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Humane heroes

Friends of ferals

Kind News magazine, Feb/Mar 2017

  • Vivienne Thompson (left) and Catrina Vanderwolf helped initiate a program in their British Columbia community to help feral cats. Photo courtesy of Valerie Ingram

Winters are cold in northern British Columbia, a province of Canada. That's one reason why two girls became concerned about a number of homeless cats in their town.

"My dad first saw this big cat problem ... and he knew the man who had all the cats," says Vivienne Thompson. Vivienne and her friend Catrina Vanderwolf learned that the man wasn't happy about all the cats living around his home. They offered to help.

Each day after school all winter long, the girls walked two miles to feed the cats. "We could see all their footprints in the snow and at first couldn't understand why they wouldn't let us get close to them," explain the girls.

They contacted Valerie Ingram at the Lakes Animal Friendship Society who told them that the cats are "feral." They belong to no one. Feral cats have little or no contact with humans their entire lives. The large colony of cats likely started with two stray cats who had a litter of kittens. Those cats had kittens, and before long, there were dozens of homeless cats.

Getting control

To get the cat colony under control, the cats would need spay or neuter operations so that they could no longer have kittens. Vivienne and Catrina shared what they learned with their teachers and other students—and a project began! Grassy Plains School started raising money to pay for the cats' operations. Before long, local organizations and large companies agreed to help.

Volunteers spent months humanely trapping the cats. Finally, all the cats had been spayed or neutered and returned to the colony.

"We were so happy to be a part of helping, to get to know the cats, to not see suffering anymore, only happy cats—and a happy man who feeds them on his step now," say Vivienne and Catrina.

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