Stray cats deserve care, says shelter volunteer

“Stray cats often become strays through no fault of their own,” says Nicole Swyers of Furry Friends Animal Shelter

The image of stray cats portrayed by many of us can vary widely, from furry, friendly faces to killers of wild animals, or even spreaders of disease.

But for Nicole Swyers, animal lover and dedicated volunteer, this story is different.

“Stray cats often become strays through no fault of their own. Being able to give stray cats the help they need and find them a new home is very rewarding,” Swyers says.

A cat rescuer herself, Swyers also handles all pick-ups at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter in Barrie.

In her experience at Furry Friends, Swyers has dedicated her time to bringing comfort to cats who keep coming in, whether they need dental surgery, are pregnant, or have young kittens in the house. ‘outside.

“They just need a warm bed, food in their stomachs and a second chance – and we’re giving them that chance,” she says.

The most rewarding aspect for Swyers, she says, is seeing the cats thrive and be adopted into loving homes. She remembers once raising a six-month-old cat who was found outside with her siblings.

“He hissed and growled when I entered his reception room. If I got too close, he would kick me and curl up in his cat tree,” she said.

Swyers spent more than two months picking up the cat and stroking it with a towel. Eventually one day he decided she was fine and started coming out of hiding and purring every time she came into the room. Eventually he began to sit on her lap.

“Four months after I brought him home, he was ready for adoption, then he found a nice home and is the best cat companion,” she says.

Over the years, despite the occasional lack of volunteers and funds, Swyers does not hesitate to do its best to help the more than 500 cats that the volunteer-run shelter welcomes each year.

“The cats push you to keep going — seeing them in the shelter, knowing they’re counting on us for their care,” she says.

Unlike those who vilify stray cats on the loose, Swyers pointed out that they are just innocent, vulnerable creatures in need.

“Many cats that become strays are, unfortunately, abandoned by their owners, often because the cat needs medical attention that their owner cannot afford,” she says.

Cats brought into the shelter as strays are checked for a chip and posted as “found” in the hope that their owner can be located. Failing that, the shelter gives them the veterinary attention that cats need. They are then offered for adoption.

Swyers says it’s very difficult to balance life and her routine as a “cat rescuer” because cat rescue can be 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to housing cats, she says, the shelter coordinates a very large reception program with more than 150 felines.

“There are also a lot of behind-the-scenes activities that need to take place for the rescue to be successful, such as fundraising, verification, recruiting volunteers, etc.,” she adds.

Nevertheless, Swyers recognizes that sometimes it is essential to take a break.

“For me, it’s important to set aside time to do the rescue, but also to take time off because it can get overwhelming, not to mention heartbreaking,” she says.

But ultimately, the message that resonates with Swyers is that any stray that crosses our path deserves a second chance, no matter what they’ve been through.

“Sometimes that second chance is finding a new place to live. Other times, it’s living their life at the shelter where they are warm, fed and loved.