story by Patricia Merrick | photography by Britton Ledingham
A love for cats is what keeps the Tails to Tell Animal Rescue Shelter running in Crossfield. It all started nearly 10 years ago when owner Edna Jackson found a kitten clinging to life that had been intentionally left outside the pet store where she was working one winter morning.
“I used to have a pet store and I went in one morning at six-o-clock and someone was kind enough to put a little wee calico kitten in a plastic bag and tie it to the door of the store,” she said. “I said to my husband, ‘something’s got to be done.’”
Eight months later, she opened Tails to Tell and three weeks after opening the doors, she had taken in 146 cats. The kitten that had been left hanging at the pet store survived and found a forever home, thanks to Jackson.
Now, after nine years in operation, the shelter continues to take in hundreds of cats each year, whether they’re stray cats or have been abandoned or surrendered by their owners. The cats are taken to a nearby veterinary clinic for a checkup and later adopted out. But according to Jackson, the take-in to adopt-out ratio doesn’t always match up.
In 2018, the shelter took in 232 cats and only a quarter of them were adopted out. There are currently 82 cats living at the shelter and 20 are living in foster homes.
With low adoption fees and not a lot of money coming in, the shelter doesn’t always make enough to stay afloat, but Jackson takes from her own pocket when the rent needs to be paid.
“I hear so much from people, ‘they’re just cats.’ It’s so different for dogs than it is for cats. Everybody wants to save a dog,” she said. “It’s not just a cat – it’s a living, breathing being. They still have a right to everything that we can possibly do for them.”
Adoption fees for cats aged six and older are only $25 while cats aged four to six are $75, two to four are $100 and six weeks to two years is $225. Kittens eight weeks to six months are $275. The fees include spay or neuter, three sets of shots, deworming, microchip, tattoo and one month of pet insurance.
Jackson noted if a kitten is adopted that hasn’t already been spayed or neutered, the owner is required to sign a form agreeing to do so once the kitten is old enough, and they will receive a $50 refund from the shelter.
All employees at the shelter are volunteers and Jackson said donations of any sort, including bottles, are always welcome. For those who would like to donate their time, she said there’s always work to do at the shelter, whether it’s cleaning, petting the cats, brushing them or feeding them. She encourages seniors, as well as parents with young children, to go to the shelter and spend some time cuddling the cats.
Jackson spends most of her time at the shelter and has cared for cats with diabetes and epilepsy, as well as blind cats and three-legged cats. But caring for these cats is her passion.
“I adopted two out this morning – they are nine years old, they have been here since 2010 – you want to see us do a happy dance?” she said. “There were tears running down everybody’s faces.”