This blog was written by work experience student, Zarah Kaye Clarke.
My first day started with a quick induction into Mayhew’s aims and policies before being shown the ropes in the cattery itself by the very friendly and welcoming Kayleigh, Head of Cattery. I was introduced to each cat with a bit about their personalities and the stories behind why they were there before getting stuck in with some of the daily cleaning and the inescapable cat cuddles that come with it. Who knew a dust-pan and brush could be the most exciting toy ever? Never mind the tunnels, rattles, fishing rods and scratch posts in nearly all of the cat-cabins…
Although they tried, the cats were useless at helping with cleaning. I lost count of how many times I politely mentioned that sitting in, playing with or walking through swept piles wasn’t actually co-operative. They did however provide some captivating conversation about their favourite volunteers and preferred flavour of Whiskas. These little cats didn’t fail to make me smile every day with their unique personalities and acquired habits. One of the most amusing incidents was one cheeky tortoiseshell balancing on top of her scratch-pole. Nobody saw how she got there and there were definitely a few sticky situations when it came to finding a way down!
One of the most rewarding elements of my time at Mayhew was watching some of the quieter and shyer cats gain confidence and find their furry feet within the calm and patient Mayhew community. Sometimes it takes a certain person just to click with a cat and their personalities will completely change. Having been through some traumatic experiences, some cats will take longer to begin to trust people again or to settle into Mayhew life before they find a new loving and happy home. But it is inevitable that with Mayhew care and attention they will overcome their rocky patches.
Two weeks may seem like a short time, but it is incredible how much you can learn and the relationships you can build. I have always been comfortable and confident around big and small animals having grown up with cats and dogs at home and frequent contact with horses at weekends and during school holidays. Being able to translate this love for animals into an actual job had never really occurred to me before I found this placement via a family friend who ran for one of Mayhew’s charity events. Mayhew’s work is so important and to have this opportunity to be involved with it was so motivating and it was an experience I will never forget.
What truly struck me the most about my short time at Mayhew was how completely invested and passionate the staff in the cattery were about their roles. It was clear to me that this was a special kind of job that couldn’t be done by just anyone. There is a genuine and inspiring devotion and passion to what they’re doing that cannot be faked or forced. This is what makes Mayhew such an inspiring and positive place to be despite the many heart-wrenching stories they encounter on a daily basis. I have so much respect for them all and I cannot wait to come back at the end of the summer to find my own friendly, clawed companion and maybe help with some washing up while I’m there.
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