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Exclusive Interview with Diane Stevens of Furry Friends

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Based in Vancouver, WA, Furry Friends is a nonprofit, no-kill cat rescue organization that rescues and adopts out homeless, relinquished, and abused cats in Clark County, Washington. Each year, they rescue, care for, and rehome about 150 cats. For volunteer Diane Stevens, working with Furry Friends was the retirement she'd always dreamed of. 

We asked Diane, now the marketing director for Furry Friends, to share her story with our readers.

How did you start volunteering for Furry Friends?

I had planned on working until I turned 65, but, as happens to so many people, my job was eliminated at age 60. I crunched the numbers and figured that I could retire and start doing some of the things I love, one being animal welfare. I had heard about a local cat rescue named Furry Friends and attended their annual auction. I liked what I saw, so I offered them my services.

I started working a shift at our adoption room at PetSmart once a week. But I noticed they needed help in so many other areas. I have a background in printing, publishing, photography, graphic arts, marketing, and business systems. So it wasn’t long before I was fully immersed into the organization.

I have been volunteering since November 2014, and I am now on the Executive Committee for Furry Friends. I volunteer about 20 to 30 hours a week.

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What do you love most about volunteering with Furry Friends?

I love knowing that I am making a difference in at least a few cats' lives. We adopt out around 150 or so cats a year and have a roster of about 40 or 50 cats at a time in our possession. We are a no-kill operation, and we will do whatever it takes to meet our cats' medical needs and ensure that they are not in pain. It is wonderful to be part of an organization that takes that much interest in the cats. Plus, our volunteers are simply wonderful. They are dedicated, and it is a pleasure to work with them. We are all volunteers, and no one gets paid. It is a labor of love.

Behind the scenes, what does an average day at Furry Friends look like?

Around 8:00 am, the morning crew comes into our Halfway House shelter. They feed the kitties and clean their boxes. Then, they visit with the kitties and do some extra cleaning while they are there. They leave around 10 am, and then the socializers come in. They come in when they feel like it because there isn’t a set schedule. But there seems to always be one or two at the house at all times. They spend time hanging out with the kitties —playing with them, petting them, reading to them, and providing loving attention. Then the evening crew comes in around 5:00 for feeding, cleaning, and providing attention to the kitties.

Our volunteer vet tech comes to the house one to three times a day doing medical exams, vaccinations, medications, or pickups for vet visits. Our adoption representative is often at the house, meeting with potential adopters to show them the cats. Because our Halfway House is a very small location not designed for public use, it is not open to the public. A person needs to make an appointment to see the kitties.

We often have volunteer helpers at the house fixing things or building catios for the cats. We have a fairly large property, and there are often volunteers taking care of the yard.

In addition, we have volunteers that work tirelessly behind the scenes. I am always working on graphics, promotions, social media, website, management type jobs, assisting the volunteer coordinator, processing all of the cat photos, creating videos, etc. I’m also the auction lead, and that is a huge yearround job. Others are working on grants, data management, setting up events, fundraising, solving problems and more. We have a wonderful team!

Can you tell us about one of your favorite animals currently looking for a family?

My name is Nova. You may notice that I have two different colored eyes—one green and one blue. I get lots of compliments about that. You may also notice that my head tilts to one side. After I went to the vet for dental cleaning, they think I had a reaction to the anesthesia. But I am getting used to it and enjoy my new perspective on the world. Most people tell me that it's really cute!

I really like feet. Big feet, small feet, bare feet, shod feet. I'm not sure why, but all the smells and textures are so yummy. I just love to rub my face and body all over feet! Just stop and let me indulge, but please don’t walk by me too fast or too close. That startles and scares me.

I also love to sit on laps. Please sit with me and pet me. I love it when people get down on my level and gently rub my head. I also enjoy chasing a string toy, wand toy, or laser light. Scratching boxes with catnip inside are my happy place! I love food and will chase after treats.

Recently, I had most of my teeth pulled except my canines. I am adjusting just fine, and I still love to eat. I prefer an adult home because I think kids move too fast and make me nervous. Shower me with TLC, and give me a forever family.

Thank you, Diane, for sharing your inspiring story with our readers! If you’re in the Washington area and looking for a new fur baby, make an appointment to see their kitties!

Follow Furry Friends on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. You can also check out their website here!

Looking for a feral cat shelter to house your community cats? Find the perfect one at www.undercoverpethouses.com!

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