18 Nov Kitten Rescue Volunteer Spotlight: Kelly Sheridan and Rachel Parham
A Volunteer Spotlight on Two FeLV Heroes
Today’s KR Volunteer Spotlight is on Kelly Sheridan and Rachel Parham, two exceptional women who run the Feline Leukemia (FeLV) program at Kitten Rescue. They have worked to not just spread awareness around FeLV, but also love, positivity, and laughs by showcasing the antics of the residents of our FeLV Sanctuary room, you can follow them here @felvcatsofkittenrescue.
Meet these two incredible women through our recent interview with them.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with Kitten Rescue?
Kelly: I started volunteering at Kitten Rescue almost seven years ago. I loved that KR took the toughest, most difficult cases and never turned their backs on any cat, feral or otherwise (I have a soft spot for ferals and tough cases in general), so I figured we had something in common. I went to the orientation and started volunteering on weekends. I also volunteer at special events, participate in the LA Marathon 5k, and in general try to help anywhere I can.
Rachel: Back in the summer of 2014, I was seeking out volunteering opportunities, and although I started volunteering at another shelter, the distance made it difficult to commute, that’s when I asked a shelter member to recommend something closer to Atwater Village and the rest is history!
2. How did you specifically start working with the FeLV cats?
Kelly: Ben (Lehrer) came to me and asked if I wanted to start up a special adoption project for FeLV cats and I said sure! I had gotten close to two kitties, Wayne and Garth, who had been recently transferred to the FeLV suite from the Kitten Nursery, I had also really fallen for Holly, a crazy and cute girl who had gone to foster from the FeLV enclosure and has since unfortunately passed away.
Rachel: I became good friends with fellow Sanctuary volunteer Kelly Sheridan, and when Ben approached her about starting a program that focused on finding forever homes for the FeLV cats, she asked me if I would be interested in helping. I said ‘yes’ right away.
3. What was the turning point for you? How has working with FeLV cats impacted you?
Kelly: I fell in love with those two kittens at the nursery named Wayne and Garth, both of whom unfortunately tested positive for FeLV. The prognosis is never great for FeLV kittens. Sadly, those two only lived to be about 9 months, but they were the sweetest little cuddle boys who really loved each other. They died within days of each other — that really put things into perspective for me. I thought these cats may not live long but we can at least do our best to give them the best life possible, for as long as they have, and best-case scenario, maybe even find them their forever homes. Nothing can make the loss easier, but that’s why it’s become my mission to make every minute of their life special and joyful.
Rachel: One of the reasons I love working with the FeLV cats, and why I love working at the Kitten Rescue Sanctuary in general, is that these are the cats whose chances of survival are pretty low. When they come to KR, they are guaranteed a safe space for life, with dedicated staff and volunteers doing everything they can to make sure they have a healthy and happy life. Knowing that so few rescues in the LA area can offer them this quality of life makes what KR does all the more rewarding.
4. What would you like to tell people about FeLV cats, and especially those looking to adopt special needs cats?
Kelly: FeLV cats need love too and are some of the sweetest cats around. Know that they may not live long, or maybe they do. Be prepared, make every day count. I cannot stress the importance of pet insurance. Have a plan and love them without limits. FeLV cats are as incredible as their non-FeLV counterparts! They are just as funny, affectionate, playful, regal, dismissive, disdainful, curious, heartwarming, and special as any other cat.
Rachel: My main piece of advice is to ask questions. The words “special needs” and “FeLV” can be scary, but once a potential adopter understands what owning a cat in one of those categories entails, it’s not that bad. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do your research, but I would say that owning a special needs cat is in itself a deeply satisfying experience. Remember, these are cats that didn’t have much of a chance, and offering a forever home to one is all the more incredible because of that.
As the year comes to a close, we are grateful for so many things, but nothing comes close to the gratitude we have for volunteers like Rachel and Kelly, who work tirelessly to make the lives of our feline friends easier, one kitten at a time.
Please consider donating to help the cats and kittens in our FeLV program.DONATE TO HELP FELV CATS