Annex Cat Rescue: Cat Adoption with A Difference

Annex Cat Rescue is a 100% volunteer charity dedicated to addressing the plight of homeless cats in the Greater Toronto Area by:

  1. Humanely trapping homeless kittens and abandoned or stray adult cats for placement in our foster and adoption program;
  2. Feeding and providing medical care for feral cats in designated colonies;
  3. Curbing population growth in those colonies through trapping, spaying/neutering, and vaccinating;
  4. Educating the public on the compassionate treatment of homeless cats and responsible pet ownership; and
  5. Improving urban environments through community cooperation.
  • Happy Tails: Mossy

    Stefanie and Bernard were up for the challenge of welcoming a new member into their family and the experience has strengthened their relationship. “We were ready to adopt a pet and she’s brought us closer,” said Stefanie. Even though they both grew up with cats, going through the adoption process themselves would be a new endeavour.

    In preparation they did a ton of research on adopting and felt ready to handle whatever challenges arose with the arrival of their new “furbaby”. When scanning cat profiles online, they came across a photo of a beautiful tortoiseshell cat with distinctive markings and a quirky personality to match. They fell in love with the cat named Mossy, who was described as a lover of fetching hair elastics and lounging in hammocks.

    Mossy

    A visit to Mossy’s foster home cemented their feelings as she was exactly as described in the online posting. True to her quirky nature, Mossy came when called and played fetch. While Stefanie and Bernard answered questions, Mossy continued to endear herself to her potential adopters by sniffing and rubbing her face on them. As first time adopters, they were nervous about the process, but Annex Cat Rescue volunteers were available to answer all of their questions.

    When Mossy came to live with them in December 2015, they were careful to slowly introduce her to her new home. They kept her in the living room until she was comfortable, which didn’t take long. She walked around and around the perimeter of the room and within a couple of hours, she was sticking her little nose out the door, ready to explore the rest of her new home at her own pace. “It was all pretty by the book,” said Stefanie.

    Mossy in hammock

    Over a year later, Mossy still loves her hair elastics and playing fetch. Since the adoption, the couple moved once and Mossy adapted right away. “She’s still the same Mossy,” said Stefanie.

    Stefanie and Bernard have modified their routine to ensure that they spend as much time with her as possible. They also stay in touch with Mossy’s former family, sending them photos and updates, and they hope to have a visit sometime in the near future.

    Mossy relaxing

    Mossy is finding ways to interact and communicate with her “parents”. When they come home she runs to the door and starts “chatting” and happily scratches on her scratching post. She enjoys snuggling on the couch in the evening and playing alarm clock in the morning.

    For Stefanie and Bernard there are no regrets. “Bringing her into our lives was the best decision ever.”

    –Jillian Kaster

  • Global Pet Foods Adoptathon

    join us for our next Adoptathon at Global Pet Foods High park

  • Don’t look past a cat just because it’s not a kitten…

    Cats come in all shapes and sizes, from gorgeous ginger to brilliant black. Sometimes, they also come with special needs like daily medication. Some are older, some are timid, some bear the scars of homelessness. What unites ACR cats is their ability to love given half a chance. Don’t look past a cat just because it’s not a kitten…

    see our current adoptable cats

    adopt an adult cat

    a pill a day is nothing to worry about

    street cats have a rough life

    some have to learn to trust all over again

    some cats love each other so much

    Ready to receive unconditional love from an ACR rescue cat?

    see our current adoptable cats

  • The happy truth about FIV+ cats (hint: they’re totally adoptable)

    He might not relish the role but eight-year old Winston could be the global ambassador for FIV+ cats.

    Winston

    That’s because Winston is both a classic example of how most cats come to be infected with the immune deficiency virus and, more importantly, a persuasive example of just how manageable – normal, really – life with an FIV+ cat can be both for its human caregivers and for any potential feline flatmates.

    Winston’s story is a handy testimonial for anyone who may encounter an FIV+ cat candidate in an adoption search.

    Winston - FIV cat

    “Winston is very playful and has a lot of energy,” confirms foster Mom Alexandra Cioppa, who grew up with another cat, Baltimore, which was also FIV+. She continues: “Winston is always hungry – he loves to eat. He is super-loving.”

    Once homeless, Winston doubtless became infected with FIV via a deep bite wound that occurred during a fight with another male cat over turf or food. FIV almost always presents in males, and transmission is almost always through intense fighting.

    FIV – which stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just as HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus – can be transmitted sexually in cats and through improperly screened blood transfusions. But according to experts, it’s rare. Mother cats cannot readily infect their kittens except in the initial stages of her infection.

    Casual contact such as sharing food bowls, grooming or snuggling is unlikely to transmit the virus. Meaning that unless indoor cats have screaming brawls where blood is drawn, FIV negative cats sharing a home with an FIV+ cat won’t contract the virus.

    Indeed, veterinarian Dr. Vlad Stefanescu of Toronto’s Yonge-Davenport Pet Hospital says adopting an FIV+ cat and integrating it into a multi-cat household is something he endorses, albeit with a few caveats.

    “The only real considerations for FIV+ cat adoption are slightly more frequent vet visits, keeping the cats indoors and avoidance of a raw diet,” he says.

    That’s because uncooked foods, meats especially, can include parasites and pathogens that a cat with a normal immune system might be able to handle but an FIV+ cat might not. Leave the fad diets to Gwyneth Paltrow and stick to regular cat food, says Dr. Stefanescu.

    All cats should be kept indoors. However, owners of FIV+ cats have a particular obligation to keep their pets away from homeless cats in their community to help contain the virus. As for more frequent vet visits – recommended twice a year for FIV+ cats versus once-annually for non-geriatric FIV negative cats – that’s mainly because “Dental is also a big thing with these guys,” Dr. Stefanescu says.

    “They suffer stomatitis [a severe, painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums that can cause ulcers to form]. Some FIV cats just have bad teeth and need a full mouth extraction. The majority of FIV cats need regular dental work.”

    Plus, regular vet visits allow owners and vets to monitor small changes such as weight loss that might be more significant in an FIV+ cat. Vaccinations, meanwhile, should be maintained for FIV+ cats just as they are for other cats.

    Humans cannot be infected with FIV; FIV is a cats-only infection. Dr. Stefanescu pegs the prevalence of FIV among owned cats at about five percent. “Leukaemia (FeLV) is actually more common,” he says, adding that he has never treated a cat that contracted FIV from another cat in a domestic situation.

    Adds Alexandra Cioppa, “FIV has never been an issue with Winston and it wasn’t with my cat Baltimore either. I don’t remember exactly how old Baltimore was when he passed away but he had quite a long life.”

    So the takeaway for prospective cat adopters: don’t shy away from an FIV+ cat.

    If you are adopting a cat directly from the street, be sure to have the cat tested while he (or she) is at the vet being spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and typically readied for a new life indoors. Remember that cats with FIV do not always appear sick. In the early stages of the disease, many cats show few signs, so the only way to know for sure if they are infected is through a simple blood test.

    Should an FIV+ positive cat catch you eye on ACR’s adoption listings, don’t reject the cat in knee-jerk fashion. You can’t catch FIV, your other cats probably won’t either, and you’ll be giving a forever home to a lovely fella who will reward you daily with purrs and cuddles.

    Just ask Winston.

    — Kim Hughes

    Update: Winston was adopted!

    Additional reading: http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-diseases-conditions-a-z/feline-immunodeficiency-virus-fiv

  • Saluting Fay Neuber 1959-2015: Daughter, sister, aunt, friend and ACR volunteer

    A quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi goes, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” That same maxim also applies to individuals, and by that measure, Fay Neuber was a sterling example of moral progress where cats were concerned.

    Fay Neuber

    A dedicated, long-time volunteer colony cat feeder with Annex Cat Rescue throughout the 1990s and much of the aughts, Neuber – who died last December after a lengthy battle with cancer at age 56 – had a devotion to cats that was boundless.

    Indeed, Neuber almost miraculously met friend and fellow ACR volunteer Liz Cabral shortly after she was diagnosed in early 2015 while Cabral was coincidentally trying to locate some feral cats near Neuber’s home in rural Ontario, where Neuber had recently moved after two decades in Toronto.

    “It was like divine intervention,” sister Kelly Neuber confirms, “because at that point Fay wasn’t going outside much. But she just happened to walk outside at that very moment.”

    “I saw this lady and asked if she knew anything about stray cats,” Cabral recalls. She did. And with Cabral’s help, four ferals Neuber had been tending despite her advancing illness – Trixie, Pixie, Jackie and Danny – were eventually taken into care as were Momma, Manny, Tara and Jessie, Neuber’s owned cats.

    “Fay would always refer to cats as her ‘little loves,’” says Cabral, who Neuber referred to as her “cat angel.”

    “When Fay was in hospital last fall, I went over to her place to get her cats. Manny was frightened so I had to call Fay and she called out to him, ‘Manny my love’. She said that for about a minute and he calmed down enough for me to get him in a carrier.”

    Says Kelly Neuber, “Fay always talked about Annex Cat Rescue being a grassroots organization, which was really important to her.” (Fay Neuber’s family asked friends to make donations to ACR in her memory).

    “Even when she had moved to the country,” Kelly Neuber continues, “she was so devoted to feral cats. And she stayed in touch with ACR and would occasionally reach out for help with trapping [for TNR].”

    Fay Neuber and Duke

    “Fay was like a long-lost sister to me. She had such a loving heart,” adds Cabral. “She thought cats were such unique creatures. And they gave such unconditional love.”

    And so did Fay Neuber, to the very end.

    — Kim Hughes

  • Happy Tails: Mittens and Snow (Now Cleo)

    When Elliott Bay looked into Mittens’ exquisite blue eyes at an Annex Cat Rescue adopt-a-thon, he was charmed.The catch was that Mittens could only be adopted with his best friend Snow. Concerned that he wouldn’t be able to handle the demands of two cats, Elliott only planned to take one of them home.

    Goh Iromoto is the cats’ former owner. Snow was completely emaciated when she turned up on his street. “She was most likely born and raised on the street as opposed to someone having lost or [abandoning] her,” Goh speculates. “Eventually I put out a bowl of food because I got the sense that she didn’t have a home.”

    It wasn’t long before Goh and his girlfriend started fostering Snow. After a few weeks, when nobody was calling about her, they decided to take her in permanently. Snow became fast friends with Goh’s cat, Mittens.

    Mittens and Cleo settling in

    “I definitely saw the value in having two cats versus one,” Goh says. He had to make the hard decision to put the cats up for adoption when he and his girlfriend split up. “Their bonding and their friendship is comforting to see.”

    It was evident to ACR as well that Snow and Mittens would be happiest if they were kept together.

    Elliott wasn’t only concerned about his ability to care for two cats. His home is also the head office for his business, Real Programming for Kids. At the time, he was considering hiring a new employee who had a severe cat allergy. Fortunately, Elliott had brought his friend, Annie, to the adopt-a-thon, who convinced him to choose the cats instead.

    “How can you put an employee ahead of having cats?” she asked him.

    “If it wasn’t for Annie’s aggression, I might have another employee now,” says Elliot, “but at this point in my life, I can’t imagine not having cats.”

    Mittens and Cleo at work

    These days, Mittens and Snow, who is now called Cleo, rule Elliott’s home office. Many of Elliott’s employees come from cat families and love having the cats around while they are working. Elliott believes that the cats calm the team and actually make them more productive. Elliott, like Goh, now sees the beauty in owning two cats.

    “I think I overestimated the effort it would require to have two cats,” he says. “It’s not that much different from one, and in some ways it’s easier because they keep each other company – they’re either playing, stalking or cleaning each other.”

    Elliott is thankful that he lucked out with two such gorgeous creatures and credits Goh for doing such a good job with them. He just has one lingering worry:

    “I hope they don’t prevent me from socializing. It’s kind of like, who needs a girlfriend when I’ve got these cats? They’re just so good.”

    — Leslie Sinclair

  • Happy Tails: Peanut

    Peanut’s story is one of those feel good stories that make the Annex Cat Rescue’s work worthwhile. Peanut was born to a colony and captured as a kitten with his sister Abby. The pair was seven months old when they were taken to an animal hospital, given their shots, and placed in foster homes.

    Peanut ended up with Adriana, a first time fosterer with a cat of her own. Adriana was looking for volunteer opportunities online, and stumbled across ACR fostering postings on volunteertoronto.ca. After signing up and going through the screening process, Adriana was ready to begin fostering.

    Happy Tails - Peanut

    Peanut was her first assignment and he proved a perfect candidate for a first time foster. Staying with her only a few weeks, Peanut was very friendly from the get go, says Adriana. Peanut took to Adriana’s cat Millie as well, enjoying her company. However, Peanut’s presence caused a bit of jealously on Millie’s part, who was used to the sole attention of Adriana.

    We often recommend that the foster process begins with the cat being isolated in a separate room, often a bathroom, until the cat gets used to the smell of his new environment. However, with Peanut’s young age and cheery disposition, Adriana’s attempts to isolate him proved unnecessary. Peanut was eager and willing to wander around the house, playing with Millie and exploring. Adrianna describes him as cuddly and energetic, jumping around all over the place.

    happy tails peanut

    Peanut was not with Adriana long. They spent a few weeks together before he found a permanent home, where he happily resides now. As Adriana will attest, fostering a cat like Peanut is a great way for volunteers to get involved in the community.

    —Kathy Ribeiro

  • Adopt a Senior Cat Promotion

    Adopt a Senior cat promotion

    Why adopt an adult cat?
    When you adopt an adult cat, you know what you are getting. Their personalities are fully developed as are their body sizes and shapes. They are often up for adoption through no fault of their own; rather it is usually due to their previous owners’ issues: a new baby, allergies, and sometimes, sadly, illness or death. People who have adopted adult cats say they seem more grateful. perhaps it’s because they are chosen last.

    Take a look at our adoptable cats 7 years and older and chose an adult cat first.

  • Report From the Field: Shelter-Building Workshop

    We wondered what it would be like to help out at a Toronto Street Cats’ Shelter-Building Workshop. Yin, one of our writers, volunteered to go and find out. Here is her report.

    I arrived shortly after 10 am for the first workshop of the season, which runs from November to April. Volunteers, around 20 of them, had already organized themselves into different stations in the parking garage of the Toronto Humane Society and were working away to construct feral cat shelters. The goal for the day: 100 shelters by 3 pm. Throughout the morning, volunteers continued to file in, young and old, from diverse backgrounds. There was even a pair of exchange students from Turkey who came to help out. By noon, workshop attendance had risen to over 60 volunteers.

    shelter-building workshop

    When Toronto Street Cats first began these workshops in 2010, the organization had around 12 volunteers who made about a dozen or so shelters at each workshop. In the short span of five years, with the help of over 500 volunteers, TSC has built 3,222 shelters to date. The organization also holds spay and neuter clinics every month and it is looking to roll out its new initiative – putting together teams of volunteers who will actively solicit cat food donations to feed feral colonies. Anyone interested in helping should contact Toronto Street Cats.

    During my conversation with organizers Carol and Kali, they generously shared with me some interesting facts on the supply and demand of these cat shelters.

    TSC partners with companies such as The Home Depot, Canadian Tire, and Armtec to purchase building materials (i.e. bins, insulation, and piping). The shelters are sold at $15, to cover costs, to groups and individuals managing colonies or tending to one or two feral cats. The organization also gives a portion of the finished product to Toronto Animal Services and Animal Alliance of Canada. Shelters from the previous season have all been sold. Orders in preparation for this winter have already begun. To purchase a shelter, please place an order online.

    shelter-building workshop

    Volunteers work in an assembly line fashion. Each station is responsible for a distinct component or step in the construction. They work under the supervision of Team Leads, who are essentially volunteer veterans. I had an opportunity to speak with Joy and Heather, both Team Leads, who have dedicated their time to these workshops for the past 3 years. Both possess an overwhelming passion to help the feral cat population in the community.

    Jan, a first time volunteer, read about the workshop in the Toronto Humane Society’s newsletter. She loves cats and was motivated to help. Grade 10 students Henry, Harry, Fardin, and Tyler also wanted to contribute their efforts because of their love for animals.

    As a result of all of the volunteers’ hard work, close to 140 shelters were completed that day.

    If you are interested in learning more or volunteering with TSC to build feral cat shelters, please visit their website at http://torontostreetcats.com/shelter-building-workshops/. The next workshop is Saturday November 28.

    — Yin Cai

    Photos courtesy Toronto Street Cats

  • Volunteer Profile: Ruth B

    Salem

    What’s your story? Why did you first get involved with ACR?

    I adopted a cat from ACR two years ago. Her name is Salem (formerly Angelina). She is a precocious and pretty, little lady and a bright star in my sky. I saw how much heart ACR has and how being a small group of tightly-knit, hard working volunteers – they really do love the cats that they work so hard to help. I wanted to be a part of it because it is a natural extension of who I am. I also wanted to join forces with those who lend their time, energy and resources to help cats in need.

    How are you helping now? What volunteer position are you filling? What does your work involve?

    I am currently feeding feral cat colonies on designated routes with ACR. I am also gearing up toward being a palliative care foster mom.

    Describe a real winning moment for you as an ACR volunteer.

    Meeting Mia, another feral feeder who trained me. She has been feeding for two years and is a foreign student and a total angel.

    Why do you think people should volunteer with ACR?

    Because the cats need you.

    In your opinion, what is the most important thing that ACR does?

    Saves lives and changes lives.

    What do you do when you aren’t volunteering with ACR? What’s your “real” job?

    I own a pet sitting company.

    Ruth

    Besides rescuing cats, what are some of your other hobbies?

    Everything pets. And writing and photography. I am also a surrogate mom.

    Do you live with any ACR cats at the moment? Who and what is their back story?

    Salem. When I first adopted her, she hid in the closet for a month. She was skittish and afraid of everyone and everything. Her big, bright eyes were so afraid and mistrusting of the world. It took her nearly two years to trust me. I remember the first time she let me pick her up, after a year and a half. I welled up with tears when she put her head down and let me hold her and pet her neck. Now she grooms my hair every morning and melts my heart every time I catch a glimpse of her playing. Her eyes are still big and bright, but they are also filled with more trust and love.

    What cat do you dedicate your volunteer work to and why?

    I dedicate my volunteer work to all of the cats. All three of my rescues and all of the kitties in the world. Because they deserve it and some of the unluckier ones are so mistreated. So I volunteer to help change and save the lives of the ones that I can.

    Find out more about volunteering with ACR.

Donate. Volunteer. Adopt.