CORNER BROOK — For just over two months the Power family of Mount Moriah has been giving up their days and nights to care for and love the "eastside cats."
Gord Power and his wife Diane, volunteers with Scaredy Cat Rescue, were at McWhirter's Lane on May 24 when nearly 200 cats were removed from a house there.
Now the couple and their children — Olivia, 18, Gordon, 16, and Joelene, 15 — are playing a big role in the care of those cats.
The effort is being co-ordinated by the Newfoundland West SPCA with the help of Scaredy Cat Rescue. It has also been supported by the City of Corner Brook, which aided in the removal of the cats from the home and in providing a shelter space for them.
The cats were initially sheltered at a local warehouse, but are now housed at the old fire station in Curling. There are just over 80 still there, waiting to find new homes.
Diane considers herself just a volunteer, who "cleans cages, cuddles and does adoptions." She said she helps out because she loves animals.
The family got involved with Scaredy Cat Rescue about two years ago when they contacted the group about adopting a cat. They ended up trapping a feral cat and adopting him. Garfield is not the only animal to find a loving home with the Powers.
Diane's answer of "a couple" when asked how many cats the family has is met with some looks and grins from her children.
Gord offers up the real number — six. They also have two dogs and are currently fostering three cats for Scaredy Cat, none of which are "eastside cats."
Gord said after adopting Garfield they were asked by Scaredy Cat to join the group and did so without any hesitation.
Gord is the site manager at the fire station shelter and around Scaredy Cat circles has become known as the "cat whisperer."
Diane said that's because he has a special way with cats that are expressing signs of aggression.
"He's kind of got the touch to tame them," she said.
"I just give them time and let them come to me," said Gord of his approach. It's an approach that has been passed on to his kids, especially the youngest, Joelene.
When Joelene was only two she could be seen pushing a broom around when her parents would volunteer at the SPCA.
The fact her children are as interested in helping animals as their parents is something Diane said she loves.
At the end of the day the children all say they get a good feeling knowing they are helping.
When asked about that night on McWhirter's Lane when cat after cat after cat was removed from the home, Diane said she was surprised at the number.
"I didn't think so many cats could be in one house," she said adding it was very overwhelming to watch the situation unfold.
"It was hard mentally."
Gord agrees and said his first reaction was one of shock.
"When I seen them coming out of the house it was very emotional."
But once they were out is was down to the business of taking care of them. Gord is hopeful all the cats will find a home, although he admits it can be hard to see them go.
"You spend so much time with them, but you're happy to see that they've got a home," he said.
One thing for sure is that the family will be there until it's all over.
Last Friday they spent the morning at the shelter, but hadn't planned on going back that night.
It was their first full night off since the rescue and they had an anniversary party to attend. But Gord said he wouldn't be surprised if they dropped by the fire station on the way home to check on the cats.