In an old building complex 30 minutes north of Dunedin, a dedicated team of volunteers is spending every spare minute working on a shelter for wild and abandoned cats.
The work is a labour of love for Cat Rescue Dunedin co-ordinator Ana Andrianova and a small-but-stalwart group of volunteers, especially as it is also the height of kitten season.
In October, Ms Andrianova and her partner bought a large section of the complex, covering 2070 square metres and with 1.8ha of land, with the plan of turning it into a shelter.
“We really need to create a shelter, as the sheer volume of cats and kittens we are trying to help has overwhelmed our in-home fosterers,” Ms Andrianova said.
“We will still continue with fostering, but we also desperately need a place to care for the wildies, the sickies, and the oldies – those cats that are very difficult to re-home.”
It is also hoped that having a dedicated space to care for cats and kittens, host open days and other events, will help Cat Rescue Dunedin to raise its profile with the public and funders.
As the large building is in a shabby condition, the project has been divided into stages.
Stage one involves creating a reception area, installing a small kitchen, and lining and painting 10 bedroom-sized rooms which will become cat dormitories.
If all goes well, Cat Rescue Dunedin hopes to open the shelter in two to three months.
“We have a fairly small group of volunteers, but they are all really dedicated people, who are spending every minute of their free time helping with painting and cleaning the place.
“I want to say thank you to my amazing neighbours John, Susie, Kylie, and Rowan, and to our volunteers Vicky, Jacqui, David, Tracey, and others who have helped so far,” Ms Andrianova said.
Cat Rescue Dunedin has also been very lucky to have the support of local tradesmen, who had helped out with building, joinery, electrical, plumbing, and plastering at the shelter.
These had included Lindsay Howell and Brad Cookson from Active Electro, Simon Smith from Professional Decorating Services, builder Torsten Sandmark, Owen Craig from Foley’s Plumbers, and joiner Ryan Neal.
“These tradies have been incredible in their support, giving up their time and donating materials to help us make the building safe and develop the shelter,” Ms Andrianova said.
In the four years since it began, Cat Rescue Dunedin has not turned away any cats, and at times can be inundated with cats in need – particularly during kitten season, which stretches from September to May.
Answering up to seven requests for help each day, the group’s two volunteer trappers often go out expecting to find one or two kittens and return with several mothers and their babies.
“Despite all the work we have done, the numbers of cats and kittens on the streets of Dunedin is still far too high,” she said.
“Of course, we couldn’t do it without the support of local vet clinics – particularly Verona at Mosgiel Vets.”
Cat Rescue Dunedin urgently needs more volunteers to help develop the building and its grounds, and is also calling for donations of cat beds, toys, cat trees and other equipment for the shelter.
If you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org