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Niagara Falls
Friday, February 3, 2023
NOTL Cats Rescue fundraiser after virtual Candlelight Stroll



If Tanya Rice’s two cats were to ever get out, she says she’s certain NOTL Cats Rescue would be integral in keeping them safe. It’s one of the many reasons she’s held a fundraiser at her Virgil home on the evening of the Candlelight Stroll for the past several years.

This year, that fundraiser is going to look a little different.

But Rice said she won’t let the pandemic stop her and her husband Peter from collecting donations for the local cat rescue. On Dec. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m., a Christmas tree will be lit on the front porch of 456 Line 2 Rd., and donations will be accepted in the driveway.

“We just wanted to let our friends and neighbours know that although we've closed off our home this year, we haven't closed off our hearts to the cat rescue,” Rice said.

Previously, the couple has opened their home to more than 30 people for a small celebration after the Candlelight Stroll in Old Town each December.

The post-stroll open house served hot chocolate and snacks, and all they would ask was for friends, family and neighbours to bring a donation for NOTL Cats.

This year, they are asking the community to consider donating anyway. There will be a small, socially distanced get together in the driveway after the virtual Candlelight Stroll. She encouragde community members to make a donation at any time until then, or to come by on Dec. 4.

Erika Buchkowsky, a NOTL Cats rescue volunteer, said COVID-19 made it difficult for the group to hold any of its regular fundraisers.

"We are 100 per cent non-profit, 100 per cent volunteer. Adoption fees go directly to pay for vet bills, food, litter, etc. We are totally dependent on donations and have donation boxes at Pet Valu in Virgil, Creek Road Paints in Virgil and Global Pet Foods Glendale in St. Catharines," she said.

Buchkowsky said Tanya and Peter Rice "have been so wonderful fundraising for our little rescue group."

"Tanya is a huge cat lover and on her 50th birthday several years ago told everyone coming to her party to bring a donation for NOTL Cats instead of gifts for her," she said. "We are thrilled that Tanya and Peter have decided to hold this additional fundraiser for us."

Items most needed by the NOTL Cats are wet food, dry food, cat treats and kitty litter. Monetary donations are also appreciated, though Rice asks for people to wait until the night of the fundraiser to donate money because she may not always be there to collect. 

NOTL Cats Rescue is a volunteer-based rescue group in the Niagara region specializing in helping stray cats and kittens, placing them in foster homes, giving them required medical attention and helping to find their forever homes. 

Rice said she’s always been an avid animal lover. When she discovered a small litter of kittens from a feral cat in her backyard, there was no question as to what was to be done with them.

“They were orphaned in our garden 12 years ago. And when we trapped the three of them, we decided that they were going to be ours,” she said.

One of the three, Boots, died about three years ago of kidney failure, she said. But the other two, Jasper and Indiana, are going strong.

“We are not the everyday volunteers for Niagara-on-the-Lake Cat Rescue. We are just people who love animals. We love cats,” she said.

She hopes this year more donations can be gathered. Last year, they collected about 35 pounds of cat food and $320 in cash.

She said she knows it's been difficult this year with COVID.

“People are struggling to put food on their own tables … but our community has a lot of animal lovers. If they can give whatever they can, you know, a $2 can of cat food. Just to add some warmth in their heart to know that they've also helped the four-legged animals in our community,” she said.

Right now, NOTL Cats is trying help Murphy, a kitten found by Town of NOTL maintenance staff. His head is tilted due to an ear infection and bulging ear drum. He is on six medications and has seen three different veterinarians.

“This little guy is a fighter and has come a long way since he was found. Your generous donations will help us with his vet bills and medications,” a statement from NOTL Cats says.

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