By Daniel Quagliozzi
Leaving a home that feels safe and secure for a new adjustment in an animal shelter can be very stressful for some cats. Sometimes the choices made by human guardians struggling with hard situations or compromised living conditions, results in the surrender of a cat that had no idea a huge change was coming.
A common misconception about cat's is that they are quickly adaptable to change. With familiar territory being the most important thing to a cats comfort level, fear, insecurity and the inability to transition to a new environment can take it's toll on a cat's appetite. When a cat feels unsure abouts it's surroundings, it can also be hesitant to do what comes natural like eating or using the litterbox. It's the comforts of home, including the love of a human being that can sometimes perk up a cats emotions and lower stress enough to make food seem yummy again.
It might be hard to relate to the way a cat feels. Often, when we are stressed out we over eat and binge on junk food. When was the last time someone had to keep you company while you ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's? Cats react differently. They actually need human contact to get them back on the road to Wellville.
The SFSPCA started the Affection Eaters Program for this very purpose! Trained volunteers and staff will sit with cats on their scheduled feedings to provide the love they so desperately need to eat. This can take days or even weeks for some cats to finally feel well enough to eat without assistance. All it takes is a steady hand for petting, a warm heart and a dish of the cats favorite food. It's as simple as that. The SFSPCA Affection Eater Program has improved the quality of life of many cats that otherwise would have starved themselves sick. Thanks to the time and effort of our Shelter Care staff, volunteers and animal care attendants, the Affection Eaters move on to loving homes without going hungry for love.
The "Target Board" is a list of cats that need company when they eat or just need special attention. Volunteers check this board for cats that stand out for all kinds of reasons, such as fear, undersocialization, playful aggression and petting induced overstimulation.
We are always looking for volunteers that have skills with cat's of all types as well as those who want to gain the knowledge through their volunteer experience at the SFSPCA.
If you are interested in volunteering to help out with our Affection Eaters Program , it's just a click away! http://www.sfspca.org/support/volunteering/