Wendy Elliott column
Boots the cat was left behind in a thicket above Prospect Street in Wolfville at the end of the last academic year. By late June, thanks to neighbourhood toms, she had given birth to a litter of five, scarcely more than a kitten herself.
In early July, she and the kittens appeared on Hillside Avenue. Some nearby woods were her escape hatch, but she managed to shepherd her little flock back and forth across the street, despite alarms from loud parties and street noise.
Operation Rescue sprang into action. It took three trying weeks for the family to be caught. At the Wolfville Animal Hospital on Front Street, the kittens tested positive for feline leukemia, but Mama Boots was healthy. She graduated from surgery and quarantine to the adjacent Valley WAAG Animal Shelter, where she joined other cats and kittens with similar histories to await adoption.
It was a cold morning one January when Wolfville storeowner Julie Page saw a kitten in the middle of the road. She discovered a tiny, unmoving creature. Her eyes were sealed shut due to a crust of infection.
Page took the kitten to the Wolfville Animal Hospital.
Staff members were shocked and thought the little feline looked as if she had been run over.
Dr. Peter Bligh determined the kitten was simply exhausted. She had no home, no food and weighed less than three pounds. Her bones poked out from a luster-less coat of fur. With heating pads, antibiotics and a special hand-fed diet, she came back to life.
The Wolfville shelter continues to be as cat-friendly as possible, with well-worn cat towers and toys for play and refuge. Many volunteers visit, but the animals are caged most of the time. While far better off than roaming at large, it is a trying time for all the cats.
There is a serious stray and feral cat problem in this area. The vets and the shelter provide a wonderful service, bit it is accomplished with hard-to-come-by funds. Strays must often be turned away and large colonies of abandoned domestic cats and their offspring roam, a threat to birds, subject to danger, disease, starvation and the elements.
If every Wolfville area resident, Acadia students included, were to donate a loonie or toonie once or twice a year, the base for an affordable spay-neuter and feral-cat program could be established. With a concerted effort, the feral population could conceivably, in time, disappear for good.
In the meantime, the shelter has entering the fray for funding through the online Aviva Community Fund. It could be a great opportunity. The first round ends on Oct. 14.
Wolfville veterinarian Dr. Peter Bligh launched the shelter back in 1988. Being both an animal lover and a veterinarian, he continues to operate it in conjunction with his veterinary practice. Normally, between 125-180 cats are adopted each year and the shelter houses an average of between 20-40 cats at a time.
The facility is always cash-strapped. Currently, it needs a heavy-duty washer and dryer set, fresh scrubbable paint and supplies – good-quality cat food, cleaning supplies, litter boxes, food dishes, cat toys, blankets and beds. Whenever possible, the shelter provides spay/neuter/release assistance for feral cat colonies in Kings County.
Several years ago, animal control officer DeLancey Bishop estimated there are 40,000 to 60,000 cats in Kings County. Let’s not forget that unspayed cats can have three or four litters a year.
Search for the Valley WAAG Animal Shelter on Facebook if you want to add a click on behalf of the shelter. It can only help.