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Clowder House Foundation, part two of two: the volunteer experience

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Clowder House Foundation, a St. Louis shelter providing lifelong care and adoption services for cats, is a happy place to volunteer. Volunteers help out at the shelter by performing maintenance work like cleaning and disinfecting rooms, washing dishes, running laundry, refilling supplies, or other tasks as required, all while enjoying the company of the over 300 cats currently residing in the 3134 Wyoming Street building. People are also welcome to make a difference simply by coming in to spend time with the cats.

Founded in 1994 by Diane Hurwitz, Clowder House’s name (“clowder” refers to “a group of cats”) rings true. Clowder House is, thankfully, a “no-kill and minimum-cage facility,” and provides a home and care for surrendered, neglected, abused, and rescued cats, even those that may never be adoptable. The beautiful building houses a labyrinth of rooms through which many of the feline residents roam. Other cats have special diets, behavior types, and/or conditions, and must stay in a specific room with similar companions.

Volunteer experiences at Clowder House can vary as far as the type of work performed. A typical shift can involve cleaning out an entire room, with or without fellow volunteers, and can take up to a few hours, depending on the size of the room and the amount of cats that usually reside in that space. To complete an entire room, the cat beds must first be shaken, and any extremely dirty ones put in the wash. Litter boxes must be scooped, and food and water bowls refilled. Any bowls or boxes that are too messy are sent to the dishwasher. Cat towers can be swept and disinfected, and carpeted cat condos are vacuumed. Then, the floors must be swept, disinfected, and mopped. In some cases, the walls are disinfected and cleaned as well. As Volunteer Coordinator Jody Armstrong explained, visitors are welcome at Clowder House everything Sunday from 2-4pm, and a clean facility greatly enhances the experience for both the humans and the cats.

Other volunteers can work in the laundry and sink room, washing litter boxes, cat food and water bowls, and certain toys. In addition, laundry loads of cat beds, blankets, and towels are run constantly throughout the day. But the laundry room is not a lonely place to volunteer. Cats, including a beautiful Bengal named Egon and a very affective gray cat named Patrice, perch and sleep all around this space as well. They love to cuddle up to the dishwashing volunteer even while he or she works at the sink.

According to Armstrong, there is also a need for Saturday transportation for cats to and from the veterinary clinic. Clowder House hopes to recruit additional volunteers to help fulfill this need. For more information about volunteering, please e-mail clowderhouse@juno.com.

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