Volunteers are a vital part of enabling Tree House to do the work we do to help thousands of cats each year. We currently have just under 200 volunteers working in many different areas of our organization. Together, they give hundreds of hours of their time.
We are grateful to all of our volunteers for all their efforts to help the cats.
Since June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat month, we wanted to share a volunteer’s perspective from one of our adoption team volunteers. Meet Brian – who also recently adopted a “shelter cat” from Tree House and talks about his experience.
In what department do you volunteer at Tree House?
How long have you been volunteering at Tree House?
I’ve been volunteering at Tree House for about five months. Interestingly, the day I was scheduled to start in adoptions, a request came up that help was needed to pick up some cats who were being transferred to Tree House from another animal control center. Since I had a car, I knew I could help out. It was an interesting experience, and I was surprised when I met the cats. They were so eager to see me and jumped up in my arms. I then began my regular volunteer activities at Tree House helping in the adoption department.
How did you first hear about Tree House?
I heard about Tree House through a friend in my neighborhood. She knew my love of cats and told me about the brand new building on Western. So, I had to check it out myself. It is pretty awesome. The cage less, spacious, and open building offers a more natural environment for the cats and is beneficial to both the cats and potential adopters.
What drew you to volunteer at Tree House?
My job allows me some free time during the week, so I wanted a way to do something fulfilling with my free time. After visiting Tree House, I thought it was a great organization and a cause worth my time. I appreciate how the organization treats the cats and guests. It is a no pressure [adoption process] that allows adopters to get to know the cats. The adoption counselors are very helpful both during the adoption and after. [The adoption counselors] help people find a cat who is a good fit vs. just trying to get a cat into a home that might not be a good match.
What do you find most rewarding about volunteering at Tree House?
The most rewarding part is watching people get “chosen” by cats. When potential adopters come to visit the cats at Tree House, there is always that one cat that is drawn to them and who develops an instant connection. I love it.
Why do you believe having an organization like Tree House in Chicago is important?
Tree House is vital to Chicago because they not only place cats in wonderful homes, they provide essential programs like the Community Cats program which offers TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) services to help keep the feral cat population under control and healthy. Tree House also assists pet parents with cat behavior advice through their Behavior Hotline. They also have a compassionate stance towards FIV+ (feline immunodeficiency virus) cats. I previously had an experience at an animal control center that treated FIV+ cats negatively. Cats with FIV can live long, happy lives and can live together with cats who do not have FIV. Tree House places FIV+ cats in the same adoption rooms as cats without FIV and gives them a chance. (Brian recently adopted a Tree House FIV+ cat).
What are your thoughts on the work that Tree House does?
I think the work that Tree House does is amazing. I’ve been to many shelters, and Tree House has the most humane set up I’ve ever seen. The cats are clearly happy.
Adopting a cat from Tree House
Brian is also a recent Tree House adopter – having been “chosen” by a Tree House cat. Brian quipped that his cat is now French, having named him Henri. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, we wanted to share more from Brian’s perspective as a Tree House adopter!
Henri is not afraid to let Brian know when it is quiet time.
When did you adopt your Tree House cat?
I adopted Henri on Feb 15, 2018. He was my Valentine’s gift to myself.
Do you have any other pets?
I have one other kitty named Charlie who I adopted from the ASPCA in New York City in 2016. She is a Tuxedo just like Henri.
Why did you choose to adopt a cat from Tree House?
I was looking for another cat to keep Charlie company. At many shelters, the cats are kept in separate cages, and it is difficult to predict how they will get along with other cats. I also had a very negative experience at another shelter. At Tree House, since the cats are in cage-free adoption rooms, it is easier to get an idea of how a cat will interact with a companion. Also, as a volunteer, I’ve seen how well the cats are treated at Tree House and the extensive records that are kept, so I knew I was adopting a cat who had been well cared for.
Tell us about your adoption experience.
The adoption counselors provided a lot of information and assistance. I was nervous about bringing a second cat into my home and at one point thought it wasn’t working out because my first cat, Charlie, is a little shy compared to Henri who is an outgoing and friendly cat. The counselors were there for me to help out with tips and things I can do to create a peaceful cat home.
How are the cats doing at home?
They are doing very well. The two cats continue to improve with how they get along with one another. It is funny to watch how they figure it out with each other. I’ve caught Charlie playfully instigating things a bit as she flips her tail in Henri’s face. Then, when Henri has had enough, he goes back at her. One of the tricks I learned is to give Henri a time out when he gets too aggressive, which is fine with him because he loves the bathroom and drinking from the faucet. I’ve discovered that if I wait until he is calmly sitting on the floor when I open the door – it’s a sign that he has calmed down and is ready to come out. Henri also loves to take walks on his harness. He is like a dog. He will grab his leash off a cabinet, jump down and drag it over to me, meowing to ask to go outside.
We are so grateful to Brian for not only all his help as a Tree House volunteer but for giving an FIV+ cat a loving home.