Cat-filled camper van makes trek from Alberta

Women from Saanich vet clinic help make room for Fort McMurray pets

Sarah Duncan uses a syringe to feed a kitten during the trip back to Vancouver Island from Edmonton. Duncan and Katelyn Deacon transferred 50 cats from an Edmonton shelter to make room for displaced Fort McMurray animals.

Jacqueline Albrecht of Sidney is housing 20 cats from Edmonton that she is hoping will be adopted out in short order.

They arrived from Edmonton, and were part of a 51-cat adventure by volunteers Sarah Duncan and Katelyn Deacon who work as veterinary assistants at the Broadmead Veterinary Clinic.

Duncan, of Victoria, and Deacon, of Sidney, made a 40-hour return trek to Edmonton in a Cat’s Cradle camper van, starting at 4 a.m. on May 12. The cats were in Edmonton shelters and have been removed to make room for the stray and surrendered pets of the Fort McMurray wildfire. They arrived home the next day on the 7 p.m. ferry.

“We take as many cats as we can transport safely,” Duncan said. “It’s actually not the first time we’ve done it.”

On Jan. 1, Duncan and another vet assistant did the same thing, driving through the night from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, just because there is so many cats facing euthanization in Edmonton.

“We jumped on the bandwagon. If anyone anywhere asks to help with animal rescue, we do it,” Duncan said.

During the trip the vet assistants are kept busy with road stops to feed the cats, including the bottle-fed kittens, clean them and make sure they’re hydrated.

Despite having a camper crammed with crates, it’s actually quite a peaceful journey, she added.

“I think the cats get into the rhythm and movement of the van, and there are kind people and voices. We use pheromone spray, so it’s a lot calmer than you’d think.”

Albrecht, a volunteer with Cat’s Cradle Animal Rescue in Sidney, helps co-ordinate the trip, as well as the fostering and adoption of the cats. They figured they’d get about 40, but ended up with 51.

“We managed to foster out about 15 cats, and I have 20 of the cats right now,” said Albrecht. “There are about nine ferals that went to a barn.”

The rest are seeking adoption, including about six older cats, and two or three pregnant cats, as Cat’s Cradle does not have a specific facility for the cats.

“Everyone wants kittens but we have all kinds of cats that need a loving home,” Albrecht said.

Visit catscradleanimalrescue.com for more information.

This story was updated on May 24 to correct an error that Jacqueline Albrecht is a board of director with the Cat’s Cradle.

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