Feline Dystopia in Toronto

Susie had been living outside for a number of years and was TNRed in 2016 by another organization. As she aged she also showed us signs of friendliness and we did everything we could to rescue her off the street, but her TNR experience had traumatized her and prevented her from re-entering a trap. This was a complicated situation as the location of the colony was a very busy Toronto intersection and many members of the public knew about the “strays“. Controlling when and where the cats are fed is imperative when trapping and we faced a challenge that people always left food for them. After a few years of earning her trust we were able to feed her inside a cat carrier and that is how she was rescued in December 2020. We brought her to our friends at PAWS Rescue where she happily resided with bonded cats Lenny and Baboo, all retired from the great outdoors. Susie was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and received treatment. If she had not been returned back to the street when she was caught years ago, there is no doubt her chances of living a better quality of life would have been greater, illnesses caught earlier, and perhaps her left paw would not have been injured. In June 2022 she came to live with us at New Cat City for close monitoring when her health began to go downhill. We said goodbye to her forever in November 2022.

We believe all feral cats should not be painted with the same brush. Many cats who are considered feral do have the potential to live comfortably indoors once given the opportunity and the right conditions. There are some TNR (trap, neuter, release) advocacy organizations that recommend to not give these cats a chance at a life safe indoors because they are too “wild” and would therefore be unhappy. These organizations do not spend the time or resources needed to attempt socialization and acclimate to indoor life, with the assessment done while the cat is terrified in a trap. We do not agree with this philosophy. Often it just takes time for a cat from outside to come around indoors, and often times the cat may not really be “feral”. While many groups focus on TNR, which of course is helpful in controlling the outdoor cat population, we do our best to find a way for them to move indoors whenever we have the opportunity.

Molly is one of the regular cats we see. She is on our list of cats to contain to retire from outdoor life.

The feral cats of Toronto are technically an invasive species, due to irresponsible pet ownership. Cats are biologically hardwired hunt and kill wildlife, including many indigenous species of birds and small mammals. They are not biologically constructed to be exposed to the harsh winter weather conditions we experience here in Toronto, the way a squirrel or raccoon is. Placing insulated winter shelters for them helps them to survive the winter, however they still suffer a lot in the brutal cold. When our indoor domestic cats reach their end of life stage we know the ethical solution is humane euthanasia, but when these TNR cats age and become old and frail, there is often no one to aid them to transition to the other side via humane euthanasia, and they suffer alone outside and become targets of predators and die while suffering tremendously. This problem is a product of human exploitation of felines, breeders, and irresponsible cat owners. We believe that all domestic cats should be kept safe indoors. Cats who require outdoor engagement should be supervised on a harness/leash combination, or kept in a secure catio for a limited time. Feral cats (mostly) have the potential to acclimate to indoor life, sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of patience, and of course the ideal environment and conditions. Humans created the feline dystopia that exists out there, and we feel it’s our responsibility to eliminate as much preventable suffering as possible.

Tyler started coming around in 2020. Skinny, hungry, intact, and covered in scrapes and cuts. The other cats (Susie, Lenny & Baboo) didn’t want him around and made it clear, but Tyler was hungry and would wait a little distance away for the girls to finish eating before approaching timidly for the scraps. We started placing separate food for him and shared his photo in lost cat and local groups on social media but no one claimed him, but he was recognized by some who would leave food out for him. We managed to finally contain him in January 2021. After he was sterilized and vaccinated he went to our friends at PAWS Rescue where he took a little while to adjust but transitioned to a lovely friendly boy.

“Estimates place the number of homeless cats in Toronto at between 20,000 and 100,000.”

Toronto Humane Society

“About two-thirds of the bird deaths were attributed to feral cats, living wild. As birds’ total U.S. population at any given moment has been estimated at around 10 billion to 20 billion, that feral cat toll would probably exceed all mortality from window strikes, roadkill, pesticides, pollution, windmills, and all other unnatural causes combined, except habitat loss and possibly climate change—a staggering thought.” This story appears in the October 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Nutella was first noticed by our neighbours outside of our building looking cold and unwell in January 2021. They called the city who came to investigate but didn’t feel the cat was injured and assumed he was a feral cat and left him after scaring him with a net. Unsatisfied with the result, our neighbours then contacted us for help. After several hours of trying we were able to contain with him help of another rescuer friend and we transported him up to PAWS Rescue. He was found to be friendly (not feral), severely anemic, underweight, and was treated by a vet. We also connected with the city animal services and the matter was dealt with, (and their services have been appreciated ever since).
We rescued these two ~six month old brothers off the streets of Toronto in January 2021. They were assessed by the local humane society and deemed too “wild” to be socialized and recommended they be released back outside once neutered. With the brutal cold winter weather we ensured they remained safe and warm indoors and have dedicated a room to them. We called them Remy and Romy (Remus and Romulus).
Donny was with Remy and Romy when he was contained in January 2021. He seemed to be a father or big brother figure (we originally believed he was their mama and temporarily became “Mr. Mama”). After he was fixed, he went to live permanently indoors in a unit inside of the building where he frequented the property.
Lenny was known as one of Susie mama’s kids. She was TNRed by another organization in 2016. We contained her in February 2021 and reunited her with Susie at PAWS Rescue. She never really trusted us but we knew she and her mama were very bonded. Lenny always went for the water before food (in the winter when the water froze quickly). We suspected she may have a medical condition due to the amount of water she drank. She was extremely tricky to contain and we actually caught her using water inside of the trap. She was found to have kidney disease and our friend at PAWS Rescue took very good care of her until the very end. Lenny crossed the Rainbow bridge in January 2022.
Baboo was the final remaining cat at her colony. Baboo (and Lenny) were known to be Susie mama’s adult babies. There was another littermate I was told about but I never met her as she recently disappeared never to return. Susie and Lenny were tightly bonded but Baboo liked to march to the beat of her own drum. She would often disappear for weeks at a time. She was highly elusive and untrusting of us. We wondered if there was another place where she was being fed or sheltered. We finally contained her in March 2021 and reunited her with Lenny and Susie mama at PAWS Rescue.
In April 2021 we learned of a fruit market where kittens were being given away for free. We offered to take all four of the ~four month old kittens to a reputable rescue for fostering. The business owners gave us three of the four as the fourth kitten was promised to someone else. He did not realize that offering the kittens to the public for free is harmful and dangerous. We investigated the parents’ story and helped the best we could. We got the mama (below) spayed and vaccinated and requested for her to be kept indoors.
In winter 2020 the pregnant mama showed up at the open back door of a fruit market when receiving stock looking for warmth and the business owner allowed her inside and she had her kittens there. In April 2021 she had a second litter. We had Mama spayed and vaccinated and asked for her to be kept indoors (he lived above the market).
In April 2021 we learned of a fruit market where kittens were being given away for free. They agreed to give us three out of four of the ~four month old kittens to surrender to a reputable rescue for fostering. The fourth kitten was promised to someone else. He did not realize that offering the kittens to the public for free is harmful and dangerous. When we came to take the mama for her spay, they gave us the fourth kitten too.

In April 2021 we learned about a fruit market where there were some intact cats roaming outside, who trusted the business owner for food. We had Mama’s son Banana neutered and vaccinated and asked for him to be kept indoors (he lived above the market).
In April 2021 we learned about a fruit market where there were some intact cats roaming outside, who trusted the business owner for food. In May 2021 we had Mama’s son Zucchini neutered and vaccinated and asked for him to be kept indoors (he lived above the market).
In June 2021 we found out about Regan living in a shed with four young ones. She was quite young herself. We worked with the property owner and a local neighbour to start feeding them under a secured drop trap for a week and then we contained them all over three consecutive days. Regan was found to be more of the feral side and went to PAWS Rescue for indoor acclimation and socialization.
In June 2021 we found out about Regan (above) living in a shed with four young ones. We worked with the property owner and a local neighbour to start feeding them under a secured drop trap for a week and then we contained them all over three consecutive days. All four kittens went to another local animal rescue with a foster program for socialization.
In June 2021 we found out about Regan (above) living in a shed with four young ones. We worked with the property owner and a local neighbour to start feeding them under a secured drop trap for a week and then we contained them all over three consecutive days. All four kittens went to another local animal rescue with a foster program for socialization.
In August 2021 one of our neighbours contacted us about this little lady looking very unwell found outside. Sunshine was brought to us and we saw immediately that she was in medical crisis. We offered her a little bit of food (mostly gravy) and placed a towel and heat pad over her cold body but we suspected that it may be too late for her to recover. I left the room to arrange medical attention for her and when I returned to check on her she had passed away. We believe she came here to cross over the bridge in a safe and compassionate space.
Robin was contained in September 2021 from the same area as Donny, Remy, and Romy. Donny used to communicate with him through a window and that is how Robin was discovered. We contained Robin in no time and has him sterilized and vaccinated. and now Robin and Donny are best buds together indoors.
Chance arrived in September 2021 after we was caught by accident (we were aiming for a different brown tabby). Sadly, the new owners of a property was looking to remove a colony the previous owners used to provide food and shelter to. He was found intact, not microchipped, not claimed and did not match with any lost cat profiles. He was very shy and tested positive for FIV. He stayed with us and made best friends with Chandra, a cat who came from a few blocks away.
Beans was noticed by a local resident living in a construction site at a very busy intersection in October 2021. She began leaving food for her and tried to coax her out but Beans was very young (~five months) and quite skittish. We came out to help and was able to contain Beans for vaccines and sterilization and found her to be super friendly and unafraid once she was safe. Her original finder adopted her permanently.
Chandra was noticed in fall 2021 by a building superintendent to arrive at dawn looking for food. This was very close to where Remy and Romy came from. It was observed that he was missing a portion of his tail. We contained him in November 2021 and found him to be ~eight months old with a severed and degloved tail. He was sterilized and most of his tail was amputated. He is besties with Chance.
In June 2022 our neighbours noticed this scraggly little guy outside starving and begging for food. They saw him regularly in an alleyway and noticed he had some wounds on his body and contacted us. We contained him and had him sterilized, vaccinated, and given medical attention to his injuries. No microchip and no one claimed him. We called him Raggedy Andy. Our neighbours who found him adopted him permanently.
In September 2022 we came to check on the cats and feed them on a Saturday afternoon when we found Prince laying in a lateral recumbent position inside of the shelter hut/feeding station. Typically these cats are highly alert and I knew he wasn’t sleeping. I touched him and he didn’t budge. He was gently placed in a box with a towel around him. I lightly touched his face around his eyes looking for any signs of pupil dilation or twitching and saw no sign of life. I placed the box on the passenger seat and drove him to the city animal services office for cremation. Once we arrived I looked at him very closely one last time to say goodbye. Then I realized that I saw his fur moving on his chest. I could see his heartbeat. Then I saw a breath was taken. Complete panicking, I ran with him to the office entrance and pressed to buzzer and explained to the person on the other end the situation we were in and that we needed an emergency euthanasia. They came to the door and confirmed that he was still alive, but also told me that on Saturdays they don’t have a vet in the office. I then took him to the nearest vet and they kindly accommodated us. I stayed with him until the end. He was just finally starting to not run away from me. I’m glad I was able to help him cross the Rainbow bridge. No cat should suffer a slow and painful death.
In October 2022 Blucas was losing weight and struggling to eat. We noticed that his lower incisors were loose and literally falling out of his gums. He was contained and his mouth was examined. He was diagnosed with severe periodontal disease. We set up a large wire dog crate for him at New Cat City and raised the funds needed for dental surgery. He recovered from a full mouth dental extraction procedure before going back to his friends.
In October 2022 we were contact by someone who alleged there was a unit in their building containing unsterilized cats and kittens living in a neglectful situation. We investigated and were successful in permission to take two of the kittens to a reputable local rescue and transported them the next day. We were unsuccessful in helping to sterilize the parent cats unfortunately.
Tommy is one of the community cats we help care for. In October 2022 we noticed his right ear looked puffy and sideways, and when he was focused on eating he didn’t mind if I touched his ear to confirm it was very inflamed and felt like a hematoma had developed. We contained him and had his ear examined by a vet. He was treated for ear mites, the aural hematoma was drained, and he was administered pain medication before returning back to his friends.
In December 2022 we contained this little ~eight month old intact male along with a ~two year old intact female (mama?). There was a big winter storm prediction and we got them inside in time, however we realized that the feral cat clinics were all closed due to the holidays. They stayed with their regular feeder who fostered them until we could get them in for sterilization, vaccines, flea treatment, and viral testing (negative for both!). They will stay in foster care for socialization and then adopted out through another rescue organization when they are ready.
In December 2022 we contained this ~two year old intact female along with a little ~eight month old intact male (son?). There was a big winter storm prediction and we got them inside in time, however we realized that the feral cat clinics were all closed due to the holidays. They stayed with their regular feeder who fostered them until we could get them in for sterilization, vaccines, flea treatment, and viral testing (negative for both!). They will stay in foster care for socialization and then adopted out through another rescue organization when they are ready.
A homeowner who allowed two TNRed cats to reside on the property and offered them food and shelter in the veranda suddenly put the property up for sale and moved away, leaving the cats behind with no plans for their care. Fortunately for the cats, a local neighbour noticed them and contacted us. She kindly took over their feeding responsibilities. No longer allowed in the veranda, we placed feral cat winter shelters for them. They were believed to be a mama and son bonded pair. We contained the mama cat in January 2023.

A homeowner who allowed two TNRed cats to reside on the property and offered them food and shelter in the veranda suddenly put the property up for sale and moved away, leaving the cats behind with no plans for their care. Fortunately for the cats, a local neighbour noticed them and contacted us. She kindly took over their feeding responsibilities. No longer allowed in the veranda, we placed feral cat winter shelters for them. They were believed to be a mama and son bonded pair. We contained the mama cat in January 2023. One week later their feeder was able to contain the second cat. We found out she was a female actually, and very happy to he reunited with her friend. They both went together to another rescue for indoor acclimation and socialization.
In January 2023 Blucas was missing from his colony for three days and when he returned he was injured and limping. We re-contained him and promised him we’d help him and keep him safe indoors. We suspect one of the Tom cats from the area may have picked a fight with him. As Blucas is older in age and toothless, he is more vulnerable than his friends. We are assessing to see if our indoor boys can make friends with him.
These two intact males were contained in January 2023 when their feeder received a notice from building management to remove the cat winter shelters. We believe they were abandoned cats because they showed many signs of friendliness. Once they were fixed, vaccinated, flea treated, and viral tested (negative) we sent them together to an rescue for indoor acclimation and socialization.
We first saw her eating food in a blizzard in winter 2022 and we’ve wanted to help her ever since. She is unlike the others who eventually trusted me enough to come close for food. She always was elusive and maintained distance. The other cats did not allow her to sleep in their heated winter shelters or to eat with them. She had her own winter shelter and food station for this reason. She preferred to spend a lot of her days hidden under a stack of wooden palettes. To be compliant with the property owner’s wishes we left her. He was very worried she would not fare well in a trap or contained. We needed to maintain a healthy relationship with this person to continue helping the other cats, such as Blucas. In February 2023 we finally got her! The vet said she is very old. She has chronic untreated ear issues that have caused some serious damage. Her having a good quality of life is dependent on medicating her poor ears. She is likely deaf. She has four teeth left and the rest are missing due to falling out, breaking, or resorption. She has a distended abdomen and has had for a long time. She tested negative for FIV/FeLV. She has a compassionate and patient forever home caregiver who will be helping her live comfortably.


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