from Kim Proctor, animal protection volunteer
For a long time, seeing any kind of suffering of animals haunted me. The animals looked so helpless and it made me upset, I knew I wanted to do something.
A few years ago I realized that I could do something that I believed would make a difference: I could pray for the safety and protection of animals. Specifically, I prayed to know that a higher power loved and protected all animals, and that being a victim wasn’t inevitable or the end of the story for any creature. This prayer had the effect of turning me around from being upset, fearful or angry, and instead uplifted me and also inspired me to find ways that I could be hands-on in my support.
Within walking distance from my home was a no-kill cat shelter that actively searched for loving families to adopt the cats. I knew it was time to roll up my sleeves and volunteer in whatever way was helpful. Usually, it was cleaning the litter boxes. The best part for me was playing with the cats, petting them, and telling them constantly that they are loved. The most sociable and friendly (and young) kitties are the ones that get easily adopted. So I spent a lot of time with the most shy and standoffish kitties to encourage them to be approachable.
One aspect of my spiritual practice is to see the spiritual nature of each kitty and identify them in that way: they are loving, sweet, joyful, spontaneous, and dearly loved. I refused to attach a negative label like, “unadoptable” or “afraid” or “unlovable.” I especially worked with the cats that never got taken out to Adoption Days in the neighborhoods. That way I got to know them and share all their good qualities with volunteers so that they were taken out when possible.
There was a full-sized orange adult cat named Brian. So sweet. He went out six times and they told me he couldn’t – and wouldn’t – find a home. But I kept putting Brian into the carrier for Adoption Day, knowing that someone would see the sweetness and love in this wonderful cat. After six times he was adopted!
I loved doing Adoption Days myself so I could talk to new families about the wonderful qualities and loving personalities of the cats. I would say, “These are my favorite kitties – let me tell you all about them!” I also used Twitter to tell friends, and friends of friends, to show people their personalities and pictures if their wonderful qualities.
Still, I admit, it is hard to see sad and sick kitties. I have found that it is very important to pray before I volunteer, and not go to the shelter until I am at peace, not afraid, and expectant of good results for the cats. I have learned that my heart must be full of love so that fear cannot take over. This way I can share my heart full of love with each kitty needing to be especially loved that very day. Bonus, I get ideas to help the shelter support more adoption! And I pray after I leave the shelter too…kind of wrap my arms around the cats with all my love.
Fear gets in the way of thinking of ideas to help – but love and more love opens the heart and the way to do more!
TIPS for Doing Something Yourself!
You don’t have to volunteer at a cat shelter to make a difference. If you see stray cats in the neighborhood, care for them while you check the neighborhood for who they might belong to. Put a little food out, it isn’t hard or costly. Ask neighbors to help too – there are always people who will step up and help but no one asked! If an owner can’t be found, ask the neighborhood if there is someone who will adopt. Or, find a “trap, neuter, return” group in the area who can help make sure any feral kitties don’t breed. This is a great way to connect with the neighborhood, and the best way to find a loving home!