Nothing can be more exciting than working with cats and kittens in a shelter or boarding environment. Here, the cats and kittens display their behaviors an observer might miss somewhere else... because the cats are in a group setting. Happy cats, sad cats or bad cats all have to get along in this cohesive setting if they are to live in serenity among one another!
One of the drawbacks in working with multiple cats (16 to 50, or more), is the safety aimed at the cat worker. DUST MASKS can be an essential tool in fighting respiratory distress and even save one's life, if they have allergies. First, if one has allergies in working with cats or other animals they should contact their health provider and make the proper arrangements to protect their health and lungs. As many know, allergy sufferers depend on medications, inhalers and other devices if they work with cats or dogs, when the allergens bother them at their job.
I can attest to this: I worked with 37 adult cats and 22 kittens for about 2 years and had several asthma like attacks, and found out I was allergic to the kitty litter dust. All my life I thought I had cat allergies, but learned it was the dust from the litter I was allergic to.
I went out and purchased several dust masks, the cheap ones that are not certified by any agency, and they worked quite well. I found out that dust masks have specific styles and environmental considerations for their use. There are masks for light dust and cat hair (which I used), but there also exist more expensive dust masks that are rated for environmental specific jobs and qualify as Personal Protective Equipment. If you are working for an employer, you may qualify for the equipment and they have to supply it under certain regulations (talk you your employer).
My masks were a life-saver, as I can not work without the masks in a cat environment. The masks were also great in blocking a lot of the odors from the kitty litter and debris that float up into the air, when sifting through the cat litter boxes. After 20 boxes, it can get to one's stomach, with the ammonia like odors.
I had several workers come up to me and comment on the masks! The employer began stocking them in the work area near the cats and were very supportive of their use. I even talked to one worker in a nursing home and they began using the dust masks for working with dirty laundry at a facility. Although they are cheap in price, workers should talk to their managers in having the company pay for the personal protective masks.
When the worker is happy, the cats are happy. With the masks, I was able to take on more cat roles. I did a lot of brushing with the cats, and much fur went into the air. The masks gave me more confidence in working with cats and the ability to take on more roles (cleaning, brushing, sweeping the kennel, kitty litter boxes, etc.). In addition, I suffered no allergy attacks while using the masks. Again, check with your doctor if you have allergies when working with animals for the proper treatment or equipment!
Adding professionalism is another benefit of the masks. By taking an active role in protective worker equipment and working with cats, management became aware of additional safety issues throughout the cat kennel. By bringing up one safety issue, this helped spur an interest in more first aid equipment and other topics.
In conclusion, when working with cats, check with your employer on what personal protective equipment is offered for your work tasks. In some instances, veterinary and kennel practices offer cat gloves and other equipment for safety use. But you have to ask, because management may be unaware of each worker's specific safety needs.
About Author / Additional Info:
I have worked with cats and dogs for 7 years and graduated from a veterinary assistant distance education program.