Christmas is a time to turn more attention to the homeless and the hungry and that includes our furry friends.
The Chemainus CATastrophe group already goes above and beyond the call of duty all year to voluntarily manage a large colony of nearly 100 feral cats in a rural area of town, but is being extra vigilant now and hoping for additional community support.
Eleven members of the community are actively involved in different roles such as feeding and collecting donations. They work in connection with Cowichan Cat Rescue pertaining to the trapping, spaying and neutering, fostering, adopting and releasing back of the cats.
The goals of CATastrophe are to manage the colony so cats are not reproducing, find homes for the less feral cats, find barns for the ones that aren’t as likely to be tamed and have the cats fed and out of the cold in the winter. The quality of life for the cats is much improved while humanely reducing the overall population.
Lindsay Bergeron shoulders the biggest task of feeding the cats on a daily basis.
“Pretty much to help cats to survive, have a better life,” she said of her motivation.
“They used to be eating whatever they could find, including garbage. Now that I have been feeding them cat food every day, the result is less sickly and dead cats and their survival rate is much higher.”
It’s a huge expense to provide the required amount of eight kilograms of dry food and four cans of wet food daily.
“If we don’t have enough wet food, then the cats only get fed dry food,” explained Bergeron. “Cats need wet food, especially in winter, for more protein to keep them warm on those very cold nights and to prevent dehydration.”
Currently, about one week of the food required each month is covered on a regular basis by donations and the other three weeks isn’t.
Fortunately, the campaign is gathering steam and many residents appear more than willing to help make sure the food supply doesn’t run short.
One anonymous Chemainus donor has already pledged to donate a bag of cat food every week.
Food and cash donations can be dropped off at Downtown Auto, 9793 Chemainus Rd., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Donations can also be picked up at homes or businesses by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a message through Facebook to @chemainuscatastrophe.
Tax receipts can be issued for those who’d like them for donations of $20 or more.
About 45 cats have been trapped since September 2016, with only two of them released back and the rest adopted out.
The program is helping to place many in foster or permanent homes. Increased support will continually improve the situation.
If there’s an overriding message in all this, “one big thing I would like to get out there is just to spay and neuter your animals,” said Bergeron.
Future plans for CATastrophe include a beer and burger fundraiser in the spring.