News

City to help cats group

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

Sharon Richardson, vice-president of Niagara Falls Community Cats, with one of the cats the organization spayed, Tori. Niagara Falls Community Cats, a volunteer-run charity that assists in controlling the homeless cat population growth, will be looking for a new space after Feb. 28. The group has been told its current donated space in the basement of a church will no longer be available to them. 
(Julie Jocsak/Postmedia Network)

Sharon Richardson, vice-president of Niagara Falls Community Cats, with one of the cats the organization spayed, Tori. Niagara Falls Community Cats, a volunteer-run charity that assists in controlling the homeless cat population growth, will be looking for a new space after Feb. 28. The group has been told its current donated space in the basement of a church will no longer be available to them. (Julie Jocsak/Postmedia Network)

The City of Niagara Falls will help a group that assists in controlling the homeless cat population with funding opportunities and/or find a new home.

Niagara Falls Community Cats, a small, volunteer-run charity that formed in September 2015, operates out of a church basement, but was told the donated space will no longer be available to the group after Feb. 28.

The group helps to trap, spay, neuter and return outdoor cats to their neighbourhoods.

The goal is to stop the reproductive cycle of those felines, reducing the number of homeless-born cats living on the streets.

The cats also receive a rabies vaccination at the time of surgery.

“We have a serious problem with cats that are in the community, in the wild, not being looked after properly,” said Coun. Wayne Thomson.

“This group … they’ve been working very quietly in the past … without any publicity and recognition. I’m bringing this to the council tonight to see if there is any support from the city or if anybody in the community has any space available that could support them to carry on this very important work.”

He said without the group, “we would probably be responsible, as a community, to try and do something” about the number of homeless cats in the city.

The group is looking for about 200-square-feet of donated space with heat and water, tucked away and away from a lot of traffic.

Coun. Victor Pietrangelo said there are several funding opportunities that the group may be able to apply for to assist them in the future.

Group president Pam Brown, who addressed council Tuesday night, said the group received its registered charity status in January.

“We’re just a small group of people. We don’t know all the ins and outs of who to go to for funding,” she said, adding the group’s appreciative of the city’s help.

Brown said a lot of the cats they deal with are abandoned, “and they’re just reproducing out there like crazy.

“We’re alerted to where these cats are and we help the people that are feeding them — we get them spayed and neutered. In a lot of cases we find that the cats are tame, they’ve just been abandoned.”

The group also rescues young kittens who have been born on the streets and places them in foster care.

When the kittens are young, the group socializes them and gets them used to being around people so they can be adopted.

Brown said the group works with the community to humanely trap homeless cats and kittens they are caring for in neighbourhoods.

She pointed to a recent case where the group trapped an abandoned cat from a motel.

“She appeared to be wild and after she was spayed we found out she was the friendliest thing going.”

Trapped cats are held in the group’s donated recovery space until their spay and neuter appointments. They are then housed there while they recover prior to being released back into well-managed colonies where caretakers will continue to feed them and provide shelter.

Kittens and tame strays are moved into one of the group’s adoption programs.

“Since September 2015 we’ve taken approximately 300 cats through our program — 140 of them were kittens,” said Brown.

“We had 140 kittens adopted. About 40 of the cats of those 300 turned out to be tame — they’ve all gone into socialization programs and they’ve all been adopted.”

rspiteri@postmedia.com