Janice Geeves

“Cats have always been part of my life. We had them at home when I was a child and my Mum at one time worked in a grocery shop where they found a feral cat and her kittens in the outhouse in the back yard. Although quite young, I remember helping to catch them and pass them on for homing. The scratches didn’t bother me even then.

So is it any wonder that on retirement I phoned Southridge to ask if I could volunteer. Yes, was the immediate answer and I did the induction and was delighted to find I could come when I liked for as long as I liked.

My first morning I arrived bright and early at half-past nine — well it was a Monday and I was retired—to quickly realise that if I wanted to help in the way I really wanted then I had to get up earlier. That first day is a bit of a blur but I came home knowing that this was for me. The rest, as they say, is history — but continuing history. So now I sweep and clean up and help with the laundry, and my reward is spending time with all those cats. Thin ones, fat ones, cuddly ones, wary ones, young ones, old ones, three legs, one eye, all wanting attention in different ways. What could be more relaxing than sitting with one on your lap for a while and grooming them. Or encouraging one to eat. Or being with the less friendly to get them used to being around people, to trust — perhaps for the first time.

It’s interesting also chatting to the visitors. Some have sad stories to tell about their pets but it’s nice to know they are ready to adopt again and doing an introduction that means a home is found really brightens up the day. Some cats will always be remembered, for various reasons. Harry, who grabbed everything, including the broom, is apparently now a big softie in his new home. Robbie and Rosie, the rolypolys who could only just get through the cat flap. And Sky, who sat at his door, meowing at everyone, showing his lack of teeth—where is he now? And Ricky, a semi-feral you treated with respect until he gradually realised being fussed was good. Then it was difficult to get out of his pen as he craved the company he had missed out on earlier in his life.

For me there’s something about Southridge that draws you in. It’s not just the cats. It’s all the animals, the friendliness, feeling part of a community. It’s part of my life now, and as a member of staff said recently: “you really enjoy coming here, don’t you?” To which the answer will always be yes, I love it.

So if you’ve some time to spare, even if it’s only an hour, come to Southridge and help out somewhere. You’ll be very welcome. I’ll be the one covered in hairs in the Cattery!”

We really do value the help you could give to the cattery and it would be much appreciated by the staff. No matter how much or how little spare time you can devote each week, you’ll find taking part a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. If you would like to become a cat socialiser apply here…

If having read these notes you decide dog walking is not for you there are many other tasks our volunteers can get involved with. More...