The title of Cat Cuddler is a real thing in the world of volunteering. I had just signed up to volunteer with Baltimore-based animal shelter Maryland SPCA a few months ago when I made this exciting discovery. I started volunteering with homeless animals because I miss having pets, but I wasn’t expecting to find out there were volunteer positions dedicated to spending quality time with the furry beneficiaries!
The shelter maintains numerous volunteers to keep the cats and dogs socialized and happy during their stay. As a Cat Cuddler (the dogs get Dog Deputies), I spend time with each cat in the shelter once a week, petting or playing with them. As I gain experience with handling the cats, I can move up to taking on more responsibility and become a Level 2 Cat Cuddler. For the Maryland SPCA, this frees their staff to take care of the many other daily tasks, and keeps the animals in a happier and healthier mental state. What I get out of it is the warm fuzzies and the chance to meet some engaging characters, like these guys.
What I love about this volunteer position (besides the kitties) is how I can see that it is one that enriches everyone; the client, the volunteer, and the organization. I would have also been happy to help by washing dishes and cleaning litter boxes, but by giving me what I think the most fun job in the organization, the Maryland SPCA has created a volunteer who will gush about how great volunteering there is to anyone who will listen. Deliberate planning on their part lead to volunteers who feel rewarded while at the shelter, and then go home as advocates for the mission; a win-win situation. This is what I look forward to seeing in more volunteer partnerships!