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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My real job...

The last few weeks it has felt like I have two jobs and when I added up the hours I have spent on cat rescue it equals the amount of time I spend at my office.  One pays me money but isn't particularly satisfying, the other is rewarding, but costs money and time, and can be emotionally draining.  A little overwhelmed, I've done some outsourcing.  I met a wonderful woman at the THS clinic who lives in the west end, and god bless her, she went right out there this week and set out kitten traps and she and Maria caught two more.  I am so thankful for her help.  The cat rescue community is so amazing.

In my hood, I took this neighbourhood stray in to the vet to get neutered.  He is tame and needs a home.   A few people are feeding him but nobody yet is willing to take him in.  We just have too many and Charlie, our indoor/outdoor cat, is not a fan.
I also took Connie's fosters in to the vet for a deworming.  Are they not the cutest things you have ever seen?
So far 11 kittens have been rescued from Maria's colony, and newborn kittens were discovered this week, it's not even close to over, still four females to trap.  We took two more males in this week, one with a tooth that had to be pulled, and the poor cat with the wire around him was finally released after way too much time at the vet.
I almost forgot, I took a female cat in to be spayed, that a marginal guy owns, and Caitlin has the kittens.  That's all since last weekend.  If you work in cat rescue, warm weather does not signal patios and vacations, it means kittens, too many.  At least the 11 will be spared a hard life.  We will get all the females, it's just persistence and perseverance.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My tribute to Tina

Thursday night I was tired beyond tired and collapsed on the sofa.  The last two weeks with Tina had been heart wrenching and I was drained.  Then Maria from the west end colony called to say she saw more kittens in the shed so Friday morning I got up and went off to check out the situation.

I walked in and there they were, three little ones playing.  They scattered but I put out food and stayed motionless and slowly they returned.  I caught the little grey one and a few minutes later the orange one (who bit me).  The last grey one was too elusive and I left with these guys.

They have gone off to a foster home, two more lives saved from a life on the streets.  I still have to find the remaining one, and Pixie and Bear's sibling too.  That is nine kittens now rescued from this colony this year, five females spayed, can you imagine how huge the population would be if nothing had been done.  Still more elusive females to trap but we will persevere.

I'm sure Tina would be happy that these two will have a loving home.  It was so strange feeding yesterday without her there.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The saddest post of all

This morning Sandi and I went to the vet to be with Tina while she was euthanized.  It was time to end her suffering.  She had compound medical issues and just wasn't recovering.  A bone infection, a URI, fluid in her lungs and abdomen, low temp, a weak heart, still not eating, there was no coming back for our beloved girl.
Tina in her glory days
It has been a gruelling two weeks, first trying to trap her and then trying to save her.  Jackson's loss was sudden and tragic, but Tina has been way harder, watching her just a shadow of her former self, hoping against hope she would rebound.  We love all the ferals but the ones we can pat, who meet you with recognition, are harder to lose.  Tina would come to greet us, always hungry, happy for a bit of attention.  She lived in the best part of the yard, with a trailer, lots of shelter and safety.  We saw her every day we fed.  Last year I remember how upsetting it was when she didn't show up for days.  We searched everywhere and finally found her trapped inside a boat, it was only because she was in a window meowing that we found her.

It is devastating to lose Tina and Jackson in a six month period.  That's the thing with feral colonies, the goal is to TNR them all and ultimately the colony will cease to exist.  What they don't talk about in the literature about TNR is the emotional connection you develop with these cats and how you deal with the death of them all.  There are still 19 cats left and I will have to lose them all but I know their lives have been better for our involvement.

Rest easy, sweet Tina, and I will see you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The longest long weekend

I know everyone else is sad that the long weekend is over but I am relieved.  With Tina at home, not eating, just lying in her carrier, all I could do was wish for Tuesday morning for the vet to reopen.

We took her in to the vet first thing, and he had a look at her.  She let him examine her, it is still shocking to see her bony shaved body.  She was extremely dehydrated and I remain concerned about her ability to recover, whether or not she has cancer.  If she does, it is an easy decision, but in the meantime, as we wait for the biopsy results, I worry she is suffering, and I just can't imagine her getting better enough to live outside again.

These are the difficult decisions you deal with in feral care, what to do when they are old, when to let go, it's hard to apply the same standards as you would with your own cat, but we love the ferals, especially Tina, just the same.

So, because everyone loves her so much, we are going to give her a little longer, to see if being on fluids and other meds will help.

It was a tough weekend, very emotional.  We've had to euthanize many of our own cats over the years and none have looked as sick as Tina did.

I hope I'm proven wrong and she recovers.

Wow, this is a stupid hobby I've chosen, I'm getting pretty crispy around the edges, there just has been so much going on the last two months.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tina update

Well, Tina had her dental surgery, but the vet suspects cancer and did a biopsy that will take about a week to process.  In the meantime, since it was a long weekend, she came home to our house yesterday.  I don't usually do recovery but we hoped that familiar voices might help.

Honestly, she's in a sad state.  Huddled in her carrier all shaved.  The worst of it though is that apparently she got some inflammation from the tube in her throat and she keeps drooling and making terrible gurgling sounds.  It's horrible to see.  She didn't eat overnight.  Surprisingly I can actually wipe her chin.

I'm not feeling particularly optimistic this morning but Tina is tough old girl and she may turn it around yet.  Tina is everyone's favourite cat.  I guess the moral is, if there is one, that there is no good end for a feral cat.  At least five little kittens that we rescued this week won't have to live like Tina has.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tina to the vet

Scruffy beautiful Tina is everyone's favourite, usually you show up and she is happy to see you, to eat, and get a pat.  It has been so upsetting this last week, seeing her looking ill and not eating.  We've been trying to catch her to get to the vet and last night, finally, we got her.  Sandi, just back from Florida, met me there, and we just fed and tried to pretend all was as usual.  She kept wandering off just out of reach.  At long last I managed to get next to her and just grabbed her with my bare hands and ran to the open top carrier that I have that is so handy for this type of thing.  I managed to get her in and Sandi slammed the door.  What a relief.
Tina just a few weeks ago
This morning I waited for the phone call from the vet.  I hate this part, where I only have minutes to make a decision about a cat's future.  As we suspected, all of her remaining teeth are bad.  The vet ran bloodwork to make sure her general health was ok, he thinks Tina is 10 or 12, and she's now very skinny and matted.  The bloodwork wasn't bad so we decided to go ahead with the dental and pray that Tina can recover and have more time with us.  We did the same thing with Hank in the fall and he is doing well.  Mind you, this is an expensive proposition but Tina is worth it.
The hungry Tina we know and love
What a couple of days this has been.  The orange male and white female were neutered/spayed last night and are at Joanne's recovering and Heather from TCR has found a foster home for the three older kittens so Connie will just have the two babies to take care of.  I'm tired, and I'm emotional, I could not have stood saying goodbye to Tina today, I just have to stay positive about her recovery.

Is it the weekend yet?  I may just collapse on the sofa, oh wait, cats to feed, cats to return, one more kitten to rescue, and my poor neglected garden (and husband) to tend.  Rest is over-rated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A car full of cats

I headed west after work last night for a trapping session.  At first it looked like it was going to be a dismal night, no cats came running when we opened the garage.  I moved a trap into the yard and soon heard a snap.  We had caught the fluffy black kitten below.  No way he is Pixie and Button's sibling, he is twice their size, but turned out to be totally tame, so I popped him into a carrier and reset the trap.  About twenty minutes later, we caught an orange male, great, but not the calicos we had so desperately hoped to get. It seemed like that was going to be the night when the guy who lives in the House of Horrors came out and said "I've got some kittens inside, do you want them?"  Of course I said yes, and he handed me the dilute tortie and orange and white ones.  They appear to be about 9 weeks old, with goopy eyes.  God bless Connie, I called her and she said sure, bring them over.  I expected to find Pixie and Button's sibling, not all these others.
The kittens that were handed over - now safe at Connie's
And then the guy says what about the mother?  Thankfully he was willing to get her spayed, so he put her in a carrier and brought her out.
Another adorable kitten who settled right in and started playing
I loaded up the car with two adults and three kittens.  The adults went to Joanne's until tonight's clinic and the kittens to Connie's.  Her spare room is now a kitten nursery but it's too many for her to foster so I have to find somewhere for the older ones to go.

Tonight I have to transport cats to and from the clinic and still have to try to catch Tina.  Better do some carb loading.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What goes up must come down

My Sunday started off well, it was beautiful outside and I had reports that kittens had been spotted at the west end colony so Steve and I headed out there.  When we first arrived I searched the shed, no sign of kittens so I put out some food and was about to leave.  I went back to check one last time and there were three tiny furry bodies at the plate of food.  I tiptoed in and grabbed one in each hand but the third one scurried away and didn't reappear.  I was thrilled to get these two, they are about four weeks old.  Poor things were terrified but Connie took them in and they will be fine in no time.

Buttons and Pixie

In fact, here is a video Connie took last night, and they were already settling in.

Hopefully when I go to trap tomorrow night I can catch the remaining kitten.

We then headed down to our colony to try to trap Tina.  She has not shown up for meals a couple of times the last few days and when we've seen her she has appeared unwell and not that interested in eating.  I almost had her under the drop trap but lost her.  We are all very worried, Tina is a doll and we adore her.  I just can't stand the thought of something happening to Tina, especially after losing Jackson this winter.  We are heading down this evening to try to trap her again.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hi ho hi ho, it's off to trap we go

Well, I wouldn't want a week go by without trapping so Tuesday night I set out to get Cherry, the new cat living kitty corner to our colony.  After this long without kittens, I was determined to catch her before that all ended.

And trap her I did, but oh my god, what a feisty thing.  Usually when you cover the trap they settle down, but not her.  She hissed and growled and thrashed around.  What did they discover when they went to spay her yesterday?  She had no uterus, so was already spayed, but no eartip.  What a strange thing.  The vet thinks she is about three years old, I can't imagine she ever belonged to someone.  She didn't eat last night so I may have to release her early, occasionally the really feral ones won't eat in captivity.  I'm on one of those streaks right now, nothing is working quite right, Hippo keeps getting his cone off, so he has to be resedated (up goes the vet bill), Cherry turns out to be already spayed, two nursing moms last weeks, sigh.   I guess it's like every job, they all have frustrations.

I realized that it was May of 2009 that we first got involved with the colony.  I saw an article about the cats and thought hey, I could feed once a week.  Look where that got me. Three years later I feed 19 cats four times a week, have them all fixed, and have TNRed many other cats.  I think my tally is 40 + cats spayed/neutered and about 25 - 30 that I have helped find homes for.  Not bad for three years worth of cat rescue.  It's kind of like getting braces at age 30, I don't regret it, and the end result was great, but no way would I do it again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A quieter weekend

It was nice to have a quieter weekend, no trapping or frantic driving around, just the usual cat feeding routine, with a few exceptions.  A TV show was preparing to shoot at Harry's but the cats worked around it.  The boats are being worked on and moved out, the flies are moving in, that's how you know that spring has fully arrived.

I have to add a big thank you to Shannon for her generous donation and to Global Pet Foods for their support.  It enables me to keep helping cats.  In the last two months I have spayed/neutered ten cats, found homes for two kittens, one adult and have treated three injured cats.  It wouldn't be possible without all the help I get.
Tina, you are needed on set

Tibbs just sitting around

I can tell this is Sam because of his right ear tip

Here's the newest member of our colony - what's he doing out during the day
For a hit of cute, check out Connie's blog, and see MJ, the rescued kitten, he's off to his new home today   http://boomerandteikas.blogspot.ca/

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Good news and bad news

As promised, I have updates from my west end trapping project.  I have good news and bad news on a couple of fronts.  Don't people always want the good news first?

The good news is that the vet stitched up Hippo's wounds on his side from the wire that haven't healed, and hopefully after 10 days inside (with a cone, poor cat) he will be OK.  The bad news is the vet bill.

Hippo on this way to the vet
The two other cats that were trapped Tuesday night went to the THS clinic last night.  The good news is they are both female so now won't have more kittens.  The bad news, they are both nursing moms.  Now that brings up a problem that somehow thankfully I have never had to deal with before.  The protocol is to release a nursing mom as soon as possible so they can get back to their kittens (they can still nurse) so I had to take them back first thing this morning.  There was no way to feel good about this scenario.  I took mothers away from their kittens for 36 hours jeopardizing them and took mothers back with not enough recovery, putting their health at risk, but it was still the right decision.  With feral cats, there is no ideal, they live a crappy life, and the mandate must be to stop the reproductive cycle by TNRing, adopting out the kittens, and doing the best you can for the existing ferals by providing food, shelter, and vet care if injured.

This is where these poor cats live - an old shed full of rotting garbage with holes in the roof.  This is why I do what I do.
My non cat rescuer friends think I'm crazy to do all this - they really don't understand, and sometimes, like this morning, I wonder why I do as well, but it's fleeting, and I pick myself back up and remind myself of the good news, like the fact that the two kittens rescued from this site a month ago now have loving homes.  And I'm lucky I have support, my husband who listens to me incessantly talking about cats, Connie who fosters and lets me keep cats in the garage, Joanne who does all the recovery, Karen and Heather from TCR who are so fantastic, and the volunteers at the THS clinics.  Hanna and Jo the vets and the volunteers are there three times a month.  Without the clinic it would simply be impossible financially for caretakers to TNR.  Thanks for listening, I feel better already.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lots of trapping and no camera

I went to the west end last night to trap and forgot my camera.  I didn't expect to have much luck since last time I didn't get anybody, so I decided to switch it up and try an evening.  Well, boom, boom, within 20 minutes, two cats in two traps.  We then set up the drop trap hoping to get one of the calico females or the tabby guy whose injuries didn't heal.  After an hour no luck so I went into the shed of horrors to see if I could find any kittens.  Immediately I found two tiny kittens, one calico and one black.  Unsure of what to  do as they seemed very young I called around and tracked down Heather and emailed her this terrible photo from my phone.

She estimated the kittens to only be 2.5 weeks so they would have to be left with the mother.  As hard as it was, I put them back, I am sure one of the calicos is the mom, she just sat there staring at me.  Now I just have to hope I can grab them again in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, as all this was going on, we noticed that Hippo (the injured one) had gone under the drop trap  so we got him too!  What a night.  Off to Joanne's to drop them all off.

This morning I took Hippo to the vet to see what they can do for him, the other two will go to the THS tonight to be spayed/neutered.  On my way back from the vet this morning I witnessed a tiny kitten run across the road and get hit by a car.  A few people stopped but he was dead.  Not a good way to start the day but it reminds me why I do all this.

More tomorrow on how everyone is doing.