â€œThe cats are still learning that they can go out,â€ said Donna Healy-Ogden on a recent sunny day at Milnerâ€™s CARES Cat Shelter.
A few cats were braving the mild sunshine, checking out the new runs finished in late August. The new outdoor runs will allow cats being kept at CARES for future adoption to get more fresh air.
Itâ€™s been an ambition of CARES president Healy-Ogden and the other volunteers to expand and upgrade their shelter for some time.
Theyâ€™ve now managed that, thanks they say to a lot of support from their volunteers and the community at large.
Over the many years its operated in Milner, cats at CARES come from a variety of origins. Many are strays found either injured or abandoned around the community.
Some cats are dropped off with veterinarians, who bring them in.
Others are turned in by elderly owners heading into care, who canâ€™t keep their pets.
Some have more exotic origins.
â€œOne of our volunteers actually snatched a cat from out of the jaws of a coyote,â€ said Healy-Ogden.
He came in with some injuries but survived and was dubbed Oliver.
â€œHe ended up in a penthouse in White Rock,â€ said Healy-Ogden.
With more than 60 cats currently at the shelter, the staff and volunteers are pleased to have the expanded runs and new indoor spaces complete.
They had been planning the project for a year, said Healy-Ogden.
After waiting a while for a contractor, a couple who regularly volunteer stepped up and did much of the work on the outside runs themselves over several weekends.
Then to get the mesh fencing done, Gauvin 2000 Construction stepped in and finished things off.
More donors brought in materials. All the donated items and labour meant that costs were way down for the project, a good thing since like all volunteer-driven projects, CARES could always use a bit more funding.
The project means more room for most of the cats at CARES. Virtually every cat will get a chance to use an outdoor run now, which will be good for their mental well being.
â€œWe try to keep the stress level down,â€ said Healy-Ogden.
A few cats are still going to be spending most of their time indoors, including those that are in the quarantine building having just arrived or come down sick. Another quiet room at the shelter houses mostly older cats and those with chronic health conditions. Many of them are long term residents, as they are hard to adopt, but every once in a while someone comes by and forms a bond with one.
Many of the cats and kittens at CAREs can be seen at PetSmart on the Langley Bypass, which hosts a few during the week.
â€œIf they donâ€™t see a cat that they would want, they can make an appointment and come to the shelter,â€ said Healy-Ogden.
Contact CARES through 604-532-5632 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.