I’ve been a supporter of SPCA Outaouais (located in “old” Gatineau) since they first began, as a tiny volunteer operation. That’s where I first saw Simon Teakettle the Younger as a tiny feral, so when he died last month, at the age of 19, that’s where I returned to look for a kitten.


The SPCA moved last summer into a spacious new building, where they can keep cats in several different rooms, have a large and attractive waiting room, bilingual and well-trained staff, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Their website and newsletter are now fully bilingual, and the animals appear to be well cared for.

I found a little black kitten, about five months old, who had been found as a stray in Masson and had been at the shelter less than a week. The papers I signed included a $20 voucher toward the first exam by a vet, which had to be performed within three days to fulfill the SPCA’s guarantee, along with a voucher for $40 towards neutering,

The cost was $90, which I realized was not as good a “buy” as the Ottawa Humane Society. The OHS charges $135 for cat adoption, but they have a resident vet and therefore offer an onsite health check, inspection and treatment for ear mites, flea treatment, micro-chipping, and a voucher for the full cost of neutering.

But I wanted to support my local SPCA.

The kitten was adorable, purred loudly, and received a clean bill of health from the vet on Tuesday. The SPCA  provides a list of 14 area vets, and mine was not only on their “approved” list, but was the vet I’d taken Simon the Younger to for all of his 19 years.

I returned the kitten to the SPCA on Friday morning. He had died, unexpectedly, Thursday night, after appearing fine on Wednesday and having only what appeared to be a minor tummy upset earlier Thursday.

To the SPCA’s credit, although their adoption certificate states clearly that they offer no cash refunds, they told me I would be receiving a cheque for the full $90 in a few days. But that doesn’t take away the pain of losing this kitten, nor does it cover my out-of-pocket costs (their $20 voucher only covered a portion of the vet’s fee).

But it’s not money that concerns me. Well, actually, it IS money, but not mine.

Why can’t SPCA Outaouais afford a resident vet? Why can’t the 14 vets whose services they recommend (and who will clearly obtain new clients as a result) volunteer their services to the SPCA on a rotating basis?

More importantly, why doesn’t some high-profile local millionaire come forward to fund this important public service? How about one of the large businesses in our area?  Bowater funds the main library and a concert series at Maison du Culture. Who will step up to the plate for the SPCA?

When this kitten first showed signs of distress, I contacted veterinarian friends via e-mail. They all told me he likely had one of the serious illnesses that can affect kittens, the ones breeders and most humane societies routinely test for. But the vet I took him to never explained the importance of testing to me. She just accepted my suggestion that maybe that wasn’t necessary because I had no other cats in the house.

She asked me if he had vomited, and when I told her he hadn’t, she didn’t explain why that might be significant, and if there were any other signs of trouble I should look for. And she didn’t give me any way to contact her (or an emergency vet) if something should go wrong beyond her office hours.

This little kitten couldn’t have been saved, and I’m glad I was the one to give him some love and attention his last few days, and that a family with young children didn’t have to go through the traumatic experience of waking up to find their kitten dead.

The SPCA performs a vital service. They rescue strays, respond to nuisance calls, place unwanted animals for adoption, and provide the public with an inexpensive option to purchasing a pet from a breeder.

They need our support. The Ottawa Humane Society has several high-rolling area personalities who host black-tie fund-raisers, make media appearances, and help pay advertising and promotion costs. They even have the Prime Minister and his wife on board, as the Harpers foster kittens from the OHS.

CJOH features a “pet of the week” on the News at Noon, and local TV covers the annual walkathon, raising public awareness as well as funds.

What about this side of the River? Don’t our pets deserve the same treatment?

Come on, Mayor Bureau and our Gatineau councillors. Come on, Big Business, housing developers, millionaires who have built expensive “summer” homes in our glorious countryside.

Do it in the name of a tiny black kitten who didn’t survive.

© Barbara Florio Graham, Canada 

Click here to read Barbara's  comprehensive guidelines on adopting  kittens or cats

Gatineau, Quebec, CANADA
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