All over the province there are cats living wild. They may always have been feral and the offspring of feral cats, or they may be cats who have been dumped or who have strayed and never found their way home. And all over the province, there are amazing organizations working to help these poor animals – perhaps by taming them and getting them readopted, or perhaps by doing Trap/Neuter/Return, and caring for the colony.
We are a resource for some of those rescues to turn to. Both our cats from Kamloops and the ones from the Kootenays were no longer able to exist as they were, and could well have been killed by local authorities; each colony was too large, and too unsocialized a group to foster or adopt out, so they came to us. We have similar contacts with rescues on the Island, and it is from one of those that Marble’s family came. Foster Kritters Feral Cat Rescue is active in the Cowichan Valley; they have no website, but you can find more about them on Facebook and Instagram. Much of their work is done with TNR, but occasionally they come across cats that can be trapped and neutered, but should not be returned – as with this group of cats.
They came to us because they are all FIV+ (Feline AIDS), and though FIV positive and negative cats can live together, by keeping them as a colony, we can maintain more careful attention to their physical health. We think they are all related, but may not be all from the same litters.
The oldest of the group is Marble, and to quote Foster Kritters, “she looked like a senior even though she’s only around 4 years old and it was very clear that she had experienced a very tough life. She had a badly injured and painful eye that she had lived with for at least three years. She had raised multiple litters of kittens and looked defeated and exhausted”. She was under medical care with Foster Kritters for some time, much to her disgust – they managed to raise funds for surgery, and hers finally necessitated enucleation (the removal of an eye).
Once she was on the mend, she was transferred to us at the Sanctuary, living initially in a cage so that her healing was monitored. Now she’s out, and very happy about that. She’s not really ready to come for attention, but she knows that humans are not out to get her – she’ll make friends when she’s ready. This evening she was playing in a corner with a toy containing a little bell, and I could hear her having fun before she tired herself out.
The two youngest are orange Simon and black Smalls, and they may be Marble’s sons or grandsons. Simon is the more social of the two; he’s happy to be touched and to play, and he might sometime be a good candidate for adoption. Foster Kritters had tried to adopt him out, but sadly, people don’t understand that FIV+ cats can be wonderful home cats. Smalls is shyer, preferring to tuck himself out of the way; he has time to decide that he’s truly safe.
In the middle is Biggie, who is Mr BIG Personality. We think he’s older than Simon and Smalls – he might even have sired them, but without doing genetic testing, we can’t tell. He also came to us with eye problems – in his case, it was entropion, with the eyelashes turned in and irritating the eyes. A round of surgery corrected the problem, and Biggie has blossomed – he’s probably been in pain for some time, and is now feeling wonderful.
Biggie LOVES people; he actually makes working in New Aids a little dangerous, because he presses himself to your legs as you walk, and you constantly have to watch that you won’t trip over him. If you stand still too long, he gets up on his back paws and begs to be lifted. He loves to be held – regular way, on the lap, or occasionally on his back like a baby.
He plays like a kitten, dancing and pouncing – but you can see in his face that he has suffered because of his eyes. His delight in being handled led me to think that he, of the four of them, may have had a home sometime in his past – that he’s a stray or a dumped cat, rather than a feral. But Foster Kritters are sure that he’s part of Marble’s family.
At least, with us, he and the other three have a future. It may just be a future lived at the RAPS “Kitty Club Med”, well fed, with comfort, safety and company. But it might even be finding someone to he His Person, and finding a home of his own where he will be loved.
Photos by Katy Cobb, Brielle Hutchison, Karen Nicholson