Helga Szekely retiring from
Cozy Cat rescue shelter

By Liz Dadson

The Pet Page

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Helga Szekely (L) of Cozy Cat Kennels in Kincardine holds "Pepper," while Brenda Major holds "Cinder" and Amber Lang holds "Maggie," three of the several kittens on display and available for adoption, during Cozy Cat Day at The Country Depot

Kara Gosleigh (L) of the Huron Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Goderich, and Helga Szekely of Cozy Cat Kennels in Kincardine, welcome a capacity crowd at the "Spay-ghetti" dinner held at the Kincardine Legion

After 26 years of rescuing cats and kittens, and the odd dog, housing, feeding, spaying/neutering and paying their veterinarian bills, Helga Szekely is retiring from the Cozy Cat rescue shelter.

Over the past few years, it has become much harder to find homes for the strays because like every other town, we are over-run,” she says. “Since opening Cozy Cat Kennels in 1988, I have found loving homes for more than 3,000 cats, and for the most part, I have loved every minute of it.”

She says there have been so many emotional rewards, including the joy of nursing a sick or injured cat or kitten back to health, and watching it “come alive” in front her.

"My first cat was 'Callie,' a calico that had seven kittens," recalls Helga. "I adopted her out March 20, 1989, to a woman in Armow and found homes for all the kittens. Two years ago (2007), I received a thank-you note from that woman's daughter saying the cat had passed away. She also sent a donation."

Despite the emotional rewards, the ups and downs have taken a toll on her emotional well-being, her health and her wallet, says Helga. “I will not be taking in any more cats, but I still have some nice cats and kittens here that need homes. Please call if you can offer a caring place.”

While she will continue to board cats for people at “Helga's,” she is done with the cat rescue. “My recent illnesses have shown me that I am not getting any younger and I need to take care of myself in order to enjoy my family, my friends, and of course, my own feline family,” she says.

Helga appreciates the wonderful people she has met over the years at the kennel, and thanks those who supported her with adoptions, donations, and advice.

My best connection ever was, and is, with Dr. Allison Hooper and other veterinarians and veterinary technicians at Kincardine Veterinary Services, under Dr. Roger Thomson and Dr. Heather Ribey,” says Szekely.

She also appreciates the local print media for announcing the cats available for adoption, including Liz Dadson at the Kincardine Times, as well as the Kincardine Independent and the Kincardine News.

"It's been an interesting 26 years," says Helga. Not only has she accepted stray cats, but also cats from homes where the people could no longer care for them. As for adopting them out, she has been mostly successful, with only two or three she could not find homes for.

One of her biggest challenges was capturing seven cats in a dumpster behind a local restaurant in January, 2008.

Helga Szekely holds "Smudge"


Helga Szekely cuddles with 'Kirby'

Helga with Maxine'

"I went there with a friend and we watched until 11 p.m." recalls Helga. "We saw the mother cat and five kittens, about four months old, and they were white as anything. There was also a black kitten. We caught it and a white kitten that first night, then went back night after night. It took 10 days to catch them all. Two of the white kittens had no tails but they had extra toes; and the black one had a shorter tail. I found homes for them all."

Ironically, until she came to Canada, Helga never owned a cat. "Everything I know about cats I have learned through experience," she says. She also did not suffer from 'empty-nest' syndrome when her children moved away from home because her cats are her family. "I have to get out of bed, whether I like it or not, to take care of them."

© Liz Dadson

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014