To celebrate Christmas, everyday for 12 days the Advocate is sharing with readers a Northland charity or organisation that supports those within the community. In turn, you can learn how best to help them this festive season. Today we speak to Whangārei Cat Rescue.
When Samantha Emerson moved to Whangārei from Manurewa in 2017, she wanted to forge fresh friendships in her new hometown. However, she had no idea that her wish would lead to a booming cat rescue that improves both the lives of felines and locals in the district.
Emerson found making friends as an adult was tough in a new city. Having come from an animal rescue in Auckland, she put her skills to use volunteering at the SPCA in Whangārei a few times as a way to try and meet more people.
Her time there opened her eyes as to how great the problem of unwanted cats is in Northland. Six months after moving, she had started Whangārei Cat Rescue.
“It usually takes an animal rescue years to gain momentum but we took off really fast,” Emerson said.
The rescue has spent the past five years taking in cats and kittens that are unwanted, abandoned or homeless in Whangārei and further afield. The felines are then rehabilitated and rehomed.
Emerson said they target the cats that fall outside of what the SPCA is able to take and what is euthanised by Northland Regional Council.
“We take in newborn kittens with umbilical cords, kittens that are sick or injured or kittens that are found at night-time or found under cars or in bushes.”
Realising the problem cannot be fixed by just taking in strays or unwanted felines, Whangārei Cat Rescue partnered with a vet to open a desexing clinic on Kiorerora Rd.
The opening marked a major change as in the rescue’s early days they were having to transport cats to Auckland for the procedure.
“Now everybody has access to affordable desexing,” Emerson said.
And attitudes toward controlling the burgeoning feline population were changing.
“When we first started it seemed like a lot of unhappy people just giving away kittens, like a ‘take my problem’,” Emerson said.
“There was a large need for that at the time but it feels four or five years later that it’s a vastly different community from then and a different approach.”
Although the demand the rescue faces has not changed. Emerson said they currently had around 60 kittens in their care but can take a maximum of 90.
In the process of establishing Whangārei Cat Rescue, Emerson found many new friendships as people volunteer in certain roles to help the rescue or foster the cats and kittens. She currently has a team of 25 helping out.
“It’s really important to have a team of people who don’t judge and are very welcoming, and are from all walks of life when you’re picking up the pieces of years of unwanted cat breeding,” she said.
To help Whangārei Cat Rescue this Christmas, people can sign up to volunteer at its fundraising events or as a foster via the Volunteering Northland website or by emailing email@example.com.
Alternatively, donations of cat food, cat cages, and toys can be dropped off at The Piggery Bookshop on Walton St, Kamo Pet & Aquatic Centre, Pet Essentials on Commerce St, or at Best Pets Kaiwaka.