Mr. Mittens moves into his fur


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Jan 27, 2024

Mr. Mittens moves into his fur

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After being found on the streets of Hamilton and moving from one foster family to another, Mr. Mittens has found his forever home.

Or fur-ever home.

Last week, Mr. Mittens moved in a home of his own, built by Holy Cross Secondary School students. The cat house is now set up in the backyard of the Pets Niagara sanctuary, a volunteer-run, non-profit organization educating, fostering, adopting and providing sanctuary for cats, dogs and small farm animals.

It's a 7.4-square-metre completely finished home, said Pets Niagara founder Susan Young. It has a vinyl floor, panelled walls and ceilings, a thermostat-controlled electric heating system which kicks in on colder days and nights, a cooling tower for hot days, a cat tree with five levels, a comfy plush bed, a cupboard of treats, a supersized litter box and a chair for his medical needs.

Building a "cat-io" is the final step, which will allow Mr. Mittens to exercise, keeping his immune system strong.

"They did a magnificent job. It really is a very first class little cat house," said Young.

Nine-year-old Mr. Mittens has feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which has no cure but attacks a cat through its immune system, leaving it vulnerable to other infections. It is transmitted to other cats through deep bite wounds.

On top of that, an unknown injury to Mr. Mittens caused neurological damage, leaving him chronically incontinent.

His rescuer, Catherine Milner said she wasn't comfortable letting him roam as a street cat, and it would be difficult to have him live as a house cat. Instead, Milner and Pets Niagara reached out to the community asking for help to either build or buy Mr. Mittens an outdoor home.

In October, Young received a call from Mike Sirotnik who offered to build a cat home with his construction class at Holy Cross.

Mr. Mittens moved in last week, and it was tough in the beginning for him, having to get used to another new home, "he's much better," said Young.

"He's very loving this little cat. The first couple of days were a little rough because, of course, he didn't know what to expect from being his new caretaker. He was in another strange place."

Young founded Pets Niagara in 2012, having been involved in animal rescue since 1970. Her goal was to take in animals that are generally overlooked when they go into a shelter, such as seniors, medical and behavioural problems.

Pets Niagara also takes a number of pets from people fleeing abusive situations, and when the person is back into a stable home environment and want their animal back, they can have them back.

"As soon as I opened the doors, I was flooded with phone calls and we got full very quickly. Because we’re in St. Catharines, I can keep up to eight animals with me on my property so I decided I would look after al the medical cases, that's my expertise area," she said. "For others that are long-term care, they go into foster homes."

Every year since, the number of animals needing assistance "just gets worse."

"It's a constant battle to keep up with fundraising for what we need and Mr. Mittens he has prescribed food and medication prescribed so he's going to be a bit more expensive than our other ones."

Due to his myriad problems, Mr. Mittens will spend his life at the sanctuary, but Young said being FIV+ is no longer a death sentence. Being a rescue, there is little information on his history, but Young will do exploratory testing to find out what exactly Mr. Mittens’ injuries are.

Mr. Mittens’ back end is very tender she said, with no movement in his tail. Young said that is evidence he has been through a "high impact trauma."

"Up 'til this point, the recommendation is to have the tail amputated but I won't go there until I get a full set of X-rays and find out exactly where the injury was and what kind of injury it was," she said.

"He's got at least another good five years if we can keep him happy and healthy."

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