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, December 31, 2014

2014 year in review

Every new year's I like to do a little year end in review, and 2014 was certainly not lacking in stuff going on.  With the colony, all spayed and neutered and aging, most of the news is sad.  Every day when I see my ferals and they look healthy I'm happy but every year we lose a few and 2014 was no exception.  

Teddy the big old patriarch was having issues with his ears, bleeding and clearly sore.  The only solution was very expensive surgery.  We did an on-line fundraising campaign and thanks to people's generosity, raised enough funds for the surgery but sadly the old cat died a few weeks afterwards.
Teddy RIP
Pebbles died during last year's brutal winter.  He was always very wary.  I'm still not sure what happened to him.
Pebbles RIP
And tragically one of the newer cats, Audrey, was killed by a dog in the spring.
Audrey RIP
It wasn't the best year for the four cats I relocated to the yard.  Clara disappeared when things got busy and I found her two months later a kilometre away emaciated.  Miraculously she recovered and now she is living safely at a sanctuary.  The other two Penny and Bonnie, has passed their one year anniversary at the yard and have settled in.
Clara in recovery
One of my favourites, Stubby, got friendlier and friendlier, allowing me to pat him and brush him. With winter coming, I thought that perhaps he could be homed, so I scooped him up, got some dental done, but in recovery it was clear he was miserable inside so he's back "home" now, getting Fancy Feast.
Our numbers are at about fifteen right now, it feels like not many cats at all. but I know that the losses are inevitable, but it's still heartbreaking every time.  I've also started feeding at two other sites too, one colony has 12 cats and the other 3 or 4.

Things were busy on the rescue side too.  About 25 TNRs, a dozen tame adults rescued and homed, and 50+ kittens.  Joanne gets the most kittens fostered award, she didn't even want to foster kittens, but had a litter in her bathroom almost the entire year, she still has two!  Some of the kittens were feral rescues, some came from Niagara Falls and I helped a woman in Bowmanville with almost 40 cats and kittens.
Pigpen, one of my favourites
Maddie, born outside, now in a loving home
A few of those kittens passed through my house, this one stuck, Bunny came in February from Niagara Falls.
And the biggest drama for me personally was the 32 horrible days and nights that Buddy was missing for.  He got out through a screen one night in the spring.  It was a nightmare, thanks to an infrared camera we knew he was out there but we couldn't get near him.  We trapped and trapped to no avail, barely sleeping and then on night 32 we got him and Buddy was home.
Buddy sleeping at home
I thank everyone who has supported what I do this year, I couldn't do it without your donations, without the foster homes, the feeders, the transport, the kind words.  It is the community that keeps me going, I've met the most wonderful people doing this.  I can feel happy that many cats are in better situations due to that community, whether it's in homes, or spayed and neutered, or injuries treated.  So I wish everyone Happy New Year.  My new year's resolution is to help more cats!  But not adopt anymore LOL.  Oh, and to find a way to monetize cat poo! If not, then I need my own internet sensation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tonks goes home and I keep going

Last night Tonks went to his new home!  I was tired and it was cold and I admit I sighed a bit about driving across town but that immediately disappeared when I met Shannon and her husband.  We had been corresponding over email and I already knew that Tonks would have a great home but that was one hundred and fifty percent confirmed upon meeting them.  Just a few months ago he was on his way to being a feral cat, now after being rescued and fostered, he has a whole wonderful life to look forward to.  Many thanks to Shannon for adopting a black previously sick kitten sight unseen and for Genevieve for patiently fostering him even though it was stressing out her 20 year old kitty.  I came home feeling renewed.  My cat rounds have pretty much settled down now to the usual feral routine.

I hesitated about posting the next photo for fear I may look like a crazy cat lady but who am I kidding?  This is me getting food ready for the ferals.  I mix a couple of different kinds of dry together, I have to keep it behind closed doors or else my guys chew through the bags.  As it is, they have figured out what I'm doing and come down to "help".

The cats help me to get food ready for the ferals - don't try to count
I still feed Mystery occasionally although usually there's lots of food.  The other day I was alarmed to see this orange and white cat who I've never seen before and wonder if I will see again.  There were two calicos earlier in the year but I don't see them anymore.  Clearly there is a colony of cats somewhere nearby.
Mystery and her friend
Off to visit my ferals this afternoon, buy some food for our cats and fight with Canadian Tire.  I bought a whole bunch of food but they charged me for 63 cans of one kind instead of 6.  Wish I could get wholesale rates on Friskies!

I've been so grateful that the weather has been mild and dry, it made it so much easier to do all my cat care but today is chilly, I guess that was inevitable.  I'll be bundling up!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ernie's brother!!

It will be two years ago in February that Ernie came into our lives.  Ian had forwarded me a craigslist posting about abandoned kittens.  Of course I contacted the woman and discovered a sad story. Someone had moved out of an apartment in Scarborough and just left the cats outside to fend for themselves in the middle of winter.  A kind neighbour saw them and took them in, two kittens (one with an injured or infected eye) and an orange and white adult with a large wound on its neck.  She didn't know what to do.  I contacted THS and they agreed to take the one with the wound and the one with the eye problem.  When I went to get the cats they were friendly but clearly in need of medical attention.

She was trying to decide whether to keep the other kitten (now Ernie), he was curled up asleep in her child's bed and they really liked him, but she just didn't have the money for another cat, so I said I would take him and find him a home.  I never worry about finding homes for friendly kittens.

Off I went to THS and then Ernie went to my vet where he was treated for severe ear mites and terrible fleas.  Within hours of him being at our place we fell madly in love with him and you know the ending.  I often regretted giving up his brother, after finding out how wonderful Ernie was.  I saw that he had his eye removed and got adopted.  The adult got fixed up and adopted too.

I was so excited on Christmas Day to see a FB post about a couple who adopted a one-eyed kitten two years from THS who just adopted another one.  It was Ernie's brother!!!  It made me ecstatic to learn he had gone to a wonderful home.  I emailed her pictures of Ernie and the story of their rescue. 
There is nothing better than finding out a cat you rescued has a wonderful home, it was the best Christmas present ever.

Ernie and his one-eyed adopted brother Blinky
Ernie's brother Rog (on right) and his new friend

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A very furry Christmas

Sadly I have no Christmas themed cat photo to share with you.  Oliver was helping Bob hang some things at our place the other day so it will have to suffice.
It's been a busy Christmas day, spent caring for many many cats indoors and out.  I think I fed 58 today!  Of course I have our guys plus the ferals, and I was taking care of Connie's ferals and a few others.

My catsitting business http://robinscatsitting.wordpress.com/has had many bookings so over the holidays I have five houses to visit, two at a few houses, one at another, and six at one + a few guests.

Time to give our cats a bed time snack, go to bed and start all over again, and add one more colony, taking me close to 70 mouths to feed tomorrow.  No wonder I'm tired.

I made the agonizing decision to release Stubby yesterday.  Before I did so, I cut a larger hole in his fence to enable me to crawl under and make sure he had a shelter.  Stubby actually seemed happy to be home, he came out today to eat his grilled Fancy Feast.  I wish he could have had a home, but for now I will just do the best I can to take care of him at the yard.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sometimes there is heartbreak

With this crazy cat world I inhabit, there is lots of good news, so many saved and homes found for, but sometimes there is heart break too.

People always ask do you want the good news or the bad news first?  Let's start with the good news, it seems Tonks has finally found a home.  Shannon is going to adopt him when she's back from her vacation!  I'm so excited that he will finally have a home of his own and some stability.
Now for the bad news.  Life is not always fair.  Michelle, who feeds at the colony, but took the last year off to care for her mother dying of cancer.  Still getting over the recent loss of her mother, she is now dealing with the death of her beloved PIP, who succumbed to FIP just the other night, only 18 months old.  Pip was a kitten she fostered along with his siblings, tiny, dirty and malnourished, he was lucky enough to live with her and be loved for his short life.  RIP little Pipster.
Little Pip as a kitten
And Bear, the 20 year old cat I fostered briefly this spring and was adopted by a wonderful man in Orillia, died last week from kidney failure.  At least she had months of love to make up for her years of neglect.

And for me, sadness of sadness, my Stubby is not proving to be adoptable.  I thought maybe he was just understandably scared at the vet, but at Raven's he is doing no better.  I visited him yesterday and he was hunched in the back of the cage, wouldn't meet my eyes, there was no recognition there. Raven has been dealing with ferals and strays for 15 years and says she isn't sure if she's ever had a cat at the same level of miserable.  He's eating well but that's it.  I'm surprised and disappointed but I believe it's best to release him.  Not every feral cat can adjust happily to being inside.  I'll continue to do my best to care for him at the colony as I have been doing, at least his rotten teeth are gone.  Fancy Feast every day for my Stubby!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Top Ten signs you might have too many cats

#10 Three of them have the same name

#9 Your monthly order of kitty litter arrives in a dump truck

#8 The Urine Off head office has a statue of you in their lobby

#7 You've spent at least one night sleeping on the floor because there was no room left in your bed

#6 When you shop for cat food, the store has to hire temporary workers to help restock the shelves

#5 You think six cats is a "starter kit"

#4 You took our your car's seats so you could fit in more carriers

#3 The words "Anal Glands" don't make you laugh like they used to

#2 You just coughed up a hairball

And the number one sign you might have too many cats...

#1 Your vet drives a Lamborghini

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Here and there and everywhere

Every day brings a new set of challenges it seems.  I've been dealing with Tink and Tonks, finally we have an adopter for Tink but Tonks is sick again.  Now he's been vetted but I have to move him again to his fourth foster home.  He's had such a rough start, born outside, socialized and friendly but recurrent URIs and he's a black almost six month old kitten.  I know something will work out for him though.

Joanne has two little cuties still, Cami and Luke, hopefully they find homes soon.  Cami is coming along but Luke is still a bit shy.  We used to think the males were easier to tame but no rules really apply.
I've been glad of this milder weather with no snow, but the ferals just can't find a dry place to stand.
Morris returns after a few weeks of being AWOL
I was alarmed yesterday when I fed to discover blood in one of the empty bowls, I don't know what's up.  And Penny wasn't in her car, which is very unusual.  I really hope everyone is ok.

I'm picking up Stubby today and taking him to Raven's for recovery and assessment.  I can't wait to see him, I've been missing him and happy to get him out of the scary vet.  Thank you Shannon for your very generous donation to Stubby's care.

I trapped a cat from a nearby colony for the clinic tonight, hoping to get one more later, then I'm volunteering there tonight, plus feeding this afternoon and taking Blinky to the vet so it sounds like another busy day.  I need one of those magnetic signs for the car "cat rescue on patrol".

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting them out before the storm

Yesterday was a frantic day.  It started with me being unable to go to work due to a cat following me.
I feed a little colony where I park my car, and there is a friendly black and white cat who lives behind a rooming house, and is kind of casually taken care of, but he's always starving and mostly outside.

Well this time he refused to eat and started to follow me down the street and it's busy, he went a whole block, so I had to turn around and lead him back.  Again he did the same thing, meowing frantically.  Finally I had to go into my friend's apartment through the back door and out the front.  It would be funny if he didn't seem so desperate.  I went back at lunch and he was still sitting by my car so that was it, I called Andrea, and I scooped him up and took him over.  He seemed happy to be inside.

Then it was off to the colony and I made a snap decision and scooped up Stubby and just placed him in a carrier.  I had been considering bringing him in to be socialized and I just couldn't stand it anymore.  I hate that they are all out, but if any can come in it's a win.

After that I also had to try to trap Bobsey over at John's who has a wound under his ear that just wasn't clearing up.  I had tried on Sunday but another cat knocked the trap shut.  This time it took less than five minutes and he was in.  Connie kindly did the transport to the vet for both.

Bobsey just has very bad ear mites but my Stubbs Stubbs has very bad teeth.  I just got off the phone with the vet, they had to extract all his uppers.  He is FIV+ but otherwise healthy.  My friends at Annex Cat Rescue very kindly have offered to front the bill for him, and trust me, that kind of extensive dental isn't cheap, so donations would be appreciated.  You can even get a tax receipt!  Just specify for Stubby's dental.  http://annexcatrescue.ca/donate/

I'm just glad I got them all before the storm.  I worry about all the homeless cats in this weather.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kittens in December!

I really thought I wouldn't still be rescuing kittens in December but Ian got a call about kittens up in North York where we pulled out four older kittens this fall (all found homes) and TNRed a lactating female.  Well clearly those kittens survived and finally appeared in Barbara's yard.  She couldn't really describe how old they were so Ian and I drove up and I brought kitten traps just in case.

They scattered as soon as they saw us but they looked pretty small so I set up two traps and waited.  Boom, five minutes got one and then fifteen minutes later one more.  The third disappeared so we happily took our two and miraculously Susan answered her phone when I called and said she would take them.  I'd say they are maybe eight to ten weeks, so cute with round little faces.  It's always satisfying when a reconnaissance mission turns into mission accomplished.
Calico kitten
Tabby kitten
Loveable Larry was adopted and clearly has settled in well to his new home.  Hurray!
Larry in his new home
And Andrea and I rescued a very friendly but matted black cat who has been hanging around our rooming house feeding site at all hours, clearly he wanted to come inside, he was always following me to my car.  After canvassing and postering to determine he was homeless we scooped this sweetie up.
Fluffy black cat
I feel bad enough for the ones who have to be out in this weather, so whatever ones we can save is a bonus.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Project Stubby out of the cold

Stubby (not very imaginatively named) is a fluffy orange guy at the colony whose tail had to be amputated a few years ago.  He's kind of part of Hank's gang but the other cats pick on him so he lives behind a fence taking shelter in the structures of the recycling plant.  I did put a shelter back there but now I can't access it anymore.

This year Stubby has become friendlier and friendlier, we can all pat him and this summer I started to brush him and even pull mats out with my fingers.  I struggle with whether he can be homed and of course now that it's cold I worry more about him and if there's a big snow I don't know how I will get food to him.  I've been practicing lifting him off the ground in the hopes I could get him into a carrier but then what?  My house is full and I don't even have a decent sanctuary room for him.  I'm hoping by posting that someone will come forward who is willing to take a chance on our Stubby, somebody wonderful, because he is a crowd favourite and deserves to be loved and warm and safe.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Just a Saturday update...

Here are a couple of pics from a colony I've started feeding recently near where I park my car to go to work.  A couple of the cats live in the rooming house and some more live outside it.  That's three colonies of cats that I now feed on a regular basis. 

I have some great adoption news to report.  Both Larry and Lake have been adopted!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

50 years and 500 + cats

Today I am 50 years old, I can hardly believe it.  I have no words of wisdom to offer, life is vastly different than I expected it to be but I am grateful for so many things today; my health, my supportive husband, my friends, my cats and the cat community that I became part of five years ago when I chose to start feeding feral cats.  Thanks to that one decision, I have met many wonderful people and have been able to help more than 500 cats.

Life can change in the blink of an eye that much I know, recently one of my friends and neighbours, a wonderful woman taking care of her three boys and fostering guide dog puppies was killed by a car.

It reminded that you never know how much time you will have...this seems to be a time for me of seemingly irrational decisions but I'm following my heart now.

I quit my job, seem to have adopted a kitten, and tonight am singing a six song set at my birthday party/cat fundraiser.  I'm excited for my new life.  I'm going to expand my catsitting business and of course continue to care for my ferals and keep trapping and rescuing.  Beyond that, who knows.

Of course the cats don't care that it's my birthday, I started my day the usual way, snuggling with cats, and then getting up to clean the litter boxes and feed my crew.  I'll end the day the same - no complaints.
The white cat trio: Ernie, Oliver and Bunny
Ernie and Oliver
Baxter, Buddy and Apollo (box lids are the best beds!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homes needed and homes found

I realized I've fallen a bit behind in my rescue updates.  Loveable Larry has settled in to Mary Helen's, I had secretly hoped she would keep him but I guess it's not a love match so once we get his diarrhea under control he will be needing a forever home.

We have a few other kittens also needing homes.  This is Tink and Tonks, who were feral kittens at Maria's, now socialized and almost five months old.
Tink and Tonks
 Then there's Maddie and her two siblings, also rescued from a feral colony.
 And of course beautiful Lake, seven months old, still a bit shy but so sweet.
I really hope we can get them into homes soon.  It feels like winter has come on too soon too fast I'm not ready and it breaks my heart every day seeing my ferals out in the weather, I'm so grateful these ones are in.

And here's some photos of ones that have found homes, I love getting the photos adopters send in, it keeps me going when I'm tired or discouraged.

Milo the tabby underneath was adopted by my neighbour last year, and this year when I sent out a photo of Winston, she couldn't resist, and their family grew.  Clearly they are great friends.
Pepper and Cinnamon, now Bullet and Lucy, were feral kittens from Niagara Falls that I took in, they were adopted by Cory and got to stay together, how great is that.
I just hope the ones waiting get such wonderful homes!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From the valley to safety

I have a lovely neighbour, Ella, who adopted a cat from me a year or so ago that showed up at the colony.  Yesterday I got an email from her, she had been for a walk in the Don Valley and a cat ran up to her meowing frantically.  She went home to get a carrier and when she got back the cat came out of the brush and happily went into the carrier to eat.  

She stashed him in her spare room and I went to see him, an absolute sweetheart but skinny clearly out for a while.  I emailed one of my catsitting clients whose cat sadly died a month or so ago who had recently mentioned fostering and she said she would take him!

An exam at my vet this morning revealed that Larry is about one year old, seems healthy, but isn't neutered or microchipped.  I've posted on line but I don't hold out much hope of finding his home, when they aren't spayed or neutered my warning bells go off.

Larry will get neutered tomorrow and then off to Mary Helen's to get loved and fattened up.  I'm so glad he's out of the cold!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sunday at my house

At my house anytime you put down a box chances are a cat will find it and claim it as their own.  Why spend money on fancy cat beds?
Blinky in a box
Oliver was sleeping in a large cat bed in front of the fire when Scooter decided hey, there's room for another cat there.  The cats love the gas fireplace as do I.
Scooter and Oliver

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Last trapping of the season

On Saturday I loaded up the car for my last TNR mission until spring.  I find it too hard in the winter, the traps are cold, the garage where I hold the cats before the clinic is cold, it's dark and I worry about putting back females with shaved bellies.  So for the winter I focus on feeding, that's a hard enough thing when the real winter sets in.  Ian and I set off for North York, stopping at Jet Fuel and then Petsmart on the way.   I loaded up on litter and Friskies on sale.  Laden down, we continued on our way.

Sadly our mission was not successful.  The two older kittens that were our quarry were there when we arrived but then disappeared not to return.  I've had a lot of drama at work lately and it's distracting me, I often like to say I'm a gladiator, and I really need to stay focused.  Less than three weeks to my big event, lots to get done.

I almost forgot to report that the fantastic trapping team managed to get all four cats out of that demolition site just in time!  

Car loaded up after shopping
The rest of the car filled with traps
Our newest guest Oliver
Our Bud Bud, on his three year anniversary with us 
I found this bench, put in the yard, and Charlie fell in love

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From cats to squirrels

Crazy me has taken on more dependents!  Months ago the wonderful Toronto Wildlife Centre was looking for people to take on squirrels who needed a place to relocate so I signed up then forgot about it.  Last week we got a message saying they had three young squirrels for us!  For some reason, I was inordinately excited about this.

They showed up and installed a wooden nest box in our sugar maple and lo and behold we had three new friends in our yard.  They appear to be adolescents.  The wildlife centre left us with what was supposed to be a month's worth of seed which we went through in a week, all the other squirrels came too and then the birds.
I really want to find out why it's so easy to relocate squirrels but so much harder with cats.  I forgot to ask about other things, do they need water, are they spayed and neutered.  Of course now I worry about them, the other night we came home and a raccoon was trying to get in their nest and they were upset.

They are very cute, and are learning that when I come out it means food.  Just what we needed, more mouths to feed.  At least we haven't named them yet.

Last night I went back to try to find a cat with a broken leg but no luck however I did manage to trap two kittens from another location, two more to go.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The power of the cat community

Last week I posted about the plight of some abandoned cats living in a demolition site.  I can happily announce that three of the four cats have been trapped thanks to the dedication of Lesley, Vanessa and Richard.  Just one extremely skittish one to go...

On Thursday evening I trapped a cat from Denise's colony who was suspected pregnant.  Turns out she wasn't but was female and unspayed.  Her tameness at this point is in question.  I also trapped one of my rooming house cats, who I thought was a Lucy but boy was I wrong there.  Let's call him Lucky, but not lucky enough to be tame enough to find a home so back he went.  I still have a few to do there but thankfully they all appear to be male.

Blue, the dental patient, went back to his colony but I've been unsuccessful so far in catching Mabel, who also appears to be in need of vet attention.  I desperately need to finish restuffing the shelters but every day just flies by.

Tonight I'm dropping off some kitten traps so that we can catch more kittens for Susan to foster and then trying to find an injured cat.

I have to make sure to spend enough time with my guys, we are still dealing with Blinky peeing outside the box on a daily basis.  Every day I still give thanks that Buddy is back with us, he's a delight.  I bought these cubes from Petsmart, I'm a sucker for cat stuff.

I want to give a shout out to the Toronto Humane Society.  A while ago, I rescued a footless kitten and his sister from a hoarding situation.  THS kindly took them in and amputated what remained of his leg and neutered him, and spayed his sister.  Someone who met them while they were being fostered fell in love and went in and adopted them both.    That vetting would have cost thousands in a private setting but thanks to THS those cats now are taken care of and have a forever home.  I also took in two friendly cats from that rooming house who have health problems and are out on foster.  So much more than I could have dealt with and I thank THS for taking in the tough cases.  I know some people are still wary of THS but all my dealings with them have been great and I know them to be advocates of the animals.

I have some exciting news, for those of you who aren't my Facebook friends, I'm turning 50 very soon and Lynn and I are hosting a fabulous party/concert/fundraising event in honour of my time on this planet and the 500 + cats I've been able to help.  If you want details be sure to email me, it would be great to see you there.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Only a day to save them

Last week I was copied on an email about some cats living behind another building about to be demolished.  I went out Friday night with Richard and Vanessa and we saw four cats, the problem was that the entire area was fenced in and no way to get access.

We slipped food under the fence over the weekend and then yesterday at lunchtime I went to the site and spoke Carlos who is in charge of the demolition.  He said we only had until possibly Wednesday before they established a drop zone.

A flurry of emails and phone calls followed and a group of us met there last night with hard hats in hand.  Nothing like trapping in the dark in the rain.   We set four traps in various locations and waited.  We did see a black and white cat wandering around but she didn't go in the trap.  Just as we were out to pack it in after a few hours we heard the clang of a trap shutting but it was a raccoon.

Lesley from the Trapping Task Force has gone out today again in a desperate attempt to get these cats before it's too late.  We presume they were abandoned when people had to move out, yet another sad story.  It was heartbreaking to see them sleeping huddled in the leaves beside the building they used to call home.

Good news, as of noon today, I just received a text saying they caught one!