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Windsor businesswoman battling feline overpopulation one spay at a time

Leesa White gives Charlie a kiss. The young male kitten has cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition that results in tremors, an exaggerated gait, and a loss of balance. Due to his special health needs, he will not be returning to the Hants County cat colony that he was part of.
Leesa White gives Charlie a kiss. The young male kitten has cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition that results in tremors, an exaggerated gait, and a loss of balance. Due to his special health needs, he will not be returning to the Hants County cat colony that he was part of.

WINDSOR, N.S. — When it comes to cat scratches, Windsor business owner Leesa White has had more than her fair share.

The downtown merchant, who owns and operates a gift store, is on a mission to help less fortunate cats.

White gets teary-eyed when she talks about her efforts to help abandoned and neglected cats.

“I always get emotional when I talk about these things because the outpouring of support is just very touching and heart warming,” said White.

Earlier this year, White committed to helping spay and neuter a feral cat colony in Colchester County. Dubbed The Big Snip, White and her husband, Dan, set out in July to help a senior citizen spay and neuter a colony of abandoned and feral cats.

It was a big undertaking — and one that had its challenges. But, White said, thanks to the generosity of others, the task was completed.

“I had donations from individuals, from other rescue groups in the area, from rescue groups in Halifax,” said White.

“In fact, Pierre's Alley Cat Rescue Society in Halifax made a huge donation and without them, I would probably be still paying off the vet bill because I grossly underestimated how much I'd need for the Big Snip,” White said.

Her initial estimate was $1,500. It amounted to more than $3,000.

“I calculated what I would need for spaying and neutering. I didn't factor in that so many of them would be sick and would need antibiotics and pain medication and ongoing care,” she said.

Most of the cats in the colony had cat lice, and all of them had fleas and worms. In total, 11 spays and neuters were conducted. Two other cats living at the colony had already been altered and one, that only periodically visits, couldn't be caught.

Two cats with the most serious health ailments are still in White's care. A cat with synechia in both eyes — her vision is deteriorating — has been adopted by White, while another cat, with serious wounds, still requires veterinary attention.

“Feral cats, they're wild animals. As in other herds of wild animals, they will attack one of them that's weak or sick in order to drive it off, or, sadly, kill it because it draws attention from predators,” explained White.

Knowing the fate that awaits so many cats continues to inspire White to help.

The downtown merchant, who owns and operates a gift store, is on a mission to help less fortunate cats.

White gets teary-eyed when she talks about her efforts to help abandoned and neglected cats.

“I always get emotional when I talk about these things because the outpouring of support is just very touching and heart warming,” said White.

Earlier this year, White committed to helping spay and neuter a feral cat colony in Colchester County. Dubbed The Big Snip, White and her husband, Dan, set out in July to help a senior citizen spay and neuter a colony of abandoned and feral cats.

It was a big undertaking — and one that had its challenges. But, White said, thanks to the generosity of others, the task was completed.

“I had donations from individuals, from other rescue groups in the area, from rescue groups in Halifax,” said White.

“In fact, Pierre's Alley Cat Rescue Society in Halifax made a huge donation and without them, I would probably be still paying off the vet bill because I grossly underestimated how much I'd need for the Big Snip,” White said.

Her initial estimate was $1,500. It amounted to more than $3,000.

“I calculated what I would need for spaying and neutering. I didn't factor in that so many of them would be sick and would need antibiotics and pain medication and ongoing care,” she said.

Most of the cats in the colony had cat lice, and all of them had fleas and worms. In total, 11 spays and neuters were conducted. Two other cats living at the colony had already been altered and one, that only periodically visits, couldn't be caught.

Two cats with the most serious health ailments are still in White's care. A cat with synechia in both eyes — her vision is deteriorating — has been adopted by White, while another cat, with serious wounds, still requires veterinary attention.

“Feral cats, they're wild animals. As in other herds of wild animals, they will attack one of them that's weak or sick in order to drive it off, or, sadly, kill it because it draws attention from predators,” explained White.

Knowing the fate that awaits so many cats continues to inspire White to help.

Sisters Kayla and Emma Cooper were in for a surprise when they visited Our Mother's Keepers in Windsor recently. Shop owner Leesa White, who has spent 2016 helping manage cat colonies, had kittens that will soon be available for adoption with her. Pictured is Frosty.
Animal rescuer Leesa White visits with Frosty, the tamest of three feral kittens that should be available for adoption in January.

Second colony

Since completing The Big Snip, White took on another colony — this one in Hants County and involving eight cats. All but one have been caught. The mother and father cats were altered, as was one of their older kittens. Three younger kittens, who are about four months old, are in the process of being socialized and will be available for adoption.

Another older kitten from the colony has cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition, and will remain in White's care indefinitely. The condition results in tremors, an exaggerated gait, and falling over. White said keeping Charlie, which the colony caretaker agreed to, was the best course of action due to his health.

“He can't run very fast so it would be difficult to get away from danger,” said White, noting that the condition puts him at a greater risk of falling and hurting himself.

The three kittens should be available for adoption in January once they are spayed.

Looking to 2017

Although it takes a lot of time, commitment and finances to help these cats, White hopes to tackle another small colony or two in 2017.

“I want to continue doing what I can but it's a difficult task. It's monumental,” said White.

A section of Our Mother's Keepers is devoted to raising funds for cats in need through Ivy's Memorial Street Rescue Fund. Locals have been donating new and gently used items to sell for the continuous fundraiser, and some artists have donated handcrafted items.

“There's only so much a single person can do, but if everybody does something then maybe we can get a handle on all these stray and homeless and feral cats,” said White.

Raine is a shy fluffball who will be looking for a forever home come the new year.

How you can help

Visit Our Mother's Keepers, located at 85 Water St. in Windsor, and donate to the cause or purchase items tagged for Ivy's Memorial Street Rescue Fund. Donations of food and cat litter can also be dropped off at the store.

For updates on various animal welfare projects, visit their Facebook page.

Stormy is shy but is slowly starting to get comfortable around people. She will likely be available for adoption in January.

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