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, April 29, 2014

18 cats on their way to forever homes

How do you rescue 18 cats in one day?  Well maybe rescue is a bit of a misnomer, just drive to Bowmanville (thanks again Karen) and pick up 3 adolescents, 1 nursing mom and her 4 kittens, plus 10 kittens closer to 7 weeks old.  This is my ongoing project, helping a woman whose situation got out of control and had so many cats she lost count.  Thankfully because the Toronto Humane Society agreed to take the cats we are able to help.  So far we've rescued 26 cats, and there are still 14 to go as well as the ones she's keeping to be spayed and neutered, although when I was it there looked like one was already pregnant again.  Looks like a few more trips on the 401 in my future!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Polydactyls rule!

Here's my pair of polydactyls, Ernie and Bunny sharing the cat tree!

Today we fed 38 cats in total, and rescued 18, so much for Sunday being a day of rest...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The pluses and minuses of a day

On the plus side for today:
Coming home to really cute kittens
12 free cans of kitten food
Free parking
Boss in a good mood and it's the end of my work week
We've raised over $2000 for Teddy's surgery

On the minus side:
Blinky has been peeing all over the place since the kitten's arrival
Too many things to do in every day
New kittens at Gloria's and nobody to foster them

Simon, Liesl and Ellis

We will see what tomorrow brings, I've got some feral cat feeding, a vet visit for the kittens, a drop off and pick up at THS and Lionel's dentistry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Saving Teddy

There's been a lot of thinking and discussion lately around what to do about Teddy and his ears that need surgery.  I was feeling daunted by the procedure and the amount of money it would cost but then Sandi met a woman in Florida who had just had the procedure done on her cat.  I spoke to her and what she told me gave me hope.  Now this was a tame indoors cat but the cat is 12 years old and has had ear problems for 6 years.  Her cat had the surgery, no problems or complications and now is totally fine.

I can't turn away from Teddy especially with all that has happened lately.  I can't leave him in pain nor can I just decide to euthanize him so we are going to help him.  I have a sanctuary lined up as a possibility in case he can't go back to the colony.  We have to at least try.  I know it's a lot of money but   helping Teddy and all the cats that I can help represents the thousands I can't.  Every cat and every animal has the right to lead a dignified life free from suffering.  I feel as responsible for Teddy as I do for every cat in my home so I want to give him a chance.

We've started an indiegogo campaign and are on our way to raising the money for the surgery.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cherry-street-cats-teddy-s-vet-bill#home  If we can save Teddy it will be worth every dollar.

Yesterday I was feeding and Ulli, who runs the boatyard, is back so I told him what had happened with the dog.  Coincidentally DJ (without his dog) had also just shown up - first time since.  Ulli was furious and went over to talk to him.  It was a bit of a scene, Ulli yelling, DJ lamely defending himself.  At the end of it the agreement was that he wouldn't bring his dog back.  Small consolation for Audrey, but without DJ's last name and address there is little more I can do.  I have to tread lightly, I need Ulli to stay on side, it's only his permission that allows us to be there.  It's a bit of the wild west there and seems everyone wants to avoid the authorities at all cost whereas law abiding people like myself have no fear of that.  I find it maddening, I try to be a good person, and guys like this get away without consequences.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter kittens

Look what the Easter bunny brought, a basket of kittens!  There are six kittens in total from a feral mom , I think they are only about 4 weeks old, so young they don't even know they should be feral, they are all purring and playful.

Happy Easter to all, it's a beautiful day.  Spring means boatwork at the yard, Teddy's feeding station got moved and of course we are still on constant dog patrol.  My niece will be coming by soon to name these cuties.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a week

It's been a stressful week, no wonder I'm now sick with a cold.  Violet and I managed to trap Bright Eyes with the drop trap on Tuesday evening.  I'm always on pins and needles when I have a feral at the vet, waiting to hear what they find.  This time they found nothing, she looked fine, her teeth weren't a problem, we ran bloodwork, all normal.  They gave her some fluids and an appetite stimulant and she ate well last night so Bright Eyes can now go home.  I don't know what was going on but hopefully she continues to eat well.

There has been no sightings of the guy or his dog but I'm still so worried.  And I got a call from Gloria, the woman with the large backyard colony near me that I TNRed last year.  Her house just went up for sale, in a few months I don't know where those cats will go for food or shelter.  Maybe we can convince a neighbour to help out.

This is Ricky, Freddy's brother, who also is looking for a home.  He's a bit more social than Freddy, funny how each cat in a litter has a different personality.

I'm lying around drinking tea trying to get better and hoping for a peaceful easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Meet Freddy

Freddy had a rough start to life but all that is different now, he's on his journey to a better life.  He was born outside in an alley sometime late last year and the man who feeds the cats brought Freddy and his siblings inside in January, a bit later than we normally bring in feral kittens so they were all shy.

He found a home for two and by the time I discovered the situation had Freddy and his brother in a cage in the middle of an antiques store.  Freddy had gone to a home with two dogs and not surprisingly didn't do well and was returned.

Susan agreed to foster the two who clearly needed some socialization.  Freddy's brother Ricky came along faster so Joanne took Freddy in for some intensive work.  In a few weeks he's made a lot of progress but needs a patient quiet home.  I know the right person will come along, he loves to be patted and play.  Another one saved from the rough life of a feral cat!  It helps to make up for the heartache recently experienced, I feel like I'm suffering from PTSD.  Now I have to trap Bright Eyes, she's not eating much.  The last few mornings I've lain in bed with my kitties holding them tight grateful they are safe and warm.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I didn't sleep well at all Saturday night, I kept seeing the image of Audrey's mangled body in my mind. Of course now I'm terrified he will come back with his dog even though the guy who saw it and kind of knows him assures me he won't bring the dog back and feels bad about it.  That's not good enough, it's happened twice and two cats are dead.  As soon as I can get more information about him I will be pursuing it with TAS.  In the meantime, Avril went down in the morning, Steve and lunch and us again in the late afternoon to make sure he wasn't there.  I don't want to leave the cats alone.  I'm still so angry.  We have sacrificed so much to take care of these cats, all those days going down in snow and frigid weather to make sure they have full bellies, and then to have her die, not from an accident or illness, but because of an irresponsible (and that's being polite) person.

I did another run to Bowmanville yesterday with Karen's help.  We were supposed to get four older kittens but could only manage two, the rest hid under dressers and under the bed.  Those two went to THS along with 3 seven week old kittens but this week two other cats there had kittens, so there are still a bunch of 8 month olds, 12 four week olds, and now nine newborns.  It's a bit daunting, but we will just keep plugging away, it's just so far, and her availability isn't very workable for picking up the cats.

With all going on this weekend I probably spent about 10 hours each day on cat stuff so I'm headed back to work exhausted.  It will be a relief just to sit at my desk.  Oh, except I have to go feed and try to trap Bright Eyes, she isn't eating much, something is up.

Every day I think about Teddy and try to figure out what to do.  I've asked vets, other rescue people, and everyone has a different opinion, from don't do the surgery and euthanize him to do the surgery and find him a home.  I managed to briefly pat him while he was eating yesterday and his spine is bony and he's covered in mats.  What I know for sure is I have to do something to help Teddy.

Hopefully I will have some good news soon.  I wish I had taken pictures of the kittens yesterday, they were very cute.  At least they will be fixed and off to good homes very soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We've lost another....RIP Audrey

Today was one of the worst afternoons imaginable.  It started well, I took a pregnant cat to the clinic this morning and helped out, the weather was great, and off we went to feed.

As we pulled up to the dumpsters we heard yelling and somebody comes out saying something about a hurt cat.  We run over to discover Audrey on the ground unable to move.  The dog who killed Biffy last fall was back, he got loose and managed to get Audrey before anyone could stop him.  It's a bit of a blur, Steve ran to get a blanket, I was yelling at the guy, and by the time I got back to Audrey she had died.  The guy was lucky I didn't take a two by four to him or his dog.  I immediately started calling Animal Services and he grabbed his dog and took off.

RIP Audrey
In tears, we drove Audrey to Animal Services and filed a complaint.  The problem is I don't know his name nor does anybody else.  He stores a boat there but the man who runs the yard is away and the witness doesn't want to be involved but says he won't bring his dog back.  That's not good enough for me, or for Audrey, what a hard short life she had.

She was one of the cats trapped from a hoarding situation in the Beach last year, she went to TAS for a month, was deemed too feral to be adoptable, as were many of the cats, so relocation was the only option.  We took three, and I rarely saw Audrey, only this week I discovered she was living under a building there.  Poor cat went through all that and survived a brutal winter only to die needlessly because an irresponsible person (and I'm being polite) here, let his dog off leash, even though he knew this dog had killed a cat in the exact same location.  Chances are I will see him again and I honestly don't know how I will keep my cool.  I'd better not see that dog again though.

It's times like this when I wish that I had never even gotten involved, sometimes the heartbreak is too much to bear.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What to do about Teddy

Teddy is one of the originals at the colony, at sixteen pounds he's an imposing fellow with quite the personality.  He is very dominant and seems to only tolerate certain females.  At one point when we had friendlier cats he caught on and would allow us to pat him, now he keeps his distance a bit more but still there is a relationship, he engages.

We've had Teddy to the vet a few times and the last year or so he's had ear problems.  He had polyps removed from his ear last June probably due to chronic infections.  This winter his ears were bleeding and I was finally able to trap him and get him to a vet.  They did what they could but the polyps are in his ear canal and what he really needs is a total ear canal ablation.  It's a procedure done by a surgeon at a specialty clinic.

My first thought was that it wasn't doable but as I've watched him with his ears bleeding and pus coming out some days I decided to explore it.

On Tuesday I spent 45 minutes with a very patient surgeon and discussed the situation.  I was clear that he is feral and can't be handled, we talked about aftercare, about Teddy's age, all the variables.

He seemed to think it was certainly an option and that he could conceivably recover well.  There are risks and possible complications.  Probably the most concerning one is loss of hearing function which is somewhat likely, how much is unpredictable and would be difficult to evaluate.  Teddy needs his hearing to stay safe from the trucks down there.  I asked if there was anything else that could be done for his ears and there isn't.  It's likely he is in pain.  Cats are amazingly stoic creatures, it hasn't affected his appetite but I hate the thought that he's suffering.

And I haven't mentioned the cost yet, minimum it would be is $4000 but it could be more.  That's a lot of money to raise, a lot of resources.  What a terrible dilemma.  I truly don't know what the right thing is to do.  The rational thing would be to say it's too much money to spend on one feral cat, that the surgery may be too much for him to recover from, how terrible would it be to spend all that, and have him go through it and not be able to recover.  On the other hand, it's Teddy, not an abstract concept, it's a cat we've been feeding for many years, he's my cat, he's our cat, I love him and feel responsible for him, as much as I do the ones in my own home.  I had someone say that they thought it was too much money to spend and they would give him the summer and then euthanize him, but how would I be able to trap Teddy and say today is the day you die.  I would never let an animal suffer but he eats well, he does his usual things, if you didn't notice his ears you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with him.

If he was tame I wouldn't hesitate.  If I thought he could live happily inside afterwards and I had a place for him to go nothing would stand in my way in my efforts to save Teddy.  But I don't know if he would be ok inside after all these years as the king of the colony.

They don't teach you in the TNR course what to do in a situation like this.  It's not simple, I only hope that we can find our way to do the right thing, the best we can do for this magnificent creature that I know that all of us who feed feel such love for.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First batch of kittens

On Sunday I picked up the first batch of kittens from the Bowmanville house.  I shouldn't call her a hoarder, she doesn't want to keep the cats, so she may not fit the definition of a hoarder, but I don't know what else to call someone who isn't sure how many cats are in her home.

I took these three cuties to THS on Monday, not a moment too soon, after less than 24 hours Steve and I were already getting attached and felt sad taking them away.  Dear God, maybe I'm a hoarder.  I may have multiple cats but they are all well cared for, fixed and get regular vet care, so no I'm not.  On Sunday the first four older kittens will be going to THS and then we will just slowly keep taking them out and getting the four adults she wants to keep fixed.

I was able to rescue this handsome guy last week thanks to Tania offering to foster.  Tanner is about a year old and soo friendly.  How did he get lost?  I've heard of a lot of cats found recently, all around a year old unfixed, I wonder if students got kittens last year and now are moving and dumping them, just a theory, I don't get how all these friendly cats end up on the streets and nobody seems to be looking for them.  He's neutered and ready to go to a home, he's going to fit in anywhere.
Great news, grumpy Gus got adopted last night, let's hope this adoption sticks unlike the last two.

Many thanks to Dorothea for her donation, it will take care of Tanner's vet bill and go towards all the gas money I'll be spending going back and forth to Bowmanville.

I met with a specialist yesterday about Teddy's ears, but that needs a separate post, there is a lot to digest.  Oh, news on Audrey, one of our relocated cats that I haven't seen for 2 months.  One of the guys down there found her living under his building, I guess that's where she's been all winter, and only came to eat after we left.  Maybe Bonnie was in there too.  Unfortunately they left behind the biggest pile of cat poo I've ever seen, good thing he's an animal lover.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Too many cats to count

Angel lady, she called me.  That's the third time in a year I've been called that.  Well this time angel lady took it on the road.  Wednesday night Avril and I headed out to Bowmanville to meet Katie and assess a hoarding situation in the making.  

I guess it started the usual way, Katie had some unfixed cats, they had kittens and so on.  Now she has so many she's not even sure of the count.  Notebook in hand, I tried to sort it out.  We started with the baby kittens, three black ones running around about 6 or 7 weeks old.  Then we went up to the bedroom to count the nursing ones and there were kittens everywhere, running under the dresser under the bed.  As she was moving them to count them, Katie nonchalantly announced oh look a dead kitten.
Avril and I were of course horrified that this little life would pass on unnoticed.  Ugh.

We counted maybe 15 more tiny kittens.  Then back downstairs to assess the group of 7 -8 month olds. Not properly socialized, they are skittish and need work.  Again we struggled with the exact number, maybe 14 and then 4 adults she wants to keep.  Of course not one of these cats is fixed or has ever seen a vet.

Where does one even start in getting this under control and finding homes for the cats?  Well I started by contacting the Toronto Humane Society and a huge shout out goes to them for saying yes we will help and take these cats in.  There is a ton of logistics to work out but I feel we will be able to shut this kitten factory down pretty darn quickly.

I hope all these cats can go to homes where they will be cherished and loved.  Every cat deserves that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First TNR of 2014

After a long hiatus due to the brutal winter it is time to get back to trapping.  On Saturday we were trying to get a female living in an alley but only managed to get one male.  Still every cat TNRed is a good thing.
The only thing that will get me out of the house early on a Sunday is cats, with a TNR clinic Sunday morning, I loaded up the car and headed out.
I took 4 males in, Jazz, my guy in the trap, and I also took the last of Colleen's cats in to be fixed.  She is one of my outreach people with 5 females and 5 males, now all finally spayed and neutered.
 It was a busy day at the clinic, I think about 45 cats came in, how amazing is that.
There are already lots of pregnant cats, sadly the cold winter doesn't seem to have affected that.

I have a new project, a woman with multiple litters of kittens and so many older kittens she's not sure exactly how many cats she has.  I'm off to Bowmanville soon to assess.  Stay tuned for more details on that.