Monday, May 14, 2012

JCN Fukushima shelter

My writing skills are terrible, but I suppose that something is better than nothing at all, so here is my first attempt at doing volunteer notes about this last weekend at the Inawashiro shelter.

First, let me give everyone a quick overview of the general structure of a day:
Morning routine begins at 8am, this includes feeding all the animals, cleaning all the rooms, walking the dogs and giving our sick tenants their medications (whether they want it or not)
If there is only one person there, the routine takes from 8am till around lunch.
If there are 2+ people, it is typically over by 10:30am.

After the morning routines are finished with, and if it is not a zone day, volunteers are free to do whatever they please. Be it cleaning, organizing, cuddling animals, sightseeing or simply taking a nap. I personally tend to take the route of keeping busy with cleaning and petting the cuties, but to each their own.

Evening routine begins at 5pm and consists of feeding everyone, cleaning the cages again, walking the dogs and then putting them in their kennels for the night (there are foxes, tanuki and bears in the area, so our boys aren’t allowed to have nights outside), and ensuring everyone has had their medications.
Again, if there is only one person, this takes forever, and depending on how willing the special needs babies are with taking their meds, it can also sometimes end with a few tears.
With 2+ people, it feels like a breeze since you have good conversations and helping hands to burrito kitties and trick animals into swallowing pills.

On a zone day, we typically load up the van with food, cages and emergency equipment the night before and head out around 10am, and return whenever things are done, be that 5pm, or 2am.
While out there, duties consist of refilling feeding stations, scouting for animals, checking on our feral colonies (JCN does TNR as well), talking with locals, and inevitably getting stopped by the police a million times to check our papers. It is immensely hard work and sometimes can be utterly heartbreaking, but every animal out there that is still in need makes it more than worth it.

Anyways, that is a basic run down of the daily happenings at the Japan Cat Network Fukushima shelter, now on to what specifically happened this particular weekend.

Nala <3
Nala, who was quite recently diagnosed with FIV (Feline AIDS), was being a lot friendlier then the last time I got to visit 2 weeks ago. Last time Nala would try to struggle and do her pathetic growls during medicine time, this trip she actually cuddled with Caroline and I on several occasions. She is still practically a walking skeleton and it pains me every time I see this poor little one in such a state, but with the IV drips, high calorie foods and diligent care by our volunteers, she has an infinitely higher chance then she did a month ago when she was still in the 30km. There’s no doubt in my mind that if JCN had not found her, Nala would not be alive today.

Wesley weighing Sam
This weekend was quite busy medically speaking, JCN got a great new volunteer vet tech for the weekend named Wesley, and she gave every cat eye drops several times a day to help them with the cold that spread through C room. Wesley also gave deworming and parasite treatments to all of our dogs, and managed to weigh even our huge Sam on a small bathroom scale. Caroline, who was visiting from Australia, got many cuts from the not so happy cats while helping with the treatments, but she was quite a trooper and just laughed off the scratches and moved on to the next task. She is an amazing woman. 

visiting his deity relatives
Caroline and I also took our newest dog, Chachamaru, on a great adventure in between morning and evening routines. This poor boy was just craving love after a year alone and Caroline wanted to see the area, so we took him to the beach at Lake Inawashiro, a local park and even Aizu castle to run and get loved by lots of excited children. He ate up every minute of it. He even temporarily got renamed (butterfly) because he was so happy.

Caroline also showed off her creative side by designing and beginning to build an outside catilion so that the cats can get some fresh air now that the weather is getting nicer. 

Lastly, I finally got to meet the tiny bundles of joy that one of our local supporters are fostering, these 3 are really active and their foster is seriously their mama. 
ball of cute

Right before I had to leave Sunday, all of us enjoyed a dinner at Club Lohas, which is the restaurant right underneath the shelter. The amazing owner, Yuuko, made me the best ice coco ever.

If you would like to help Japan Cat Network continue their work of helping the animals of the Fukushima exclusion zone, please go here:
Every amount counts, as it costs 5,000Y in tolls alone just to make a single trip to all of the areas JCN helps.


  1. Jen!! Wonderful notes, even being volunteering there, there were some parts of the routine I was not aware, specially the feeding stations day, that I dindt have the chance to join. But I know how the days just finish so fast because of the million things to do.
    Regarding the Cattilion, I found it a great great idea, it really bugged me when I was there that the cats will have to be enclosed all summer and I didnt have really time to discuss that with Susan. Definitelly it is a really need there!
    Txs for sharing the notes :)

    1. The next time you visit, you should try to come out to the zone

  2. Sounds so busy! I wish I could come help with the morning and evening chores, but I'd have to get off work somehow and get someone to sit all these kitties here.

    1. Are you in Japan? If so, you can certainly just come during one of the holidays