Despite serious upper respiratory and eye infections, 52 cats were saved after living in a colony at a property in Osoyoos.
The Okanagan Humane Society was contacted last year after neighbours of the property called to report several cats and kittens had made their way over to their house.
OHS volunteer Darlene Hillson headed up the project to help catch, spay and neuter the animals. Once she arrived at the property she realized just how many cats and kittens were roaming around, and many were in poor health.
“In total, we caught 24 adult cats (9 male and 15 female), plus 28 assorted kittens,” she said. “Unfortunately, almost all the cats and kittens that were inside had upper respiratory infections.”
The felines had to be cured with antibiotics before they could be spayed or neutered and as Hillson noted some needed several doses of medicine due to the severity of the infections.
“Three of the kittens had to have an eye removed. One, our Belle, which we adopted, had a ruptured cornea,” she said. “ It was removed when she was five months old, but two little sibling kittens each had an eye removed.”
All of the 52 cats managed to survive despite their infections, which according to OHS can be difficult when dealing with a colony of this size.
The kittens found on the property were all fostered while undergoing treatment before being adopted out.
As for the adult cats they were all spayed, neutered and microchipped, most were adopted out by a few stayed at the property. The family who owns the property can now care for the felines as there will be no more risk of kittens. With many cat colonies, the best course of action is to “Trap, Neuter and Return” (TNR) which will prevent future litters of homeless kittens from suffering from cold, malnutrition, disease and predators.
There was one particular cat that stayed on the property who caught the attention of Hillson, as she was too sick to be spayed and needed to be cared for until she was able to have surgery. After the surgery, the cat didn’t much like the “cone of shame” and kept trying to lick her incision, so a tiny outfit was made for her and it worked very well.
In total, it took Hillson more than six months to get the situation under control, including dealing with cold spells during November and January that saw mother cats dragging their babies to the home for warmth.
“I took the mothers to the vet for spaying and the kittens went on to Kelowna for fostering and eventual adoption,” she said.
The reality of the situation could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the ability of the Okanagan Humane Society to step in. The charity does not receive government funding or grants and relies on donations and volunteers. Donations help OHS assist low-income families with access to low-cost spay/neuter and sometimes medical care for their pets as well as rescuing, treating and rehoming stray, feral or abandoned animals and promoting responsible pet care through public awareness and education.
To donate and learn more go to https://okanaganhumanesociety.com/