Volunteers rally together to save feral cats abandoned on remote island
I had no idea this was even being considered!
Elle Holder

As of December 31, 2019, the island community of Little Bay Islands will go dark. Completely, and for the last time.

This town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is made up of Little Bay Island, Macks Island, Goat Island, Harbour Island, and Boatswain Tickle Island. About 10 years ago, talk of relocating the town began, and it’s finally happening.

That means the remaining 55 residents are leaving Little Bay Islands. And leaving behind colonies of feral cats that the islanders have tended to for years. They’ve been living in the countless abandoned homes and buildings, but keeping fed hasn’t been an issue, thanks to the diligence of a small but caring population.

Initial Hopes Dashed

Initially, the provincial government said they would work with a private veterinarian to trap and then assess the cats.

But then last Tuesday, that all changed. The vet withdrew their services, but for reasons of privacy, the vet’s identity and their reasons from retraction will be kept confidential. There was also an announcement that there wouldn’t be a replacement vet taking over.

Cat Lovers Step Up

However, all hope was not lost. Cat lovers all across Atlantic Canada rallied together to save these felines. Because without caregivers, they likely wouldn’t survive.

Carol Hull, one of the local’s who has helped tend the cats for years would have been happy to either adopt or re-home the colony, but it has simply grown too large. There are at least 40 cats.

Holding the little black kitten pictured below, she says during an interview at her home,

“He loves Little Bay Islands; he doesn’t even want to leave.”

Natioanal Post
Natioanal Post

The Cat Rescuer

Sonya Higgins of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, put a plan in action. She’s part of a Nova Scotia rescue group known as Healing Animal SCARS. Working together with charity Spay Day Nova Scotia they coordinated a mission to save the cats.

“No one rescue group would have been equipped to take it on themselves,” she said. “We don’t want the cats to freeze to death and I believe every cat deserves a chance, whether they’re feral or not.”

The plan? Round up the cats and then ferry them, along with there rescuers, back to Nova Scotia. From there, they would be housed and then hopefully adopted. And since some of the cats would be past the point of being domesticated, they could live out their lives as barn cats.

Some cats, like the kittens below, were already rescued at taken to the Exploits Valley SPCA for adoption earlier this year.

Submitted by Sarah McLeod, Exploits Valley SPCA
Submitted by Sarah McLeod, Exploits Valley SPCA

The Rescue Mission was a Success!

With a lot of volunteers and a lot of hard work, the rescue mission was a success. Many traveled to the islands to help round up the cats and transport them, and many more contributed financially. At the writing of this, a GoFundMe campaign was pushing $21,000.

The good news is that as of Tuesday, December 16, all of the cats had been removed from the islands except one or two.

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