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National Volunteer Week Spotlight

Houseful of kittens par for the course for dedicated volunteer

Kati DeGraaf’s home is filled with kittens. Right now, she has 11, plus three mamas. And that’s not unusual.

Kati is a serial fosterer of RAPS’ mamas, kittens and pregnant cats. She is the go-to anytime there is an orphaned kitten or litter that needs hand-feeding.

Of the three families being fostered right now, two came from the situation earlier this month when RAPS rescued 30 cats and 20 kittens from a problematic situation in Richmond. Another mama was a stray.

As we wind up National Volunteer Week, we want to share Kati’s story. She is just one of hundreds of RAPS volunteers who allow us to deliver individualized, loving care to the animals we serve. But she is a paramount example of how some people are completely devoted to the animals.

“I have been fostering for RAPS for eight years,” Kati says. “I probably do five to six litters a year.” At an average of five kittens per litter, that’s hundreds of kittens!

“I do it for the love of the animals,” she says. “I started working with animals when I was about 15. I worked in vets, helping with surgeries, delivering the odd calf.”

That experience in a rural Ontario veterinary practice put her in good stead when she volunteered with RAPS.

She laughs about the folks who think fostering newborn kittens must be a barrel of laughs and 24/7 cuteness. Her days are mostly filled with cleaning bedding, hand-feeding kittens and, in one current case, hand-washing kittens multiple times a day because their adoptive mom feeds them but “didn’t get the memo” that she has to groom them as well.

There are compensations, of course.

“It’s rewarding and it’s a lot of fun when I can spend an hour morning and night with all the different litters,” she says. Even so, one of the mamas right now isn’t showing too much appreciation for Kati’s efforts.

“Simone doesn’t like me,” she laughs about the mama who is overprotective of her little ones. “I just do it for all these little ones who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance.”

Asked during National Volunteer Week what she would say to someone considering volunteering for RAPS, Kati said: “I think it’s a great idea. The more fosters, the more volunteers we get, the less work on the staff and the better care all the animals get because there is not one caregiver trying to clean six dogs or whatever. The more volunteers, the better.”

Kati is one of our most cherished volunteers … but there are hundreds of animal-loving people like her who do so much throughout the year.

We don’t need to wait for National Volunteer Week to recognize and thank our special volunteers … but we do want to thank Kati and the hundreds of others who make possible everything we do!

Happy National Volunteer Week!