GRAND BANK, NL – After her family took in a stray cat several years ago, Michelle Keeping of Grand Bank wanted to do more to help stray cats and kittens in her area and around the Burin Peninsula.
“The cat problem has been steadily getting worse for years in Grand Bank,” said Keeping, who is currently studying business at Memorial University. She was at home doing distance education when she decided to start the cat rescue group.
“There were just stray cats and kittens everywhere, it felt like,” she said. “By our house there must have been a dozen (or more).
She and her mother, Lillian Keeping, were discussing the number of stray felines in the area, “so we started trapping some kittens and we brought them to the SCPA – but the thing is, the SPCA is always full because there are so many stray cats on the Burin Peninsula.”
The night she and her brother found four small kittens along L’Anse au Loop near the Grand Bank Highway, Keeping said they contacted Jackie Martin, who runs a cat rescue in St. John’s.
“We spent a week trapping them, and then we sent them to St. John’s (to Martin).”
After that Martin suggested the Keepings start a local rescue group because of the need for one in the area.
The rescue group has a network of foster homes on the peninsula, with people volunteering to take in kittens to give them a chance to adjust to being indoor pets.
Keeping said to date, the group has rescued more than 100 kittens.
“We have so much support now that we’re taking in kittens,” she said.
Foster homes needed
While kittens are ultimately placed in permanent homes, Keeping said the group still needs more foster homes to help prepare animals for adoption.
During this process, a kitten will live in a foster home for three to six months to be tamed.
“Kittens are the most tamable,” said Keeping. “It’s a lot easier for foster homes to tame them and they’re not having to worry so much about being attacked.”
But even kittens who have been living outside without a lot of interaction with people may take a swipe at someone if they are scared, she said.
If a cat does not show signs of progress, there are two options, said Keeping. “The first is to…see if there’s someone willing to adopt them as they are and continue to work with them, and if they’re willing to do that, there is no adoption fee.
“The other option is to spay or neuter them, make shelter for them and put them back where they were originally (found), and we have someone feeding them.”
She said that option is not the ideal situation, “(but that) is the best alternative we can provide sometimes.”
She added it’s rare to come across a kitten that cannot be tamed and rehomed.
“Normally we try to find someone who’s willing to work with them for a long time,” explained Keeping.
For information on how to become a foster visit the group’s Facebook page, Abby and Layla’s Angels Cat Rescue, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/195498764201232/.
Goal of the group
Keeping said the group’s goal is to find homes for the kittens.
“Our goal is to take as many kittens off the streets as possible and put them into loving homes, so that they will no longer have to worry about being cold or looking for food or being hungry…that is why I keep going with the cat rescue even though I am no longer living in Grand Bank,” said Keeping.