Many cats and kittens call the Friends of Cats shelter home. It is where some were born, where some were taken and where some will spend the rest of their lives. As such, it is important for them to feel comfortable and safe in their habitat, and the only way to achieve this is to make sure every aspect of the shelter is in working condition.
As us humans know, having repairs done at home can be quite costly. Whether it be a plumbing problem or a leak in the roof, money is required to ensure a decent fix. This can be stressful for a shelter that relies on donations, and that’s where Larry Gray comes into play.
Gray is what Friends of Cats calls their jack-of-all-trades. Not only does he hang out with the cats that reside at the shelter, but he also fixes things so as to better the cats’ safety and well being – for free.
“I’m predisposed to doing charity things,” Gray said. “It was really something when I was asked if I could help out at Friends of Cats… They give me a little direction and then I’m just on my own to do what I do.”
And he certainly does a lot. Currently, Gray is replacing the ceiling inside the unit in which pregnant cats have their kittens. The dry-wall ceiling had collapsed, so Gray decided to replace the entire thing. In the past, Gray has replaced windows and window sills that were damaged by termites, as well as a door that had a tendency to spring open if it wasn’t latched correctly – an inconvenience that could have resulted in cats escaping. His favorite project, however, was installing cabinets in the clinic area of the shelter.
Gray came across some exceptional cabinets at the home of a woman he does home maintenance for. She gave them to him, and he used them to create wall-to-wall custom-built cabinets for Friends of Cats. Gray cut the cabinets down to size so they could fit along the length of one wall, and added glass doors to them as well.
“They look really nice with the glass doors,” Gray said. “It’s nice that they can put the medical supplies behind glass doors instead of on mismatched open shelves.”
One of Gray’s future maintenance plans involves putting stained-glass windows in the Cozy Cottage.
“Something that really struck me is the Cozy Cottage,” Gray said. “It’s for the cats of people who passed away or can no longer care for their cats. They prearrange to have their cats taken care of for the rest of their lives… I always make a point of going into that unit.”
It is apparent that Gray is an animal lover at heart. He has been visiting the furry residents of Friends of Cats for over 10 years, and volunteering his fix-it skills for the last three months, usually on weekends. Aside from doing work at the shelter, he spends about four months out of the year house-sitting and pet-sitting for the people he does home maintenance for.
Gray also has three cats of his own, named Cinnamongray, Maya and The “Waah-Waah” Kitty, so-named because of the “rwow-rwow” noise she makes on a regular basis. “They are my children, but with cat-like features,” Gray said. “My whole world revolves around them,” a statement with which I’m sure we can all relate.
If Gray’s story gives you the charity itch, there are a variety of ways in which you can help Friends of Cats, as well as Gray himself. Besides donating materials like vinyl siding or sheeting, decorative rocks and woodchips are always in demand for the shelter’s landscaping. If your schedule doesn’t allow for physical volunteer work, monetary donations are always appreciated.
According to Gray, “People could help out the most by signing up for a membership or making a donation and signing up for Cat Tales. Get in touch with April [Volunteer Coordinator] or Janet [Shelter Manager] to help out with volunteering. Even just making regular trips over to get acquainted with the cats and give them contact with people helps.”
Gray serves as an inspiration to all of us here at the shelter, and we are excited to see his future finished projects.