An image of a cat near a trapping station captured by one of the cameras placed in the wild by CATS. Photo submitted

Comox Valley cat rescue organization hit by camera theft

“Someone is taking from an organization trying to help cats who are surviving in the wild.”

A Vancouver Island non-profit whose goal is to trap lost or relocated cats within the Comox Valley is reeling, after some of its equipment has gone missing.

CATS – Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving, a grassroots organization that rescues lost, abandoned and relocated (dumped) cats within the area has had three of its cameras stolen within the last four months.

“I’m very frustrated,” said Aimee Minor, president of CATS. “It’s the point; (someone) is taking from an organization trying to help cats who are surviving in the wild. What kind of person does that?”

Minor, along with a growing group of dedicated volunteers, visits various feeding and trapping locations in the Valley from Fanny Bay to the Strathcona Parkway to find abandoned cats.

RELATED: Filling the gap rescuing relocated cats

They have set up feeding stations along with wilderness cameras at the locations, which capture images of cats so that Minor and the volunteers can determine more information about the felines and create a trapping plan.

“The cameras serve two purposes: one, to see cat activity; and two, for me to see the cat’s routine. Its behaviour tells me a lot about the cat – whether it is feral, social, emancipated and whether it was dumped. Something as simple as to what direction the cat is coming from can tell me a lot.”

CATS was officially formed in 2019, and during the past year, the group rescued 59 cats. This year, Minor explained they are projecting more than 100 rescues.

The first time Minor noticed a camera that had gone missing was in late November 2019, taken from an area where CATS had just trapped four cats.

“They are social and were likely related and just dumped out there. Likely, it was a crime of opportunity,” she said.

A few weeks later, a second camera went missing.

Another camera was taken at a different location. Minor doesn’t believe that either camera was taken from people looking to dump cats.

Each camera is marked with ‘CATS,’ and they are camouflaged in a nearby tree close to the trapping site.

Minor is extremely frustrated by what happened, particularly as the organization is 100 per cent volunteer-run and operating costs are raised through fundraising.

“It’s more than just money too,” she explained and added each camera is valued at about $50, not including the cost of the SD card inside.

“(Dumping cats) is a community problem and we’re helping in a small fraction to solve that problem. We’re trying to make a dent. Hindering rescues is almost as bad as the people who put the cats out there.”

In addition to feeding/trapping and education, CATS also offers nutrition advice, lost cat assistance and help with creating a cat patio and enclosure.

In addition to volunteers, CATS is also seeking donations of any kind. The organization can use wet food and monetary donations immediately, but Minor said they will not turn down any donation of any kind, as items will be stored and used for their annual garage sales.

For more information, visit thecatadvocates.com.

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