While all their kittens are spoken for, there are at least 20 adult cats available for half-price adoption until Dec. 21 at the Cowichan and District SPCA.
The influx of winter cats prompted the SPCA's "all the love for half the price" campaign and manager Sandi Trent said it's been a trying season for animal advocates trying to keep up with the furry little guys.
A long, late summer meant some frisky felines and, for the first time in 15 years, a big batch of feral winter kittens for Cowichan Cat Rescue to care for.
"God love them, they rely strictly on volunteers and fostering," Trent said of Jean Hamilton and the folks at Cowichan Cat Rescue. "Jean just does a phenomenal job and I feel really bad because I know it's hard to get people that are committed to the wee ones and some of them come in at that age where they're not cute cuddly kittens, they need a lot of work." Hamilton and friends have their backs up against a wall this winter, for sure.
"Instead of having empty foster homes waiting for the spring kittens to arrive in May, the rescue is appealing to its already full foster homes and volunteers to take in more kittens over Christmas," Hamilton said.
The bone-chilling winter weather has not been kind to the tiny creatures, as many of them are being found ill and underweight.
"This is a result of the lack of food for the mothers, both during the later stages of their pregnancies and also when they are trying to feed their kittens," Hamilton explained. "Those being fed regularly by generous animal lovers are more likely to survive the winter, while those without assistance will almost certainly die."
The influx of new cats comes during a time of the year when Cowichan Cat Rescue is usually mustering funds to pay off the year's vet bills. More cats mean more bills.
While the non-profit organization would love a Christmas miracle in the form of funds, what it hopes for most this holiday season is for the community to help keep the feral cat population warm and fed outdoors.
"Feed them if possible and to make sure the cats have a source of water when everything is frozen. Young kittens should be reported to Cowichan Cat Rescue so they can be caught and cared for if possible," Hamilton said. "Shelter can be the difference between survival and death."
For information or help with the construction of winter shelters call 250-743-6500 or check out Cowichan Cat Rescue on Facebook. Donations can be made online through the group's website (www.cowichancatrescue.org).
"We certainly appreciate what they do because, boy, we'd be in real trouble if it wasn't for them," Trent said.