While volunteering at the City of Thunder Bay's animal services, helping socialize cats for adoption, Kitty Kare rescue founders Cindy Sakiyama, Marlys Maver and Carol Rasmussen noticed the high number of healthy cats and kittens being euthanized due to lack of space or health conditions.
“It was quite a high number. In 2010, out of 1,500 cats impounded by animal services, 1,200 were euthanized. We decided then to create the rescue and later applied for non-profit status. There were no other cat rescues locally at that time,” Rasmussen says.
Kitty Kare partnered with Animal Services, rescuing as many cats and kittens as possible and placing them in foster homes. Rescued kittens and cats were posted on their website and also on posters throughout the city. Before adopting them out, all cats and kittens were vet checked, vaccinated and spay or neutered if age appropriate.
Kitty Kare added Dr. Alex Kozak, Trisha Thurier, and Erin Winkworth to its board. The work of the rescue requires many hands and talents.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kitty Kare organized "cat chats," educational workshop sessions, focused on cat care presented by veterinarians, groomers, and a chiropractor. Before Covid, Kitty Kare took kittens and cats to seniors' homes.
"Seniors cuddled the cats and watched the kittens play. They loved it. It was a great therapeutic activity.”
Animal services closed its doors to stray and abandoned cats in 2020.
"Our main mission continues to be to rescue stray and abandoned cats and kittens. In order to rescue, rescues need fosters, people willing to take on a cat temporarily. Anyone interested in fostering cats can check the Kitty Kare Website for more information.
“Socializing is really important. A foster can do a lot towards helping a cat to trust people again.”
Kitty Kare’s online form gives volunteers options for the type of fostering they would prefer.
Kitty Kare decided to amend their mandate. While highlighting the importance of responsible pet ownership and preventing animal cruelty, Kitty Kare offers financial assistance for owners whose cats need medical care beyond what the owner can pay.
"This has been really wonderful as we have been able to eliminate suffering and economic euthanasia of a beloved cat. Funds have helped pay for medications and surgeries for sick and injured cats."
Kitty Kare also donates cat food to a local food bank so owners aren't forced to abandon their cat, adding to the over-population problem.
Rasmussen has some helpful insights for prospective pet owners who are concerned about the current vet shortage in the region.
“Due to the vet clinics not taking clients, cat owners have driven to Dryden or Grand Marais and called local vets to get on waiting lists. Another option is Smart Vet, where you can get in touch online and they will send you to a vet on-call, an emergency vet who will see you. Sometimes vets will take on another pet if you have a pet on their clinic’s file.”
She also emphasizes the importance of keeping in contact with your vet.
“Don’t let too much time lapse between visits.”
Kitty Kare has an informative website with information on fostering, adopting and tips. Their Facebook page is updated regularly with photos of felines ready for adoption. Kitty Kare also publishes a monthly newsletter, which keeps supporters informed. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org