Erin Marsh: Expert at 'Herding Cats'
Erin Marsh gained a lot of experience organizing tasks while working at a nonprofit cat rescue, so she can say with real legitimacy that she knows a thing or two about “herding cats.”
Marsh volunteers Tuesday evenings at Ohio Alleycat Resource, a facility that houses as many as 150 cats. She and her 10-person team provide the cats with food and water, and they clean and refresh litter boxes. “We sweep and mop, plus we do a ton of laundry: blankets, towels, smocks and bed linens. We are usually there for four hours.”
Marsh is an administrative support specialist for the ORAU Team Dose Reconstruction project for NIOSH, at the office in Cincinnati, Ohio. She processes, reviews, uploads and indexes documents, a job that requires strong organizational skills. Before joining ORAU in 2015, she was the office manager at Ohio Alleycat Resource’s Spay/Neuter Clinic. Along with other scheduling and accounting duties, she coordinated the Neuterville Express, a van to bring services into the community.
“The van goes to different locations to pick up cats from people who don’t have the means to come to the clinic. Usually 30 cats are collected per trip, brought to the clinic for surgery and then returned the next day. I publicized the service and coordinated the trips so people knew the pickup times and labeled the cat carriers properly for the cats’ return,” Marsh explained. “I made sure the cats stayed organized.”
Though she left behind the job, she remains connected to Ohio Alleycat Resource as a volunteer. Ninety percent of its workforce is made up of volunteers. They assist the veterinarians who perform about 200 surgeries a week. Also, volunteers engage in community education meetings where the discussion is often about supporting feral cat colonies. Volunteers also assist at the adoption center dedicated to finding loving homes for the cats.
Marsh, who has volunteered there for eight years, hates to skip a shift. “If I miss a week, I feel kind of empty because I have a real connection to the cats. They are part of me, and I love caring for them,” she said.
Marsh’s own cat, Ophelia, lives a leisurely life. The short-haired, black cat has a fainting couch for daytime napping, an ornate drinking fountain and a climbing tree for looking out the window to watch birds and squirrels. At night, Ophelia snuggles up in a blanket at the foot of Marsh’s bed.
“My cat is very sweet. It’s very comforting having her around,” says Marsh, who grew up in Cincinnati in a household with cats. “To me, cats are not just animals, not just pets. They are my family.”