The Nevada Humane Society asks visitors, volunteers and staff to act as cat caretakers as they make their way through the shelter. If anyone spots a cat sneezing or displaying other signs of illness, they’re asked to grab the simple form found in one of the plastic brochure holders hanging in the hallways and report what they saw. This way, any medical issues can be immediately addressed.
This simple idea is actually an innovative example of community education that doubles as community engagement. It acknowledges that cats in shelters (like kids in day care) are susceptible to catching colds from each other AND it says that the shelter staff cares about these cats and wants to know right away if there’s a possible problem.
At less than $10 to implement, the benefits of the program are priceless:
it helps to keep the kitties healthy and well-cared for,
establishes one reliable routine (complete with paper trail) for identifying and responding to possible health issues,
gives staff, volunteers and visitors a voice,
demonstrates how much the agency cares about the cats, and
provides a little education to visitors and engages community members in taking care of the cats
Now You Try It:
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when empowering visitors, volunteers and staff to monitor kitty health:
Create a simple form for visitors and staff to fill out with the cat’s name, kennel number and the symptom or symptoms that were observed.
Make the forms easily available at the front desk and in your cat areas.
Be sure to tell tour guides to share the forms with visitors when they conduct tours.
Provide a visible receptacle for collecting completed forms and check it frequently.