Mysterious lumps on two rescued feral cats from Brookswood turned out to be pellet ammunition when the animals were taken to the vet.
Shelley Roche, founder of the TinyKittens rescue group, said two cats dubbed Angela and Shirley were trapped late last summer on a property that has a sizable cat colony.
TinyKittens does trap-neuter-release, adopting out kittens and trying to slowly reduce the population of feral cats in Langley.
Angela, already pregnant, was trapped first on Aug. 23, followed by her tabby sister Shirley, who already had three kittens by the time the team managed to catch her on Sept. 23, said Roche.
“On intake, I noticed peculiar lumps under the skin on both Shirley and Angela,” said Roche. “Our vet came out to do exams and wasn’t sure what they were, so we decided to have them removed and biopsied during their spay surgeries.”
The lumps turned out to be .177 calibre lead pellets, used in pellet guns.
“We are very concerned for any other outdoor cats that might still be in the area, and have filed a report with the SPCA animal cruelty team,” said Roche.
This also means they now consider the area too dangerous to re-release Angela and Shirley back in their former home.
Instead, TinyKittens is looking for a new home for both cats together.
“We would love to find them an indoor-only home with people who will appreciate them for who they are and what they’ve survived, and will love them on their terms,” Roche said.
As former feral cats, they may take quite a while to learn to trust humans, but both cats have been living quite happily indoors in recent weeks.
A home, or possibly a barn, where they will be fed and cared for and receive vet care would be ideal, said Roche. Both Angela and Shirley will need to stay in a confined area for at least four weeks to ensure they can acclimate.
Both cats survived being shot, their health is good, and they are playful and loving with each other, said Roche.
“They are understandably still fearful of humans, but do not express their fear with aggression or physical defensiveness,” she said.
Angela found herself at the center of another drama even before she had come to Tiny Kittens.
She is named after a viewer of the TinyKittens YouTube channel, a 46-year-old woman with MS who had been transferred to hospice in August.
Her caregiver contacted Roche and asked if it was possible to name a kitten after Angela, who said watching “took her mind off the constant pain and loss of independence.”
The pregnant cat Angela was given the name so the human Angela could watch for the kittens to be born.
The human Angela watched for four days until she became unresponsive, passing away shortly after.
The cat colony where Angela and Shirley came from has numerous cats, with 74 from that one site trapped, spayed and neutered, and for the most part adopted into new homes.