Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Shannon Gilliam

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
I came to PAWS Chicago after my sweetie cat, Taylor, passed away. She had been my girl for over 18 years – my little mini-me and my heart. When she passed, I still wanted to take care of animals, but I wasn’t ready for anything long-term. A friend recommended fostering.


Is there a favorite experience or fondest memory/animal story that has stood out or touched your heart during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?

As far as fostering experiences go, there’s nothing better than coaxing a nervous little cat out from under the bed and showing him/her that everything is all right. Bonus points if the cat trusts you enough to sleep near your pillow by the end of the night.


How does what you do for a living apply to what you do as a volunteer?

I work from home as a freelance writer. Working from home allows me the chance to take care of cats that may have higher medical needs.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

It just feels right to me. Fostering allows me to be that crazy cat person without it getting out of control. I get the opportunity to have a lot of different cats around, but I keep it under control by only fostering one or two at a time. Also, I like to visit Kristen and Julie at the 26th street Clinic. They do good work.


Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?

I considered my last hospice cat, Fran, to be my own. We had about a year and a half together. She was one of those cats that liked to drink straight out of the faucet. When she could no longer climb up to reach the sink, I would hold her up while she drank. It was nice for us.


What has volunteering at PAWS Chicago taught you about yourself?

I learned that I am completely ridiculous. I thought I could give back foster cats with ease, but as it turns out, I’m a big softie. I get attached to all of them almost immediately.