Hard winter brings need for cold cash for cats

Port Colborne’s cat colonies need your help.This past few months have seen an unusual rise in injured and ill cats being taken in by the Port Colborne Feline Initiative.

Jackie Crow, president of the Port Colborne Feline Initiative stated in their facebook post, “our vet bills above and beyond spay/neuter are growing and our financial resources are dwindling.”

“We never want to have to say ‘no’ to a cat in need,” Crow said.

Normally in December, January and February their principal concern is providing food and shelter to the cat colonies. This year a greater number of cats have come to them either injured or ill this winter or suffering from extreme malnutrition. Food is scarce for the cats and for predators too.

Cats are both predator to rodents and prey to coyotes and others.

“We see cats seeking shelter in unsafe places and sustaining injuries as a consequence,” Crow said.

This year the Port Colborne Feline Initiative received a call for help with a cat who sought refuge under the hood of a car and was injured when the owner of the car started it, unaware of the cat. The cat sustained severe tail injuries, and the tail had to be amputated. The cat was fortunate that her injuries were not worse, and also that the person who called them was willing to take her in and care for her.

Another trapped cat came in with a severe eye infection that required surgery and treatment with antibiotics. He is now being fostered, while his treatment is continued. He seems most grateful for the relief from pain and discomfort and is expressing it with loud purrs. When recovery is complete, he will return to a barn home, where he will be cared for and kept warm.

Since their inception in 2009 by founder Kristi Mallinson Vogel, more than 2050 cats have been taken into the spay/neuter program, more than half of them female. This is important as female cats can begin reproducing at 4 months and have three litters a year.

Currently the Initiative maintains and cares for five colonies in public or business locations by volunteers, and upwards of 60 that are cared for on private property by property owners. The number of cats per colony ranges from 2 – 25.

The Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return TNVR program is a humane, fiscally responsible method to reduce the free-roaming cat population, with benefits to both the community and the cats. Cats are humanly trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and returned to their outside homes to live out their lives under the watchful eye of volunteer caregivers. The free-roaming cats provide rodent control in business and rural areas. Cats are drawn to areas where food is available for the hunting. Keeping cats in these areas rather than removing and euthanizing them prevents the “vacuum effect” letting new cats move in and start the cycle over again. TNVR keeps both the rodent and cat population under control. Free-range cats are just as healthy as pet cats – with equally low rates of disease, and have the same lifespan too.

There are still many more cats that have not been reached. Cats are routinely abandoned in rural areas or left to fend for themselves when their owners experience lifestyle changes. In March, trapping begins in earnest, in hopes of trapping un-owned cats and having them sterilized before pregnancies occur. Trapping continues throughout the summer months. Female cats that come in pregnant or with litters of young kittens are fostered until the kittens are at an adoptable age. Mother cats are spayed after the kittens are weaned. Kittens and adoptable mothers find homes through the Welland Humane Society’s Cat Adoption Centre at the Seaway Mall.

“Every cat in our community deserves a home, traditional or otherwise.”

Port Colborne Feline Initiative is a totally volunteer organization. They pay no salaries and donations received go to benefit the cats directly.

Financial donations are always most welcome. Their major expenses are veterinary care and food for colony and foster cats. Volunteers are always welcome to help with special events, care of colonies and fostering. They are currently looking for donation of items to their yard sale on April 27, auction items for their Whiskers and Wine evening at Roselawn on June 7 and prizes for their Murder Mystery Dinner on November 2.

Anyone wishing to help can email at pcfelines@live.ca or send a message on facebook or call 905-964-4778.