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July 17, 2023

Meet Cat Care Society’s Animal Care Team!

Meet Cat Care Society’s Animal Care Team!

One of the most crucial roles to any animal shelter is making sure that the animals in our care are well taken care of. And the department at Cat Care Society responsible for this is our animal care team. These staff members are the most hands-on with the cats on a daily basis.

Rain or shine, holiday or not, this team shows up for the cats in a big way! A typical day starts with morning rounds, where they take inventory of all the animals in the shelter to ensure every cat is accounted for and there is nothing abnormal. They then work together to get set up for the day, which includes food prep and feeding, laundry, restocking, splitting up rooms and quarantine areas, offering enrichment to the cats after cleaning, and sifting through donations. “Not a lot of down time for us, but the day is fun and goes quickly!” said Michelle Duvall, animal care lead.

This team is also responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the facility, creating and implementing vital enrichment programs and techniques to keep the cats happy and their minds and bodies nourished, reporting to and communicating with the medical team when any abnormalities and illness is recognized, communicating with the adoptions team about behavior and personality traits to help cats find compatible homes, and working closely with the animal care volunteers.

Just one example of the impact this team has is with two recent bonded cats that were in our care: Garfield and Big Red, both FIV boys. Cats with FIV are usually in shelters longer due to the public not fully understanding the disease. Garfield came to CCS as extremely fractious and was near impossible to handle. “He was not facing a good fate,” Duvall recalled. “He is the reason why animal care, especially Kelly, took on a strong compassion for socialization and enrichment.”

It took months for Garfield to trust humans, until one day he met Big Red, another very shy boy. The two bonded quickly and were placed in a room by themselves. That’s when the team was finally able to touch him! Garfield was eating Churus from a long handle, and then soon enough our fingers, and then rubbing between our legs for attention. “You could see the change in his eyes; he was brighter, happier, and overall the sweetest boy,” Duvall said. “Our team cried the day they went home with each other, and we all realized how important our job is when it comes to giving these guys a second chance!”

Last but not least, it’s also important that this team understands and implements the rules and regulations of the Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act (PACFA), which is Colorado’s program that licenses and inspects animal facilities and protects the well-being of the animals in the state.

A shelter worker plays with a cat on a patio

This team currently consists of eight staff members:

  • Riley Baumgartner (she/her)
  • Kelly Cunningham (she/her)
  • Caitlin Dewolf (they/them)
  • Michelle Duvall (she/her)
  • Lincoln Landrum (he/him)
  • Tristan Perez (he/him)
  • Abi Schlag (she/her)
  • Jenna Shows (she/her)

Duvall says that working in this shelter environment has been the most rewarding and exciting job she has ever worked. “It’s been amazing to see cats open up to humans,” she shared. “My favorite cases are the ones who were otherwise deemed ‘unhandleable’ learn to open up and trust humans. It’s amazing to work with like-minded people who have a passion for cats, who are very misunderstood creatures in my mind. While this job isn’t always easy as some animals don’t always make it beyond the shelter walls, it’s amazing to be a part of their lives to ensure they have a happy, health, and clean home, even if it may be temporary. The most rewarding of it all is bonding and seeing them moving along to families! It’s so difficult to not take them all home (I’m a foster fail with my current cat Albus; formerly Simon).”

Animal care techs have a labor-intensive job that requires a lot of physical movement and lifting, and they deal with some less-than-glamourous clean-up situations. But for everything they do, we thank them for the tireless dedication to the cats of our shelter.

Michelle Duvall is CCS’ animal care lead

This article was included in the summer 2023 edition of our Cat Care Quarterly newsletter. Read up on more CCS news and updates by checking out the latest edition!

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