Cute, cuddly, sassy or aloof - there are so many "purr"-sonalities at the Homeless Animal Rescue Team' s shelter in Cambria, better known as HART.
HART has taken in more than 30 kittens to the shelter this spring and HART medical director Evelyn Zanella says the kittens are just some of the 70 cats at the no-kill shelter right now.
"We will take in the other, older animals which other shelters don't. We feel that they are just as worthy to have a home," Zanella said.
Zanella oversees the care of all the cats at HART, many of whom have special needs.
"This is Thelma. She was born with underdeveloped eyes," Zanella said. "She does periodically get some eye infections and that is very easily treated."
VOLUNTEERING AT HART
With so many cats to care for in this cage-free shelter, Zanella says they are looking for help.
"As a non-profit organization, we depend very highly on our volunteers," she said.
Volunteers can help clean the shelter or be a "pet-pal," helping with grooming, cuddling, playtime and socializing the cats.
"Right now we just don't have the number of people that we need to do things like grooming," Zanella said. "We have several cats that really need grooming and we'd really love to have some people come in and just do that."
For anyone interested in the veterinary field, volunteering at HART is a great learning opportunity.
"If they want to learn how to give vaccinations and how to do sub-Q fluids and how to give medications, learn the body language of different kitties, sure we would love to have them anytime," Zanella said.
Kids as young as 12 years-old are allowed to volunteer at HART and kids under 12 years-old may volunteer with a parent.
ADOPTING CATS & KITTENS
Two of HART's kittens that recently became available for adoption are familiar, furry faces to KSBY News.
Templeton firefighters found two kittens, now named Tofu and Stir-Fry, hiding underneath a seat of a car they were using for a vehicle extrication training.
After lots of special love and care, the adorable duo can soon go to their "fur"-ever homes.
HART lists all of the cats and kittens that are available for adoption on their website.
FOSTERING CATS & KITTENS
Before many of the cat and kittens can be adopted from HART, shelter officials say the felines need to spend time in foster homes. Opening your home to foster kitties is one of the best ways you can help clear the shelters.
"You really area saving a life when you foster," said HART foster coordinator Brittany Donecho. "You really feel the impact of what you're doing and the lives that you're saving when you foster."
Donecho is busy trying to recuit people to foster HART cats.
"There are always more kittens and cats than foster homes available, so fostering is really going to not only save the cat that you're fostering, but it also frees up space at the shelter," Donecho said.
HART officials aim to place kittens in foster homes within 48 hours of their arrival at the shelter.
Darcy Derose is fostering kittens in her Paso Robles home for the third summer in a row.
"This is oh gosh...probably my eighth batch of kittens," Derose said. "I have a golden retriever who loves [the kittens] too and I have three other cats so it's all one big happy family."
Her current litter of kittens was found behind a local bank.
"All the volunteers went out and tracked them all down. It took I think a good several days and they caught them all," Derose said. "The people here at HART that volunteer do a really good job at caring for [the cats]."
Derose says she loves to see the kittens transform during the couple of months she cares for them.
"Just getting them from being little scaredy cats to being cuddly and wanting to sit on your lap and play around and be adoptable," she said.
Derose advises prospective fosters to have some room for the little house guests.
"You need to have some time to hang out with the kittens, you can't just leave them in a room all day and ignore them," Derose said. "But anybody can really do it if they have the time and the room for it."
Adult cats often need to be fostered too, to help them become more friendly or manage health issues.
HART volunteer Julie Jenkins opens her home to foster older and special needs cats.
"I've had about 15 cats up here over time, five of them on a hospice basis and they are all a joy, each and every one," Jenkins said.
HART officials say because they are so grateful to fosters, they will do everything they can to support those who choose to take in cats.
"HART really tries to make it as simple as possible for people to get involved so we do provide everything, " Donecho said. "We provide supplies, litter, food, all that kind of stuff. We take care of all the veterinary expenses for our kitties."
Donecho says "foster failures" do happen.
"It's hard not to fall in love with your foster animals. They are so cute and you do certainly get attached to them," she said.
However, Donecho encourages fosters to say goodbye to their temporarily feline(s) instead of adopting so that they can take in more foster kitties and in turn, save more lives.
For experienced fosters like Derose, it's a bittersweet moment she's come to appreciate.
"It's nice to let them go off to a new home and be happy," Derose said. "There are so many cats out there that need a good home and this is a great place to adopt."
If you cannot volunteer at the shelter or foster cats in your home but would still like you support HART, shelter workers say they would appreciate any donations. Items like cat beds, toys, food or any other pet supplies are always welcome, along with monetary donations.