Wilma the Cat

In honour of Wilma, cat colony princess, who died yesterday in St. Thomas ON. Reposted from St. Thomas Dog Blog, March 29, 2012.Wilma and other cats 2016

Wilma was a homeless cat who was instrumental in the creation of the Charity Cat Project. That initiative has provided food, shelter and neutering to innumerable feral and stray St. Thomas cats. Charity Cat and other rescue groups worked with St. Thomas City Council in establishing animal welfare programmes. Among these are low-cost pet neutering and maintenance of feral cat colonies. So, Wilma, thank you.

Wilma's broken front toothWilma had surgery to remove her damaged teeth and a hernia in her abdomen. She’s recovering nicely. She has domesticated herself and it seems she would love to live indoors. But in her present home, there are dogs who really wouldn’t do well with her presence inside. So a foster or, ideally, a permanent home for her would be wonderful. Contact ABCR or me if you have a place in your home or barn for a lovely cat.*

Turns out she was already spayed, so she had been lost or abandoned. I don’t know which, but there are a lot of Wilmas in our city. They need help. There are also a lot of truly feral cats who Wilma 2012 likely will never allow themselves to be tamed. They too need help.

It’s not just helping the cats. It’s helping people. Having feral cats around their houses distresses cat lovers. Cat haters certainly don’t like cats hanging around. And unneutered cats produce kittens, usually twice a year. So that one cat who’s taken up residence in your back yard is going to produce more, and those kittens will also reproduce. You start out with one stray moggie and, before you know it, you’re in Cat City.

TNR for feral cats

Trapping wild cats and having them fixed is a time-consuming and Drowsy Wilma sitting in suncostly business. I know, I’ve done it. And if you do remove those cats, in all likelihood, more will simply come and occupy the territory. That will happen whether you feed them or not. Homeless cats need somewhere to settle and your backyard might seem as good as anywhere to them. So better to keep those you know, and are neutered, than constantly have new ones moving in and establishing their claim.

St. Thomas needs a TNR programme – trap, neuter, return – for wild cats. Other cities have such programmes or services in place and we have just as many feral cats as anywhere else. Wilma’s person Wilma eating on porchcounted the cats in the gully near their house a month ago: 103 that she saw. That’s before this spring’s litters of kittens are born.

St. Thomas also needs a programme to subsidize spay and neuter costs for dogs and cats of people who cannot afford the full price. Again, many other cities have such subsidy programmes or low-cost clinics offered so many times a year.

It seems cheaper to just have the kittens or puppies than to have your pet neutered. It’s not; it just spreads the costs over a longer period of time – once or twice a year for as long as the animal lives. Neutering is cheaper for all of us just in costs to municipalities of caring for, or killing, unwanted pets.

Abcess on Wilma's gumsPeople have contributed to Wilma’s medical costs, but her rescuers are still footing over half the bill themselves. If you can help, please contact ABCR or me. And let’s start helping all the Wilmas by setting up a spay/neuter subsidy fund. We’ve seen over the past year, with STDOA’s Caring Pet Cupboard, that our community will help people feed their pets.  Now let’s move on to the big task: preventing unwanted puppies and kittens.

*Wilma stayed where she was, for which everyone she knew is thankful. She will be greatly missed by her people and her cats. You can see her legacy on the Charity Cat Facebook page. (See 10 comments on original post below.)

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12 thoughts on “Wilma the Cat”

  1. Thank you for posting about Wilma and her history as one of the first cats we came in contact with, in the beginning of the new awareness in our community about there being so many abandoned and feral cats. The City of St. Thomas developed a Community Cat Program where the free roaming cats are neutered, given rabies shots, plus parasite meds if needed. There are private home owners who are caretakers making sure they are fed and given shelter suitable for winter residence and also colonies that are set up where the cats call home. There is a low cost animal hospital in London that provides reduced pricing for low income customers. We also have several people interested in creating charities whose goal and purpose is to Trap Neuter Release and Rehabilitate. Wilma has left us with quite the legacy to remember her by.

    1. Hi Linda, things have changed so much – for the better – in St. Thomas for all animals. And it was a few specific animals who inspired it. Wilma, the box of kittens that got dumped on you (lol) and Bear and Bosco, the abandoned dogs. I’d forgotten that we were trying to find Wilma a new home until I reread this post. Glad we didn’t. With comfortable quarters for herself and the other cats, she stayed right where she wanted to be – with you guys.

  2. Very proud of the STDOA in our hometown and for all they do beyond what is “seen”. Our two cats were the kittens of strays and one of them had been saved from a “bag” of kittens that didn’t make it. So sad.
    Can’t say enough for my Aunt who has made it it her life, her passion to foster and save animals like this.
    Lots of love.

  3. People in our area need to be more aware of the on going issues with pets. There are some wonderful people, you know who you are, who are doing so much with so little and Wilma is just a small albeit important part of it. It is good to hear she is doing much better, and I hope she continues to do well. You are doing good work and hopefully some funds will come your way to help you to keep doing it. As an animal lover….thank you.

    1. Thank you, Dana. It is easy to overlook the plight of animals. Wilma is indeed just one. Her rescuer recently counted 103 cats in the nearby ravine – just one in the city. Maybe not all wild, maybe some counted twice. But probably also a lot not seen to be counted. And it’s kitten season, so I wonder what the next “census” will reveal. St. Thomas is blessed with a lot of wild spaces in the city, and that means a lot of feral and dumped cats. It’s past time to get TNR and spay/neuter subsidy programmes in place by the City, veterinarians and rescue groups.

  4. I re-posted links to Wilma’s info. Thank you to those who are helping her and who’ve donated towards her care. I’ve learned half the money for her medical care has been raised and more donations are needed. She looks like such a sweet kitty. It’s nice to know she’s eating better and feeling well enough to play.

    I hope we can get more programs in place to help the animals in our community, like TNR, pet retention programs, and assistance for spay/neuters. Like most places, we could also stand to increase our return to owner rate and proactive redemptions; many people make assumptions when they lose or find a pet, which results in fewer pets being reunited with their families.

    I encourage more people to join the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association, even if you don’t have a dog! The people in this group are very active helping both cats and dogs in our city and helping to make changes at the animal shelter. They set up the Caring Pet Cupboard pet food bank. Many rescue, rehabilitate and foster dogs and cats to save lives and get them adopted into new homes. They are working to add a second dog park to the area. More about the STDOA, http://stdoa.ca/who-we-are/

    Chris Harris,
    St. Thomas, Ontario

    1. Thanks so much, Chris. Wilma really is a sweetie. I’d love to have her – if it weren’t for my old Ms. Battleaxe! I’m proud of what STDOA has done beyond getting the Lions Club Dog Park. The food collected and donated by the Caring Pet Cupboard goes quickly from the food banks’ shelves, so a need is being met. But there’s only so much we can do on our own – members, help and new ideas are welcome. STDOA’s monthly meeting is tonight, 7 pm at the Elgin Mall Community Room – it’s held last Tuesday of every month.

  5. There are many Wilmas where I live too. Sigh. I sure wish more TNR programs would pop up but even more so, more people to come forward and help financially for these babies get fixed! It’s healthier and more cost efficient for all involved. I know Wilma’s present home and although her rescuers have gone above and beyond (not just for her but for many!), I do hope she finds a permanent residence that will love this fighter with all their hearts. :)

    1. Hi Jen, nice blog you’ve got! Yes, unfortunately there are Wilmas everywhere. Good point you make, that we all need to come forward and help a bit. If people got their own pets fixed, we’d only have to worry about the homeless ones and the true “accidents”. That’s a big enough job. Fortunately, there are people like Wilma’s rescuers – willing to put time and money into the care of animals not “their own” and any little bit we can do to help them counts. Even $5 or a tin of food. But a real TNR programme would help even more feral cats, and the people concerned or annoyed by them, and a subsidized spay/neuter clinics or programmes would help pets and their people. Thanks for writing.

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