This is amazing! Rodger Degagne, a former employee with AECL in Chalk River, may be embarking on a new career as Feline Breeder. Relaxing in his spacious home on the shores of the Ottawa River, Mr. Degagne recalls how 15 years ago he befriended two stray young cats on the old AECL research facility at Chalk River. The kittens had appeared in late summer and apparently had gotten under a security fence around the old labs abandoned since the late 50's. With the help of his tuna sandwich, Mr. Degagne was able to coax the kitties close enough so that he could pick them up. A self described animal lover, he did not want to place the kittens in the local Human Society. In this largely rural area, cats of all stripes and ages largely go unwanted and are humanely disposed of after a few days. Later that evening his wife Louise and their two children, Nicole and Kelly came to a family decision to keep the kittens which they named Lost and Found. Lost turned out to be female and Found a male. When nature finally took its course, a litter of kittens was born 6 years later. One of the litter was a big white female with a unique black markings on her side and tail. Something about the kitten captured the hearts of the family and while her siblings eventually found homes elsewhere, Snowball stayed with the Degagne's.
While Lost and Found are no longer with us, their progeny live on. In her 9 years Snowball's size has seemed to snowball. Put simply, Snowball is no ordinary cat, she measures 69 inches from nose to tail and weighs in at 87 lbs. She started out a big kitty and she just seemed to keep growing. She always meowed for more food and would climb up on the food which I forgot to cover. Chicken is her favorite. "Once I left a cooked chicken on the table that I was going to use for a boat picnic, an hour later the chicken was gone", Louise said. We knew that snowball wasn't your average cat when the neighbor's German Shepherd ran yelping away from his first encounter with her. She just isn't afraid of any animals. After we found a half eaten raccoon out by the garage, we decided that maybe Snowball should be kept fenced in. We soon discovered that while we can keep Snowball in the yard, we couldn't keep raccoons from Snowball. At least it kept the food bills down, Rodger laughed. "Like all female cats she is very territorial, but with us she is just a big ole kitten" he said.
So what does a 87 pound cat eat? Snowball goes through about 3lbs of
cat food a day, supplemented with deer and moose that Rodger hunts in the
fall. She likes Pike a lot, so I don't throw them back any more. Snowball
often accompanies Rodger fishing on the Ottawa, eagerly peering over the
side of the boat as soon as his line goes tight. So what do the Degagne's
attribute Snowball's size to? Rodger says "Well, the vet thinks it could
be her thyroid, but she isn't fat, she's just a real big cat. I think maybe
her parents got into something at Chalk River that they shouldn't have".