The trickiest aspect of running an animal centre is cleaning all the animals out each morning, but there is nothing more satisfying than having the opportunity to provide the animals with a freshly set pen for them to relax and play in. This role provides the opportunity to learn all about animal welfare and behaviour that other roles simply cannot offer. It is how most of the staff started their careers in the sector and they are able to share their expertise with you along the way.

Paul

Cattery Care Asisstant

How long have you been volunteering for RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch?
Since September 2019.

What does your role involve?
My morning cattery help role predominantly involves cleaning, feeding, behavioural and welfare checks and helping to administer any medication the cats may require.

The shift starts with a chat with the relevant staff member on duty so we’ll agree exactly who’s doing what and if any of the cats are due to be taken to the vet’s for example or if any new arrivals are due.

First job is a quick check on the residents to see that they’re OK, most of them are usually up and at the front of their pens to greet us and to remind us it’s breakfast time! They generally get the same food but there are always variations to look out for, such as kittens, sensitive diets etc.

Then I’ll make a start on the cleaning, this involves cleaning the litter trays and wiping down the surfaces of the pen and sweeping the floor. I’ll also check the cat’s bedding to make sure it’s clean and dry to make everything as comfortable for them as possible.

Each cattery pen has an observations sheet where we record any behavioural observations such as shyness or nervousness, as well as their likes and dislikes, whether they are eating and drinking, and the all-important poo score, which is a useful indicator of the cat’s health. If there are any immediate causes for concern there’s always a staff member on hand to notify and discuss my concerns.

The work ends with a sweep and mop of the cattery floor, and a top-up of supplies ready for the afternoon shift.

What are the highlights of the role you do?
I get to spend time with a large variety of cats of all ages and backgrounds, more than I ever have previously and more than I would otherwise. For instance, I had never come into contact with so many and such young kittens, it’s always interesting to see new arrivals at the centre. Helping a shy cat gain confidence or an injured cat recover. Seeing a cat get to the point where it is ready to be rehomed…..although it’s tough to say goodbye to some of them!

What are the challenges of your role?
Getting time to spend long enough with each of the current residents. Knowing that some of the animals won’t make it, however, that is more than outweighed by knowing that they’re in the best place to have the best possible care and opportunities.

What do you get out of volunteering?
I get to spend time with some great cats and to see them develop and recover provides a great sense of satisfaction knowing that in some small way I’ve contributed to their recovery and wellbeing. I have also met some really nice people too, all with the animals’ best interests at the centre of what they do.

Have you gained any skills and/or knowledge from your volunteering?
Hand feeding very young kittens. Fostering, and caring for cats with limb injuries. A greater insight into the reasons why cats come into the centre. Poo scoring: who knew?

How much time do I need to commit to the role? 
I do the morning shift once a week, starting at 8 am and I’m usually on site for four or five hours. The cleaning is normally finished before 11 o’clock but I like to stay longer to spend more time getting to know the cats and helping socialise them.

If someone was thinking about joining the team what would you tell them?
If you love cats….or rabbits and small furries, do it! There are numerous different roles to suit the level of commitment you are able to make, whatever you do I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding. As well as the animals you’ll meet a wide variety of people, some will become friends, more than anything you’ll be doing something good.

RSPCA Manchester and Salford - Cattery Assistant - Paul

Interested in this position?

We welcome engagement with people from across the community and proactively embrace equality, diversity and inclusion, so if you would like to join the team please be rest assured you will be welcomed with open arms. We are open to learning how we can adapt our workplaces and include more people to support us with the vital work that we do. 

We aim to:
Treated everyone with dignity and respect
Challenge inequalities
Respond positively to different needs and circumstances so that everyone can achieve their potential