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Kelowna family captures clowder of cats from cold

Okanagan Humane Society helped a family rescue 4 outdoor cats from cold elements

Four outdoor cats living in the Joe Rich area managed to escape bone-chilling -30C temperatures at the start of January thanks to the love and attention of a local family.

Lela Milacic and her family noticed a black and white female cat hanging around their property during the summer and would leave small treats for her. Then a few weeks later three babies appeared and Milacic’s family continued to feed the four felines at the same time they fed their chickens.

Winter soon started to close in and the family of felines kept close to Milacic’s property, although at a distance. The cats were impossible to catch, so in an effort to protect them from the elements her husband built a small shelter for them to keep them warm.

As temperatures dipped Milacic became worried about the cats’ health and thought it was probably best to try and trap them and bring them to a veterinarian.

However, she had no idea how to go about capturing four cats, that was until she heard about the Okanagan Humane Society (OHS) from her son’s girlfriend.

“We heard back from them and it was easy from there on. They provide us with guidance on how to catch these cats, as they don’t live in a home, they are scared, they live outside,” said Milacic.

The mother cat and one baby were easily brought into a crate and then to Burtch Animal Hospital, where they could be looked over and spayed or neutered.

However, the other two cats proved to be a challenge.

“It started to get really cold. So, we kept our shop doors open and house doors wide open to try and bring them in,” explained Milacic.

The next morning, the younger male cat had crept into a crate but the smaller female was nowhere to be found. Fearing the worse Milacic yelled for her husband to help find the baby.

“I thought the cat froze to death. My husband went outside and heard a tiny sneeze and there she was hiding in a corner. Her whiskers were all white. The way she was breathing there was frost all over,” she said.

Milacic’s husband managed to pick up the baby and bring her and her brother to meet the rest of the feline family at Burch Animal Hospital.

Several days later, all four were vaccinated, dewormed, spayed or neutered.

The cats are ready for adoption, but due to the four being outdoor cats and it being the winter months, Milacic’s family will take the felines home.

“They are not used to being inside, so we are looking for someone with a barn to take them in. But, for now, my husband will build another shelter for them to use during the winter months,” she explained.

The entire process of trapping and bringing the cats to the vet was of no charge to Milacic’s family.

“We really just had to put in the time and be compassionate and bring them to the Burtch Animal Hospital. There was no cost to us. We donated to the society and will be donating actively to the Okanagan Humane Society because we are really grateful and have a lot of respect for people who give their time to this association,” said Milacic.

When a rescue form is submitted to OHS, a volunteer or the president Romany Runnells will reach out to that member of the community to assist them in rescuing the animal. OHS will provide all of the resources to help rescue the animals and then will provide the person with a veterinarian partner who will be able to take the pets in.

“All of the information, tools and veterinary assistance that the cats will require, OHS will cover that experience. It is about taking care of the cat, rescuing the cat and giving it a better life. That is what the organization is about and that is what our donors gratefully provide to us the ability to facilitate these rescues and give the cats a second chance,” said OHS volunteer Alysha Boehm.

For more information on Okanagan Humane Society and rescuing local animals please go to

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READ MORE: Keep cats warm: Okanagan volunteers help build outdoor shelters

Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

I graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. I also hold a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University. I was also a reporter for Castanet and CBC. I am a volunteer with Okanagan Humane Society.
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