Happy Tail: Mag and Leah

Foster parent Susan is no stranger to Annex Cat Rescue, having fostered several litters of kittens since 2011. Her first litter? “An orange mother cat with eight orange kittens. I look back now and that was quite unusual,” she says, laughing. In 2016, she began fostering litters of kittens without mother cats. “I have a new appreciation for how much work mother cats do because, boy, keeping them clean and fed is quite a lot of work! But a lot of fun too,” she explains.

Paris and Pearlite were two kittens out of a litter of five fostered by Susan back in 2017. Their mother, the legendary Batmom of Toronto’s east end, is a fixture in Annex Cat Rescue lore. A site in the east end that had harboured a large number of feral cats was set to be torn down, so ACR’s team of trappers and feeders jumped into action, trying to trap — then foster, neuter or spay — as many of the cats as possible. Batmom, so-named because of the black and white markings on her face, grew to be so trap-savvy that she has to this day not been caught.

Paris

“She’s got quite a reputation,” explains Susan. “Lots of trappers from far and wide in the city thought they could trap her through various means, but were unsuccessful.” Though everyone is in good spirits about Batmom’s ability to evade capture, this unfortunately means that she is still producing litters of kittens. “We knew she was having litters of kittens, so our plan was to wait until they were old enough to walk and emerge but not old enough to be able to run away. The timing was right for these five little guys last summer, right around Canada Day.” The five kittens were named for Canadian cities: Paris, Ontario, and Pearlite for Pearl Bay, Newfoundland.

Pearlite

“I don’t know if it’s because of Batmom’s wiliness or ability to escape, but those kittens were fearless, great little explorers that bunch,” Susan recalls, fondly. When the time comes for her foster kittens to find a permanent home, it’s always bittersweet. “It’s always a little tough and I have to admit that I have foster-failed a couple of times. But really, I know I can’t keep fostering if I adopt them all, so I try to concentrate on how excited the people who come to adopt them are. Deep breath and then on to the next,” she says.

That excited person was Dan, who met Paris and Pearlite in September of 2017. “I grew up with cats. When I was 10 or 12 I had an early morning paper route and our cat, she was a calico, would follow me around the entire route,” he says. “And now that my kids are grown up I’ve got these little guys to keep me company.” After having called a few other places with no luck, he came across the Annex Cat Rescue through a Google search. He was looking for kittens. “I figured one would get lonely, so I thought I would try and get two so they could keep each other company.”

Pearlite

He met Paris and Pearlite at Susan’s, and immediately connected with the happy, friendly kittens. “Both were pretty calm and neither cat is temperamental, they’re both happy cats.” Once he brought them home, he decided to give them new names. The tabby cat became Leah, and the black and white kitten, Mag. Mag reminds him a bit of the cat that followed him on his paper route, “I’ve got one calico here with Mag being black and white, sort of the colour of a little cow,” he says affectionately.

Leah

 

“They’ve grown up quite a bit since then,” he says. “Leah is a lot more outgoing and is always friendly. When somebody comes to the door she’s always there to greet them and get pets. Mag is my timid one, she only likes me,” he chuckles. The two are sisters and get along wonderfully. “Sometimes they curl up and sleep together and one has her arm over the other as though they’re hugging.”

Leah

Dan says that they do get into hijinks occasionally. “I’ve got this little RCA radio, an antique stand-up one from the 1930s,” he explains. The radio is about three-and-a-half feet tall and is placed in the corner of the room (kitty corner). Leah, the more adventurous one, jumped behind it and couldn’t get out. “I came home from work and could hear her crying but couldn’t find her anywhere,” he says. He eventually had to shift the radio because she did this half a dozen times!

Mag

 

“As much as people think cats are independent, they’re more dependent than you think — whatever room I go to they’re always right near me wherever I go.” Mag in particular likes water and is fascinated by the shower. “She loves to have water dripped on her,” he laughs.

Adopting Leah and Mag was a good decision, Dan says. When asked what he would tell others thinking of adopting a cat, Dan says, “I’d tell them that they should do it. In fact, I have a friend who’s contemplating getting a cat and I keep telling her to get a rescue. I definitely recommend it. It’s better to go that route than through a breeder. Rescue cats have nowhere else to go.”

Susan encourages others to try fostering cats. “I’ve taken in kittens that have turned up in colonies and cats that have been abandoned. How can you not take them in and hold them long enough so they can find a permanent home? That’s what I love about the Annex Cat Rescue; for me it’s a responsibility, I’m really happy to volunteer and get these cats off the street, out of the cold, and find them a permanent, forever home.”

Mag and Leah

Her final words? Laughing, she says: “Oh for god’s sake people, spay and neuter your cats! I live for the day when kittens are a rarity, when cats are valued more, and when every animal is wanted and valued.”

–Jessica Pellerin

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