Annex Cat Rescue is a 100% volunteer charity dedicated to addressing the plight of homeless cats in the Greater Toronto Area by:
- Humanely trapping homeless kittens and abandoned or stray adult cats for placement in our foster and adoption program;
- Feeding and providing medical care for feral cats in designated colonies;
- Curbing population growth in those colonies through trapping, spaying/neutering, and vaccinating;
- Educating the public on the compassionate treatment of homeless cats and responsible pet ownership; and
- Improving urban environments through community cooperation.
- Happy Tails: Pete and Mille
This adorable brother and sister duo named Pete and Mille found their happily ever after together. Although they shared the same journey, these two are unique in every way.
Mille is described as the more adventurous of the pair by her adoptive parent Simon, “Mille is the one who will take off into the basement for hours at a time so you think she’s lost.” A curious creature, “she gets into everything right away. You’ve barely put a bag down and she’s climbed inside and chewed on everything.” A sassy feline no doubt, Simon says that she was “the first to start bossing us around.”
Simon however jokingly refers to Pete as “the fat one”, but Pete is a complex cat. The shyer of the two, “Pete will be the one to hide longer when there are guests over, and he doesn’t jump on your lap as much,” Simon says. Simon believes that Pete may have had a more difficult time at the cat colony, causing him to be more nervous and attached. Adds Simon, “Pete is the guy who never leaves your side; as soon as you get home, he just follows you around.”
Despite being shy at first, Pete and Mille were quick to adjust to their adoptive home. Their new family brought over their toys and belongings from their foster home so that they had familiar things around. Simon recalls, “They hid under the tables and chairs for a little while; it wasn’t until maybe an hour before I got my first head bump on my leg. Within two days, they were comfortable just walking around openly on their own.”
It seems that their comfort levels grew quickly from there. Simon thinks back to one of his favorite pictures of the cats, “That one picture of the two of them on the chair and Pete, the fat one, is lying on his back with his legs sticking out looking like a slob – that was taken at about day seven,” he says. “I sent that to the foster caregiver and to some of our friends and said, ‘I think they are settling in just fine.’ Since then, they own the place basically.”
— Margaret Yu
- Happy Tails: Spoon (Spumoni)
Spumoni, better known as Spoon, was fostered by ACR volunteer Larissa. Spoon came to her when he was around one year of age and Larisa recalls his wonderful personality. “I was won over when I realized that when he’d play with a toy or string and his paw would come near me, he would immediately retract his claws! He was just naturally so gentle.”
Larissa, hoping that Spoon would be adopted by a friend eventually had Kate persuade Maeve to come over to meet the cat. Maeve, had never owned a pet before that didn’t dwell in a cage or bowl but both women were absolutely smitten once they met this special fellow. Maeve says, “When I met Spoon, I had to hold him. He’s just got such a great demeanour – cuddly, mellow, sweet and friendly.” Once back in the car, she told Kate that they should go for it.
The next day, the couple went to PetSmart and bought all the things that Spoon would need. Immediately, Spoon fit right into their home, “I thought I’d need to sleep with the bedroom door closed for a few weeks before I was comfortable with him having the run of the apartment… turns out it only took one night!” Maeve laughs.
Maeve now describes herself as a proud pet owner, “It seems like he’s been here forever…in a good way,” she states in her blog which details her conversion to a cat lover – and with a cat as affectionate and cuddly as Spoon it’s not hard to see why.
— Kaitlyn Uniacke
- Be My Valentine Adoption Event
February 14, 10am – 6pm
February 15, 11am – 5pm
Won’t you be mine?
- Happy Tails: Pekoe (formerly Goldie)
Sometimes it’s just meant to be – this was certainly the case for Pekoe and her adopters, JP Davidson & Erika Range. JP & Erika had been searching for the perfect cat and on a fateful day in January 2013, they thought they had found the one. At the time her name was Goldie; she was 4 months old and had been found living with her sister in an alleyway beside an auto garage. Erika & JP decided to get in touch with ACR to express their interest in meeting Goldie; however, before they had the chance to do so they received a call from Erika’s friend, Ashley Leifso. Ashley told them that she thought they’d be interested in a cat she was fostering, and…lo and behold – it was the very same cat!
Pekoe’s effervescent and affable personality was evident from the start. Of their initial meeting JP recalls, “she was very friendly right from the get go, she didn’t seem especially shy or scared, and she didn’t hide from us.” Since then Pekoe has grown into an incredibly outgoing and well-travelled cat. “She’s really chill in the car and when we get to our destination she’s right out there exploring & saying hi to other animals” says JP, “sometimes it kinda freaks the other animals out, they’re like, ‘What? This is my house!’”
Luckily for JP, he gets a daily dose of love from Pekoe as he works from home. “Every afternoon around 2:30 or 3:00 she comes and jumps up on the desk, says hello, and hangs out with me” he says. He and Erika also enjoy frequent cuddles from Pekoe while relaxing on the couch.
When asked about their impact on each other’s lives, JP replies, “we’ve enhanced each other’s lives. We’re really, really happy to have her… she brings life and a lot of joy to our home. And she seems to like us, she has lots of toys and we give her treats and play with her every day.” Truly, it seems like a match made in heaven.
- Happy Tails: Bug
Even though his name may suggest he’s pesky, nothing could be further from the truth! Words like friendly, playful and affectionate have been used to describe this little Bug. He is also known to be quite the singer, due to his roaring and musical purr! This handsome boy is about two years old and originally from our Dufferin/Ranee colony and has demonstrated to everyone he has met how happy and grateful he is to have been given a chance to have a home.
Heather Page fostered Bug in 2013, until he was adopted that September. She fondly remembers him, “When we got him, he was a year old. He was a very cute and friendly cat. He got along very well with my cat, Jean Luc Picard. They spent lots of time playing and cleaning each other. He also liked human attention. I was studying for my CFA exam and he would sit on the table and watch me, nap, and knock around my pens.”
Heather adds, “He loved to be petted, and would purr in this very bizarre musical chirping kind of way. Very unique, but very sweet. Like Luc, he would sleep on my bed. When my boyfriend went on a holiday with his friend for two weeks, both cats would sleep beside me on the bed each night.”
Heather kept a blog while she was a foster parent, in which she wrote two posts about Bug. One post included a video with Bug’s famous purr which helped him find his forever home with Alison Paprocki.
When asked what made her want to adopt a cat, Alison explains “I was missing having a pet. After I moved I was living with two of my girlfriends, they both had their own cats and I wanted one too. I ended up inheriting one from a family member. Unfortunately, she did awful with the other cats and after a few months I found her a better home.”
Alison’s desire for a cat companion remained, “The next year another girlfriend of mine was moving in, I had mentioned to her I’d really like a cat. While at work she was looking on the Annex Cat Rescue website and saw a video of Bug getting pets and purring. She sent it to me immediately in excitement! I think we both fell in love watching that video. Phone calls were made, papers were signed and he’s been my Bug ever since.”
Bug now lives with Alison, her roommate, and her roommate’s two cats. All the cats get along very well and sometimes all cuddle together.
Alison describes Bug’s personality as “super, super friendly! Bug has a lot of energy, he runs around a lot, and eats a lot; he’s a typical male. He loves everyone! It’s great.”
- Happy Tails: Greydon
Dapper, steel-grey Greydon is friendly and good-natured, so he was easily approached and petted by the feeders at the Chester colony. A good candidate for domestication, Gredydon stayed briefly in a feeder’s home before Bonnie Cook fostered him.
At first, Greydon was very shy. He managed to hide himself in Bonnie’s small apartment for the first two weeks. Bonnie says that Greydon is “ one of the smartest cats I’ve ever known. He had my routine figured out in a day or two and avoided me entirely.”
After taking time to adjust, he started to come out of hiding. Bonnie patiently won him over by playing with him, and got him used to living with humans. After Greydon had been with Bonnie for a year and a half, he was adopted by Carole Paul. Bonnie loved fostering Greydon, “It was hard for me to let him go as he is such a great cat. He is calm and cool and very smart. He liked to sit in my lap and watch TV and loved to be petted. He came such a long way from the cat who hid under my bed for the first two weeks!”
When Carole first saw Greydon’s picture, there was just something about him that she liked. Greydon adapted to his new home, and the bond between cat and cat owner developed quickly. Carole kept the name Greydon since he was an older cat and she “felt it would be wrong to change his name. Since he is dark grey the name fit him perfectly!”
Carole is a trombonist, so she wanted to make sure that Greydon wouldn’t be afraid when she practiced in the apartment. “I went to great lengths to introduce him to the horn in a way so that he would not be afraid,” she explains. First she played records, and then she practiced in the bathroom, so that by the time he met the trombone, he was used to the sound of it. In fact, he now enjoys classical music. These days Greydon is a very social cat. He likes visitors, especially Carole’s brother. Carole is very happy to have Greydon, “He settled in and has become a great pet.”
- Happy Tails: Jake
Meet Jake, a sensitive guy with soulful eyes and jet-black fur, who loves people, purring, and his adoptive home’s dog. Described by those who know him as “affectionate,” “quirky,” and “chill,” this cool cat will melt your heart in no time.
“We’re pretty much equally in love with each other.” admits adoptive dad, Shane Camastro. “I don’t really consider him a pet as much as a friend.”
Foster dad, Jeff Moon, agrees. “Of the eight or nine kittens we’ve had, Jake really made an impression. He was really snugly. He’s a purr-machine.”
Jake joined Annex Cat Rescue as a kitten, after he was discovered hiding under a staircase in Kensington Market, suffering from an eye infection. However, despite his difficult beginnings, he is incredibly friendly and adores people.
“We fostered him about a year and a half ago,” Moon confirms. “He immediately clung to people. He was immediately sociable.”
Although Jake’s sweet temperament should make him more adoptable, black cats are at a major disadvantage when it comes to adoption. The B.C. SPCA estimates that it takes about 24 percent longer for them to be adopted, making up a third of cats in their shelters.
Luckily, he was exactly what Shane Camastro was looking for: a cat facing challenges finding a home.
“I contacted the organization about adopting an older cat but they told me black cats were more vulnerable, and I wanted to adopt a more vulnerable cat,” explains adoptive dad, Camastro. “I got him when he was five or six months old.”
Camastro was smitten. “He would crawl into bed and purr and lick my face until I’d wake up.” laughs Camastro. “He thinks he owns everything. He’s on the table right now, rubbing his face against me.”
However, his dog was not impressed. “The first five months were awful because the dog wasn’t acclimatized to other animals.”
Fortunately, cat-dog relations have improved considerably. “Now they get along great – kissing each other, cleaning each other – sometimes Jake will bite his neck and hug him, and the dog will be walking down the hall with Jake hanging from his neck.”
For Camastro, Jake’s personality really stands out. “He’s pretty quirky.”
“He doesn’t meow, he murmurs. I’ll be like ‘what are you doing?’ I’ve had a lot of cats in my life, but never one like that.”
Foster dad, Moon, fondly recalls another of Jakes quirks: “lounging” on the couch, sitting with legs out like a person.
As to the benefits of fostering, “It’s someone to come home to who wouldn’t normally have a home,” explains Moon. ”For me, it’s not an 18 year commitment. We have probably had a dozen cats and each cat is really different.”
And on the decision to adopt, Camastro says it’s been really positive, pointing out that Jake plays a major role in his life.
“He’s my best friend.”
— Selena Panchoo
- Shake It Up in 2015!
On New Year’s Eve, as I sat at the party table sipping a cocktail and having a love/hate relationship with my girdle – I was asked what my New Year’s resolution would be. At first I grimaced, thinking through all the years where I made extensive lists with vision boards and “10-steps” to get more fit or become more “happy”. Then, after some reflection, I realized that my most successful, fulfilling resolutions never had anything to do with me at all.
A few years ago, I was still new to Toronto, working nights, feeling lonely and completely lost as I had no desire to pursue a career in my newly acquired degree. So, instead of moving back to “the farm” and into my parent’s house, I thought to myself, “I can at least give a couple hours per week to Annex Cat Rescue. After all, it’s a great cause and who knows what will happen.”
And just like that, about two years ago I began volunteering at Annex Cat Rescue, a decision I made not only for my love of cats, but also to get away from me, me, me. By giving my energy and placing my focus outward, I have made the greatest impact on my life and well-being.
After completing the simple on-line volunteer form, I was soon helping with the partnered Spay-Neuter clinics and from there I became an Adoption Facilitator. This was rewarding and also challenging at times, for just as there are many wonderful and caring adopters, there are still some who possess the attitude that cats are an item who require little commitment. However, with these encounters, I gained further insight into how I wanted to re-direct my life.
I’ve had people ask why I bother, as there will always be homeless cats and there’s enough “human problems” in the world. Perhaps that is true, but with that hopeless thought, why bother to do anything in life at all? Homeless animals are a human problem. It’s a problem in our evolution and enlightenment as a society. Each act does make a difference, not only for future feline generations and the ones we directly help now – but volunteering helps put more humaneness in humanity.
Through meeting other volunteers, I have seen such dedication and thoughtfulness to the point that I’ve felt a little guilty. However, I remind myself that ACR has over 300 volunteers and with each person giving whatever time or talents they can, we have been able to help thousands of cats through TNR, fostering or the Stray-Feral Hotline – just to name a few.
I now work at a veterinary clinic and recently enrolled to upgrade my math and sciences (I guess I really did need those subjects after all!) with the intention going to Veterinary College. Two years ago I never would have thought I’d be able to do this. So if you’re looking for a new way to shake up your life, your skills and your network of friends, why don’t you give volunteering in 2015 a shot? You never know where it will take you.
— Brianna Gare
- Cat Safety 101: Holiday Edition
While the holidays may be a time of joy and celebration for us, they can be fraught with intrigue and danger for our feline friends. And no wonder, with so many new sights, sounds, and smells to investigate; our curious companions are bound to explore. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with this super-easy, step-by-step guide to keeping your cat safe this holiday season.
Step 1: Protect your cat from poison
Of course, we know to keep things like medications and cleaning supplies out of reach – but did you know that many of our favourite festive plants and foods are poisonous to our animal friends? In recent events, many people have learnt that some companies spray fire-inhibiting chemicals onto trees, which can pose a very serious danger to your cat if ingested. Try to do your research before buying your tree to avoid a fatality.
Toxic Holiday Foods
Many human foods are harmful to our feline companions, especially the following holiday staples. To protect your furry friends, keep garbage covered and do not leave these foods unattended:
- Milk and Dairy
- Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
- Grapes and Raisins
- Candy, gum,
- Onions, Garlic, and Chives
- Yeast Dough
- Citrus Fruit
- Macadamia Nuts
Poisonous Holiday Plants
Cats love to nibble plants, so consider replacing the following with plastic or fabric varieties.
Do away with tinsel and ribbon
Tinsel and ribbon are sparkly, pretty, and very dangerous to felines. They love it for all the same reasons we do, but if they eat it, it can become tangled in their intestines, requiring immediate veterinary attention.
Move breakable or sharp ornaments
Many beautiful ornaments are also fragile and sharp, especially if broken after being swatted a littletoo hard by playful paws. Be sure to place these a little higher up on the tree or other places that are out of reach.
Keep candles and electric lights out of reach
If knocked over by a curious pet, candles not only pose a risk of fire in your home, but your pet could be seriously injured by both the flame and melted wax. Similarly, electric lights not only pose a risk of burns and cuts if bulbs break, but can also result in electrocution if the cord is chewed while plugged in, so check your cords to make sure they’re in good condition, and keep candles and lights out of your pet’s reach. Bitter apple spray which can be purchased at most pet stores have been known to deter cats from chewing when sprayed onto certain objects.
Anchor the tree
Cats love to climb and scratch trees, especially one that is beautifully decorated with sparkling ornaments and twinkling lights, so make sure your tree is securely anchored to keep it from falling over if a curious kitty decides to go exploring.
Remove or cover any liquid that isn’t drinking water
Water for the tree, in flower vases, and scented essential oils are often full of chemicals that can make our feline friends ill. So, be safe, and cover, remove, or place any liquids that aren’t drinking water out of reach.
Step 3: Create a cat retreat While some pets enjoy the festivities, others can become shy or anxious. Help reduce stress for both you and your furry companion this season, by creating a small space that is just for them to retreat to during holiday celebrations. A separate room with their litter box, food and water will help give them their space from all the commotion.
Step 4: Have a safe and happy holiday season!
For more information on keeping your cat safe, please visit these sites:
— Selena Panchoo
Photo credit: Susan Walker
- Happy Tails: Shasta
For beautiful Shasta, a challenging beginning with her foster dad Michael McGibbon turned into a special bond and a happy forever home with him.
Shasta had been living on the streets when she was trapped, having recently given birth. She went to a foster home for three weeks before McGibbon began fostering her. When he brought her home for the first time, he was expecting her to acclimatize to her new environment easily. “Usually new cats come to you immediately, or at least after a few hours,” he says. “But after a full day she hadn’t come out.”
After five days of not seeing Shasta, he knew he had to help this cat face her fear of socialization and people. For a half hour he tried to coax her out of hiding, resulting in her releasing her bowels from fright and scratching his arms and chest so badly he had to wear a snowboarding outfit just to catch her. He blocked off the hallway of his apartment and sat with her, allowing her to become comfortable with his presence. “I didn’t make much eye contact or touch her,” he remembers. “I just sat and read the news.” It took two hours for tense and frightened Shasta to become relaxed enough to lie down.
McGibbon believed that his new foster cat wanted a friend, but was too scared to trust humans. Determined to help her become comfortable in her surroundings, he blocked off every hiding place in his home and then released Shasta, letting her try and shield herself before approaching her. “She hid in the best place she could, the side of my couch, but she was still exposed. Her body language showed that she was very scared,” he says. “I approached her, took five deep breaths and then started to pet her. She flinched a lot, but I was calm and assertive, just taking deep breaths and not flinching myself.”
After petting her for a whole hour, Shasta had stopped flinching. “Then I went into the middle of the living room and started meowing,” McGibbon says. He explained that when he did this with his other cats they usually came running to him. He conversed with Shasta with twenty meows before she came towards him and smashed her head into his leg. The rest is history.
“It was a special experience,” McGibbon says, mentioning that Shasta headbutts him every day now. He decided to adopt her permanently and spends time with her each day to help her fears disappear. She sometimes still gets scared, but he works with her to make sure she’s relaxed and comfortable in her new home.
McGibbon encourages pet owners to help their animals overcome fears like he did with Shasta. “It is a special experience. If your animal is scared of anything irrational [the dishwasher, plastic bags, a knock at the door, the blender, etc.] make them face it. Be consistent, be patient, do it with love and not aggression, and eventually the animal will come around.” He mentions that connecting with Shasta by helping her stay relaxed and get used to her new environment has helped him communicate with other cats, dogs, and even humans. “I encourage everyone to have as many meaningful friendships as they can, with as many different species as possible.”