Rescue organization seeks donations for strays this Valentine’s

Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initative Reporter

A local rescue group is hoping this year will see a sweet Valentine’s Day for little furballs in need.

Paws and Claws Canada is asking people to open their hearts to rescue cats this Valentine’s Day and is seeking donations of food and supplies from caring individuals, as well as additional foster volunteers for those cats who can be adopted to their forever homes.

Joan Foley is a volunteer with Paws and Claws and said the idea to run a donation drive to coincide with Valentine’s Day was in part to remind people that they were there in the first place, in addition to needing help.

“The idea came from one of the people that we work with, just to tweak people’s interest in donating to Paws and Claws and help rescue cats,” Foley said.

Like many rescue organizations who operate anywhere in the world, Paws and Claws is dependent on donations and volunteer hours to do their work, and organizer Gord McCabe explained it’s particularly important to seek out donations because of their small team and the adoption process itself.

“We are definitely looking for donations,” McCabe said.

“Our organization survives totally on donations. We don’t have any regular funding source, and in reality there are only about four of us who are running the whole organizations, so we don’t have a fundraising brigade either. We don’t have any shelters. If a cat comes in to us, we spend more on it than what we collect in adoption fees, and I think only two of them so far came already fixed.”

McCabe explained that, depending on the cat and any pre-existing medical issues, a female cat costs between $300-400 to get ready for adoption, and a male cat between $250-350, with more severe medical needs quickly ballooning those costs. When the adoption fee sits at $199, it becomes quickly apparent that monetary donations are crucial to help continue their work.

Even though Paws and Claws has only been operating in Fort Frances since October of 2020, having formerly worked with the Paws and Claws organization based in International Falls, McCabe and Foley said they’ve still been able to rescue and help a large number of cats so far. Their efforts also including helping out those cats living in two feral colonies throughout the district.

“We’ve rescued a lot of kittens from the Sleeman dump and there’s a feral cat colony in Rainy River, and we rescued a lot of kittens from there in November,” McCabe said.

“So a lot of [those kittens] are coming up to the time when they’re ready to be spayed or neutered, because that’s usually 6 months to a year depending on the cat. Our bank account is OK right now, but we’re going to have huge demand in the next little while, so we really need to make sure there’s money in our coffers.”

Of course, the organization doesn’t simply rescue and foster their cats, and Foley said many of the cats they have rescued have subsequently been adopted out as long as their temperament has allowed it.

“We make sure they are adoptable, because some may not be” she explained.

Seeing as how the worst of the winter weather this year has seemed to take early February as its cue to enter, McCabe said the volunteers with Paws and Claws continue to do their work regardless of the weather, but he noted that the extreme cold is very dangerous for cats in need of rescue, and even moreso for any litters of kittens born during these extreme cold snaps.

Both McCabe and Foley agreed the biggest needs facing the organization are money and people willing to be fosters.

“We can only takes cats in if we have fosters to take them and right now we’re operating only with about four or five fosters,” McCabe said.

“We don’t help as many cats as we’d like to, because we don’t have enough fosters to be able to do that,” Foley agreed.

“We do need fosters, we need donations, food, litter. We need cat toys, any number of things a cat will use we will take. We also will give food to people who take care of feral cats we can’t give to a foster. Some people take care of them in a barn or whatever, and as much as we can we’ll help supply food.”

McCabe noted the volunteers also frequently visit some of the feral colonies in the district to leave food and warm shelters throughout the winter.

There is a strong need for Paws and Claws in the district, said McCabe and Foley, especially as many cats they encounter haven’t been spayed or neutered, which ensures the number of strays remains high. The continuing cold snap and wintery weather will also make it very dangerous for any felines, feral, stray or even indoor/outdoor cats to remain outside without some kind of shelter, which makes the rescue and their donation drive even more important.

To make a donation to Paws and Claws Fort Frances, or to volunteer your time either as a foster or to help out in other ways, call McCabe at 275-9753 or Foley at 276-8670. Donations can also be mailed to Paws and Claws at 308 Fifth Street West, P9A 3S1 or e-transferred to