Annabelle, called the "Star of the Show," gazes at the crowd during the Toronto Cat Rescue's Adopt-a-Thon.

Stray today, home tomorrow

Toronto Cat Rescue holds cat adopt-a-thon

Cat adoption facts

TCR facts and numbers to consider before adopting a feline this winter:

  • There are an estimated 1/2 million feral and homeless cats in the GTA.
  • Cats and kittens called “ferral” can be those born in the wild that never socialize, or they can be abandoned or lost pets that have become wild.
  • TCR does not have a shelter; cats and kittens are held at foster homes while awaiting adoption.
  • Short term foster homes care for cats for two weeks to a month; long term foster homes range from four to over six months.
  • In 2011, 1587 cats and kittens were adopted while 626 cats and kittens were adopted as of June 15, 2012.

–  Toronto Cat Rescue

With ice storms, heavy snowfall and temperatures below zero, it  may seem a fitting time for people to adopt stray animals at this time of year. The weather, however, does not play a significant role in the decision to adopt, according to Toronto Cat Rescue.

A cat adopt-a-thon held on Feb. 2 at the Wag, an East York pet shop on Danforth Ave., was one of the events dedicated to giving cats a permanent home this winter.

Stray and abandoned cats are a year-round problem, making it important to hold events such as this all year and not only in the winter, according to Toronto Cat Rescue.

The organization also has rescued many abandoned cats found in an empty home.

“It was a unique and daunting situation where 100 cats were rescued from an apartment,” Nalini Ramroop, organizer of the cat adoption event, said.

“Generally the cats are rescued outside,” she said. “Friendly strays and feral kittens born outside and owner surrenders. But for 2014, we’ve partnered with Toronto Animal Services. We will be taking cats from them that aren’t doing well in the shelter and working with those cats.”

Although the cat crisis is more than just a seasonal issue, the winter does take a toll on adult stray cats.

“Winter is mostly effecting the poor feral cats who are struggling out there for food and shelter,” Ramroop said.

“I was a cat owner before I was a volunteer,” she said. “It was typical thing, a stray in the backyard and I took him in. I’m just a cat lover and an animal lover and I just found out there’s a huge need for the cat crisis and that’s why I passionately volunteer.”

Toronto Cat Rescue has been teaming up with The Wag for almost six years — since the store opened.

“I think we should be having these events regardless because it doesn’t matter whether it’s a cold winter or a harsh summer,” Ruth Heathcote, owner of the store and local East York resident, said. “There’s always the same number of homeless and stray animals out there that need homes and we have to be proactive and try to get them homes. So as many events as we can hold, we will do it.”

Since its store opening, The Wag and its owners were intent on giving back to the cause.

“When we opened the pet store, we wanted to make sure we had adoption events like this so that we could give back a little bit and make sure cats would be adopted out through our shop and not promote breeding,” Heathcote said.

Heathcote intends to hold adopt-a-thon events every two or three months. A permanent adoption schedule will be posted at the shop. This will give people who are unsure of their decision the opportunity to come back and eventually adopt.

“Toronto Cat Rescue does a really good job of fostering the cats out in different people’s homes, so there’s always going to be another cat that needs a home,” Heathcote said.