Success Stories: Howland Street Kali

About four years ago cat lover Layla Wilde, founder of the Annex Cat Rescue, was living on Howland Avenue in Toronto and feeding a small group of ferals who lived in the yard next door. The matriarch of this group seemed to be a grey tabby female nicknamed Tigey. There was also a calico and a stubby-legged tom. When Layla had to move, she began looking for volunteers to continue feeding the cats, which is how the Annex Cat Rescue was born.


Kali recovering in the cozy bathroom

Kittens and more kittens
Not long after Layla moved, Tigey vanished, although we have recently learned about a colony of cats living in a yard that backs onto the Howland yard. We have helped the people there to trap and have spayed three grey tabby females, so it’s quite possible these are Tigey and/or her descendants. Eventually the calico and the tom disappeared from Howland too, but one of their kittens remained, a small, striking calico nicknamed Kali (not to be confused with Cally up for adoption and Callie/Calypso, whose success story is also on our site).

Kali, along with her mate, an orange tabby, has been producing two or three litters a year, and we have done our best to trap the kittens and find homes for them. A black & white female, probably a kitten that eluded us, has stuck around and is producing kittens of her own now, and a long-haired adolescent tabby, perhaps Kali’s daughter or grandaughter, is now part this colony as well.

Failed attempts
A couple of early attempts to trap Kali and her mate failed, and we kept putting off further attempts because by that time the owners of the house had started feeding them regularly; we had more desperate cases to deal with; and we were then, as now, chronically short of time, money, and volunteers.

Caught at last!
Still, we were more than a little embarrassed that one of the cats who’d inspired the founding of this rescue group remained at large. Finally, on October 29th, 2000, two of our members set the trap up on the second floor balcony where the cats are used to being fed (after persuading Anna, the 85-year-old lady who feeds this colony, not to feed for 36 hours — no easy task, since Anna is very softhearted!) Lured by her hunger and some smelly mackerel in the trap, Kali walked in within minutes.

Back to the colony
She was spayed and then convalesced for three days at a volunteer’s home. The only sad thing is that our vet checked her mouth while she was under anesthetic and discovered she has very few teeth; in fact, he had to remove two more infected molars. Kali cannot be more than five years old, but too many litters, it seems, can do this to females.

Amazingly, while convalescing, she was very scared, but never hissed, spit or bit — even when touched, which made us discuss the feasability of finding her a foster home. Given her age, however, her chances of becoming a truly happy and domesticated cat are slimmer than those of, say, a six-month old, so we reluctantly decided to save our foster space for younger ferals. Kali has now been returned to her colony, and Anna, who was very happy to see her again, will make sure she gets soft food.

Two to go
Next on the agenda are the long haired adolescent (sex unkown) and Bootie, Kali’s black & white daughter, who is much warier and wilder than Kali, so she may be more of a challenge. Stay tuned!

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