Rosebud (aka “Rosie”) is the lone surviving kitten from a premature litter stricken with coccidia this fall. The Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society is seeking donations in order to continue providing services like the ones that kept Rosie alive.

‘Tsunami’ of cats leaves rescue society in need of cash

Rosebud needs your help. And so does the organization that saved her life. After a busy year unlike any before, the Lake Cowichan

Rosebud needs your help. And so does the organization that saved her life.

After a busy year unlike any before, the Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society is in “dire” need of monetary donations — contributions from new supporters, not just the regular ones — in order to continue its operations.

“We are at a point now where we’ve had to halt our subsidy program, [which helps] low-income people,” said LCARS director Mick Beddard. “We’ve had to nip that in the bud until next fall because we just don’t have the funds to carry on… Whatever funds we do have come in are going to have to go towards all the little ones we’re dealing with now.”

This year has been unexpectedly tough on the organization. For starters, the Kensington Foundation for Animals In Crisis, which had regularly given LCARS substantial donations (including $7,800 in 2015) closed down.

“They were sort of like the golden goose. It was great while they were around. It definitely made a difference,” said Mick. “You get sort of used to counting on a particular funding source and then shoot, they aren’t here anymore.”

The Kensington Foundation was the society’s major financial contributor.

However, losing that support was only part of the reason this year has been such a challenging one for the organization. It has also been a year in which the society was inundated with more cats and kittens than ever before, all in need of homes and care. To date, they’ve taken in 20 adult cats and almost 80 kittens.

And while the society has seen large years before, the demand for their services was spread out from January to December.

“Instead of this year concentrated all in four months. We didn’t get nothing until the middle of June. Then all of a sudden it was like the flood gates were open. It was like a tsunami.”

Mick and his wife, Barb, who is also operations manager for LCARS, do much of the society’s work out of their house. There they keep the cats and kittens in cages until they can be adopted out; administer medications; and help socialize the animals.

It may not be easy, but both Mick and Barb agree the work is incredibly rewarding.

The perfect example: Rosebud.

In September, LCARS took in a pregnant cat. Its owners weren’t giving it up, but knew they could not handle taking care of those forthcoming kittens. LCARS agreed to take the cat in until it had given birth, then have the animal spayed and returned to the owners. The society would keep care of the kittens until they’re old enough to be adopted.

Things didn’t turn out that way.

The kittens were born two weeks prematurely, and to make matters worse, the mother cat rejected all six of them and wouldn’t allow them to nurse.

“Six kittens just made her go wild and she wouldn’t have anything to do with them,” said Barb. “So I put them in a crate with a heater on the bottom and I got up every four hours, day and night, to feed them.”

This task was made all the more challenging when they learned the mother cat was sick with Coccidia — a parasite that causes damage to the lining of a intestinal tract — and had passed it on to the kittens when they were born. Barb and Mick bought medicine, treated the sick animals every 12 hours for seven days, and took them to the vet to check out their progress. This process had to be repeated two more times.

However, the Coccidia persisted and, one by one, all the kittens died. All except Rosebud or “Rosie” as Barb calls her.

“She was the one,” said Barb. “She was the fighter.”

At 11 weeks old, Rosebud is about half the size of other kittens her age — she weighs about 500 grams — and can’t be adopted out until she’s at least a kilogram, but she’s healthy and slowly growing.

“She’s one of the special cases,” said Mick. He and Barb are clearly proud of the tiny half-siamese kitten with an equally tiny mew. She has a particular fondness for cuddling into people’s necks.

But the special cases often come with a hefty price tag. LCARS has already spent $400 on Rosebud’s medicine and vet trips related to the Coccidia, and she still has to eventually be spayed and vaccinated.

That’s why the society is making an urgent plea to the community for more monetary donations. The “tsunami” of kittens in need of help this year has really left the organization in dire financial straits.

“We’re always fundraising, always working at getting money coming in. But this is the first time in a number of years that we’ve been so inundated in the fall and have such a vet bill this time of year,” said Mick. “We need people to be kindly enough to donate some helping cash money… Just to get us over the hump.”

Donations can be made to the Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society at P.O. Box 41, Lake Cowichan.

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