By Stephanie Drummond
Feb. 12, 2014
Gayle Adams wasn’t really paying attention 10 years ago when her neighbour was sick and left to get the care she needed, leaving her cats behind.
Adams lives on a dairy farm and her neighbour’s cats made their way into her barn. Plus, people had started to drop off litters of kittens. Eventually those few cats became 40 cats.
Adams estimates 75 per cent of the cats were wild and feeding them was becoming a problem.
“In over two years, you can have 100 cats from one cat.”
Someone gave her the name of a group called the Cat Action Team.
The group started in 2001. They feed stray and feral cats, as well as spay or neuter the cats. The money comes from donations and the sale of catnip mice the group makes.
Volunteers sew and crochet little toy mice and stuff them with catnip. The mice are sold at vet clinics on the Island for $3 each.
Kathleen Williams is no stranger to helping out stray cats. She has five strays of her own.
“Someone called me and said I need help, sewing mice, and then it just snowballed into the Cat Action Team.”
Williams soon took over control of the catnip mice. Williams recruited her friend Norma Brown to help crochet the ears and tails. Williams husband was cutting up the fabric until he went back to work.
“She’s my ears and tails and my stuffer and my cutter,” Williams said.
“There’s Christmas mice, Valentine’s mice, all holiday mice. They’re only good for three months. It’s all organic catnip from Ontario. Anything left over is donated to the Humane Society,” said Brown.
Last year the group made around $7,000 on the catnip mice.
There are over 800 colonies of feral cats on P.E.I. ranging from two cats to 50.
The Cat Action Team does not feed all of them. Some people pay for food out of their own pockets. Some people are too proud to ask for help, Adams said.
“A lot of colonies that belong to nobody.”
Some people don’t think about the true meaning of getting an animal. One time a man dropped off a litter of kittens. He threatened to kill the cats if they did not take them. Five of the kittens were sick, Adams said.
It’s a common occurrence. If they can’t get rid of the cat, they drop it off on a road, either a car hits them, they starve or a coyote eats them. If you do not spay the cat the population keeps growing, Adams said.
The Cat Action Team traps the kittens, spays or neuters them, gives them needles and flea treatments. The trapping is too much for Williams.
“I tried it and I couldn’t do it. It was too much for me. These cats are wild and they don’t know what’s going on.”
The Cat Action Team is involved in a program which distributes a crate of food four times a year. The food is usually from damaged bags or is expired. It’s usually a mix between cat, dog and bird food. It costs the group $250 for shipping.
The group mixes the dog and cat food, and gives away the bird food. But the food only lasts so long, as it’s distributed across the Island.
Six months ago the group decided to put up an ad on their website for donations. Williams volunteered to be the drop-off location for Summerside area.
“It’s all about the cats,” William said.
Brown said,“Every little bag counts, half a bag even.”
Adams said, “Some people are on EI and a cheque hasn’t come in. We never mention the location of the colony.”
The group hopes to create drop off locations in every town and village. For now, they mix the donations together and try to spread it out the best they can and welcome any donation.
December was a good month for the group for donations, but January was a slow month and the colonies are starting to feel it.
“We’re starting to get calls. We try to take care of the desperate ones first. Most are seniors and with the cost of oil, families leaving P.E.I. and not taking their cats, the EI, all affects the cats. They don’t know why they are not being fed,” Williams said.
Brown said, “Money, towels, anything anyone can give.”
The West Prince 4H Club bagged groceries at the O’Leary Co-op and raised $300 for the group. Adams hopes to spay three kittens abandoned after their mother was hit by a car and send photos to the club.
“The group challenges other 4H groups to raise money for the cats as well.”
Anyone wanting to donate can visit the Cat Action Team website, or visit their page on Facebook: Feed the Ferals 2012. They welcome anyone who would like to volunteer as well.