Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Quinn

Karen with cat

by Katarina Wright, volunteer writer

Volunteer Karen Quinn does it all when it comes to helping cats at the Buddy Center find their forever homes: Kitty Media, Kitty Comfort and Kitty Foster.

A Kitty Media Visit

Karen takes great care selecting which kitty to bring to the Channel 4 TV station, as the trip can be stressful for many cats. The day before, she visits with the available cats at the Buddy Center. Most don’t like to be in the carrier so Karen practices with a couple of different cats. “I begin trying to load the cat in the carrier to see how easily they will load. If they load, I will take them to the visiting room and sit with them in my lap. If all goes well I take them to media the next day.” This kind of rehearsal both helps the cat become familiar with Karen and learn what to expect.

Once they get to the Channel 4 studios, Karen takes the cat out of the carrier and calms it down by holding it in her lap. The TV segment is only 30 seconds; the anchor relays information from the cat’s bio and the camera zooms in on the kitty. Viewers are urged to call the Buddy Center if they are interested in meeting with the cat. It’s a wonderful way to get the word out about the cat and the Dumb Friends League in general.
One of Karen’s favorite media memories is like a Cinderella story. A stray cat came in with medical issues and was under our care for quite a while, then was assigned to the Kitty Comfort program. She slowly adjusted to shelter life and became very sweet. Still, no one adopted her and she remained at the shelter for a long time. Karen decided to bring this particular kitty to Channel 4. What happened next? The news anchor himself decided to adopt the cat for his daughter as it was her birthday that day!

Playing Ping-Pong in Kitty Comfort

All the kittens at the shelter want and need attention. The cats in the Kitty Comfort program may be fearful or withdrawn, so Karen spends time with them either in the kennel or in a visiting room. One cat in particular surprised Karen. Initially, the cat appeared lethargic and depressed, not responding to anything. Karen found a ping-pong ball and started rolling it, noticing that the cat’s eyes were following the ball. Suddenly, the cat swatted the ball and they kept passing it back and forth. A game of ping-pong was just what this particular kitty needed!

Kitty Foster

Karen also fosters cats every year. In November, she fostered a litter of kittens with URI that needed to gain weight. After only three weeks, they were ready for adoption but Karen realized she wasn’t ready to give them up. Proud to become a “foster flunkie,” she decided to adopt two of the kittens herself.

Karen has been a volunteer at the Dumb Friends League for five years now. Why does she do it? “The joy that happens when a kitty connects with their forever home. That is what I live for … that is what lights me up.”

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