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: 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.”
- Twice As Nice Promotion!
This month, Annex Cat Rescue is featuring our “2-for-1” Promotion where you can adopt a pair of fabulous felines for the price of one! Is there any better way to ring in the holidays?!
Beyond the fact adopting two cats makes for double the love, there are plenty of other reasons why it is beneficial to adopt kittens and cats in pairs. Kittens need constant stimulation and a bored cat will often turn to destructive behaviour to entertain themselves. With another kitten in the picture, kittens are less likely to engage in this sort of activity and develop less bad habits.
Having two kittens are better for their social and physical development. Kittens will learn skills in their early years like litter box use and have better emotional development if they are matched with one of their litter-maters or a kitten of the same age. Because of these early interactions paired kittens grow into healthier and better socialized pets.
It is not enough to engage in playful behavior with your own cat, as a human is not a good substitution for one of its own kind. Without another kitten, a cat will mature with bad habits like playing using claws. Kittens also demand more time than any one person will be able to give them.
In addition, an older cat is also not a substitute companion for a young kitten. Kittens have more energy and want to be active for a greater percentage of the time. The cat and kitten will become frustrated with each other, and will never have a close relationship. If purchasing a friend for an older cat is it better to select a cat of a similar age and temperament.
There are a lot of interesting benefits to adopting two cats together:
- Having two cats will help with pickiness when it comes to food. A cat is more likely to each something that their buddy is eating.
- They keep each other engaged, and tire each other out. This is especially important when the owner works for long hours and cannot devote time to constantly keeping kittens engaged.
- Rather than having an isolated pet, adopting two cats will allow for them to grow up as best friends.
- Kittens will learn from each other, and aid each other with grooming. Kittens learn from copying their mothers and siblings. Having two kittens will aid in the development of both the youngsters.
Adopting two pets does not necessarily make more work, and there’s the benefit less guilt when you have to leave them alone for work. The cats will have the same feeding schedule, and litterboxes have to be cleaned whether there is one cat or two, so there is no increase to the amount of work. As well, having two cats can help teach children the importance of relationships between siblings and animals in general .
Cats, not just kittens, are very social creatures. Having a companion can make them very happy and comfortable.
Please visit these websites for more information:
— Kaitlyn Uniacke
- Happy Tails: Thurman and Huxtable
It sounds like hyperbole but by all accounts, it’s absolutely true: anyone who hobnobs with cats Thurman and Huxtable invariably falls madly, deeply, hopelessly in love with them.
Just ask their foster Mom Jacqueline Chan, who jokingly describes herself and her husband Leonard Chan as “failed fosters” because they seriously contemplated hanging onto the fetching and oh-so-cuddly grey-and-white pair, who are approximately 18-months old.
Better still, ask forever Mom Leslie Reed, who would doubtless agree Thurman and Hux are not only boundlessly charming but maybe a smidge magical, too. After all, they helped to ease a badly broken heart.
“We lost our cat Marmalade in August 2013. We had him since he was six months old and when he died he was 15. I know some people wait to get another animal after losing one but I wanted to give my love to somebody else,” Reed offers.
“I had been chatting with a friend who had recently adopted from ACR – who actually adopted Huxtable’s brother, Huey – and she told me about Huxtable. As soon as I saw his picture, I fell in love. That was it!
“Shortly thereafter I met Thurman and I fell in love with him also. I mean, why have one cat when you can have two? The night we went to meet the cats, Thurman was all over my husband Jeremy. Huxtable is a pretty shy guy but he let us pet him and we figured he was going to be ours,” Reed says of the highly bonded pair, who were both rescued from colonies.
Given that Jacqueline Chan has, by her reckoning, fostered some 100 cats over roughly three years, her affection for Thurman and Huxtable is also noteworthy. Talk about having a frame of reference.
“My husband and I love all the fosters that come through,” Chan chuckles, “but Thurman and Huxtable were probably the first two who really made us seriously wonder if we were going to become ‘foster failures’ and end up adopting them because we just loved those boys.
“Originally Leslie and Jeremy were just looking at Hux but we insisted they meet Thurman because we knew they’d love him, too. We’ve twice driven to Newmarket to visit them over the past year,” Chan adds, revealing that among his many ridiculously adorable traits, Huxtable could often be found curled up and fast asleep in a decorative bowl atop their dining room table.
Thurman, meanwhile, is a “super-cuddly spitfire and built like a little tank. And boy did he worm his way into my husband’s heart by sleeping on his feet,” Chan laughs.
Adds Reed, “We call Huxtable ‘Sir’ – he’s proper and prissy and the prince of the house. And he’s a Momma’s boy through and through. He cuddles with me like there’s no tomorrow. Among strangers, he’s quite reserved. Thurman is the exact opposite. He will eat anything, be petted by anyone.
“Honestly, I talk about these two guys every five seconds. We spoil them like children. But we fully intend to have 15 years with these guys as well,” Reed says. “Maybe even more.”
— Kim Hughes
- Black Friday Promotion
This weekend, ACR’s Black Friday Promotion will feature all of our black cats with a low adoption fee of only $80!
Why is ACR featuring a promotion for all our black beauties? Well, when I first laid eyes upon Strider, my second of two adopted cats, he was laying flat on his back, all four extremities extended while a German Shepherd 10 times his size playfully sniffed his exposed underbelly. I knew immediately this brave and welcoming cat would be coming home with me.
Despite missing about half his teeth from being hit by a car or kicked in the face, Strider was the friendliest creature I’d ever met; fearful of nothing and quick with a deep purr whenever a pet was forthcoming.
He’s been with me and my wife for the past 12 years and our lives have been richer for it.
And he’s black.
That fact didn’t weight on our decision to adopt him – his perfect personality was the only consideration – but, unfortunately, that’s not the case for some people looking for a new furry friend. According to the B.C. SPCA, it takes black cats 24 percent longer to be adopted and they make up 1/3 of all cats in their shelters.
There are two prevailing theories as to why black cats are passed over in favour of coloured ones: there remains a stigma of being unlucky or evil, and they don’t photograph well (an issue both for the fosterer/shelter and adopter).
Jacqueline Chan, who’s fostered or temporarily housed more than 100 cats for Annex Cat Rescue over the past three years and has two black cats of her own, has this advice for anyone thinking of adopting:
“Go meet them. You can’t tell a lot from a picture – other than the skill of the photographer. All cats have their own personalities and that’s what you’re looking for more than anything: that match, the one that connects with you on an emotional level. Seeing cats in person, seeing them in motion is so much different.”
But that’s not to say black cats aren’t appealing to the eye.
“A lot of black cats are absolutely stunning in person,” says Chan.” They’re gorgeously sleek with glowing yellow, green and gold eyes. And that beauty comes out when you see them in real life.
“They’re all different shades: some have this deep chocolate undertone, while others are the deepest shiny ebony black. They look so sophisticated and so polished – they can be really, really striking in a way that you don’t get with cats with colours and stripes.”
So don’t dismiss a black cat. He or she comes with the bonus of knowing you’ve done something extra special – contact ACR this Black Friday weekend and maybe you’ll even end up with the next Strider.
Check out this video for 10 more reasons you should adopt a black cat!
- Happy Tails: Princess and Bunny
This is a tale of two cats – sisters – with matching fluffy white coats and fat tails, striking eyes and calico markings. Both were born outside in 2007 to a Tomcat father and an abandoned tame mother, who was trapped and adopted out after her kittens were weaned.
One sister, Bunny, found a loving forever home. Princess, who is Bunny’s sister remains outdoors in a downtown colony.
As the story goes, Princess and Bunny were captured for TNR in early 2008. In keeping with protocol, both were placed with caregivers while they recuperated from their surgery. Princess did not take to indoor life and was returned to her colony after recovery. Bunny, however, seemed keen to explore this domesticity thing.
“So I took her in as a foster,” says ACR volunteer Sara Slater. “Both the cats were about eight months old at the time, and it’s rare for cats that have been born outside and lived outside that long to be tame. But Bunny was purring.
“I completely fell in love with her, so I adopted her,” Sara says. As for Princess’ contrasting fate, “I guess that’s just what happens. Some cats are meant to go back outside and some cats aren’t. Princess has wonderful feeders; she is fed daily by those taking care of the Kensington Market route. She seems to be doing great.”
Indeed as Kensington route feeder James Beaton confirms, Princess has heaps of personality, albeit best viewed from a distance.
“When I go to feed her, she knows immediately that I am there for her, and she pays close attention as I am getting the food ready. When I give her enough space, she will run up to the dishes. She has this very funny trait: she’ll meow and then hiss. Meow and hiss. It’s her way of expressing happiness at being fed but warning that she needs her space.”
Adds James, “A lot of these cats just can’t live inside. But being able to feed Princess on a daily basis allows us to engage with her and she seems to like it. And we are able to monitor her health. The volunteers are quite coordinated on that point.”
Like people, no two cats are exactly the same despite sharing similar backgrounds and while despite their different outcomes, both cats are a success story.
- PetSmart Adoption Event
Join Annex Cat Rescue at our first partnered adoption event with PetSmart Charities.
November 15th & 16th, 2014
PetSmart – 75 Gunns Rd, Keele & St. Clair
To see the cats who will be in attendance, please visit our Facebook page.