MANITOWANING—Colleen Caselton started Fixing Our Felines in July of 2013 along with a core group of volunteers including Margaret Peltier and Joan Wood.
“There were eight of us in the original group,” said Ms. Caselton. “Joan and I would go walking in town and knew of a family whose cat was having kittens and they kept getting out. We would often see dead cats on the road, sometimes black cats. There was an apartment building too that had two mother cats that kept having kittens every couple months. Prior to starting the group, we would feed them, catch them and drop them off at the Society for Animals in Distress off-Island and we would have to pay a $50 surrendering fee.”
Seeing a need in their community, the group Fixing our Felines was started. They rounded up cats in the community and fundraised to have the cats spayed or neutered and find them foster homes and eventually forever homes.
“Rescuing cats is a passion for me,” said Ms. Caselton. “It’s never ending—we get calls from across Manitoulin.”
Ms. Caselton didn’t grow up with cats, but after getting her first one at 18 her love of cats blossomed.
“If it wasn’t for my husband I would have 1,000,” she joked.
Ms. Caselton and her husband John moved to Manitoulin in 1989 from Niagara Falls. “My sister married an Islander and moved here, so we followed,” said Ms. Caselton. “We have been here ever since—it’s great.”
Ms. Caselton said it takes a lot of work to keep the Fixing Our Felines in operation.
“The Island has a bad cat problem,” she said. “People see free kittens advertised and don’t realize how expensive it can be to care for them.”
The group is supported by monthly bake sales organized by Ms. Peltier at the Manitowaning BMO. The group is also thankful for the Island Animal Hospital that helps with the cats’ medical needs at a reduced rate.
When cats are adopted through the group, people pay a $225 fee which covers the cat’s vaccinations, deworming, defleaing and spay or neutering.
“Our biggest issue is finding foster homes,” said Ms. Caselton. “A lot of people find it hard to give the cats up, but we are in real need of foster volunteers.”
“Mallory is an amazing volunteer,” added Ms. Caselton. “She does all our tech support with Facebook. She also drives to Mindemoya daily for work and picks up medication or other things the group needs. We would be lost without her.”
Ms. Harasym started volunteering with Fixing Our Felines in 2014.
“I have always loved animals,” she said. “I wanted to help and started gathering donations for Pet Save Sudbury, but when the group started here I joined. I wanted to help out locally.”
Ms. Harasym has had a passion for helping animals from a young age growing up in Manitowaning. “It’s something I get from my mom,” she said.
In addition to her cats and dogs, which are all rescues, Ms. Harasym also fosters for the group, including a long time foster cat.
“I’ve had to live trap some cats like my foster,” said Ms. Harasym. “Sometimes the cats are feral and after getting them spayed or neutered we need to release them back.”
As for her many roles in the group, “I do intakes, set up veterinarian appointments and do a lot of transporting of cats to appointments or picking things up in Mindemoya,” said Ms. Harasym, who is a primary counsellor at Community Living Manitoulin. “I also try to find foster family for the cats and manage the social media, trying to get exposure for the cats in need of adoption.”
Ms. Harasym said she finds volunteering with the group rewarding, knowing that she is giving a voice to animals who are in need. “Manitowaning used to have a huge problem with stray cats and I’m glad that we could help make a difference. It feels good to know that you are helping.”
Fixing Our Felines has rescued and rehomed 140 cats since starting in 2013. This year the group has already rehomed eight cats and last year it rehomed 53 felines. “We could not have done this without our supporters and our mentor Deb Colville of Pet Save Manitoulin and of course Island Animal Hospital,” said Ms. Caselton.
To learn more about Fixing Our Felines or if you are interested in adopting or fostering, contact Ms. Caselton at 705-859-2172. You can also visit, the Fixing Our Felines Manitowaning Facebook page.