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Why I Volunteer at an Animal Rescue

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted a pet. I’d always seen the cats in the window waiting to be adopted at PetSmart and wished I could bring one home with me; but I was told that my mom was “allergic” (translation: didn’t like cats). Even though I don’t live at home any more, students aren’t allowed to have pets on campus; so I am unfortunately still petless. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t help animals in need. So, this semester I decided to volunteer with Broken Tail Rescue at the PetSmart in Cambridge. So far it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

After a training session to fill me in on how the adoption center works, I was assigned a two hour shift every Thursday night. The adoption center in PetSmart houses cats while dogs and other small animals are located elsewhere in Massachusetts. As someone with a slight fear of cats, this was an opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone while giving back to the community. Don’t get me wrong – I love cats, but their occasional feisty personalities and unpredictability can make me a bit nervous. However, spending time with the sweet cats at the rescue has eased my nerves and helped me to understand why they may act the way that they do.

It’s interesting to learn the story of every cat that comes into the rescue. Some were strays that were trapped, while others were surrendered by their families due to various reasons. There are even cats that have been taken from hoarders. Every reason that an animal ends up homeless is heartbreaking, but it gives me hope to know that all of the cats ends up in a loving forever home with families that truly adore them.  Each cat that comes through the center has their own unique personality and quirks. A lot of them are shy for a few days but most eventually come out of their cage (literally).

For example there was Miko, a very large cat with eyes and an expression that made him look like a cartoon character. Miko had previously been adopted but sadly ended up back at the rescue when his owner died. He was understandably very upset, nervous and confused about his situation, so he wouldn’t really let anyone pet him for a long time. After a few weeks he got comfortable and turned into a completely different cat. He was the loudest and most talkative cat I have ever met. He was such a funny guy and even rolled over and showed us his huge belly, meaning he trusted us. He was adopted a few weeks ago and his new family says that he shows them his belly too, so it’s so
heartwarming to know that he’s happy in his forever home!

Another cat named Armando was a favorite among all the volunteers and potential adopters. He was a scruffy cat with a scar by his mouth that made him look like he was always smirking. He had been living in a garden for about two years before he was captured. Armando had obviously been through a lot but was so sweet that you could never tell he’d been a stray. Ruby was another affectionate kitty with massive green eyes and silky fur. All she wanted was chin scratches, so she would spend a lot of time butting her head against literally everything.

Then there were the tuxedo kittens; Jane, Dot, Stryper, Violet, and their tabby friend Rhyne. They were the most adorable and lovable kittens you can imagine. As soon as you walked into the room Jane would start purring just from your presence. Violet was a polydactyl (a cat with extra toes), so her paws looked like little mittens. And if you didn’t pay attention to Dot for one minute, she would start pawing at your leg to get you to notice her!

There’s always new cats coming through the rescue so feel free to stop by and meet them! I’ve learned a lot from my experience with Broken Tail Rescue. I learned that if you see a cat with the tip of its ear cut in a straight line, it means that they’ve been trapped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. One of my favorite things about the rescue is that they don’t turn away animals who need expensive surgeries. They run solely on donations and volunteer work, so if you’re looking for an organization to support there are plenty of ways to get involved. In all I would definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone, like I did, to try something new. Volunteering at a rescue is definitely a rewarding experience that you won’t regret, and it’s something you will always remember!  To find out more about Broken Tail Rescue, their website is

One of the cats from Broken Tail Rescue, waiting to be adopted.

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