The Western Isles’ home-grown cat rescue organisation WISCK (Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens) has seen demand for its support soar in a single year.
Last Saturday (4 September) the group were out on Cromwell Street, Stornoway, for their first public fundraising activity since their launch in March 2020.
Throughout the day they were overwhelmed both with donations and with positive remarks about the importance of their rescue work, which helps keep feral cat numbers down whilst ensuring that rescue kittens find a safe and loving home.
By the end of 2020 the group were able to report 200 cats rehomed over their first year in operation. So far this year they have seen 105 cats in care – including 56 all at one time in August. The huge rise in work has meant the need for accommodation has doubled, since the three-pen ‘cat central’ in Sandwick simply couldn’t house the number of cats needing safe shelter before neutering
Two new pens have now been built at the homes of committee members. They were built and installed by SY sheds (now Splinters Workshop) and easy-to-clean linoleum flooring was installed by Andy Gress Macleod. Wiring for heat and light proved more of a challenge, since not only were electricians hard to come by, but the work itself proved expensive, too.
Luckily WISCK’s work attracts extremely generous supporters and an appeal in August’s online newsletter generated several donations towards the wiring. Contractor Chris Thain, aka The Wire Guy (https://www.facebook.com/thewireguyelectrician) offered an exceptionally generous rate to support the group and got lights and safe-touch heaters installed this month, just in time for dark nights and falling temperatures.
Together with one extra pen at the home of a committee member, that means WISCK will go into their second winter with double the accommodation as well as a constantly-growing team of volunteers. The multi-talented committee of eight co-ordinates a huge army of volunteer fundraisers, pen-cleaners, trapping assistants and cat-cuddlers, while the home- based foster carer team has also expanded, 28 individuals now taking rescued kittens into their homes to socialise them ready for a new life.
WISCK’s chair Cat Campbell said: “We are exceptionally lucky with the support we have attracted from volunteers, generous donors and local contractors who have helped out. Without all of these people, it’s hard to imagine how we would have got through such a huge amount of work.
“Double the work does mean double the costs, in food, veterinary care, hygiene supplies and even for small items like toys for the numerous kittens.
“We hope that people will keep on being as generous as they have over the past 12 months, but at least now we also have twice the number of pens, a much bigger team of helpers and a fair crack at the fundraising we desperately need to keep doing our work.”
• WISCK exists to help improve the quality of life of cats, while reducing the population of feral cats in the islands by trapping, neutering and returning adult ferals to their colonies. Kittens are kept in foster care until they are social and then matched with new owners through social media. The group also shares information on missing cats to help reunite loved pets with their owners.
The picture shows volunteers Catherine Donner (fundraiser and foster carer), Gil Wagner (pen-cleaner and trapping assistant), Karen Cowan (WISCK vice-chair) and Tina Badley (foster carer and fundraiser) at Saturday’s fundraising stall on Cromwell Street