My assignment was to imagine things that I would put in a kit to raise public awareness for my topic. My mind immediately flashed to Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell, and the guitar case full of cat supplies that he carries with him. I also figured it was far too obvious to put food, litter, toys, etc. into an advocacy kit.
The goal of my project (and of this blog) is to communicate the world of rescue to others, and hopefully generate desire to do something about it. The target of my kit would be anyone who has thought about responding to animal rescue in any sort of way. This is similar to social media; we want followers to do one of several options: donate, volunteer, foster, share, or just be educated. I think the message of my kit would be “this is what I do. Now react.”
My kit then would be a list of essentials for all aspects of working with cats, whether it be fostering at home, volunteering at events, emergency work, etc. Perhaps the true crazy cat lady kit (I’m aware I’m probably missing things):
- hand sanitzer – If you’re working with young kittens or sick cats, hand sanitizer is essential to not spreading germs throughout your home or the shelter. It’s also good for self-care.
- towel – You may need to dry, clean, or sedate a cat. Wrapping cats in a towel is also useful if you need to restrain them to trim their nails or administer medication.
- notepad/pen – This is probably more of a symbolic kit item, but still. When you’re fostering, you want to learn the cat’s personality. You’re their best ambassador for helping them get adopted, and so be prepared to write something nice about them either for a PetFinder bio, adoption query, or for other volunteers that might interact with them. If they’re kittens, you’ll want to jot down their vaccination dates for future adopters.
- comb- This is the only cat accessory item to go into the kit. Before you introduce a new foster into your home, comb them for fleas and treat if necessary (you don’t want that to spread). When you’re trying to calm down a cat or bond with them, brushing them can be less stressful for a scared cat than petting. If you’re at an adoption event, give them a good combing so that adopters seek them nice and shiny, rather than coming up with tufts of fur stuck to the palms of their hands when they’re pet. To me, this item used beginning, middle, and end of the rescue process.
- carrier – This kit wouldn’t go into a box. It’d go into a carrier. I usually keep a carrier in my car. Someone may call me to say “a cat has been relinquished at a shelter, please pick them up,” “I found a litter of kittens in my backyard,” “please take this cat to the vet for us,” and so many more things where it’s useful not to have that carrier tucked away in the black hole that is my third bedroom closet. Top-loading carriers are also nice for really young kittens, where they’re too small to be in an open room or a cage, like the cheese babies.
Using this advocacy kit, maybe someone would say “hey, I wouldn’t mind doing this too.” If they didn’t, maybe they’d think “I can at least donate the funds for medical costs or provide those items listed.” At the very least, they’ll be educated in what goes on in animal rescue.
Returning to the example of my disliked Sarah McLaughlin commercials, if donations were my specific goal, then I guess my kit would have the receipts for food, medical expenses, bandages, and photos of sad animals locked away in cages.
When I shared this in class, my professor asked what I would put in an advocacy kit if I were trying to convince say, board members to accept technology as part of the rescue efforts. This is related to my previous frustrations that sometimes technology adoption hits bureaucratic barriers.
My answer was data, because sometimes anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to convince. When I was fostering Fern, I posted her bio on PetFinder. Her adopter found her on PetFinder, and came straight to the adoption event specifically for her. It’d be great if somewhere out there, there were data to correlate social media activity to adoption rates, and see if there was a positive increase.