In the nick of time.
Five feral kittens were just minutes away from being crushed to death when their loud cries were heard by employees at the Kelowna works yard of Waste Connections of Canada.
The now four-week old felines, who have definitely used up some of their nine lives, are in the caring hands of two AlleyCATS Alliance foster families with a new lease on life.
|Carol Bubb of Summerland with one of two kittens she is caring for and that were rescued from certain death in Kelowna.Mark Brett/Western News|
Summerland’s Carol Bubb has two of the furry kittens (Sparkly and Misty) and AlleyCATS president Sue Beagle is bottle feeding the other three (Spot, Moonface and Marble) at her Kelowna home.
An admitted “cat lover,” driver Dallas Maximuik was at work at Waste Connections Campion St. location the morning of Oct. 9 when a couple of other employees came to him with their discovery.
“One of the guys found these kittens between two great big paper bales (five-feet high and 600 kilograms in weight). There was about six inches between the bales, and that morning they were getting rid of (them) putting them on a truck with a forklift,” recalled Maximuik. “Every time you go in and forklift a bale, it pushes the next ones together, so if he hadn’t heard the kittens meowing they definitely would have been dead and nobody would probably even noticed or even found them.
“It’s pretty fortunate that these guys like animals as well. There are a lot of people who may have heard something and just disregarded it, but they took the time, which I am grateful for, and actually saved these cats lives.”
After their discovery, the then two-and-a-half-week olds were put in a box and the search began to find someone to look after them. Maximuik called his wife who eventually was able to connect with the AlleyCATS president, who went to the facility as soon as she could.
“Those are some very lucky kittens, that’s for sure. Luckily they had very big voices,” said Sue Beagle. “They have a lot of mice and rats around that area and so a lot of cats migrate there where they can make a living — where they will be well-fed.”
|Bev Victor of Kelowna, a director of AlleyCATS Alliance feeds one of five rescued kittens saved from being crushed.Submitted photo|
After arriving at Waste Connections, she immediately set traps to try and catch the kittens’ mother so the cat can look after her babies, but more importantly, to have her spayed.
“We caught another male but we never did catch mom and I actually stuck around there for a few hours with the kittens and used them as the bait but just couldn’t get her. She looks pretty old and arthritic and I still have traps set.”
The next step was caring for the kittens, and when she found looking after five to be a bit too much for one person, Beagle made a call to her friend in Summerland, a dedicated feline foster mom and someone she knew could be counted on.
“I started doing this (fostering) about 13 years ago, it’s been a long time,” said Bubb. “I love cats … people are so silly they don’t get their animals spayed or neutered. There’s just so many that need looking after.”
She admits getting attached to her fosterlings, so it’s no surprise that her personal pets are three cats she was fostering and couldn’t let go of.
“I absolutely enjoy looking after them but the worst part is giving them up. It’s like your kids you’re giving away,” said Bubb who also fosters cats and kittens for the SPCA. “Especially if you have them for quite awhile. If they’re teeny, tiny, just 10 days old and you have them for two months.
“The ones (foster kittens) I have now get fed on demand, four, five, six times a day whenever they start meowing around but when they’re tiny. You have to get up in the middle of the night to feed them.”
AlleyCATS, based in Penticton, is affiliated with the Okanagan Cat Coalition, an umbrella organization of concerned animal welfare charities, veterinarians and residents.
A huge part of AlleyCATS mandate is dealing with the feral cat population estimated to be be almost 20,000 in the Central Okanagan alone.
According to Beagle: “The more we can get the word out to spay/neuter your pets, the more cats we can save from a miserable life outside against the world.”