Felines who were hoarded in a two-bedroom Montreal apartment find foster care in Toronto
It’s Saturday afternoon at the Toronto Feral Cat Recovery Centre, and 60 felines arriving from Montreal are proving that some cats could indeed possess nine lives. One black cat with flat ears is skulking at the back of his cage, a tabby cat is trying to escape and a ginger cat is grooming his glossy fur. Throaty growls and chirpy meows echo through the room.
The Toronto Cat Rescue volunteers speak soothingly and reach into the cages to stroke them. The ginger cat starts licking Wendy Forrest’s finger. “Look at them, they’re lovely – I was expecting to see them in worse condition,” she says.
Forrest had reason to worry. A year ago, they were squished into a two-bedroom apartment in Quebec. “Litter was all over the floor – it was very messy,” says Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager of Humane Society International/Canada. When they were seized by the Quebec government in November of 2013, they were sneezing, dehydrated, and “very stressed.”
Three-year-old Meredith was one of the casualties. Twelve months ago she was a “trembling, fearful ball of fur,” says Pauline Lecoq, Humane Society International/Canada team leader. She was depressed, lost three pounds, tried to hide and scratched anyone who picked her up.
Luckily most of the cats were rehabilitated at the shelter where they were kept following the seizure. “We’re so impressed, some cats who were threatened [by people] are now accepting pets,” says Demianowicz.
Meredith was among them. Once shelter workers placed her in an open enclosure where she could roam with other timid cats, she began to flourish. “She gained back her weight, began playing with her fellow felines and started snuggling with volunteers,” says Lecoq.
Once the Quebec government won a lawsuit against the hoarder, HSI/Canada asked the TCR for help finding homes for the pets. Nalini Ramroop, intake coordinator for the organization, says the response to their public appeal was “tremendous,” and all the pets found foster homes.
This evening Meredith will arrive at Robert Peacock’s home. The foster dad is “very excited” to meet her, and plans to win her over with a toy pig and seafood snacks. Peacock opens the carrier’s door and croons “You’re beautiful” to his charge. The cat sidles forward and sniffs his fingers. Peacock lifts her gingerly onto his lap. Meredith shivers with fear, but she stays. “I didn’t think she’d be so affectionate,” says the besotted Peacock.
Torontonians can help by donating money for medication or by permanently adopting the animals at a reduced rate of $l00 in January (see www.torontocatrescue.ca).