knowledge from taking care of 25+ cats/kittens over the last few years. I have also gained three cute cats!
9. How much of an impact do you feel your volunteer work has had with Ten Lives Cat Rescue?
I believe I have made an impact in the rescue by fostering, helping volunteers with questions, supporting volunteers, and helping where I can. One example of an impact I’ve made on the rescue is thanks to an online class I took where they spoke about having a TNR backpack. After speaking with Melissa (Ten Lives’ Executive Director), we decided to implement this idea to better assist our Community Cats volunteers. Two other volunteers and I donated supplies to fill TNR backpacks for the rescue—the supplies will include formula, bottles, syringes, first aid supplies, scissors, tweezers, tick removers, food, wipes, water, and thermometers. The TNR backpacks will be distributed to our volunteer trappers in the near future, and will help them to be better prepared when they come across emergencies while trapping cats and kittens.