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Volunteers trying desperately to save Prince from life of paralysis

Finding homes for cats and kittens is a never-ending job, but at the moment volunteers are focused on raising money for surgery to save Prince
Prince, who turned a year old in April, desperately needs expensive surgery to save him from paralysis.

Tanya Rice is one of a group of local volunteers hoping to save the life of a sweet, beautiful year-old cat named Prince.

He has a benign tumour squeezing his spinal cord that is causing paralysis, she says, and recently had an MRI at a Guelph animal hospital. It confirmed he has vertebral body angiomatosis, and that the tumour can be removed. He will also be treated with radiation “so it will never come back,” says Rice.

Until they received the report, they weren’t sure why he was unable to use his back legs. They thought he might have had a stroke, and were already racking  up vet bills trying to determine if that was the cause.

The cost to have the surgery in Guelph, she says, will be around $20,000, about $5,000 of which has already been spent.

“He will probably have total movement after, but with no 100 per cent guarantee. If we do nothing, the tumour will grow and sever the spinal cord. Then he will have no movement in any limbs.”

Rice and her family fostered Prince until his adoption in early March. “Unfortunately,” she says, “his adoptive family cannot afford the medical treatment.”

He’s back to being fostered by the Rice family, which is best for him now, she says. “He knows us, he knows the environment, and he’s already bonded with the other cats, who have accepted him back into our home very graciously.”

Rice and other volunteers with Community Initiative for Animal Rescue & NOTL Cats are desperate to save Prince.

A portion of the money raised by them at the recent Reif Mother’s Day Market will go to help Prince. “It’s a privilege and pleasure to volunteer for NOTL Cats,” says Rice, about spending her Mother’s Day at the market, where her mother was also there to help.  ‘It’s my passion and my mission in life.”

Rice also used the opportunity at Reif to raise awareness about the coming weeks. It’s the time of year when people who rescue kittens locally — and they are often found in rural areas — typically think of the humane societies in Niagara as the go-to, Rice says, “because that’s all they know. But those places are overpopulated, because of all the animals surrendered, including kittens. Taking them there is like Russian roulette. You don’t know what’s going go happen to them.”

At one point last spring, NOTL Cats had 33 cats to be adopted, she says. At the moment, there are five cats being fostered, four adults and one male kitten. “But we’re expecting that to change. The kitten season will have started in the last two to three weeks, and right now mom has them in a very protected environment. More people will start to observe stray cats and kittens, and they have a small window, five to seven weeks, for the kittens to be socialized so they don’t turn out feral. That’s why every rescue group sounds like a broken record, to try to reduce the colonies. If you’re going to get a cat or kitten, get it spayed or neutered, or keep it indoors.”

But at the moment, Rice is focused on saving Prince, and she’s already looking forward to helping with the next fundraiser, this one entirely for his medical care. There will be all kinds of baked goods and treats for sale at the Husky Travel Centre, 615 York Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this Sunday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

She is also encouraging people to send donations to help him by e-transfer to [email protected].