From their soft fur, to their bristly tongue, and bean toes, Lori Burnell has been a cat lover her whole life.
Burnell’s organization, Keeping Cats Homed (KCH), was registered with Canada Revenue Agency on Sept. 4, but she has been fostering hundreds of kittens for the last nine years.
The volunteers rescue kittens and young cats, ensure they are healthy, and then use foster homes to help with socialization before finding them a forever home.
Although Keeping Cats Homed is a new group, Burnell is thrilled for what it can contribute to the Island, as animal welfare organizations have recently formed a more collaborative relationship under the banner of the Companion Animal Welfare Initiative (CAWI).
Carol Ann Desjardins, a volunteer with multiple organizations, said the Atlantic Veterinary College, the P.E.I. Humane Society, SpayAid P.E.I., Cat Action Team, the P.E.I. Veterinary Medical Association, and the Department of Agriculture have been meeting on a regular basis to develop a vision for the future of animal welfare on the Island.
Desjardins said over the past couple of years, CAWI has been working toward its goal of reducing the number of animals, particularly cats, that are surrendered to the Humane Society, by offering better access to spay and neuter, and to provide more education to the public about animal welfare.
“Between 2007 and 2014, the P.E.I. Humane Society saw a significant decrease in the number of dogs and cats being admitted to the shelter. During the 2007/2008 period, the Humane Society took in 2,040 cats and dogs, and by the 2013/2014 period those numbers had decreased to 1,464.
“As a result, the cat euthanasia rate decreased by more than 70 per cent during that period,” she added.
Cat Action Team has been fortunate to receive money from PetSmart charities that offers grants to trap-neuter-release programs, she said.
“We just finished a grant in the Tyne Valley/ Lennox Island area where we got $22,500 to spay and neuter approximately 200 free-roaming cats.
“It is gratifying to see the increased co-operation between all of the organizations and the realization that by working together, each organization's activities benefits the other organizations, and ultimately the welfare of all of the cats and dogs on P.E.I.”
Burnell said all of the groups have value, and by working together, big changes can be made for companion animals.
“We’re pulling some of these kittens out of situations where they would stay and continue to reproduce. Part of our adoption contract is they have to be spayed and neutered, and we follow up with that to make sure it’s done.”
She would love to see a reduction in population, and for cats to become a member of a loving family.
“They’re there with their little smiling face when you get home from work. I get great pleasure in making sure they’re healthy and placing them in wonderful homes where people are going to love them so much.”
Visit keepingcatshomed.com or find them on Facebook at Keeping Cats Homed to learn more information and how to adopt.