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Students helping stray cats stay warm this winter

Jack Poirier Special to The Journal Joe the Cat continues to create a furry of support for local cats.
Teacher Sheldon Siebert discusses the dimensions of an unfinished winter cat shelter with Grade 9 student Alexis Erickson at Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School. The shop class is making 50 of the enclosed and insulated shelters for the group Cat Chance. Glenn Ogilvie

Jack Poirier

Special to The Journal

Joe the Cat continues to create a furry of support for local cats.

Shop students at Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School are busy building a supply of cat shelters for use by two groups that formed in the aftermath of Joe the Cat’s shooting.

The shelters are made from plastic totes lined with foam insulation and straw and are being delivered to places with stray and outdoor cats this winter.

“This is such a great help for us,” said Michelle Nicholson, a volunteer with Cat Chance, a group focused on cat rescue, fostering and adoptions.

Nicholson, who also manages the Joe the Cat website and Facebook group, approached the Michigan Road school because of the shop class’s history of community support.

“We figured if any school could get it done it was Alexander Mackenzie,” she said.

About 10 students in Grade 9 shop are working on the project, with the class committed to making 50 totes annually, said teacher Sheldon Siebert.

A production line cuts out the doors, fits foam insulation to line the sides and fills the totes with straw to help keep feral and abandoned cats warm and dry. The first 25 were completed in two days and delivered across the community.

“We do a lot of community projects so this just fit,” said Siebert.

Grade 9 student Alexis Erickson said she’s proud to be working on a good cause.

“I like that we’re helping cats,” said Erickson, who owns one of her own named Ella.

The cat shelters are delivered at no cost but donations of materials and money are welcome.

Meanwhile, the proceeds from January and February sales of a new children’s book on real-life rescue cats will be helping Cat Chance. Joe the Cat is the second of 12 felines featured in "Miss Dixie and Friends, Tails of Survival," which will be available for sale locally and on Amazon.

Joe the Cat gained national media attention in February of 2014 after being discovered by a passerby in Bright’s Grove suffering from 17 pellet wounds to his head. The incident prompted numerous animal rights protests and thousands of dollars in fundraising for his care.

For more on Cat Chance, the book, or to help out, visit the Cat Chance or Joe the Cat Facebook pages.

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