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.
- 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
- 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.
- Preparing Your Furbaby for Your Newborn Baby
You have a cuddly kitty at home, a bouncing baby on the way and you’re afraid the two won’t mix. You have absolutely nothing to fear and there’s no reason for you to surrender your cat. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the cat-baby dynamic, but you can put your mind at ease with a few small steps to ensure everyone in your growing family will be happy and healthy.
First off, let’s dismiss the ludicrous ol’ tale that cats will suck the air of a newborn child’s lungs. It’s complete poppycock and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There’s also the misguided notion that a cat will fall asleep on top of a baby in the crib and suffocate it. While there’s never been a substantiated case of this taking place, you shouldn’t let kitty in with the baby during the night. Luckily, it’s easy to keep the two apart. Cats.org.uk has some great tips, including simply keeping the door closed while your (human) bundle of joy is sleeping and keep tabs on him or her with a baby monitor, or installing a screen door. If closing the door isn’t an option, buy at tent or netting to go over the crib.
In addition, you should always supervise any interaction between your cat and baby. A flailing baby may startle your investigative cat and while the likely reaction is for your feline to flee, make sure you keep those claws cut to be 100 percent safe (and please, don’t declaw).
The other concern many parents-to-be have is Toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by parasites that are sometimes found in cats and can be passed to human via feces. According to healthychildren.org, illness from Toxoplasmosis is uncommon in children and adults, but it can result in serious problems if a pregnant woman passes the parasite to her unborn foetus. An expectant mother should take proper precautions: wear gloves when doing the cat litter and gardening – or, even better, use it as an excuse to get your partner or kids to do those dirty chores for you!
Of course, you’ll want to make sure to keep kitty’s life as calm as possible after the addition of a baby to your home. The key here is early preparation. The ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States suggest these steps in order to get your cat ready:
- If you haven’t already, and you should have, spay or neuter your cat
- Set up the nursery early and let your cat investigate. Once they’ve had the full run of the room, put dissuasive elements – pie plates, aluminium foil, cardboard with two-sided tape (cats hate sticky surfaces) – on the furniture, like the crib, dresser and change table, you don’t want the cat to get comfortable on. Alternatively, if you don’t want your cat in the nursery at all, get that door shut right away so kitty knows it’s off limits
- Have a friend come over with a baby and/or play a recording or baby noises and crying so the cat gets used to the sounds the baby will bring
- Wear lotions and oils that you will put on the baby so the cat gets used to new smells
- Move, slowly, the litter box to its new location
- And make any adjustments to new routines: if partner or child will be taking over for nail cutting, grooming or play, make that transition nice and early so the cat knows where to look for attention when mom is preoccupied with the baby
- Increase the frequency of nail cutting so the cat is used to the practice after baby arrives
For further information or tips on getting your home ready, consult your veterinarian or paediatrician.
- iAdopt for the Holidays
iAdopt for the Holidays is a two-month adoption drive that aims to change the lives of orphaned pets and raise awareness about the importance of pet adoption during the holiday season, as more families bring a new pet home during this time than at any other time of the year. The campaign centers around sharing positive real life pet adoption stories as a means to encourage other people to adopt.
Visit http://iadopt.ca/adopter-stories to submit your stories! The top 10 stories at the end of the campaign period will be sent prize packs and the top dog and top cat will win a professional photo shoot with their owner(s) and will be our new poster family for the 2015 iAdopt for the Holidays campaign.
- Happy Tails: Jessie (formerly Muffin) & Joey
Like two fuzzy peas in a pod, looking at the photos below you would never know that these two stunning cats were once homeless, sick and hungry.
Their story began last year, when volunteers at the Annex Cat Rescue were caring for two adjacent feral cat-colonies. Volunteers discovered a very pregnant female cat, due to give birth, and soon. But one day mama cat disappeared, and only after a very anxious search, did ACR volunteers finally find the newborn kitten litter in the bushes. One of those kittens was a very tiny, very sickly black and white girl, now named Jessie. Volunteer Joanne was there for the rescue and says, “kittens are born and we grab the ones that we can and try to get them into foster homes.”
At the same time, another litter was born in the adjacent colony, and a small brown tabby by the name of Joey was found and rescued.
Both litters were brought into foster care where they were provided with the endless love, food and attention that they deserved. Little Jessie had to have special care as her eyes were infected, so badly in fact, that they were tightly closed shut. The foster mother and a team of untiring volunteers worked in shifts to provide eye medication, “we were going over to the foster mother’s house a few times a day to administer medication. The swelling in Jessie’s eyes was so bad that we had to pry her eyes open to get the meds in. We did not know if she was going to lose her sight or not.”
It took about a month of vet visits and eye drops for the swelling to subside. Joanne remembers, “this little one was incredibly patient and tolerant with us, considering how much pain and discomfort she was in. But by the end she was tearing around and playing with her best buddy Joey.”
Jessie’s eyes did not have a chance to develop full vision. Her sight was impaired but her life was saved! And rightly so, as she had bigger and better plans for this world, specifically to shower her adopted sister Joey and her forever mom Meagan with endless snuggles and love.
Having had cats throughout her childhood, forever mom Meagan decided that it was high time she had cats to call her own, and upon seeing four-month old Jessie and Joey on the ACR website, she was ready to nab them both! Meagan says, “I wanted to adopt a couple of cats because they get adopted less and I work full-time and would feel too bad leaving one on her own.” In regards to Jessie’s poor vision, Meagan was not put-off, “it didn’t deter me, it was one of the reasons why I liked her, because she is not ideal, not perfect, but she needed a place to call home.”
After arriving at their new home, Jessie and Joey were initially shy and hid under the bed – typical behaviour of cats when they enter a new place but it did not last for long. In no time both kittens were out from under the bed, zipping through the house, and before Meagan knew it, she was in the middle of Cuddlefest 2014!
In fact, their personalities emerged quite quickly, “Jessie is definitely the quirkier one. Maybe it has to do with her being almost blind, but she jumps at things that are not there. She also LOVES to cuddle and drools when you pet her.” Not surprisingly, Joey is also a snuggler, “she is so friendly, a lot more relaxed and chilled than Jessie, but still very playful. She is also the talker.”
Meagan, Jessie and Joey are a match made in heaven. Meagan says, “we are best girlfriends and Jessie and Joey are the most cuddly, nicest cats that I have ever had. They are so loving that I will sleep with one curled up in each arm at night. They just want to be loved and be around you at all times.”
Like so many kittens out there, Jessie and Joey had a pretty rough start. Homeless, hungry and sick, they were rescued, fostered and brought to good health by the amazing volunteers at ACR. And like a great Hollywood movie, they found their happy ending in the arms of their forever mom Meagan.