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Volunteer With CAT

Is it possible to have too many cat cuddles? Volunteer at CAT to find out!

How to Volunteer at CAT

You can make big difference for the people and cats in the Portland metro area. Here’s how!

We’re cat people, sure. But we’re also people-people! When you join the volunteer team at CAT, you become part of a diverse group of incredible humans who put their love of cats into action every day. As a cat shelter volunteer, you’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and help cats and people find each other.

CAT volunteers are adolescents, senior citizens, and every age in between. Everyone in the CAT family cares deeply about cats and shows compassion to fellow humans, too. Plus, we know how to have a good time — come join us!

Ready to get started? Attending a Volunteer Orientation is the first step. See our Event Calendar for orientation dates and times. Scroll down for more details about volunteer positions and opportunities at Cat Adoption Team.

Volunteer Requirements

  • At our main shelter in Sherwood, volunteers must be at least 12 years old and anyone age 12-15 years old must volunteer alongside a parent or other adult guardian during every shift; at our offsite adoption centers
  • At offsite adoption centers, volunteers must be at least 14-16 years old, depending on location; anyone age 18 and under must volunteer alongside a parent or other adult guardian during every shift
  • Commit to at least 8 hours per month for at least 6 months (most volunteer positions require a regular, consistent schedule; others do not)
  • Commit to attending your scheduled volunteer shifts
  • Complete our volunteer application (provided at orientation)
  • Complete a post-orientation placement interview to discuss your volunteer interests and finalize your position
  • Agree to follow CAT’s Workplace Culture Agreement
  • Must be able to squat, bend, twist, lift and stand for long periods of time when working directly with the cats in our care
  • Must be able to work well with people – all volunteer positions work directly with other volunteers, staff, and the public
  • Must be able to handle cats safely and compassionately
  • Must be able to take and seek direction and have a self-motivated work ethic
  • Must be able to work independently
  • All volunteers receive a CAT t-shirt and photo ID badge for use while volunteering. There is $25 fee due at the time of your placement interview to cover the costs of these items. If this is a hardship, please let us know. Scholarships may be available.

At CAT, we care about cats and people, and we invest in creating a workplace that is positive, welcoming, and rewarding. Please read our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Statement of Principle to learn more.

Volunteering at CAT is my way of helping everyone have an opportunity to experience the joys of a happy, healthy pet companion.

– Tia K.

Volunteer Opportunities

Adoption Counselor: Help cats and people find companionship! Adoption Counselors (ACs) help visitors meet cats and kittens, answer general questions about cat care and pet adoption policies, and counsel adopters through the cat adoption process (including post-adoption support).

Caregiver:  Provide a comfortable environment and work directly with cats by cleaning kennels and other cat housing areas, changing water, changing litter, mopping, sweeping, and other caregiving duties. You’ll also give love and attention to the cats. Caregiver positions are available at CAT’s shelter and at offsite locations.

Cat Food Bank: Assist with organizing and inventory of donated cat food for use in our partnership with Meals on Wheels.

Enrichment Team: Help to create items and participate in activities to enrich the lives of the cats in the shelter. 

Event Ambassador: Promote CAT and share information about our programs and service at public outreach events such as expos, community fairs, fundraisers, offsite adoption events, etc. 

Foster Care: Provide a temporary home and foster support to kittens (and sometimes mother cats) or adult cats as part of CAT’s foster program.

Nine Lines Transport: Pick up felines and/or supplies at the Sherwood shelter and transport them to/from offsite adoption locations. Some animal transport volunteers also assist with local and long-distance trips to drive cats from our transport partners to CAT for adoption (personal vehicle or CAT van). DMV check and special training required.

Playhouse (Kitten) Assistant: Caregiving duties and evening feeding for the kitten adoption room (The Playhouse), intake area, and office cats. There will also be some customer service and interaction with potential adopters, such as answering basic questions about the adoption process and the kittens they are meeting.

Photographer: Help promote adoptable cats and kittens by taking photos of felines for adoption. Requires prior photography experience, familiarity with lighting equipment, and comfort working with cats of different temperaments.

Thrift Store: Help organize merchandise, assist customers, clean and maintain the store and backroom, and manage small projects. Some shifts include cat care. Positions are located onsite at the CAT Thrift Store in SW Portland.

Veterinary Hospital: We have several positions that support CAT’s onsite veterinary hospital and medical team, including caregiving, enrichment, and spay & neuter clinic help.

Writer: Put your creativity and grammar skills to work writing cat biographies! Help promote cats for adoption, showcase each cats’ uniqueness, and follow CAT’s style guidelines so that every cat shines online.

Group Volunteering: CAT welcomes group volunteers for one-day projects, but availability of group projects is limited. The minimum age requirement for group volunteers is 16 years old. Because we can’t typically accommodate large groups, we encourage those interested in volunteering as a group to help by hosting a cat food/supplies drive or fundraising event. For information about group volunteer opportunities, please contact the Volunteer Manager at (503) 925-8903, ext 258 or email.

This list is a sample of some of our most popular volunteer roles, but other positions are available. Learn more by attending a free CAT Volunteer Orientation. 


Court Mandated Community Service

If you need to fulfill court ordered community service, you may be able to complete your service hours at CAT.
Prior approval is required—no walk-in shifts.

If you wish to volunteer at CAT to fulfill court mandated community service, you may do so through your probation officer. CAT receives referrals directly from the county office or from individuals who must perform community service. If you are not referred directly from the county, you will need to provide, in writing:

  • Court documentation of offense
  • Number of hours to be completed
  • Deadline for completion
  • Court contact information if possible
  • All court mandated community service  volunteers must bring photo identification to their volunteer sessions.

Court mandated community service volunteers may or may not have contact with shelter animals or the public. Community service volunteers may assist with:

  • Laundry (washing, folding, sorting)
  • Washing dishes
  • Washing/disinfecting animal crates and litter boxes
  • Cleaning/disinfecting animal kennels
  • Sweeping, mopping, and other janitorial duties
  • Special projects as assigned

Please note that CAT does not accept those convicted of the following crimes. All other charges will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Animal neglect/abuse
  • Crimes of a sexual nature
  • Theft
  • Violent crimes
  • Weapons charges

To apply for Court Mandated Community Service, please contact our Volunteer Manager by email: [email protected].

You've Got Questions, We've got Answers
Wondering why your cat does that? Want to learn how to train your new kitten? Looking for other cat care tips? CAT's Resource Center is here to help!