Winter’s Story

Winter was left out in the cold in a box outside of a veterinarian’s office. He was in bad shape and wasn’t expected to live. Barely more than skin and bones at the time, he had a number of medical problems including early renal failure, lymphoma, and kidney issues.

Winter 2014

We don’t know how old he is or what his background was, but he’s a senior cat. Melissa, who took him in last July, believes that he was a pet at some point in the past because he’s so friendly and good with people.

When he first came to Annex Cat Rescue, he was given six months to live. That was two years ago. When Winter’s first foster mom had to give him up due to personal reasons, ACR launched a social media campaign to help him find a new home. This is how Melissa found Winter.

Winter is in what is called a “palliative foster home”, where Melissa and her husband will care for him for the rest of his life, keeping him happy and comfortable. It’s more a forever home than a foster home, as he won’t be adopted. They monitor his health and are in contact with his vet, whom he sees regularly. On his best days, it’s impossible to imagine that he’s sick at all.


The comfort and kindness of a home is really helping. Melissa doubts that Winter would have done as well if he had to live in a cage. In his home, he takes fluids every day to keep hydrated and only eats a special, veterinarian-prescribed diet to keep his thyroid in check. He gets to play and nap, and receives lots of love and care.

Winter is an old boy and while he doesn’t run around so much, he still likes to play with catnip and other toys. “Everyone that meets him adores him,” says Melissa. “He has a life that’s full of love!” He always knows when it’s food time, and does a “loud old man yell” when he’s hungry.

Melissa has decades of experience with cats, although Winter is her first with ACR. For the past four years, she’s been a foster mom with Toronto Cat Rescue, where she had a variety of interesting cases including two pregnant moms having their litters, kittens rescued from sewers and car crashes and other cats with serious medical problems. In the past she worked briefly in animal medicine, so her experience and medical knowledge make her the perfect foster mom for a cat like Winter who needs that extra daily care.

Winter and Fiona

Melissa’s home has other cats in it as well, whom Winter gets along pretty well with. He’s even bonded with Fiona, a ragdoll adopted from a hoarding situation. The two sleep and groom together and couldn’t be sweeter.

His story brings some much-needed attention to older cats with special needs. Some people are wary of special needs cats, but in reality, kitten-proofing a house is far more work than giving a cat like Winter his daily medicine.

Rescue cats are the most loving and interesting cats to Melissa. “It’s like they know that they’ve been rescued,” she says. “They’re all different, and all awesome!”

–Risa de Rege

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