Who we are

Cherry Street Cats is me (Robin), my husband Steve, Sandi, Michelle, Verena, Vinyse, Derek, Kent, and Connie, a group of dedicated cat lovers who care for a colony of feral cats in the east end of Toronto. I also have a great rescue team of Lesley, Joanne, and Susan. Together we do our best to make the lives better for feral and homeless cats and kittens. 900+ cats helped in nine years!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shelter for the winter

Our biggest preoccupation right now is sorting out a plan for the winter for our feral friends. Shelter is a priority for those cold winter days and a way to keep food and water from freezing. This weekend we bought a little insulated trailer to put feeding stations and shelters in. We found it on kijiji and Sandi and Tory drove off on Sunday morning to see it. It fit all our needs and a lovely gentleman in his 80's sold it to us for $200. Now we just have to get it to the boatyard and get it set up.

Meanwhile, we continue to feed our charges. On the weekend I saw my usuals. I got close enough to MC to just barely touch her. I feel convinced she was somebody's cat at one point. I fed about 10 cats in total each day, 6 big cans each day + hard food. I figured it out recently that I spend about 6% of my take home pay each week on cat food! I have 5 at home as well. I'm quickly becoming that crazy cat lady. Well, there could be much worse things to be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Feeding the ferals

Every Saturday and Sunday my husband and I load up the car with cat food, clean bowls and fresh water and head off to feed our little group of feral cats. First we feed the boat cats (the tamer bunch). Sometimes a few of the cats will rush out to greet the car. We put out canned food, refill the hard food and make sure they have fresh water. There's always some jostling amongst the cats for food, even feral colonies have a hierarchy.

This is Teddy, the dominant one of the bunch.

Then we head over to a solitary tree in the midst of dumpster and garbage trucks to feed the tree cats. Some days we don't see anyone here, sometimes three or four, sometimes the same ones, sometimes different. This group is much more skittish, hungrier and dirtier.

This is Jackson, the friendliest of the boat cats. You can actually pat him.

Here are most of the boat cats, from left, Teddy, Biff, Tina, Lily and Callie.

I saw this gray cat at the tree last week for the first time.

This cat showed up a couple of weeks ago at the tree and has been there most days. We think it was somebody's cat. It almost looks like a Maine Coon so we've called it MC. The poor thing is dirty with huge mats. Hopefully we can win its trust.

Here are the feeding stations that we have set up.

With winter approaching we have lots to sort out in regards to feeding and shelters. We have found out recently that there may be other cats in another section of the boatyard - just trying to sort out if we can help them too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Update on Tibbs' kittens

Sad news. One of Tibbs' kittens didn't make it and two aren't doing so well. Kittens that age often seem to go downhill in a shelter environment. We struggle with not knowing if we did the right thing in taking the kittens in at that point but if they are left too long they can become difficult to capture or hard to socialize. At least Tibbs will be spayed and won't have any more kittens. Trap, neuter, release remains the best option for ferals. We're not working off a handbook, just struggling to take the best care we can of these cats. I try to set emotional boundaries but it's hard, I find myself thinking about the cats more than I should. Tonight I will make sure I kiss all my lucky furbabies at home, snug, safe and well fed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching Tibbs' kittens

My family duties fulfilled on Sunday, I spent part of Thanksgiving Day Monday on an old boat grabbing reluctant four week old kittens and trapping the mother cat, whose name originally was Mr. Tibbs, changed to just Tibbs, when it was discovered that Mr. was Mrs.

Many years ago I fed a few feral cats at a building I was working at. One of the kittens, Pebbles, came home with us, and I trapped her mother, had her spayed and returned to where she was living. Eventually those cats disappeared and my husband and I went back to our rescued bunch at home.

Earlier this year I read an article about a colony of feral cats in a boatyard near to us and I contacted one of the caretakers, Aaffien, to see if we could help. More than a dozen feral cats were being cared for by three wonderful women, Aaffien, Sandi and Tory. We started feeding the cats on Sundays and soon I got involved in helping trap. Many of the cats had already been neutered or spayed but there were still more to go. We have two groups, the boat cats, who have permanent feeding stations, and who will come close to you and the tree cats, a much more skittish bunch who live amongt dumpsters and who are fed under a lone tree in the midst of all this. Every day one of us goes down, puts out canned and hard food and fresh water.

Back to Tibbs and her kittens. Yesterday Sandi, Tory and I arranged to meet at the boatyard to try to get Tibbs and her kittens and to sort out a winter plan. I got there a bit early so decided to just put out a trap to see what happened. We've been trying for a while to catch Lily and Tibbs, the two unspayed females of the boat cats, to no avail. Within five minutes Tibbs went into the trap to get the sardines and boom, we got her. I covered the trap and when Sandi and Tory arrived we set about catching the kittens. We knew there were five as we had seen them out on the boat in the last week. I climbed aboard and started grabbing. Luckily at four weeks old they were easy to get although they certainly put up a fuss. One, two, three, four, I handed them to Sandi and into a carrier they went.

Number five was elusive, however, and was hiding at the back of the boat behind some mechanicals. Try as I might, I just couldn't reach the kitten and he or she was not coming out. Sadly, after feeding the other cats, and trying again unsuccessfully, we had to leave the lone kitten behind. Tibbs and her kittens went off to live at the Humane Society until the kittens are old enough to be adopted out. They are young enough that they can be socialized and will make great pets. Tibbs will be spayed and either returned to the colony or will go to live in a barn.

This morning thankfully Aaffien and Sandi managed to captured the lone kitten and he has been reunited with his siblings. Those kittens won't have to live the hard scrap life that the other cats there do and by trapping an unneutered female we prevent possible generations from living on the street.

A very gratifying Thanksgiving.