LEWISTON – A fundraising campaign began Wednesday to address the problem of abandoned, stray cats in Lewiston.
Throughout the nation, the problem of feral cats is being attacked through trapping, treating them for illnesses, sterilizing them, then returning them to live out their natural lives.
The Lewiston business community along with M&T Bank; state Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston; and the SPCA of Niagara launched a fundraising campaign on the steps of the Orange Cat Coffee Shop.
The money raised will remain in Lewiston to address its feral cat problems.
Businesses in the community will post signs educating the community and will sell paper orange cats for $1 that say “Curb Cat Overpopulation.”
Polla Milligan, director of marketing and development for the SPCA of Niagara, said she came up with the idea as she drove by the coffee shop in Lewiston in April. She was on her way to a shelter event at Grandpaws Pet Emporium.
“This is my test area and if it works here I am dragging it across Niagara County,” said Milligan.
Michael Broderick, who has owned the Orange Cat Coffee Shop on Center Street for 11 years, is an animal lover with seven cats and two dogs. He said he welcomed the chance to help.
He also said he has seen the problem firsthand
“Unfortunately people often drop off animals here.
“So over the years we’ve found dogs tied up out back or cats left back there. I guess they just know us,” said Broderick.
He said one problem area in the village is behind the long-vacant Frontier House on Center Street. The area isn’t heavily traveled by visitors and has become a hiding place for cats.
Kelley Casale, shelter manager for the SPCA of Niagara, said the problem is larger in the Town of Lewiston, where cats hide in barns and farmland. She said Niagara Falls has an estimated 60,000 feral cats, but in the Town of Lewiston the numbers are likely even higher.
“Years ago feral cats, or community cats as I like to call them, were caught and killed, but over time, data will show that is not the way to go,” said Casale. “As community members we have a huge heart and we feed them, but we don’t take the extra steps to fix them.”
She said with the money raised they will establish healthy colonies of cats in Lewiston.
Volunteers who would like to donate or help the SPCA of Niagara in the Lewiston campaign to trap cats can contact them at 731-4368.