Paying it forward – Marci Koski

 Your Name:  Marci Koski 

Current employer or place of business:  Feline Behavior Solutions and US Fish and Wildlife Service 

Organization I volunteer with: Furry Friends 

How I got involved: I became involved with Furry Friends because I decided to start my own cat behavior consulting business, and needed to get my feline behavior certification.  The certification program required a certain number of field hours for experience, and I searched for just the right organization with which to volunteer.  I found Furry Friends and the rest is history!  I couldn’t have picked a better organization to work with – the people are incredibly dedicated, and each cat is special and unique.  Because they don’t have the resources that larger rescue organizations have, I feel like the time I spend volunteering with Furry Friends is really needed, and I’m able to make a real, positive impact on the lives of the kitties that Furry Friends works so hard to help. 

Why I give back:  I think everyone should give back as a member of a community.  It doesn’t have to be working with rescued animals, but I think that anyone can find a way to help others using their own talents, passion, and resources.  My passion happens to be cats (and other animals, but especially cats!), and my mission as a cat behaviorist is to keep cats in homes and out of shelters.  While we strive to give the cats at Furry Friends the care and attention they need, the best place for these kitties is ultimately in a forever home.  I love seeing these kitties get adopted! 

Proudest moment as a volunteer:  I was so proud when I heard that Peggy Sue was adopted.  She was a sweet, quiet tuxedo kitty with the funniest little meow, and had been passed over so many times.  She had been at the Furry Friends halfway house for so long, just waiting for her forever family to find her!  At one point, Furry Friends became involved with a film called Zombie Cats from Mars, and we provided the cat actors for the movie; Peggy Sue was one of the stars with some great scenes.  However, all the cats except for Peggy Sue had gotten adopted.  It was only a day or so before the Vancouver screening of the film when I found out she was finally adopted – I was able to meet her new mom at the film debut, and I was so happy to know that she had found the purrrrrrfect family to live with! 

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about?  As you might guess, I’m most passionate about animal welfare.  I’m involved with various groups that help cats find permanent homes and treat behavior problems so that cats don’t end up in shelters.  I love meeting people who have a passion for animals – they are some of the best people, with the biggest hearts! 

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents, hobbies or interests?  I used to play roller derby, but I had to quit so that I could build my cat behavior consulting business.  But it’s ok – just plain roller skating without knocking people over is fun, too. 

Additional Information: 

Tell us a little about what you do with Furry Friends:  I started out by volunteering at the halfway house, cleaning up after and socializing the cats.  I eventually became involved in providing social media support, then became the lead for the social media team.  I’m currently on the executive board, but I still do my cleaning shifts and maintain my social media duties.

How long have you volunteered with Furry Friends?  I’ve been volunteering for over two years now. 

Do you also volunteer for other organizations? If so, what are they and what do you do?  Yes!  I also volunteer for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.  For a while I volunteered in the adoption cattery, looking after the cats and helping patrons find just the right kitty to adopt.  I’m currently working with them and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society to bring more cat behavior information and guidance into the Larch Cat Adoption Program, which provides inmates at the Larch Mountain Corrections facility with cats to socialize.  The inmates work with the cats until they are adoptable through either of the humane societies – it’s a really great program and benefits the rescue organizations, the cats, and the inmates.  I’m thrilled to be a part of it. 

Photo credit: Erica J. Mitchell

Photo credit: Erica J. Mitchell

What is your favorite part about volunteering for Furry Friends?  I love seeing cat’s personalities bloom, especially if they come from difficult situations.  We had one kitty, Kahlua, who was a big boy and would hiss and spit at you if you even looked at him – I’m not going to lie, he was pretty intimidating.  We discovered that he loved catnip, and from there, we were able to gain his trust and his loving personality came out over the course of a couple of months.  He was such a sweet kitty, and he was adopted into a great home!  All the work we did with him really paid off…seeing the direct effect of our care on cats is my favorite thing. 

Do you have any pets at home?  Yes!  I have five cats between the ages of almost 7 to 17.  I also have two neon tetras. 

Do you have a job outside f Furry Friends? If so, what do you do?  I’m a cat behaviorist with my own cat behavior consulting business, Feline Behavior Solutions.  I work with cats and their people to resolve behavior problems (like going outside of the litterbox and aggression), and educate people about the environmental and social needs of their cats.  My mission is to keep cats in happy, healthy homes and out of shelters!