In this season of giving, the SPCA in Yarmouth is expressing its appreciation for the gift of Cindy Andrews, a local resident who has donated much of her time and effort to care for the organization’s kittens and cats.
“Not only is she our star bottle-feeding kitten mama, but she has generously made flannel wraps for the animals in the clinic,” the Yarmouth SPCA posted recently on its Facebook page. Cats awakening from surgery can feel cold and the handy wrap-up blankets can help them feel nice and warm, the organization says. Andrews also made blankets to line the bottom of their kennels and microwavable bean bags to help keep orphaned kittens warm.
“We are so grateful for all the help she and her husband give to the Yarmouth shelter,” the SPCA said.
Andrews, who lives in Port Maitland, says she became a foster mother to kittens last year after she and her husband, Charles, returned home from a weekend trip to find someone apparently had left some kittens on their property.
“We had to live-trap them,” Andrews said. “We didn’t know how else to (catch them) because they were quite feral. So we trapped them and once we got them, it’s like ‘oh my gosh, we can’t keep all these kittens’ because there were three.”
They contacted a friend, Linda Hubbard, and explained their situation. Hubbard, who also is involved in the SPCA, suggested they take the kittens to the shelter, but she said at that particular time they were full.
Andrews recalls telling Hubbard, “Well, I don’t mind fostering them if they (the SPCA) can take them when they get old enough. She said ‘absolutely,’ so that’s how it started.”
As time went on, the SPCA would call on Andrews to see if she could foster more cats – and she did. Eventually, Jodi Finlay, front desk co-ordinator at the SPCA’s Yarmouth branch, asked Andrews if she’d ever considered raising the tiny ones on a bottle. Andrews said she hadn’t but she said she was willing and told the SPCA to contact her if they needed her.
Meanwhile, wanting to do whatever else she could to help the shelter, Andrews started making little heating pads and warming blankets for the animals.
“I had actually seen these (blankets),” Andrews said. “We were at the Saltscapes in Halifax for the home show and a lady from another SPCA was selling different things and she had some (blankets). I asked her what they were and what was she using them for, and she just called them heating blankets for cats or whatever in the winter.”
Andrews says she and her husband Charles – who has done various things for the SPCA – are happy to help out.
“We’re retired,” she said. “We need something to do ... I’m home, so to sit at a sewing machine isn’t any problem for me.”
Finlay says she can’t say enough good things about Cindy and Charles.
“When we have baby kittens come, we know just who to call,” she said. “They were a huge help for the grand opening (of the SPCA’s renovated Yarmouth facility earlier this fall). They’re awesome. They brighten up our day when they come.”
Ironically perhaps – given the work she’s been doing with cats – Andrews says she’s never really had cats of her own. Her pet ownership experience is with dogs. They have a nine-year-old named Rex who isn’t too fond of felines, Andrews said.
“He’s a wonderful dog, but it’s just that when you’ve got a kitten, you’ve got one hand on (the dog) and you’re holding (the kitten with the other),” she said.
Her latest foster kitten is named Penny. Andrews said her husband was working in the barn one day when a young man showed up with the kitten and asked if they wanted it. It was about three weeks old at the time. Penny turned eight weeks old Dec. 13.
Meanwhile, at those times when she doesn’t have a kitten to take care of and the SPCA happens to call, Andrews says she always hopes to hear them say they have another feline for her to foster.
“We love it,” she said. “They’re our babies. We treat them just like our children.” Then, looking at Penny, she said, “She’s a sweetheart.”