Couples last wish was safe home for cat colony

Penticton's AlleyCATS Alliance searching for homes for a cat colony after their caretakers died.

After the recent passing of her parents

Thanks to the kindness of an elderly couple living at Sun Leisure Mobile Park Home, many vulnerable cats were able to find shelter, but with the recent passing of both caretakers – the cats are now in dire need of a new home.

Because of the various upbringings which led each one to the household refuge, they haven’t been conditioned to live as typical house cats.

“It’s not your typical case where we would adopt them out to somebody as indoor cats, because they’re used to living outside,” said December van den Berg, president of AlleyCATS Alliance.

Throughout the course of many years, the couple didn’t turn away any stray cat that was in need, and a colony then formed.

“It started out with people abandoning their cats, and mom and dad felt bad for them,” said their daughter Carol Hagen. “They started leaving food out for them, and then they started giving them a warm place to live. It sort of started to build from there.”

Many of the cats arrived with their reproductive abilities, and later brought kittens into the colony. Then in 2013, AlleyCATS trapped a dozen of the cats to spray and neuter them, which ended the growth of the colony. The efforts were made possible through the Trap-Neuter-Release program.

“We won’t release them into the wild,” van den Berg said. “We have to make sure that there’s someone who’s going to feed them and provide ongoing shelter.”

Before the intervention of AlleyCATS, the colony was about 24 members in size, Hagen said. While the colony’s size has since dwindled, the home which had been altered for their wellbeing now has a “for sale” sign on its front lawn, and the cats are not included in the deed.

“This will leave the cats evicted from the garage — or worse — if something isn’t done right away,” van den Berg said.

So Hagen and AlleyCats are looking to find them a new home, ideally in a barn.

“A barn provides safety, warmth, shelter, and freedom to go outside,” van den Berg said.

And while adoptees aren’t expected to take on the whole pack, AlleyCATS is hoping to see them taken in groups or pairs.

“It can be pretty traumatic for them being moved from the only home they’ve ever known, and we’re going to be separating them,” van den Berg said. “[In groups or pairs] they feel comfortable and have somebody familiar there to hang out with.”

The cats have become partially accustomed to feral living, though with enough patience, Hagen believes that a handful of them can be tamed to become a house cat.

“There are a couple there that I think with some time spent, they would make really nice inside cats,” she said.  “You’d have to get them used to people. But if someone brought it inside, showed it love and fed it well – it would just take a bit of patience to do that.”

For felines suited for living in barns, AlleyCATS asks only for a donation to adopt. Anybody thinking about taking a few of the cats in can get in touch with van den Berg at 250-488-2223.


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