Cats TNR unveils festive new fundraiser


Miranda Leybourne
The Neepawa Banner

Cats TNR Rescue is looking for donations of wine and craft beers as part of their brand new fundraiser, called “That’s the Spirit Wine & Beer Raffle”.
The organization, aimed at helping stray cats in the local area, was founded in 2012 after homeless cats were found living in a landfill near Neepawa. One year later, the group was recognized as a registered charity that has been growing quickly.

Brandi Falk, volunteer foster coordinator with the group, says they have two main goals: to advocate for stray and feral cats and to deal with the overpopulation of these cats.
“Animals don’t ask to be dropped off or left behind, nor do they ask to have litter after litter of kittens,” she explains. “The overpopulation we see today was originally created by people.”

Several approaches
Falk says that the group uses several approaches to helping the cats, including trapping, neutering and spaying, and returning the cat to the area it was originally trapped or relocating it.

“TNR is a new approach that is catching on to replace the old method of catch and kill, which as we see has not been effective in reducing the number of cats...and not financially [viable] for taxpayers, either,” she says. “Some of our rescued feline friends are placed into foster homes, some need to be rehabilitated and some need socialization. Then, they can enter our adoption program.” The group also has a “Barn Buddy Program” that is helpful in relocating those cats who prefer living out of doors but can’t stay where they were initially found.

Since its inception, Cats TNR Rescue has helped around 400 cats and kittens either find new homes or be part of a managed cat colony and live better, healthier lives, while not contributing any more to the overpopulation problem. This past year alone, the group has helped 146 cats and kittens be adopted into loving homes. And in 2016, the group won a Rescue of Choice award for its work in animal welfare.

This past summer has been a busy one for the organization, which hosted its Spring into Summer craft sale in Neepawa back in May. Falk says volunteers have been kept very busy dealing with feral and homeless cats in their two regular locations and have also opened up two more locations this past year. In July, the group hosted a pancake breakfast and regular bingo lunches for the Arden Ladies Auxiliary group. They will continue to hold the lunches in September. Falk says it’s been an honour for the group’s volunteers to be involved in preparing and serving several Rotary Club lunches, too.

Fundraising underway
“Spring and summer are typically geared towards TNR efforts, but its coming that time again to kick fundraising into gear as fall and winter is a whole new busy season,” she notes. “With new TNR colonies to maintain, we will need more shelters and more food. Typically in the colder months we see cats and kittens hitching rides in warm vehicles and often sustaining injuries. We also see more sick cats due to cooler weather, poor nutrition and shelter. And we definitely see more calls of people finding cold and starving cats and  kittens because they are making themselves seen as their way of asking for help.”

Cats TNR Rescue will be hosting its fourth annual “Mall in the Hall” craft sale in Kelwood on Sat., Oct. 21 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A fall perogy fundraiser is also in the works, along with a perogy luncheon that will coincide with “Mall in the Hall”.

“During the past few weeks we’ve also been planning a ‘That’s the Spirit’ wine and beer raffle,” Falk says. “We’ve gotten many donations from community members from Neepawa, McCreary, Laurier, Riding Mountain, Kellwood and even Winnipeg! If anyone would like to donate a bottle of wine or some craft beer, or liquor mart gift cards, there is still time. Everyone who donates will automatically have their names on raffle tickets.”

Falk says she hopes to have all donations gathered by the end of September so the group can begin selling tickets, which will be sold from early October to early December. The draw will be made just in time for Christmas.

“This is our first time doing the wine and beer raffle as well as the perogy fundraiser, but we hope that by combining them with our craft sale, the funds we raise will be able to build and purchase housing for our feral colonies, sustain vetting costs, and buy food,” Falk says. “We try very hard to keep fundraising costs low so the majority of money raised goes directly to the cats and kittens.”

Community support
According to Falk, more and more people in the local area are showing their support for Cats TNR Rescue.
“Co-op Grocery Store and Giant Tiger [in Neepawa] have been great sponsors for many of our fundraisers,” she attests. “Farmery has been a major sponsor for the Canada Day pancake breakfast and last year, many of the local businesses donated prizes to our first online auction. The support we have received from local businesses is very much appreciated and we are very lucky to be part of a community that supports us.”

One resource of utmost importance that the group needs more of, however, is foster homes.
“If we don’t have a foster home, unfortunately that cat or kitten has to wait to come in, and sometimes, the animal in need is pressed for time,” Falk explains. “We don’t ask much of our fosters -- you can try it once, you can take breaks between fosters, or foster on a seasonal basis. Or, you can be a die hard like a few of us. All expenses are covered by Cats TNR Rescue.”

Falk says anyone looking for barn cats for the fall should contact the organization as soon as possible. “A warm barn can make a world of difference to a cat this winter, and in return they will keep your property rodent free. Also, because our barn buddies are spayed or neutered, new unaltered cats will have a hard time taking up residence and overpopulating your barn.”

Falk says Cats TNR Rescue is always looking for new people and new ideas to join their team. For more information, visit