Happy Tail: Nero and Dav (formerly Niles and Frasier Crane)

As a foster parent for Annex Cat Rescue, Joanne takes in many litters of kittens. Back in 2017, she took in two kittens who were all on their own.

“What really stands out about the two of them is how they were rescued,” Joanne says.
Niles and Frasier in foster care

“Niles, he’s the black one, he was found at a construction site at King and Yonge.” He was just a tiny little kitty all by himself. “Someone had heard his cries.” A large crane was being brought to the construction site, so it was imperative that they trap and rescue him as soon as possible.

“Frasier, the little tabby, was rescued from a backyard colony in Scarborough. He was also alone and so they put them together. They don’t like to foster single kittens. I’ve done it before, but they never leave you alone. They crave attention.”

Joanne agreed to foster them both and she named them Frasier Crane and Niles — taking a cue from the large crane on the construction site. (Also from the TV show, Frasier).

Niles and Frasier bonded in foster care

The name proved apt, as the two became as close as if they were brothers. “The marvellous thing was, we put them together and they loved each other,” says Joanne. “When I saw how wonderfully bonded they became, I made sure that they would be adopted together.”

This is where Kirby comes in. She previously owned a single cat adopted from the Toronto Humane Society. When that cat died, Kirby missed having her around. She recalls that, “Someone talked to me about bonded pairs. I live alone and I travel a bit and so I thought it might be good to have a bonded pair so they’d have someone else to hang out with.”

Kirby was taking Italian lessons from an Annex Cat Rescue volunteer, which is how she came to visit the website looking for cats to adopt.

Other than a bonded pair, Kirby wasn’t picky. She saw Niles and Frasier Crane on the website and says, “I thought these two looked kind of interesting.”

Niles is a black cat and Kirby had read something about people don’t like black cats. “I thought, isn’t that strange. I went to see them and they were so sweet and so tiny.”

“They’re pretty timid and scared so they’re not going to immediately come and sit on your lap,” Joanne explains. Kirby wasn’t deterred by their shyness and both boys found a home with her.


She renamed them Nero and d’Avola, after a type of red wine grape from Sicily. Since names ending in “a” are generally female, she calls d’Avola by the nickname “Dav.”

They both started to get comfortable with their new home starting out in her bathroom.

While the boys hid behind the tub, Kirby would sit with them and read the newspaper.

It took them a long time to feel comfortable with her. “The cat sitter didn’t even see Dav until after eight months,” Kirby recalls.

Dav grew up to be much bigger than Nero. “They play fight and groom each other.” Once when Kirby was travelling, the cleaning lady accidentally closed Nero into the bedroom. The next day the cat sitter came and saw that Dav hadn’t eaten any of his food, he was so upset to be without Nero.

Having two cats helped Kirby to realize how different their personalities are. “Nero is more adventurous.” He’s twice escaped out the front door, but was found both times. Who says black cats are bad luck? Nero is quite lucky!


Dav is quieter than Nero, but he’s a sweet boy. “I’d be in bed reading and he’d come and he’d sit close to me and lick my arm. I couldn’t pick either of them up in the beginning, but now I can pick them both up. So it’s really taken a year for them to feel comfortable.”

“They’re a lot of fun,” Kirby says. Just like a wine made from Nero D’avola grapes, these cats are getting better over time.

–Kate Kalcevich

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