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.
  • National Volunteer Week

    Thank you

    For 20 years, Annex Cat Rescue has excelled on the energy of passionate people like you! You are part of a dedicated community of over 350 volunteers tirelessly working to improve the lives of Toronto’s homeless cats. Thank you!

  • 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

  • Kitten Socialization Homes

    Kitten season is already underway for 2017! We are looking for a few new socialization foster homes. This opportunity will suit experienced cat people with a separate, quiet space in their homes who can take one or more kittens in at short notice. It’s a demanding, yet extremely satisfying role.

    kitten foster homes

    We need you to understand that these are likely not going to be the cute cuddly kittens you see in social media videos. They are kittens coming in off the street and likely will be terrified of you and may have fleas and other issues such as upper respiratory infections. We will cover de-fleaing, de-worming and vaccinations and well as spay-neuter surgeries when they are old enough. We will also supply you with tips and support.

    Some kittens are easy to “tame up”; others will need more time. We urge you to think carefully about whether this role would work for you and your lifestyle. If you’re not sure but would like to learn more, check this page. It will give you an idea of what may be required.

    By sheltering and socializing these kittens, you will play a crucial role in them getting in off the streets and on their way to forever homes.

    If you’re interested, please fill in our Volunteer Form. Someone will be in touch within 48 hours to discuss further. Thank you!

  • Help cover Stubby’s dental bill

    “One of our beloved colony cats, Stubby, hasn’t been eating well lately so he went to the vet [a few weeks ago] and as we suspected, he had dental issues. Four hours of surgery later (the teeth were fused to the bone from chronic inflammation!) he is now toothless and recovering. Stubby is one of my favourites, he showed up years ago with an injured tail and had to have it amputated. Anyone who has met him loves him, he is a timid cat but likes to be patted. Like all our ferals, he is senior, and the fact that they are all 10+ is a testament to all of us who feed every single day and that they can get vet care when needed. This visit is thanks to Annex Cat Rescue, but I know how much the bill would be, so if any Stubby fans could donate any amount I know it will be appreciated! Say it’s for Stubby, and please send him positive thoughts for healing!”
    — Robin, ACR colony caretaker

    Donate to ACR’s Tooth Fairy Fund
    to help cover Stubby’s vet bill

  • 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.


    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:

  • Sam’s Story

    Sam in his colonyMeet Sam. Sam had been living in an Annex Cat Rescue colony for a few years, where ACR volunteers fed and interacted with him daily. Because Sam was so friendly and showed signs of being open to human contact, ACR volunteers decided he would be a good candidate to be fostered and adopted. It can often be difficult to foster an adult feral cat that has been raised without human contact and some cats are not able to make this transition. The first step in determining this is to do an assessment.

    An assessment determines if living indoors with humans is an option for a cat. Some adult cats born and raised in feral colonies cannot be domesticated and will never be happy living with humans. These cats are often neutered and released back into their colonies as part of a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program in an effort to stabilize the number of feral cats in the community. One of the main things a person doing an assessment looks for is temperament; this is a good indication of whether a cat will become comfortable in a human home.

    The assessment process usually takes a few weeks; socializing can take a few more weeks and usually continues in the foster home. ACR volunteers can assess cats within an assessment home, or remotely once a foster home is found. Mobile assessment is often a better option because there is less movement for the cat.

    Sam getting the treatment he needed

    Sam had been waiting for an assessment home when he was taken in by ACR volunteer, Marianne. A reality with most adult feral cats, and with Sam, is chronic disease. Efforts to feed and care for feral cats by ACR and other organizations often extend the life of feral colonies, and accelerated age can invite chronic disease for these cats. This is a reality that assessment and foster homes often must combat in the care and socialization process. Sam was brought into an assessment home with serious dental disease. Dental issues are very common with older cats and are often hard to spot while the cats are in feral colonies. Sam was still eating daily but was in a lot of pain and had to have most of his teeth extracted, in addition to dealing with vaccinations, worms and neutering. ACR takes on the cost of these expenses as part of the assessment process.

    Sam’s medical issues played a role in his socialization process; he was in a lot of pain before and after the surgery, and stopped eating altogether during the overwhelming process. As a result Sam did not make much progress until his medical issues were attended to and he was recovering. This is a common issue that assessment and foster homes must be open and compassionate about in order to achieve success with their cats.

    Sam's bathroom set up

    After Sam had recovered his progress remained slow until he was introduced to Marianne’s cat. “He instantly perked up,” Marianne tells us, once Sam met her small cat. Being around another cat gave Sam confidence and he began to come out of his shell. A large part of the assessment process is determining the best conditions for each individual cat to flourish. Some cats require solidarity, and some, like Sam, require other cats to be happy. For any foster home, however, it is often important to have a small, isolated room in which to begin the transition process. This allows the cat to get accustomed to its new home in a less overwhelming process, as Marianne did with Sam in her bathroom. Once the cat feels secure, other cats and humans can be introduced and eventually, the cat can explore the rest of the home.

    Sam relaxing

    Sam has been with Marianne since May — longer than average for an assessment home. He is currently waiting for a suitable foster home to become available so he can continue being socialized and eventually adopted. Sam has a gentle and shy nature, and loves being petted and brushed. He has learned that he does not need to be afraid of humans; however, his instincts sometimes take over when he becomes startled. This is a common obstacle with older feral cats and it can be a personality trait that never fades. The ideal home for Sam would be one with other cats for him to socialize with. Sam is very shy but loves attention and requires a gentle home, without small children because of his tendency to get startled. Marianne recommends a home with children 7 years and up. Contact ACR at 416-410-3835 if you think your home is an optimal foster home for Sam.

    —Kathy Ribeiro

  • Volunteer Profile: Erin M

    volunteer as a feral feeder like Erin

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

    I was at the DuWest Street festival and stopped at the ACR booth to buy my own cat a toy. While I was at the booth, the volunteers were so friendly and encouraged me to check out the ACR website. I was hooked when I started looking at all the information and immediately applied to volunteer.

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

    I am a feral cat feeder in Chinatown. A typical shift is just about an hour of walking the route and placing food and water out for the local ferals. The time commitment is very minimal and while I don’t always get to see a cat, it’s a real treat when I do.

    I also volunteer as a transportation driver occasionally. I have had the opportunity to transport some cats to adoption events.

    Crazy Legs


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

    The first time I transported some cats to an adoption event I was thrilled to see the updates on social media about the cats that were being adopted. When I dropped off the cats I had the chance to go around and see who was available for adoption and it was like a little victory each time I saw one pop up in my newsfeed as “Adopted”!

    Why do you think people should volunteer with ACR?

    I think that if you have a little spare time in your week and love cats then you should consider helping out. The time commitment can be very small, but the impact is so much larger.

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

    I work at the University of Toronto doing Policy related work. It’s a completely different world.

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

    I like to be active and play ultimate frisbee and take an adult tumbling class.

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

    I have one cat, Grover. He is a male, domestic short-haired, black and brown tabby. I adopted him from the SPCA in Nova Scotia when I lived there. His mother was a stray who was rescued from the streets while pregnant. I had just moved to a new apartment and really wanted to bring home a cat to share my new home with. The first time I saw Grover I knew he was perfect for me, a little shy, but so loving. He’s 10 years old now and has moved many apartments, and provinces, with me!

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

    I would dedicate my work to all of the ferals that are around Toronto. They ask for so little and I hope that I can continue to help them.

    Find out more about volunteering with ACR.

    Photos courtesy Rondi Adamson

  • Volunteer Profile: Anna-Marie J

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

    I got involved with ACR after I adopted my Buttons in 2006! Buttons was two years old then and had been dumped. Because of the kindness of a woman who cared so much about cats and the support of ACR, Buttons was rescued, spayed and given her shots. Buttons came home with me to share her life with an angora bunny named Gizmo, which I had adopted a few years earlier. Buttons was a perfect friend for him and it is because the foster mom knew Buttons so well, she could recommend her! I thoroughly enjoy being at special events with the ACR to support such a fabulous cat rescue group. The group sells crafts such as catnip beds, catnip sausages, t-shirts and other items, with the proceeds going to support the rescued cats! I love talking with people and hearing their pet stories – all are unique! It is a pleasure to help ACR knowing how they cared for my Buttons and many other homeless cats and kittens!

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

    I continue to help out at special events – last event was the Annex Street Festival, this past June 2015. Also, will help with the crafts by stuffing some of the toys, pricing, etc. As well, I post ACR flyer at nearby health food store bulletin board.

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

    The real winning moment was when I adopted Buttons who led me to becoming a volunteer. Every time I talk with people at the events is a winning moment for me as well. People are interested in knowing how ACR helps homeless cats. Additionally, I love selling the crafts and knowing the proceeds go to help the cats. What is really a winining moment is when some of the people want to buy a cat bed, for example, he/she will ask which one I like. Of course, it is their choice but because they ask, I will let him/her know my preference.  Many a time, that is the item that is sold. Because of that item being sold, another cat is helped!

    Why do you think people should volunteer with ACR?

    Volunteering with a group like ACR is an excellent way to give a voice to those that cannot speak for themselves. It is also helping the community.

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

    ACR does a lot to help the plight of homeless cats and kittens that it just is impossible to mention one thing. From helping feral cats, rescuing cats and kittens, special events to educate the public – it’s all good and needed so much!

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

    Currently, I am a full time student.

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

    My main hobby is providing a loving home to Buttons and my other rescued cat, Gidget. Love learning, reading, music and walking in nature.

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

    As previously mentioned, I have Buttons (through ACR) – since 2006. She shares her life with my other rescued cat, Gidget – Gidget arrived in 2009 when she was 8 months old. Gizmo, the bunny who shared his life with Buttons, went to Rainbow Bridge. He lived a happy, long, long life – he would have been 12 years old. Buttons and Gidget have bonded and are very good friends.

    Buttons and Gidget


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

    Buttons is my ACR rescue and I dedicate my volunteer work for her and to Gidget and bunny Gizmo who is now at Rainbow Bridge!

    Find out more about volunteering with ACR.

  • Remembering Patty Brown, and why her ACR legacy is worth emulating…

    There’s a quote often attributed to the great Renaissance artist and polymath Leonardo da Vinci: “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” Even if it’s not da Vinci’s quote, such a learned man would likely run with it anyway, agreeing that there is something magical—otherworldly even—in the beauty and grace of cats.

    It’s something Patricia Carroll Ann Brown knew very well. Indeed, as long-time friend Lori MacLean recalls, Patty—as she was widely known—frequently conjured a phrase of her own: “Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. And they’ve never forgotten it.”

    Described as a consummate woman of the theatre—mainly as an actress but also as a noted director and playwright—Patty adored cats, which brought her great joy throughout her life until her death in the summer of 2014 at 82 years of age.

    At that time, Patty had two cherished cats, both adopted through Annex Cat Rescue: a black-and-white boy she named Harry and a black girl dubbed Miss Diva.

    Patty Brown

    “She really was one of those fervent cat lovers,” MacLean chuckles, explaining that the two met at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre circa 1989; MacLean as front-of-house manager, Patty supplementing her acting income as an usher.

    MacLean continues: “I’ve been going through her personal possessions over the last few months and there are hundreds of photographs of her with her cats. They were such good and loving companions to her.”


    Patty was determined to celebrate that companionability. In an act of tremendous pay-it-forward kindness, she bequeathed a generous sum to ACR, allowing our charity to continue assisting displaced and homeless cats and kittens across the GTA through multiple outreach and placement programs, all volunteer run.

    Patty also donated generously to the Toronto Humane Society; instances of estate planning at its most altruistic and impactful and gestures worth mimicking by anyone seeking to make a lasting difference for animals at a grassroots level.

    MacLean confirms Patty would be thrilled to know Harry and Miss Diva were successfully placed together in a new forever home. “And those two cats—now both about 10 years old—are still thriving,” she says.

    “Patty felt strongly that ACR was a good beneficiary because it specifically serves cats.” MacLean adds. “That she was thinking charitably even when she wasn’t doing so great herself was really something, and speaks to her lifelong love of animals.”

    — Kim Hughes

  • Volunteer Profile: Sarah M

    Iorek is fostered by Sarah

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

    I first fostered in university. My room mate and I were interested in having a cat but knew we couldn’t commit to adopting as our living situation was temporary.

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

    I foster and I’m a feral feeder.

    I’ve experienced a little bit of everything fostering, from frustration to relief to joy. It can be tough at times when you’ve got a kitty who has behavioural issues. But those are the cats that need you most and that are most rewarding in the end. Seeing them get adopted is such a joyful/sad moment. We provide food, litter, toys etc.

    I moved so I now feed on the other side of town. It’s not as convenient, but still rewarding. The route takes about 30 minutes and feeds about 8 cats. Some you see and some you never see, but dedicated ACR volunteers monitor the feeding spots to gauge the need in each area. The weather is sometimes miserable, but I always feel good when I see the little guys waiting. After all, they’re outside in all weather, all the time.

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

    Probably what I’m most proud of is getting our foster, Fred, to eat cat food again. When he first arrived from the street he was so skinny he was starving, but wouldn’t eat cat food as he was used to human scraps. Using cream cheese and bacon grease we got slowly got him back to a cat food only diet, and back to a healthy weight. He’s now been adopted into a theatre family as Zigfried Dander Stardust.

    Why do you think people should volunteer with ACR?

    It’s rewarding and such a good organization. I love our no shelter method that lets our cats be matched with the best possible homes (and homes with the best possible cats). And I really think we have an obligation to those who can’t look after themselves, whether human or animal!

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

    Getting those kitties off the street! But the trap and spay/neuter program is also so important.

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

    I’m Manager, Certification for the Canadian Association of Management Consultants.

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

    Travel! Reading, writing and, honestly, watching Netflix.

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

    Our current foster is Iorek. He was picked up on Spadina and has been with us 2 years. When he first arrived he chose “”fight”” in every fight or flight scenario. Ready to defend himself always, and startled by sudden noise or movement, he even growled at the toaster once.

    Iroek is being fostered by Sarah

    Now he’s as sweet as can be. He loves to have his belly rubbed and is happy to be cuddled and carried around our apartment.

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

    That’s a tough one. I couldn’t pick just one, as every cat we’ve had has changed our lives in some way. (16 fosters and counting…)

    Find out more about volunteering with ACR.
    Meet Iorek, Sarah’s foster cat who is looking for his forever home.

Donate. Volunteer. Adopt.