Aimee Minor didn’t grow up surrounded by cats – in fact – she got her first cat when she was a university student in Ontario.
She admits even her dad and husband are allergic, but she knew she wanted a pet, and loved “her to bits.”
Now Minor is the president of CATS – Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving – a grassroots organization with a mission to not only educate cat owners to resolve behavioural issues and provide resources available to assist with re-homing, but to rescue lost, abandoned and relocated (dumped) cats within the Comox Valley.
Minor, along with a small group of dedicated volunteers, visits various feeding and trapping locations in the area to find lost or relocated cats – which served as the motivation to create the nonprofit less than one year ago.
“There isn’t really anyone out there looking for them,” she explains en route to one of a handful of feeding locations she and other volunteers check on every two days to place food and water, unless there is cat activity.
The group began unofficially last summer when a cat named Ollie went missing, explains Minor. Ollie’s body was found in a remote area miles from his home. She believes the cat was trapped by an unhappy neighbour, driven to a remote area and released and left to fend for himself in the wilderness.
A volunteer decided there wasn’t enough being done for the cats and began putting out and maintaining feeding stations in remote areas known to be dumping grounds for cats. The volunteer along with Minor put together a plan to save a cat named Carlos spotted in the remote area, and after 74 days in the wild, Carlos was successfully trapped and reunited with his family.
CATS was officially formed in 2019, and since then, they have rescued 14 cats.
“We’re never going to change people who are trapping and dumping cats,” she notes. “There’s no point in vigilante justice.”
The organization has set up feeding stations, along with wildness cameras at the locations which capture images of cats – along with a variety of other animals including mice, raccoons, birds and bears.
Vice-president Sue MacKay says she knows that if CATS wasn’t doing the work they do, nobody would look for abandoned cats.
“Cats would be all on their own and trying to survive.”
Minor adds she believes people are not trying to kill the cats, but rather believes many individuals think cats can fend for themselves in the wilderness.
When the group is ready to trap a cat, volunteers will check traps every two hours, even if that means resting in their vehicle overnight in order to safely rescue the cat.
“I always knew this is what I needed to do – no animal deserves to be dumped without food or water or with predators,” she explains. “I really want (the cats) to have second chances; every cat is worth saving.”
In addition to feeding/trapping and education, CATS also offers nutrition advice, lost cat assistance and help with creating a cat patio and enclosure.
They are also seeking volunteers and donations. For more information, visit thecatadvocates.com