For 25 years, Animal Aide has been taking care of the lost, neglected, and unwanted cats of St. Thomas and Elgin. It’s no small task, but it is done tirelessly and with a lot of love.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, in partnership with Tabby’s Treasures Gift Shop, Animal Aide hosted an open house to raise awareness for the felines in our community who need loving homes for Christmas. Visitors were welcome to come see the kitties, learn about Animal Aide’s work, pick up raffle tickets, and get some snacks at Tabby’s Treasures – a boutique gift shop right next door whose profits go directly to Animal Aide.

Browsing unique gifts at Tabby's Treasures Gift Shop
Browsing unique gifts at Tabby’s Treasures Gift Shop

To meet the cats available for adoption now, watch our live stream at the open house:

Animal Aide of St. Thomas Elgin is a non-profit, no-kill shelter that took in over 900 cats and kittens just this year. Some are mothers with kittens, some have been abused and traumatized, and others had owners who simply couldn’t take care of them anymore. All cats are welcome at Animal Aide, and they will be given food, shelter, veterinary care, and love from the volunteers who care for them day after day.

cat in cage animal aide animal shelter

Volunteers at Animal Aide spend three hours each morning cleaning every cage, sanitizing every food and water dish, and changing the contents of each litter box. With 53 cats currently residing in the centre, it’s a huge job. About 25 volunteers rotate through the tasks each week to make sure all the cats have their physical needs met, including time to run around and be cuddled. The numbers in the centre are not likely to change in the near future since there are another 100 cats waiting in the wings, either in foster homes or pet stores.

Though the job is not always easy, according to volunteer Emily Moniz, it’s highly rewarding. Some cats come in extremely afraid of people, attacking volunteers and other cats if they get the chance. However, in time, the same cats have learned to trust the people who care for them and are adopted to families. Their transformations are a testament to the care they receive at Animal Aide.

animal aide volunteer holding a cat

Volunteers are usually students and community members who love cats, but sometimes they’re people on probation who have chosen community service over jail time. Animal Aide board member Barb Feairs says the program has always worked out well and that the people they get through it do a great job.

“They’re the best guys because they feel for the cats because they’re in jail,” she says with a laugh. “And they’d much rather be here. We’ve had really good luck with that. Some even end up adopting cats.”

Kathy Daniel, Animal Aide Volunteer Coordinator (pictured in the top photo), was pleased with the results of the open house. They saw a lot of foot traffic into the shelter and two cats – Taffy and Dot – were adopted. They hope that getting the word out about Animal Aide’s work will result in more volunteers and more cats adopted in the near future.

Kathy specifically wanted to highlight cats that are a little older or are shy and don’t ‘show’ well. Cats like these have a hard time getting adopted and may stay at the shelter for a year or more.

Two people walking on sidewalk with cat animal carrier
Taffy going home with her new family

Animal Aide is open in the afternoons from 12 to 4 Monday to Saturday. Anyone can go in and see the adoptable cats during these times. If you are interested in volunteering, you can visit Animal Aide at 333 Talbot Street or call them at 519-633-3788. Of course, donations are always accepted and a huge help for supporting the mission of Animal Aide. You can learn more about this organization on their website.

Photos: Brandon Olsen | Establish Media