Best For Kitty seeking donations to keep mission alive

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

While many minds turn to family and those less fortunate in our area during the holiday season, one organization operating in the Rainy River District is hoping people keep some of our most vulnerable four-legged friends in their hearts, as well.

Best for Kitty is currently seeking out donations to help keep their efforts going, as well as those interested in becoming fosters for some of the cats and kittens they rescue.

Best for Kitty’s Joan Foley said that while overall things have been going well for the group, they are still in need of monetary donations to help them continue their mission.

“We have nine cats in care right now,” Foley said.

“And we have a couple of others that aren’t in care but we’re taking care of, because we don’t have fosters for them. Our funds are really low, we do need funds to keep going, it’s very important. It is so expensive to get all of our cats done [vet care]. That’s a really huge one.”

The need for fosters also has a direct impact on the cats and kittens the organization can look after. With fosters, these animals can be brought in out of the cold and readjusted to people, with the end goal of them being adopted into their forever homes. Without fosters, Foley said they try to still look after the cats, but that might just mean they give food and water when they can.

“We get lots of calls for cats and kittens that need care, and we try to help the kittens first,” she said.

“We won’t leave them out in the cold. If we can, we’ll certainly take them on as well. We have rescued over 90 cats so far since we started a little over a year ago.”

The organization has also been successful at getting these foster cats adopted. A glance at the Best for Kitty Facebook page shows many posts of the cats currently in foster care, but also quite a few posts of the animals who have gone on to permanent homes within the district. Other rescued cats are sometimes brought to a rescue in Thunder Bay to help keep the pressure off of the smaller local system, though Foley said they do make donations to those rescues as well.

In order to Foster, Foley said the most important things to have are a spare room to keep the new foster separated until they’re comfortable and vetted, and a love for cats.

“They have to willing to keep a cat inside, because we don’t want our cats outside,” she said.

“Unless it’s a semi-feral and someone wants it for a barn cat. Pretty well all of our cats we like to keep indoors. And we just need someone who loves cats, can care for them and get them to their vet appointments. We also sometimes need to bring our cats to a rescue in Thunder Bay, Dryden or Kenora, so if there’s someone going to Thunder Bay and willing to bring a cat to a rescue, those are important things to have on standby as well.”

Adding to the ongoing costs of looking after cats, Foley noted that one of the new requirements they face is having each of the cats they send to other rescues tested for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

“It’s an important test that is costly,” Foley said.

“The fee we charge now doesn’t cover what we pay, and now we’re going to have to add another cost to it. Here in town, we have been doing it, but for us to bring a cat to another rescue, they do request we have them tested.”

Foley said the group would also like to begin microchipping the cats they bring in, but that’s another additional cost to consider, which makes it more difficult.

Best For Kitty’s Gord McCabe echoed Foley’s concerns surrounding the many costs involved with their organization, especially as the weather turns colder.

“I know that we’ve had a ton of cats coming into care since it started to get cold, and donations are not keeping pace,” McCabe said.

“We can only help if we can get money. There are only three or four of us that are active in the organization. We can’t keep taking in cats and doing fundraising, so without donations we’re struggling.”

Even with an increased financial burden on the group, Foley said that the community itself has been very generous when it comes to helping their mission since they began doing this work.

“Without them we would be nowhere right now,” she said.

“We’re all so surprised and thankful that we’ve been able to carry on like we have because of our donations. People have been very, very generous.”

For anyone looking to make donations to the group, Foley said first and foremost they would appreciate monetary donations to continue to provide necessary vet care to the cats and kittens they rescue. Those willing to donate money can do so by e-transfer to bestforkitty@gmail.com, though money can also be dropped off to Foley at 308 Fifth St. W.

Other than additional funds, Foley said they’re always in need of some of the necessities like food, litter, Revolution for flea control, blankets – even something like old towels can be useful. Physical items can also be brought to Foley’s address, where she ensures the items are given out to the foster families as they need them.

“We try to help as much as we can,” Foley said.

“I will give our fosters food or kitty litter or blankets, whatever they need. And any kind of blanket – even baby receiving blankets, I don’t know what people do with them, but we’ll take them. We like to have things to put in their cages when we bring them to the vet, and when they get adopted out, we want those things go with the cats. It’s comforting to them to have something they’ve slept in.”

There are also many ways to get involved with Best For Kitty on a volunteer basis, for anyone interested in helping the organization – and cats – in the district.

Foley stressed that one of the biggest ways people can help their cause is to just ensure their cats are fixed, especially as the spring season gets nearer.

“There’s an overpopulation of cats in Fort Frances,” she said.

“Spring generally brings an amazing number of kittens. We know it’s expensive but if people could just get their pets spayed or neutered, it solves an enormous problem. They think because they have one cat that it’s not a big deal, but it is. That one cat can produce an enormous number of kittens, and those poor kitties have nowhere to go.”