Hello everyone and Happy Holidays Katie’s Place friends! Our annual newsletter is coming to you once again via email this year. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and leave less of a physical trace on the world. We hope you like it!
Every year when we sit down to write the newsletter, we reflect on just how remarkable the last twelve months have been, and this one has been no exception. Frankly, it’s been one of the busiest on record with the highest shelter occupancy we’ve seen in years. We can’t begin to tell you what this looks like in terms of poop scooped and furballs cleaned up – well, actually we can, and according to waaay too much research on the topic, we estimate that we’ve scooped about 4, 500 lbs of poopage and picked up roughly 5000 furballs during this time (so sorry if you’re reading this over breakfast) – it’s a lot!
So, where have all these cats been coming from? Well, the usual places locally (surrenders, other rescues and trapped strays), but also from farther afield. We received cats from as far away as Edmonton (Figaro, our handsome lion cat living with FIV who had no future where he was, so he made the trek to us in Maple Ridge and then on to a most magical furever home where he is best friends with the existing FIV cat.); cats from the Island (Sylvester, another cat with FIV who needed a chance and Jessica who came because of a respiratory issue – both cats are happily in homes now!). Some of our cats came from Fort St. John (Lynx, Martina, Dorian and Fenti – still with us at the shelter, while Sullivan and Ralphee are in homes already!). And would you believe we had a bunch of cats from Afghanistan! The rescue mission bringing cats and dogs in during the evacuation ended up having cats who needed somewhere to go, so a dozen came to us. A few of the shy cats remain (Piper, Narengi and Torti), but many have found loving homes (Oscar, Inky, Zarine, – more about her later, Jacqueline, Puma, Salty, Spicy and Happy).
As always we have had cats with very special needs, and in addition to the usual diabetic and thyroid kitties, we’ve had a couple of tripods (Richter and Ralphee), a cat with significant heart disease (Crepe), our sweater wearing boy with skin issues (Camden) and a one eyed beauty (Rosa).
As a “last chance” rescue we not only take in cats with various medical issues, but we also have the pleasure of taking in cats with really memorable personalities. Good or bad, some of them really stand out and keep our volunteers on their toes. One of these superstars is Guy LaFleur, our handsome boy who has, with his good looks and charming ways, managed to capture the heart of every person that walks through our doors. Guy LaFleur is one of our hallways cats (a special bunch that need a bit more leg room as they either pick on, or are picked on, in the smaller rooms). This boy is not only super friendly but he also loves to help with the dishes, give head-butts, take rides on your shoulder, and gladly discuss any topic you care to bring up. For the most part he likes to play devil’s advocate so don’t take his need to be argumentative to heart. Just recently Guy Lafleur went into a real home of his own!
Sweet (and trust us, we use that term loosely) little Zarine is one of the cats that came to us all the way from Afghanistan. Her adorable little face and tiny stature initially fooled us all. While everyone “ooohhhh’d” and “ahhhhh’d” Zarine was slowly plotting to take over the world, starting with the shelter. This little cat turned out to have the biggest personality we’ve ever seen. We realized a better name for her would have been ‘Tiny Terror’ or ‘Stewie’ or perhaps ‘Dr. Evil’. Despite her world domination plans, or maybe because of them, Zarine became a volunteer favorite almost immediately. She purred, and cuddled, swatted, and even nipped her way into all of our hearts, and eventually into a home of her own. Trucker, on the other hand, never pretended to be anything other than what he was – a spitfire, through and through. He came in guns blazing. He refused to stay in his room, and it was nearly impossible for the volunteers who cleaned his room to contain him. It wasn’t that he did not get along with his roommates, he just wanted to be where he wanted to be, and no one was going to stand in his way. Eventually we let him stay in the hallway because we were afraid he would trip someone on his mad dash out the door. We tell ourselves we didn’t give into him, we just did what was sensible in terms of our insurance premiums. Of course if you were to ask him he’d have a different version of events. Trucker never failed to entertain us and eventually a very lucky family decided that they needed a Trucker in their home. We’ve heard rumors they were able to disconnect their cable since Trucker is all the entertainment they need. But don’t quote us on that.
Feather is another one of those with an ehemm…… ‘special’ personality. She was adopted out in 2020 and actually came back to us this year – apparently her feisty nature was a bit much for the home she chose on her first try. Yet this spiciness is what makes Feather such a fan favorite at the shelter. Everyone loves Feather, and everyone knows not to get too close to Feather. It’s funny how these diva cats capture our hearts despite the fact that they wake up almost every day and choose violence. Ask Feather what her greatest accomplishment is and she will tell you she “prevented a murder”, and when you ask her how she managed to do that she will simply answer “self control”. We have asked Feather many times if she will behave in her next home, and she always tells us there are no guarantees in life and she cannot make any promises. So we continue to adore her, sharp nails and all.
Laohu, somewhat self-deprecatingly dubs himself “The Most Interesting Cat In The World”. We are not sure where he was exposed to the Dos Equis beer commercials but he’s definitely managed to replicate the actor’s persona to a tee. We have to admit he walks, talks, sits, and eats like the most interesting cat in the world. Even his grooming routine is refined and sophisticated. Laohu also likes to judge us, and let’s be honest we all need a bit of judgment once in a while, maybe not quite as much as Laohu likes to dish out, but he’s so handsome we are willing to overlook his constant sideways glances that let us know we are not doing something correctly. Laohu patrols the shelter hallways and every volunteer knows he’s the cat to impress. He may have been too much for the last home, but our volunteers think he’s pretty perfect. At least that is what they say when he’s around and they are afraid he might overhear, and exact revenge if they don’t say the right thing.
For those of you who remember the 24 ‘Metal Cats’ we rescued from a local recycling center, well, the great news is that we found awesome homes for all of them. Sadly, fan favorite, Thorium (remember him – black and white with quite possibly the saddest expression ever?), passed away in January after a mass was discovered in his chest. Like with Thorium, other losses have been felt hard. This year we also said goodbye to McNutt. This cheeky chappy was found walking down a local path with a badly infected rear end and was thankfully picked up and brought to us in a cardboard box. Back then he was a wee kitten, super cute and despite his obvious pain and discomfort, full of verve, curiosity and a zest for life. Our kind vets performed a miracle and were able to save his life, but they were unable to help him voluntarily control his bowels and bladder. So, Nutt Nutt, Nutman, Nutty joined us at the shelter as one of our few permanent residents where he made friends and got endless love. McNutt’s brain wasn’t able to pick up signals that he needed to poop or pee, so he’d be dripping pee and dropping McNuttets everywhere all the time – but see, that’s the thing about our shelter – our volunteers didn’t care. Day after day they picked up after him, washed him and put on soothing cream so he could avoid infection. But, sadly a couple of months ago he was noticed to be breathing heavily and despite the best efforts of the vets who loved him as much as we did, we had to let him go. The gaps these cats left are way bigger than the physical space they occupied, and for all of you who experienced a loss this year, we walk with you and hope that you find a small comfort in knowing, just like our volunteers, that you made a difference.
And, talking of which, we continue to be blessed with amazing support from our shelter volunteers. You have donated an estimated 14,000 collective hours of your precious time over the past 12 months to care for our cats. We want you to know that we see what you do; we see the big stuff – we see how you cope with the ten cats trapped in an unsafe setting brought into the shelter all at once and how you ensure every time that the shelter is looking beautiful and ready to go for weekend Open House. But, we also see the little things you do when you think no one is looking – we see your patience, your love, your kindness and the boundless hope you extend to every single cat that crosses our threshold – no matter how scared, angry, depressed or sick they may be. Every single one of you makes Katie’s Place special and we can’t do this without you. Thank you.
Another reason to be thankful is for the new heating and air conditioning system we had installed earlier in the year following the resounding failure of the existing one during the December cold snap! Once again, our terrific volunteers stepped in and loaned us their spare space heaters so that we could keep the cats and humans warm until we found a local contractor able to take on the work.
And, don’t think that the rest of you get away without a mention! Our outreach friends in Mission and Surrey, all you crafters making beautiful items for sale at local craft fairs; the volunteers who get up at 0600 hrs to drive cats to the vet tech program at Douglas College (you guys ROCK, btw!) and the ones that drive them back at 1600 hrs through rush hour traffic. Oh, and let’s not forget the 600-odd appointments made and cats treated by our amazing local vets and vet techs. Your kindness, patience and compassion not only to the cats, but also to every distressed owner, foster and volunteer that crosses your path blows us away. You bring hope and second, third, fourth (and sometimes twenty-fourth!) chances to cats that would otherwise be lost. The words ‘thank you’ don’t seem enough.
We have also been so very grateful over the years to have much support from our local pet stores. This year was no different, with all the continuous support of donation collection boxes, cash collection tins and fundraisers in the stores. We were also incredibly fortunate for an abundance of kibble donations this year from a company that manufactures it and had some pallets to spare, and also from a pet store that had damaged packaging and generously allowed our cats to benefit. We were also lucky enough to be a recipient of a grant from the Margaret Susan Price Fund, part of the Coquitlam Foundation Community Grants program. This enabled us to extend our reach outside of Maple Ridge to help low income seniors receive financial support with veterinary care for their cat. Of the roughly $5,000 spent from the fund so far this year, 80% of the money helped a cat stay at home with its owner. We are very proud and deeply indebted to the Margaret Susan Price Fund for this opportunity and to be carrying out this valuable work in her memory. The rest of our income comes from you, our volunteers, donors and adopters and we can’t do what we do without you. We express heartfelt gratitude to every single one of you – we’d like to especially acknowledge our youth, from the lads and lasses who ask for donations to be made to Katie’s Place instead of birthday gifts, to the boy who raised $100 for us selling homemade lemonade over the summer and the children in local schools who fundraise and make the most awesome cat toys for us! You blow us away. You are our future and we are both proud and humbled by you.
So, it is with a sense of gratitude and hope that we move forward into 2023. We wish you a warm, safe and cozy Holiday Season and look forward to seeing you soon.