dockyard cats have shelter
Trident, The Newspaper of Maritime Forces Atlantic
Volume 40, Issue 12 * June 12, 2006
a downloadable pdf file: http://www.tridentnews.ca/PDFArchives/Jun12_2006.pdf
New structure to shelter dockyard cats
By Virginia Beaton, Trident staff
[Photo: PO1 Pierre Filatreault was instrumental in the creation of the shelter.]
The stray cats in the dockyard now have a shelter to guard them against the elements. Personnel from Formation Construction Engineering (FCE) built the structure, but the person who had the idea and launched the project was Petty Officer First Class (PO1) Pierre Filiatreault, Engineering Division PO for the Fleet Personnel Centre. Previously, PO1 Filiatreault had built an improvised cat shelter from scrap materials. “But it was very small,” he noted. “The cats needed something bigger.”
PO1 Filiatreault approached Captain (N) Rick Payne with his idea. “He did the approval and referred me to different people and agencies throughout the dockyard and I got the funding the next day.” The new structure, located next to D20, was built from a kit that PO1 Filiatreault bought. “It’s an eight by eight barnyard shed and CE volunteered to build it for me. They put a lot of special touches on it.” The structure is insulated so that cats will be warm during the winter and according to PO1 Filiatreault, the workers at FCE were enthusiastic about the project, with some claiming it is better than their sheds at home.
With the establishment of the new cat shelter, PO1 Filiatreault has started a contest so that DND and CF employees may suggest a name for the structure. Several judges will choose the best name, and the winner gets a prize: dinner for two at Milamodo, a local restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine.
Anyone wishing to enter a name for the dockyard cat shelter may submit suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The shelter has two flaps so the cats may go in and out even if the main door is closed, stated PO1 iliatreault, adding that though they are undomesticated, the cats’ natural curiosity gets them into the shed to investigate it.
“I leave the door open and put some food and water there. Cats are very nosy and they go in to see what is happening.” Once they find the steady supply of food and water, they usually keep returning, he commented.
Several dozen cats live in the dockyard, and PO1 Filiatreault has long taken an interest in their welfare. He feeds them, using cat food that he and other people donate, and emphasized that the regular meals do not stop the cats from following their instinct to hunt rats and mice. “They bring me gifts. Often I go in the morning to feed them and there is a dead rat, right there in the place where I feed them. A lot of people have the misconception that if I do feed the cats, they won’t hunt. That’s totally wrong, and the cats have proved it so many times. They still bring me the rats.”
According to Capt(N) Payne, “our cats serve a very useful purpose. The cats are needed to maintain control of vermin in the dockyard. It is our responsibility, then, to ensure they are controlled, spayed, neutered and are treated humanely.”
In the interests of keeping the dockyard cat population healthy, PO1 Filiatreault has also caught some of the cats in live traps and taken them to Dr. Eric Carnegy, a local veterinarian. “They are checked for feline leukemia first and if everything is all right, they are spayed or neutered. Then I return them to work here at the dockyard.”
Since feral cats will always be found in the dockyard because of the rats near the waterfront, PO1 Filiatreault is convinced it is necessary to manage the cat population, and providing food and shelter is part of that plan.
The old shelter, built by PO1 Filiatreault, will probably be relocated to the Naval Annex Dockyard. “There are a lot of cats there too,” he noted.
PO1 Filiatreault gave credit to all those who have helped him take care of the dockyard cats. They include Terry Bent, Infrastructure Manitenance Manager Dockyard for FCE and the FCE personnel who constructed the shelter; Dr. Eric Carnegy, the veterinarian who provides neutering and other medical services at a reduced rate; Tara Bayne, information and referral coordinator at Halifax Military Family Resource Centre; Inge Sadler, who rescues the abandoned kittens; Milamodo, a Japanese restaurant that donates leftover fish for the cats, and all who have donated food for the cats.