Happy Tails: Bronco

Robin “was introduced to the wonderful world of ACR” when her friend posted a picture of Alastor online. Lynn, who rescues cats and cares for a colony in Toronto’s east end, wanted to find Alastor a forever home. With Annex Cat Rescue’s assistance, he was recovering from the amputation of a severely arthritic leg. “I kept checking whether he had found a home. I tend to be drawn to the cats that may not be adopted so easily. He was so beautiful, too,” Robin coos. “Finally, I just said I would adopt him.”

From almost the first night, Alastor slept purring in her ear. He also found his way onto her lap to watch Murdoch Mysteries. “As soon as the theme song started playing, we’d hear a thump and then Alastor’s little lopsided gait,” Robins laughs. Her two felines Andy and Max welcomed Alastor. “But Alastor always seemed to be the outsider.”

Bronco before he was brought in

Then Lynn approached her about fostering Bronco. A severe infection hastened the removal of all his teeth. “I had never fostered before but I felt it was a way I could get involved with ACR,” Robin says. She admits Bronco’s integration into her family was stressful. “No one realized how ill he was, and pilling a cat was never my strong suit.” After months of health issues, he was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma. And by that time Bronco “had become much more than a foster and was now part of our family.”

Bronco and Alastor

Bronco’s illness delayed the time spent with Alastor, Max and Andy. But they eventually settled in nicely. “I have seen a few mutual grooming sessions happen,” Robin laughs. “Once he started the chemo treatments, it was much better.” Bronco and Alastor weren’t as cuddly as Max and Andy but they “definitely had a special bond” being from the same cat colony at Gerrard and Greenwood.

Bronco would follow Alastor around the house or just sit in his company. Robin had never taken in semi-feral cats assuming they would be too wild to show affection. And, sometimes Bronco will give Robin a swat. “It’s like he wants the pets but there is still enough feral in him to be a bit afraid to accept them,” Robin smiles. “He’ll figure it out, it took Alastor about a year!”

Bronco enjoyed Alastor's company

But Bronco desperately wants to be loved. And most of the time Robin forgets he is ill. At feeding time, Bronco will race counter-clockwise through the living room passing Andy’s clockwise casual stroll slowing down as he enters the kitchen. “We call it doing his laps,” Robin laughs. “And if he doesn’t see the food he’ll head off for another lap.”

Robin has learned a lot about caring for cats with medical issues. “I’d never had to give a B12 injection before. I am much more comfortable now.” The vet bills can be a burden. And, getting Bronco into a cat carrier for his quarterly blood tests “is not the easiest thing to do but it gets easier every time,” Robin says.

The most difficult thing for Robin is allowing herself to become emotionally attached to a terminally ill animal. Sadly, Alastor passed away from congestive heart failure last October. But she takes comfort in knowing she provided a warm and loving home “for at least a couple years” of his life.

And despite the emotional pain, she would foster or adopt another special-needs cat in a heartbeat. Robin knows how hard it will be to say goodbye to Bronco when the time comes. But, “whatever care I put into these little guys, I get back so much more in love and the satisfaction. I can make their life better. That’s my reward.”

— Gillian Semple


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