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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

My kind of holidays

It seems hard to believe that it is already New Year's Eve. My Christmas holidays have been quiet but furry, just the way I like it. I've been feeding the ferals, yes of course on Christmas Day too, taking care of my six at home and looking in on my neighbour's two.

I'm sure there's some turkey in their canned food and on Boxing Day I found a turkey carcass that someone had left for the cats.

On Christmas Day we also fed Connie's cats. She has a colony of nine near us. They are obviously well cared for - look how nice and fat this one is.

And where was I on Boxing Day, well Canadian Tire of course. Friskies was on sale for 69 cents for a big tin and since I go through five a feed I stocked up.

Happy New Year to all cat lovers out there, let's hope 2011 brings more spaying and neutering and less homeless cats.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A 24 cat day!

Sunday was crazy down at the yard. I thought with the light snowfall we wouldn't see many cats but in fact we saw 24, all hungry. I kept opening can after can.

The most popular thing of all, though, was the fresh water. There were cats lined up at every bowl.
This is a very skittish new orange cat. It still amazes me that after all this time we would see new cats.

And here is the aftermath, a huge mound of dishes, all washed and ready for the next feed.

The holidays are almost upon us. I like feeding then, it's quiet and it feels Christmasy to be feeding the hungry. There will be things for Harry too. My only Christmas wishes are cat food and for all cats to be warm, safe, loved and well fed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I hate winter!

I've never been a big fan of winter, but now that I have the ferals to care for, I truly hate it. I hate it not just because it's not nearly as much fun feeding, but mainly because I feel so bad all the poor feral cats that have to live in the cold and snowy conditions. I worry about them all the whole winter. This winter seems to already be nasty, this last week has had snow and bitter cold. The canned food freezes in minutes so if they don't get there right away it's dry food only.

We've set up shelters for them and there are lots of spots to get out of the cold and wind but still...
Our new feeding station has been getting some action.

This is Clyde, one of Clayton's two cats that we are feeding for the winter. Clayton works in the boatyard and smarter than the rest of us, has gone to Jamaica until March.

Here I am, a very unhandy person, building a shelter out of styrofoam sheets. Once the roof is glued on and it's filled with straw, it's a toasty spot for the cats to get out of the weather.

Can't wait until the winter is over (and it hasn't even started officially). Sigh.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Settling in

It seems the cats are adjusting to their new setup by the former pontoon.

I have one more thing to add, this lovely new feeding station, kindly constructed by Mark, who works with me. It is raised and will provide another dry spot for them to eat. It seems the more feeding stations the better, less competition, and all the cats get something.

Hank is making good use of this little feeding station made out of a plastic bin.

MC never eats much, she justs try a bit from each bowl. She still seems to be missing Queenie. They were always together.

This black cat is no dummy, he knows the food comes out of this car. Hurry up humans, you're taking too long, hungry.

Ah, a bit of sun to bask in on a chilly day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Good news and bad news

People always ask, which do you want first, the good news or the bad? I'll start with the good news. Sunny, the kitten who was rescued about a month ago, went to his new home today. Aaffien put in a lot of time loving and socializing him and he's going to make his new person very happy.
Now for the bad news. We found out today that Queenie, who has been missing, was hit by a truck about a month ago. Queenie was my favourite of all the cats down there. She was always filthy but was happy for attention. RIP sweet Queenie, we all miss you.

I'm so glad that we got out those three kittens this year, I'll try to focus on that.

A period of adjustment

It certainly seems much more desolate down at the yard without the pontoon boat but we are sorting things out, creating new spots for the cats to eat and sleep. I think the key is to have lots of spots for them to eat so that there aren't fights.

Here is a new little feeding station we made out of a plastic bin with a piece of wood on top to keep out the rain.

MC is missing Queenie and follows us around. Sadly, I have given up hope of seeing Queenie again. We put another feeding station under a nearby boat. The yard is jam packed with boats put away for the winter.
Hank and a black cat are sorting out territory.

We've nestled in shelters whereven we can find a spot in hopes that the cats will be able to stay warm and dry this winter.

The cats at Harry's are really living the life, they have a trailer to sleep in. This bunch gets along better, probably because there isn't as much need to be competitive about food. Teddy will even occasionally share his dish.

Little Jo has gotten big but still remains pretty shy.

Maggie is ensconsed in my basement. We're making progress, she will rub around me and seems happy to be patted. She still often seems scared but it will just take time. At least she is warm and dry and well fed. And it looks like Steve's wonderful niece will be giving her a home!

There has been lots of interest in Sunny, the orange kitten rescued from the colony, and I expect that he will have a home by the end of the week. Things are looking up. I'm off to Vegas for a little R & R, hoping to win big, spend it all on cat food. Don't worry, the cats will be fed every day. I'm lucky to be part of a great group who all love the cats.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If it's not one thing...

I'm trying not to be discouraged, but it feels like we're on a bit of a losing streak at the colony. After a good number of spay/neuters and two kittens adopted, our luck has gone cold.

We have been feeding one group of cats under this pontoon boat and also put shelters under there too. It was a great spot, protected, and lots of entrances and exits. Last week we found out it was sold and would be moved so we had to move all of our stuff from underneath and find a new spot.

We've set up in a corner nearby, it's not ideal but we don't have too many options. This is our makeshift feeding station. We're going to get something built but this will do in the meantime. We've moved all the shelters as well. The cats seemed kind of discombobulated on the weekend. Cats aren't really known for liking change but they will find the food and adjust.

MC certainly seems to have it figured out.

I took Maggie home, the friendliest cat at our colony, to see if she could be adopted out. I'm sure she had a home, she was already spayed when we trapped her and she would always rub around our legs when we came to feed. She's feeling scared right now, hard to know whether she will be able to adapt to an indoor situation. Sometimes when cats have been on their own too long they revert to a wild state. We'll see, fingers crossed.

Still looking for a home for Sunny, the cute orange kitten. And then of course Sophie's sad outcome. No wonder I'm feeling a bit down.
I guess the thing is that there is ultimately no good outcome for a feral cat. We can make their lives better but it's a hard life, no way around that. That's why caretakers of feral colonies, myself included, try so hard to prevent more cats from being born into that life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sophie has crossed the Rainbow Bridge

No pictures tonight. Sadly we had to euthanize Sophie, the tiny tortieshell, that we discovered injured last week.

She was not able to fight off the infection from her wounds. She had stopped eating, had an abcess from her wounds, and a URI. After speaking with the vet, who felt she would not improve and probably had an underlying immune problem, Connie and I took her in and patted her, probably for the first time in her life, as she crossed over.

At least she won't be hungry or cold again, at least she didn't die a horrible death.

Connie and I both cried tonight at the vet's. Connie had nursed her for a week, doing everything she could.

It's been a tough week for the colony. There's a lot more heartbreak than I anticipated. I can only console myself knowing that we have made these poor cats lives better and have prevented more from being born to that life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sophie is injured

I inhabit a strange and wonderful world now, where I have people I can call for help on a Saturday night while standing in a vet's office waiting for one of our ferals to get fixed up.
When I went to feed on Friday I noticed that Sophie, a tiny tortie, was injured, dried blood all over her throat and chest. Thankfully she was eating but was skin and bones and didn't look in good shape at all. Saturday Aaffien and I went back with a trap and of course KFC. Sophie emerged from a shelter once we started to feed so we put out the trap and she just walked right in as if she was waiting for us to come and help. Thankfully the Beaches Animal Hospital was still open and agreed to see us.
Sophie was sedated and examined. Poor thing has 14 or 15 superficial wounds that were infected, probably attacked by some animal. I saw them and the sight of her was so upsetting. The vet cleaned her up and gave her an antibiotic shot. The challenge them became where to keep her for a week or two so she can recover.
After a few frantic calls, Connie came through and offered up her guest room. Sophie is resting there in a carrier in a large crate. There is nothing to do other than let her heal, she can't be handled. Sophie is eating well so that's a good sign. The ferals are survivors, they have to be.
What a graphic representation of the tough life ferals have. I'd like to show a picture of her with her wounds to people who don't believe in spay/neuter because this is one of the results. Sophie, and all the others like her, exist because of irresponsible pet owners.
OK, enough preaching, back to praying for Sophie's recovery, back to taking care of the others still there, back to preventing more from being born to that life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The show must go on

I've been feeling absolutely miserable this last week. Somehow I caught what feels like the worst cold I have ever had. I haven't wanted to get out of bed but the cats need to be fed so I do. Once you start feeding them it's not an option to stop, not for me. They rely on us.

This little guy, now named Sunny, is the other kitten that we caught two weeks ago. Aaffien has been fostering him and he is coming along well. Initially he was terrified of people but now he is much friendlier. It's harder to socialize feral kittens when they are the age we got him (probably about 10 weeks old) but still doable. Now we just need a home for him.

Here he is at the vet last week, getting his first set of shots.

I saw a new orange cat (the one on the far right) on the weekend. Not sure where he came from or if he'll come back.

Sally getting some sun.

Biff also enjoying the weather.

I did what was probably my last trapping before winter on Monday. No luck, well I did trap a black cat but thankfully he was ear-tipped so I knew he had already been done. Some people trap in the winter but it's harder on the cats to recover. Since I only have a few left, and I think, crossing my fingers, that they are all male, I'll take a break until March. We trapped and had 8 cats spayed/neutered this year so I feel good about that. Four males, four females, so that's a lot of potential kittens prevented.
I hope that once we find Sunny a home that will be the end of having to find homes for kittens. It's wonderful when you find them good homes but the process is very stressful.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ready for winter

It's that time again, the trees are almost stripped of their leaves, only a week until it's dark at 5. Time to get our colony ready for the winter.

Last weekend we all got together and did our winter cleanup. With this many hands and my husband, hidden behind the camera, we got a ton of work done in lickety-split time.

We replaced all the straw in the shelters, cleaned up the trailer, made sure there would be plenty of spots for the cats to get out of the inclement weather.

We made some very simple shelters out of heavy duty styrofoam coolers by cutting a hole for entry/exit and putting straw inside. We are fortunate that our location provides many sheltered areas already, containers, old boats even abandoned cars so I don't worry as much as I would if they were living in an open area.

The cats seemed quite disconcerted by all the industry and just wanted for us to feed them.

We also did a cleanup of our feeding spots.

Great news to report, Pumpkin has found a forever home. He'll be heading off on the weekend, I know Connie is happy but will still shed tears. What a long way he has come in just 10 days. He has transformed into a happy playful friendly kitten. He would have lived a rough short life in the cold and wet, often hungry but now he will get to be warm, fed and loved. What could be more satisfying than that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Population explosion

When I started this blog, I worried that it would become repititious, just feeding the cats. Well, it seems there is something new happening all the time. Last week a small orange kitten was spotted at the colony as well as a new fluffy black cat and a new orange cat. When we fed on Saturday two orange kittens appeared, playing together. I managed to trap one and Connie, my new cat hero, took in little Pumpkin to be socialized.

I went back the next two days to catch the other one but he was nowhere in sight. Tuesday evening Aaffien and I set out on one of our regular trappings and there the other orange kitten was. We set up two traps and within five minutes not only did we get the kitten but we also got a black adult who had not been fixed previously. High fives all around. Spice is now with Connie but seems to have a URI and is much wilder than Pumpkin. I know Connie will persevere though and with Aaffien's help, those two kittens will turn out great (I hope). Socializing feral kittens is not for the faint of heart. I got quite scratched up getting Spice out of the trap. The older they are, the harder it is. The window of socialization is quite small and these are probably ten weeks, still workable, but a few weeks earlier would have made all the difference.
Look how cute Pumpkin is. Scared (his first day in a house) but so adorable. How do you just walk away and let him live out a miserable life?

Here is Basil, the adult we trapped. He has been neutered and will go back to the colony tomorrow.
And this is Pumpkin and Spice. Littermates?

I can only hope that with all the trapping that this is the last of the kittens. We're not sure where the new cats are coming from, perhaps from the recycling plant, but they'll become part of the gang, and we'll care for them as best we can.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving

The cats will have a happy Thanksgiving with full bellies thanks to a donation from Global.

Jackson couldn't wait, and decided to go straight to the food source.

I realized that I started this blog a year ago, after I spent Thanksgiving 2009 rescuing a litter four week old kittens and their mother that were living on a boat. I had started feeding occasionally a few months prior but it was as I pulled those tiny kittens out from their hiding place, that I made a committment to care for this colony. There have been times that I have felt weary and burnt out, but we have accomplished a lot and the cats have a better life because of us. That's why I do this. I am thankful that I don't have to do this alone, that I have a wonderful group, that there is now a feral community, that there are caring cat people out there.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turtle and the elusive tortie

We're still trying to find a home for little Turtle, the kitten found under a pile of tires. Four weeks of fostering, and you would never know he was born feral. He's everything a kitten should be, playful, curious, cute and affectionate. First shots yesterday so he's ready to go. I guarantee you won't be sorry if you adopt him.

But there are already way too many kittens and cats looking for homes so we continue to trap. Finally after months of trying we caught the elusive tortie, the one who would sit by the trap or pull the food out. Apparently she's seven or eight, old for a feral, and was pregnant. We did a spay/abort and she'll be released. I know some people might find that decision controversial, but I believe for ferals it's the only call. It still doesn't feel great. Poor Sally also has bad teeth but it was going to cost too much money to fix them. We've raised a lot of money this year but I'll probably average out to spending about $200 a month on the ferals. Once the trapping is all done then it's just food. Our count for TNR this year is four females, three males TNRed. Huge progress.

Before I caught Sally the tortie, Hank and Sophie couldn't resist the KFC and got themselves trapped. Don't believe the people who say you'll never trap a cat twice, that was Sophie's third time.

I love the high spots cats find to perch on.