Holidays in America always seem to rub me the wrong way; the decadence and delight of celebrating and spending time with close friends and family is grossly overshadowed by corporate greed, consumerism and the want for material objects. Not to say that I don’t love me a stellar present or two (who doesn’t love getting gifted?!) but to me the holidays are about presence – not presents.
Over the last 28 years, I’ve been given a lot of amazing gifts but the ones that stick with me are heartfelt and have nothing to do with physical, tangible things like the richness of having family time in a distant city and the comfort of their unconditional love. Unfortunately for myself – and my kitties – I rarely get to spend the holidays with them. And of every one I deal with on a day to day basis, they give the most. They’re around when I’ve had the best day ever and they comfort me when I’m sad; they talk to me when I’m stir crazy and working from home and cuddle me when I’m having a movie marathon. More or less, they’re what keeps me sane and sweet day in and day out – so, this year I’ve decided to pay the love forward. I found a great cause that I love and I cannot wait to bring some cheer to others.
There’s a crazy statistic right now that the 8,000 or so feral cats in Los Angeles could grow to 60,000 within the next 18 months if we don’t do something about it. The Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats is an amazing organization devoted to educating the community about the risks of feral cats, developing a stellar Trap–Neuter–Release program and –my favorite– socializing feral cats to the point that they’re adoptable.
Before I left for Thanksgiving break, I had orientation with a group of fellow feline fanciers. A the beginning of the orientation there was a roundtable discussion on why we wanted to join the Bungalow and I’ll forever stick by my statement: Raising my cats has been a thrilling experience and I’m so lucky to have two loving, cuddlebugs by my side on the daily – Kitty Bungalow gives me the chance to take that love and pay it forward. And let’s get real for a second, from one crazy cat lady to her followers it’s so effing awesome being around other cat people! Shawn, the lovely headmistress, showed us the ropes of the Bungalow and introduced us to some of the most adorable kittens I have ever seen and to boot there was one that was only 10 days old (and, as a side note, I’m pretty sure it’s going to take all my will power to not adopt more cats.)
Nothing makes me feel quite as good about receiving a present than when I’m giving back and I think its a wonderful way to enter the holiday season. If you’re looking to get in on the volunteer action and don’t know where to start, give Volunteer Match a go – you can search metros, zip codes and keywords; perfect if you don’t know where to start! Or, if you’d like to contribute to the kitties, the wonderful people over at GOOD are having a challenge to improve the lives of animals; our suggestion is for an animal transport and outreach vehicle, help us climb to the top of the voting charts here!