By Amanda Matwie

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In August of 2021, Pam Funk was off work due to chronic pain and looking for a way to help others and give herself some purpose. The unpredictability of her pain levels made it necessary for her to find something that wouldn’t require her to over commit herself. When she was perusing animal rescue websites for opportunities and discovered that Second Chance Animal Rescue Society needed volunteers to cuddle cats, she signed up to help. That was only the beginning.

In the spring of 2022, “after seeing how many animals we (SCARS) were getting, and the growing need for fosters,” Pam decided to start fostering cats. This led to helping by driving cats to vet appointments and adoption events, as well as hanging out to help at adoption events. A lifelong lover of cats, Pam has found that volunteering and fostering have made her “become more of a cat person,” and she marvels at how obviously happy and thankful most of the rescue cats she’s cared for have been once they’ve got food and shelter. “No matter what the cats have gone through prior to coming (to) SCARS,” she says, “every cat I’ve fostered or cat cuddled (has) been sweet and loving once given the time to adjust and trust.”

Recently, Pam took on a new challenge: fostering a mama cat and six one-week-old kittens. She was nervous at the beginning, wondering “what if Mom doesn’t want to feed her babies?”—a valid concern given the incredibly young age of many of the pregnant cats that come into care—but she received plenty of support from her Foster Home Supervisor and the SCARS community as she adjusted to the new experience. The mother cat and her kittens are all doing well, and Pam says that watching such young kittens grow up and develop their own distinct personalities has been fun and rewarding. “I’ve loved every minute,” she assures me, adding “even when I’ve been pooped on.”

It has now been a little over two years since Pam first started cuddling cats for SCARS, and the support that she has received while caring for that first mama cat and litter of kittens is typical of her general experience with the rescue. The “amazing support system”, the appreciation, and the lack of pressure to take on more than she can handle are all things that keep her coming back to help more cats. “Spending time with the cats and meeting the adoptive families” are her favourite aspects of fostering, and she says that nothing brings her more joy than seeing her fosters go to their “furever” homes. “Volunteering,” she answers, when I ask what she has learned about herself throughout this process, “has taught me that I can make a difference in the world.”

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS), like most animal rescues here in Alberta, operates primarily through the efforts of volunteers. These volunteers do everything from walking dogs and cuddling kittens to opening their homes to provide temporary placements for animals. Learn more about volunteering for SCARS.