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!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 year in review

The last few years I've done a year in review, this year feels like it's been a blur, I continued my work with the colony of course but upped my TNRing and rescue work, I've lost track of the numbers but I think I've hit more than 200 cats either TNRed or rescued/adopted, and all of those were spayed and neutered too.  I probably took on more than I should have but it's so difficult to say no to cats in need, and I feel privileged that I was able to help so many.   I couldn't have done it without the assistance of many to whom I'm supremely grateful and I wish I had the space to thank them all but I must thank Joanne and Connie for their invaluable help, truly I could not have done it without them, to all our feeders, Sandi, Marisa, Tory, Michelle and Avril, to the foster parents including Kathleen, Michelle, Nikki and Susan.  Thank you to Donna at Global Pet Foods and Toronto Cat Rescue and Toronto Humane Society for their support, and thank you to everyone who donated.

I TNRed a few large colonies this year and in the process rescued a lot of kittens.  25 came out of Gloria's yard as I got all 19 of her ferals fixed over a few months.  It's extremely satisfying fixing whole colonies.  I also did some outreach work with lower income people with multiple cats, helping them rehome the kittens and get the cats fixed.

It was a year that brought me to my knees a few times, whether from exhaustion or being overwhelmed or dealing with difficult people and I always swear at least once a year that I'm done, but how can I be. There is still work to be done, time to turn the calendar and persevere.

In the colony, the start of this whole thing, things have been relatively stable.  Chester was adopted by Pat and Linda in the spring but in September we had the tragic death of Biffy, killed by a dog.

It's time to introduce the new members of the Cherry Street colony, I've been putting off writing about this until I knew the outcome.  Relocation is a dicey thing and best avoided, but these cats ended up at Animal Services and simply couldn't be returned to where they had been trapped so I agreed to take them and relocate them, I'm pleased that they have stayed, and have found the shelters and food we have supplied them with.  They are young females, and as with all of them I will do my best to care for them.  


Happy New Year to all the cat lovers out there!  There's nothing better on a winter night than having a bunch of cats snuggled in bed beside me purring away.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A chilly Monday

Stubby seems to have been displaced by a racoon and has moved over to Hank's but the other cats don't like him, so he's still not eating as much as I would like but I don't really know what to do, just hope it resolves.

I feed on weekends at a building nearby and they have one of their ferals who has gotten trapped inside so last night I took a trap down and set it up, no luck yet, poor cat must be so scared and hungry.

Today I fed the ferals in my furry hat, they looked pretty chilly too, and the canned food froze within minutes of putting it down, eat fast my friends.

I was happy to rescue a cat who showed up in someone's garage on Christmas Day and didn't leave.  No luck finding his home so far, and I couldn't stand to leave him out in this cold so now Gus is safe and warm.

I also ferried Rosie to the vet for her spay along with Susan's fosters, Asia and Simon, although it sounds like Asia may be a foster failure.  Rosie was going into heat, good thing she got rescued and now is spayed.  She is temporarily with me but she's not really a good fit with the others so I need to move her somewhere soon.

Stubby in his new spot
'd better get working on my year in review, it was such a busy year that it seems a daunting task.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The emotional toll

For those of us who care for feral cats, there are a lot of resources on colony management, on Trap, Neuter, Release, all the practical matters, but what's never addressed is how to deal with the hard stuff, what do when your ferals get sick, how gut wrenching it is when they die.  We all invest a lot of time in these cats and feel protective of them, they are our cats too.

Joanne called me yesterday about one of her ferals who was ill.  Joanne is a wonderful woman I met a couple of years ago.  She has a TNRed colony in her neighbourhood and does recovery and short term fostering for me, and has become a good friend, we often talk about cat situations.

Hers was a tough one, one of her ferals was clearly not well, in fact was so ill that her husband was able to grab him and put him in a carrier.  We agreed that he would go off to the vet first thing this morning.  Sadly Tux (yes, all of our ferals have names) died overnight.  Obviously something was very wrong with him.  Naturally Joanne is upset, she has fed him for years.  But at least he had care and love, and he died inside safe and warm.

I've certainly felt the same grief when one of mine goes.  Right now I'm worried about Stubby, he's not eating.  I don't know if he's sick or stressed.  Pseudo is chasing him and because of the snow and ice he is having trouble getting to his ditch spot, and I'm not sure what to do.  It's a worry.  

I also discovered someone is stealing the cats' food, I think it's Harry, so now I have to wait around and catch whoever it is in the act.  How maddening, I'm just trying to take care of these homeless cats and some jerk is taking their food and water away.

Stubby in warmer days

These are the kinds of things that aren't in the manual, the kind of things that break your heart.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My kind of Christmas

Scooter and Ernie got up early and snuck downstairs to see if Santa had arrived yet.

 No Santa, and they quickly tired of waiting for breakfast.  Those humans sleep way too late.
After we took care of the colony at home, we headed out on our Christmas rounds.  We had two additional colonies to add to our route, so it was about three hours before we returned home.  It was a snowy day so not as many cats as usual, but I think we fed about 30 ferals today.  Christmas is just another cold day for them, but I love feeding them on Christmas Day, feels like the right thing to be doing.  Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

After the ice storm

Well we managed to make it down to feed yesterday, the walking was actually worse than the driving.  I guess the upside of the colony is that there aren't any trees to come crashing down.

We were wondering if cats had better traction than people and we quickly learned that they do not, they were slipping and sliding as much as we were.  It was obvious they were desperately looking for a bare patch to walk on but those were few and far between.



Me and Teddy




Is it really only the beginning of winter???

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How could they?

Sometimes rescuing cats feels like a Sisyphean task.  As fast as you can find them homes others are being discarded.  How did Rosie end up unspayed in a parking garage with nobody looking for her?  Or the other cats I find that are dumped?

I had an upsetting afternoon at the Humane Society on Friday.  I was in the lobby and a man came in with a cat in a carrier.  He is a super and found the cat abandoned in an apartment, who knows how long it had been there.  Unfortunately the THS can't accept strays so the cat was going to have to go to Animal Services.  The cat was lovely and I was frantically trying to think how could I save it.  I have two foster homes now available but they've both gone away for the holidays, and I don't even have an extra room now.  So I had to let go, knowing I can't save them all, that this happens every day.  There was another cat in the same situation, he had been left in a cardboard box outside the front door.  How could those people do that?  It's unfathomable to me.

So I focus on the ones that I have saved.  Here is a picture of Snowball sent by his new mom, the cape is instead of a cone while his paws finish healing.

I know there are many wonderful people out there, I'm reminded of that every day.  Thank you Shannon, for your generous donation, it's heartwarming how many have reached out to say they care and want to help the cats.

Today's goal is to somehow get to feed the feral cats in this ice storm, I have 30 hungry cats depending on me (and my car).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Angus is adopted!

I'm delighted to report that Angus was adopted yesterday.  I'm surprised it took so long, orange and white cats are generally popular, and he's a handsome friendly guy who's been available since the summer but Daniel fell in love and now Angus has a home for the holidays.  Angus came to me this summer he had been living in someone's garage.  His first two fosters didn't work out, and he went to Kathleen, who turned out to be the right fit.  Then we dealt with the challenge of his skin, he was biting at his fur and had scabs.  After steriods and a hypoallergenic food, his fur had grown back in long and luxurious.  Plus I had his teeth cleaned, but it's all worth it knowing he has found a forever home.  That's the tough thing, when you say yes, and rescue a cat, you never know what health issues you will run into.  I am thankful I could help Angus.
Angus - adopted!
Kathleen has been a great foster parent, Angus was her third foster this year.  I'm so lucky to have such great fosters, Susan is fostering Asia, one of the body shop kittens and Simon, the kitten who ran into Global Pet Foods.  It's a good thing he did, he had two abcesses.
In other adoption updates, Michelle has adopted Pip, one of the kittens from the last litter she was fostering.  Not a bad failure rate, I think she fostered 15 or 16 kittens this year and only kept one.

I heard from the wonderful woman who adopted the seniors Snowball and Caesar, and there is some kind of good news about Snowball.  Turns out he doesn't have cancer, but has heart and kidney failure.  This was determined with an ultrasound.  It's still a big problem, but those conditions are at least treatable, so I hope he will have more time as a result.  Mai is the best adopter for those cats that I could have imagined and I thank you all for your help with them.

I received a generous and unexpected donation from Dorothea, thank you so much, and she asked about whether I thought that progress was being made in terms of feral cats.  It's a great question, and certainly I think that things are improving.  When I first started feeding more than four years ago, there weren't many resources.  The last couple of years have seen huge changes, with free spay neuter clinics for feral cats, workshops for caretakers, shelter building workshops, all supporting and educating those who care for feral cats.  There is a real community out there and I believe we are making progress, that more and more cats are being TNRed, and those living in colonies are being well taken care of.  I'm proud to be a part of that.  I think I TNRed (Trap, Neuter, Release) more than 70 cats this year, and that's just me, I see so many people doing the same, those efforts will result in less kittens and less feral cats.

For the next few days, with nasty weather coming, I just want to make sure I get my ferals fed so they have full bellies to help them get through the cold nights.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lots to report!

I feel like I'm behind in blogging, but it's been a busy few days.  On Saturday I did an adoptathon at Global Pet Foods on the Danforth, and even though it was the day of the snowstorm, four cats found homes!
Adoptathon at Global, thanks to Donna for all her help
One the cats who was adopted was Jack.  Jack is the cat that Connie found at her feeding station at the end of October, clearly dumped.  What a friendly guy, and it showed, he was very popular, and adopted by a lovely couple who came looking for a kitten but couldn't resist Jack's charms.
Jack, now in a forever home
As I was setting up Friday night, a woman called the store, she had meant to dial TCR but was looking at the homepage about the adoptathon and dialed Global instead, she found a cat and didn't know what to do.  Of course the staff passed the phone to me.  The woman found what she thought was a kitten in the parking garage of Gerrard Square eating garbage in the cold, and kindly bundled it up and took it to the THS but they can't accept strays and would have transferred the cat to Animal Services.  When she explained the situation to me I said bring her here, I'll take her in, it was clearly meant to be.

So little Rosie is with us right now, but she's not a kitten, the vet thinks a year, but she only weighs four pounds, such a sweetheart, but not eating much the last couple of days so we've run some bloodwork to try to figure out what's up.
Little Rosie

And then there was the storm, and the shovelling, oh how the ferals and I hate this weather.  We were too busy and cold to take any pictures.  Another bright spot in the weekend though was meeting Krista and Shawn, they came by on Sunday with a huge donation of Friskies that they and their friends got together.  I was so touched, and really appreciate the support, as do the cats.  At least they have full bellies to get them through the winter.

Nikki has taken over fostering the autobody shop kittens, aren't they the cutest things?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas came early

I have amazing news!  A wonderful woman named Mai has stepped forward to adopt Snowball and Caesar.  She saw their story on The Panda Project's page on Facebook and was moved by their situation.

I feel confident they will be well cared for and loved for as long as they have.  She has already spoken to her vet about them.  I wish that Snowball's prognosis was better but I knew as soon as I saw him last week that he was a sick cat.  I haven't spent much time with these cats, but just during the vet exam you could tell that they are nice cats.  I think the guy who had them loved them but unfortunately there just aren't any no cost vet clinics.  There must be many cats in the same boat, their people care but can't afford vetting.

At least Snowball and Caesar have received help and I thank everyone who cared and shared and donated and helped to make this happen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Good news and bad news

I spoke to the lovely Dr Eaglesome today about the senior cats.  The good news is that Caesar is in great shape for his age, and doesn't really have any health problems.

The bad news is Snowball.  He is very diabetic but that is most likely being caused by a large liver or pancreatic tumour in his abdomen.  She is amazed that he is doing as well as he is, in good spirits and eating well.  It's a large tumour that is pressing his colon against his spine and very sadly he probably only has weeks or months to live.

So now I desperately need someone to take these two in, ideally together.  Caesar could have a few more years, he just needs some TLC and Snowball deserves to spend his final days in a loving home.

There must be somebody out there, I just need to find them, and fast.

Sometimes this is so hard.

Thank you to all who have donated to their vet care.  It's so reassuring knowing I'm not alone in caring about cats and their welfare.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The senior cats' first step of their journey

Today we picked up Snowball and Caesar and took them to the vet.  Blue Cross Animal Hospital generously offered to give us great rates for vetting them.  I stayed while the cats were examined.  At first glance Caesar, the 17 year old seems to be in pretty good shape, but we will need to wait until the results of the bloodwork come back.

Snowball, who is 14, appears to have more health issues.  Beyond his nails, he is still unneutered, and there are probably reasons that he isn't keeping up on his grooming.  His abdomen is definitely swollen and the vet was concerned that it might be fluid, which is never a good thing, but we will need to wait on more test results for him too.

They sent me these photos after cleaning up Snowball's paws.  I love how he is eating the treats.  The cats were both very well behaved, such sweeties.  I was so happy to get them out of where they were living and get them the care they need and deserve.  Step one down.  I have a couple of possibilities of foster homes but I wish they could go straight into a forever home....one step at a time I guess.

If you would like to donate towards their care, you can donate via paypal or you can contact Blue Cross vet directly and have your donation applied to their account, the phone number is 416-469-1121.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mostly good news!

I've been so touched by the outpouring of concern over the two senior cats I last posted about.  There are two offers of help with vetting and a couple of possibilities of homes for them so I'm feeling very positive.  They will be going to the vet in the next day or two and then we can go from there.  There still may be hurdles to overcome with potential health issues but I'm so grateful that they will have the care they need.  It really is wonderful how many people care about cats.  When I first saw those cats I felt overwhelmed thinking how can I help them, well it's only due to others that I can.

In the midst of dealing with all that, I got a call from Donna at Global Pet Foods about a kitten who ran into their store.  Poor thing was terrified, but they took it in, and I'm going tonight to pick it up.
Global kitty
Sadly, I have some bad news about the friendly black cat that I found a few weeks ago at the colony.  She had to euthanized this week due to kidney failure.   It really upset me but clearly she was already ill when I found her so at least she didn't die outside in the cold, suffering.

This cat thing is such a roller coaster of emotions.  The last couple of days I've cried both from sadness and from joy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Senior cats in desperate need of help!

Yesterday was a tough day.  I found out about two senior cats that will be losing their home due to their person being evicted.  I went to assess them and see how I could help.  The apartment made my stomach turn, the only furniture was a couple of lawn chairs and stained mattresses on the floor.

Then I got up close to Snowball, the white cat, and it got worse.  All of his front claws have grown into  solid discs and he can't walk properly, his paws are caked with litter, it must be so painful.  His tail is dark and oily, I'm not sure what that is, and apparently he vomits a lot and is drinking a ton of water, signs of a health problem.  Still, he is a lovely friendly cat.
Caesar is a bit shyer and seemed to be in better shape but who knows.  He is supposed to be 17 and Snowball 14 but I don't know how reliable their information is.
All I wanted to do was take them out of there and get them to a vet, but I have nowhere for them to go, and I know from dealing with senior cats, that their vet bill could add up very quickly.  I need a plan, but there's not much time.

So if anyone reading this knows of anyone who would foster or adopt either of these cats, please let me know, they don't have to be together.  If I could find them a place I will find the money.  I felt sick leaving them behind.

I finished my day with more cat social work, spaying a couple of cats for my low income free kitten friends, it was after 11 by the time Connie and I finished our drop offs to more charming homes but at least I had the satisfaction of knowing that in both cases there would be no more kittens.

I tumbled into bed a bit depressed but profoundly grateful for my home, my life and my cats.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kids and kittens

I just met Nikki a few months ago, and she very kindly offered to foster for me.  Foster homes are gold, without them I can't help all the cats and kittens who need it.

Her last batch of kittens got adopted very quickly.  Now she has three more, and they are getting tons of love and socialization.  She has kids too so that's great.  Both times when I have shown up with a carrier full of kittens the children were waiting outside so excited.   I think it's so important that kids grow up with animals and learn about that special bond.

I just love this picture, a kitten for every kid!

I remember getting my first kitten when I was twelve, we went to somebody's house, and I picked an orange one that we called Tigger.  It felt like the most exciting day of my life.  I made the mistake of picking the most playful one of the litter and he was a terror for a while but then he settled down and was part of our family for years.   And as soon as I moved out on my own the first thing I did was adopt a cat.

Clearly I have always loved cats but I'm still not sure how I got to where I am now, with all my cats and doing all this cat stuff but I'm just happy because of that these kittens will soon go to homes where I hope they will have a long and happy life.