Quebec's abandoned cats get a second chance in Ontario
Interview by Melanie Dziengo
Cats get second chances in Ontario by Team Cat Rescue after the animals are saved from Quebec’s gassing pounds. We spoke to Director Suzanne Kleinberg to learn more about how the rescue started, challenges they face, and their favourite rescue story.
When did you start Team Cat Rescue?
Team Cat Rescue was born in 2014 officially by Team Dog Rescue Director Larysa Struk and me. After working hard to build Team Cat, Larysa went back to Team Dog Rescue as her core focus. Since then, Megan Osmond has joined Team Cat as a director and has brought her skills as a registered veterinarian technician to enhance Team Cat expertise.
What inspired you to start your own rescue?
Team Cat was spawned through Team Dog Rescue. While rescuing dogs from gassing pounds in Quebec, Larysa saw the large number of healthy, friendly cats that were left behind. That is when the realization of the need for a cat rescue that would take on the gassing pounds and high kill shelters of Quebec — and give these cats a chance in Ontario — came into place.
How many cats have you saved so far?
We saved 3,500 cats from 2014-2020.
How many people are part of your team?
As a volunteer only group, we have a small core team that manages the various aspects of the rescue. But, we have a large amount of essential volunteers beyond that include fosters, screeners, reference checkers, transporters, etc.
What's the biggest challenge facing your rescue?
Being a smaller rescue, we are limited on our resources such as volunteers and access to the public. Because we don't have a large presence or well known name, we do have issues attracting volunteers who can fill our gaps in transportation, fundraising, fostering, and outreach. Also, we have issues getting support from many pet-focused businesses who prefer to go with the larger rescues.
What's your most heartwarming rescue story?
Fortunately, we have so many, but the one that brought our community together was the story of Ragnar. He is a tux kitty who was hit by a car and had his jaw/palette damaged along with other injuries. He was a mess and would require many surgeries and treatments. Both the public and our veterinary partners came together to save this sweet boy. He was adopted and is now living his best life.
These stories are crucial for our rescue to keep going. As rescuers, we see a lot of bad situations and outcomes. Some days, it is hard to get the strength to go forward. But, then a Ragnar type case will come along, and it manages to have us focus on the good that we can do.
What makes the work you do the most worthwhile?
Because the majority of cats and kittens we deal with are death row cats facing the gas chambers, saving the ones that had next to no hope is the most satisfying. Saving 16-17-year- old cats who are terrified in the pound kennel and finding them loving homes when so many others would pass them by is by far the most rewarding (along with the tough medical cases).
Team Cat Rescue prides itself on helping the cats that other rescues can’t — even if it means dipping deep into our own pockets or keeping them in foster for long periods of time. We believe every cat has an ideal adopter looking for him or her, and it is our job to connect them no matter how long it takes.
What do you look for in a potential adopter?
When we review adoption applications, we just don't look at what a good and loving adopter they are today, but how they will be in the long-term. That means asking difficult questions about paying for emergencies, what happens when a cat stops using the litter box or scratches the furniture, putting their pet in their will, what happens if you can no longer take care of your pet, what happens to the pets if you divorce, etc. We know that pets can be a 15-20 year commitment, and there will be good times and bad. Many applicants are taken aback by our questions along this line, but most thank us for making them think and prepare for potential hardships. So many cats are dumped in kill shelters because of human/cat illness, basic behavioural issues, human death and divorce. Ultimately, we want all our cats to have a long, loving and secure life.
What makes cats great companions?
Cats are great companions because of the connections they make with their humans. Cats are often portrayed as aloof or destructive, but that is not true. Each cat has his/her unique personality, and no matter what antics they get up to, they are very sensitive and supportive animals. They will know when you are feeling down and will comfort you in their own way. They will know when you are lonely, and will remind you that you are loved and that you matter. They will know when you are stressed and will try to distract you from your troubles. Cats may be mocked and disrespected as pets from non-cat lovers, but they are incredibly loving and entertaining companions.
What advice would you give someone thinking about adopting a cat?
Firstly, think about your future plans. Is your career just starting? Do you plan to travel a lot? Do you plan on having kids? How many hours will you spend at an office now and later in your career? How do you plan to finance emergencies or health issues? Many people want to adopt because it suits their lifestyle now, but few think about 5-10 years down the road. Keep your plans in mind so you will know if you are ready for adoption and if the cat you want will fit into your current and future plans (i.e. don't adopt a shy cat if you plan to have kids or a cat who fears dogs if your significant other wants a dog down the road).
Secondly, give the harder to adopt cats a chance. A cat may be very timid and not show well in the shelter or during a meeting, but that cat may come out of its shell in a few months. When that happens, it is the most rewarding experience and creates a much stronger bond between pet and human. Senior pets are extremely loving and grateful for a home. Don't write them off because they had an unstable past and may fear for their future.
Image courtesy of Team Cat Rescue's Facebook Page
Image courtesy of Team Cat Rescue
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