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, May 27, 2014

Letter to Buddy

Dear Buddy, I miss you and love you so much and wish you would come home.  I know you are nearby and that you are safe, but I worry about you and want to make sure that you are fed and have fresh water and love.  I miss patting you and hearing you purr.  It's been 12 nights now without you and the house isn't the same, I keep forgetting and putting out your food bowl.  Your cat friends miss you too.  I've talked to two animal communicators who say you are having fun, but we aren't, we don't sleep, can't eat, I've lost seven pounds since you have been gone.  If you want to be an outside cat we can work something out, but I need you to be in our lives.  These last 12 days have been almost unbearable, I can't go on without you.  You are such a delightful cat, so smart and full of life.  You were my first rescue that I just couldn't let go off.  I remember rescuing you from the porch at Dufferin and Eglinton over two years ago, it was October and you had the worst URI, but you went right into the carrier and hugged us when we picked you up and kneaded happily the whole time at the vet, even when you had to have teeth removed and medications.  

Please Buddy please come home to me.  I can't go on without you...I love you Buddy.

Buddy sleeping 2014
Apollo and Buddy
Ernie and Buddy
Buddy with his babies Dory and Scooter
Buddy 2013

Buddy 2013

Buddy recovering after his rescue
Buddy with his URI when he was rescued 
Buddy having fun with Ernie and Blinky

Monday, May 26, 2014

Why not do a little TNR

In an effort to get my trapping mojo back I decided to try to trap Bobsey, one of the orange and white cats who has been a recent addition to one of the portlands colonies I occasionally feed at.  He's been beating up on the other cats so time for a neuter.

If only they could all be as easy as he was, I set up the trap, walked away and five minutes later he was in.  Connie kindly kept him in her garage overnight and took him to the vet this morning.  Other than some ear mites, thankfully there is nothing wrong with him and the vet thinks pretty young, maybe around a year.  He is quite gorgeous really, and in this picture that Connie took looks very calm.


Teddy still isn't blinking so he remains at the vet and Buddy still isn't home so I'm still a mess.

Good news though, we took five kittens to THS last week (three of whom I was fostering for a couple of weeks) and they already have homes.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Three weeks makes all the difference...

Just three weeks can make all the difference in the life of a kitten, three weeks ago we rescued these two from Gloria's colony, thankfully neighbours saw them and contacted me.  If we hadn't got them, they would have joined the legions of feral cats out there, cold in the winter, dependent on the kindness of crazy people like myself to provide food.  Instead, thanks to Joanne and Susan for fostering them, in just a short time they will be going to homes, where they will be warm and safe and loved, as all cats should be.  We caught their siblings last week, amazing how much wilder they are after two weeks outside, but they too will get their chance for love.

Charlie at rest
Christie having a Sunday nap
It was uplifting to receive these pictures tonight, with all that's going on.  Teddy's surgeon called today, he is doing well but has some facial paralysis on his left side.  It's not uncommon and usually resolves but he's not blinking so now has an ulcer on that eye which they have to treat.  Easier said than done, ever tried to get eye drops into a feral cat's eyes?  Fingers crossed that this clears up and Teddy can recover well.  Must get to bed early, so I can get up at 4 to trap my imaginary cat.  I'm starting to forget the feel of his fur....I miss my Bud Bud.

The new routine

Every night now I go to bed and pray that I will be woken up by Steve coming in to say he has Buddy and every day I wake up and he still isn't home, and I cry.

Ten nights now, and I just don't know how I will be able to go on if he doesn't come home.  Next to Ernie, Buddy is my favourite cat, I know you aren't supposed to have favourites but I do.

Buddy came from one of the first colonies I TNRed, but he wasn't feral, was a purring kneading machine, with eyes black from URI.  I loved him at first sight, and cried all the way taking him to his foster home, by the time we arrived we had decided to keep him.

He's been a delight, full of energy and love.  Buddy was the first one to greet guests and loved any excitement and greeted all new cats with glee, especially the kittens.  He's the reason we kept Dory and Scooter.

So now it feels like nothing else matters.  I feel guilty that we left the window open enough that he managed to get out, and the thought that he's out there and I don't know if he's ok or getting enough to eat or drink, and that I might never see him again, is unbearable.  This has always been my worst nightmare...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teddy good, Buddy bad

I called the vet for an update this morning, and they said Teddy was doing well and had eaten overnight, so that's good news.

No sign of Buddy last night even though Steve stayed up until 5 a.m., caught three raccoons and one very unhappy neighbour's cat.

So far it's double digit raccoons, one possum and Galt, the cat who lives three doors down.  It would be funny if I wasn't so heartsick about my Buddy being outside.

Traps hosed down ready for another night, off to feed the colony, without Teddy I don't go through nearly as much canned food.

Friday, May 23, 2014

All Buddy and Teddy all the time

It seems Buddy is outsmarting us.  Last night he managed to get food out of the trap without tripping it. And here is a picture of him in the middle of the night, we got an infrared camera and it showed him approaching the trap a number of times.

We are determined though to bring him in and we will be back at it tonight.

On the Teddy front, I have great news, his surgery went well, it took four hours to remove both his ear canals.  There wasn't much bleeding, just a bit of facial paralysis, but that usually resolves in a few days.  He'll be at Sandi's for a couple of weeks to recover but then he will be pain free.  Ironically the cats at the yard seem much happier without him bullying them.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If only

I brought in one of the traps last night just to test it to make sure it was working, if only it was this easy, I had to hold Blinky back from going in until I could get the trap set.  It works, at least on dumb cats or curious ones.  Once inside, he didn't even seem freaked out.  Cats!  Why did we domesticate them?

I wish Buddy would be this cooperative.  Another night of hope to have it dashed, no sign of him, three traps, four hours, five raccoons.  I feel sick all the time, I've lost five pounds since last week.

The surgeon called me today after Teddy had been examined and had bloodwork done.  Poor old guy has definitely lost weight but his bloodwork is good with the exception of anemia, but that could be from his bleeding ears.  Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, I'll be anxious all day but that seems to be my constant state now.

Funny last year the colony was the constant, the easy thing where all was stable and happy with no problems, but lately it's been difficult there and it's harder to find time for my outside rescue work.

Maybe tonight I will veg in front of the TV for an hour, we finally found someone to clean our house, but as she was leaving she said she was surprised anyone comes back.  Oi, how did I end up in this position?  I just need some sleep....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We got Teddy!!

Things are looking up, I just returned from dropping Teddy off at the vet for his surgery tomorrow.  I was feeling pessimistic about getting him after our recent misses but Meagan and Joel, who are experienced with a net, were willing to try again tonight so I said sure.  I showed up to meet them and miracle of miracles, they already had Teddy in a carrier in their car.

I cried and hugged them both, and off Teddy and I went.  I know he's scared, I'm happy but nervous at the same time.  It's a big surgery and we have a lot of hurdles ahead but he couldn't stay there in pain with bleeding ears.  I'm still so grateful that so many people donated to make this happen.

Now I just have to get my Buddy back.  Steve saw him in our laneway last night around midnight and Buddy looked at him, turned and ran the other way.  Maddening, so more trapping tonight.  I'm glad he's ok and sticking around but we miss him and want him to come home.  One down, one to go....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Buddy please come home

Since Thursday morning when Buddy went missing, it's all I can think about.  We are besides ourselves, we've searched, postered, nothing.  This happened two years and we had to trap him so Steve and I are doing that at night and early in the morning, barely sleeping.

Update: It's 440 a.m. on Monday and I just saw him outside through the window, moving low to the ground near our house, but as soon as I went out he was gone and no response to my calling him.  It's maddening, he's the friendliest cat inside.  Tonight there are fireworks in our park and I'm terrified for him, this is my worst nightmare.  Please come home Buddy.  He must be hungry, it's been more than four days since he's eaten.

On Saturday my cell phone rang and a guy said he had Buddy, I was so excited.  Then he said he wanted a reward.  I said sure, of course, but he wouldn't take cash, only an etransfer.  Of course he was trying to scam me, but I was so upset, I was begging him and crying.  When we came up with a trick question it was obvious he didn't have Buddy, but what kind of scumbag tries to extort money over somebody's lost cat.

I found somebody who nets cats and they came down yesterday to try to catch Teddy but still no luck.  He is smart.  One of the boat owners was giving us a hard time and called us sick in the head for feeding the cats.  All in all I'm feeling pretty beat up right now.

Life marches on though, and Joanne and I had kittens to take to the vet on Friday.  We took four in, and  yesterday caught two more.  Lives that won't be lived on the street.

Charlie at the vet
Right now the only thing I care about is getting Buddy back.  It's been a horrible long weekend.  I usually love this long weekend but I won't be able to enjoy the fireworks at all, knowing Buddy is out there.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's been a rough week

I know everyone like the pictures of kittens better and happy stories, and I will post some tomorrow when we take four rescued kittens to the vet, we are still trying to get the others but they are wily kittens.

The reality is that I've had a hard week.  Three nights of unsuccessfully trying to trap Teddy for his surgery and being told by the boatyard guys that we can't leave food behind because it attracts the raccoons who damage the boats.

And then somehow our beloved cat Buddy snuck out of the house, and we can't find him.  This happened two years ago and we had to trap him, but I'm worried sick.  Please send positive thoughts for Buddy to come home, and for Teddy to cooperate so he can get the medical care he needs.

Our Buddy

Monday, May 12, 2014

Five years!

It was May in 2009 that we started feeding the Cherry Street cats.  A few years before that I fed a few cats at my workplace, ironically it was just around the corner, and I brought home a kitten, got her mom fixed, then the 2 or 3 cats disappeared and that was that.

But I was looking for something meaningful to do, and didn't want to volunteer at the Humane Society, too worried I would bring them all home.  Feeding feral cats seemed like a good idea, no bureaucracy, on my own time, no homes needed.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into it, and to be honest if I had to do it all over again, I would say no thanks.

In the colony over the five years there have been many changes, all the cats have been fixed, new ones appeared, some found homes, many have died, and now I feed 5 times a week, it's a big commitment.  My involvement with ferals led to my rescue and TNR work.  I've helped literally hundreds of cats, I've lost count, but it's probably four or five hundred at this point, and in helping all of those prevented thousands of kittens being born.  I'm proud of my work, but it's also left me with a houseful of cats, a lot of responsibility and virtually no free time.  I used to garden but there's hardly any time anymore, I'm always behind in my filing and my house is a disaster.  I'm probably close to being divorced, and cats are the largest item in my budget.

What did Steve say this weekend?  I think it was that I've ruined both of our lives.  I have met some absolutely amazing people though that I feel privileged to know, and to be part of such a great community.  I suppose everyone doing this kind of thing eventually reaches a tipping point.

So what do I do?  Ignore the pleas for help?  I guess I have to try, focus on the projects I already have going on, now I'm worried I'm going to end up feeding at Gloria's every day once she moves in 10 days.  Maybe I've done my duty, but I can't just walk away, I never understand how anyone could do that.

Maybe I'm just discouraged after yesterday, we went to try to trap Teddy, no luck, I have money for his surgery but no way to get him.  Clayton was saying boat owners were complaining about the cats and the raccoons being on the boats and there are raccoons because of the cats, I replied uh, how about the hundreds of dumpsters full of garbage.  The raccoons and a dog were eating the cats' food, the boat movement was scaring them, sometimes it's such a frustrating exercise and amazing how much resistance feral feeders are always running into.

Meanwhile, things march on and I'm off to try again to get Teddy, with Connie's help today maybe we will have better luck.  He's been trapped in the drop trap a few times and once in his feeding station, he's a smart cat.

On a positive note, I took 11 more cats into THS yesterday from Bowmanville, 40 down, only 5 more to go.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kittens galore

I went to Scarborough Tuesday night, answering a plea for help.  A lovely woman Carol and her neighbour have been feeding a few feral cats but with it being spring there are kittens everywhere, a litter of 2 day olds, a litter of 2 week olds, and a litter of 6 week olds and another cat pregnant.

First step is to trap the pregnant cat, then to get the 6 week old kittens, then wait a few weeks, get the other kittens out then trap the moms.  Ah, that sounds easy, doesn't it, but the cats aren't always that easy to trap, and there are a lot of resources, logistics and time (oh I forgot money) in dealing with three litters of kittens.  Carol took the TNR course but didn't have a trap and so didn't follow through.  Not everyone is up for trapping, recovery and the organizing of it unfortunately.  I try to help as much as I can, and some people just need a bit of assistance to get going.

I've been helping another woman in Scarborough a bit too, but she's great, she does her own trapping and some transport, I just help with recovery and the clinic, she's even bottle feeding kittens right now.  I felt sheepish when her husband said I should get a humanitarian award and the other woman gave me a hug, it is nice to be appreciated but I do it for the cats.

We are dealing with a bit of a diarrhea outbreak at home, always fun in a multi cat household.  I dumped all the litter boxes last night and that's a feat unto itself and of course the garbage guys picked today to come early.  There I was at 7 a.m. running down the street with bags of poo.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's a good morning

I woke up in a great mood today.  Want to know why?  Yesterday afternoon when I posted we were at $3500 for Teddy's surgery and then amazingly by the end of the day we had reached our goal and were  over $4000!!  I am truly grateful and it also makes me feel that so many people are caring and wonderful.  People who haven't met me or Teddy wanted to help him, that's a great feeling.

I told him yesterday just one more week, hold on handsome, help is on the way, and to be cooperative and go into the trap when the time comes.   He just kept eating....

I stuck around for a bit and more good news, I saw Clara, who I hadn't seen for a week.  She had been living under the boats for the winter where it was nice and quiet but now everyone is getting their boats ready, and it's busy.  I guess she's found a calmer place to hang out but I'm so happy that she's still around and coming for her meals.  Every day I see them is a good day.

A few of my babies at home, Tanner, Dory and Apollo on the cat tree, all rescues.

Monday, May 5, 2014

More good news than bad

I realized it's been almost a week since I posted, well it's been a busy week with more good news than bad thankfully.

Freddy, the lovely shy orange kitty that Joanne has been fostering, found a home this week!   A wonderful couple adopted him, he's a true success story, he went from being living outside for the first three months of his life, to being brought inside, in a cage in an antiques store, adopted out to a house with 2 dogs, returned, then I got involved.  Joanne has done such an amazing job with Freddy and now he has a wonderful home, his other life had he not been rescued, would have been a hard one.

I took two females in to the Street Cats clinic to be spayed, and one had a terrible abcess on her face poor thing.  I love volunteering at the clinic, another 45 cats spayed and neutered in one night!
The clinic where the cats come out for recovery
One of the cats recovering after their surgery
 Poor Teddy's right ear was filled with blood on the weekend so I can't wait any longer, I've booked his surgery for next week of course I still have to trap him but the amazing part is that we've raised over $3500, almost enough for his surgery!  I'm awe inspired by all the compassionate people out there and so profoundly grateful that we have a chance to save Teddy.

I've been trying to figure out a solution for a colony near me, whose feeder, a lovely older woman named Gloria, is moving in a few weeks.  The cats are fed and have shelter in her back yard but no longer.  We did speak to a neighbour who sounds agreeable to at least let us feed, except there is no us as yet, and I am unable to take on feeding another colony.  So still some things to be worked out there.  I caught two of the four kittens that the one unspayed female had about six weeks ago.  I really need to get the remaining kittens and the mom especially with all the instability there.

It's May and there are kittens everywhere it seems.  I'm off to Scarborough tomorrow night to check out a new situation, but it sounds like there are already a few litters, ugh.  I really need to clone myself or not have a job....but the job helps pay for all this.  Those three kittens I was fostering cost about $3 a day just to feed, then's there deworming, flea treatment, there is no such thing as a free kitten.