A couple of months ago I was really on the push to find this cat "Smudge" that I used to call Beggar a home. Some of you may remember him, my blog, and my regular postings about him through Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you saw him on the Toronto Humane Society's "lost and found" page where I posted his mug as well? I was also pleading for some kind of help, any help, from a few cat rescues in the GTA as well.
A number of people, friends and strangers alike, put the word out about him needing a loving home, getting him off the streets. He certainly wasn't starving thanks to us and some other neighbours but just feeding him wasn't enough. There be lots of danger to a cat living on the streets. And a cat on the streets is danger to many other living creatures. We all know this but had a reminder one morning when Smudge here came trotting through the backyard with a European Starling in his mouth. Sure it's only a Starling, a pest bird really, but most likely not the only bird he's killed like so many other cats do that roam free outdoors. We can't blame them, it's instinct, but we can help prevent more deaths by being responsible pet owners for both the cat's safety and other wildlife.
Smudge is a great cat. A young adult I'm guessing and so full of love. He just doesn't fit in our household having 2 Budgies who are family as well, and both Ang and I agreed it would not be fair to keep the birds locked up in another room and bring in another cat. Sorry, just the way it goes. Birds are very social creatures and like I said, ours are family.
I was not having any luck with these rescue places I made contact with, err, attempted to contact. And let me tell you, it was really frustrating, confusing and at times just plain upsetting. I get it these no kill rescue places are normally full, especially during late Spring and high season for kittens. But being completely ignored on Facebook, telephone, emails by some of these places really bothered me. Hell, a simple "sorry we are full and cannot take him in" would have been nice, any sort of reply, or maybe some advice on who to try next would have been appreciated. But being completely ignored sucked! And in future perhaps the spare change in my pocket will not go into the donation boxes for some of these places because of this. Not meant as a threat, just I'm a little bitter about it, and there are so many animal places that could use it, not just these couple that I won't name on here.
What was confusing is that some of the places tell you to contact the Toronto Humane Society about situations like this, as that is where they get their cats from. So I call the Toronto Humane Society. And what do I get? More voice recordings, no live speakers, and in the end THS doesn't take animals in like this anymore, they pass you on to Toronto Animal Services. Seems they are all connected and the cats come from one place now... TAC. I've always heard that they will euthanize animals like no tomorrow, it's always been like that, or so the rumors go ever since I was a little kid. It was even in many of the cartoons I watched. Ya go to the pound and they gas you after a week!
Well, a couple weeks back, we made the decision that unfortunately, for the sake of Smudge and for the sake of the wildlife around us, he needed to get off the streets. I called to him one rainy morning and he came to me in an instant, all happy lovey and trusting of me, his friend. He wasn't impressed as I shoved him in Meadow's cat carrier and we went for a drive across Dundas Street West. He looked at me through the holes in the carrier and cried a lot. I talked to him the whole way, promised him everything would be okay, and I put my fingers through the bars so he could feel me with him. He licked and rubbed his nose on my fingers. I had hoped and prayed in the final blocks to TAC that my phone was going to ring, and it would be one of these rescue shelters finally returning my call or emails; as some demand to be contacted by email or they won't reply. But it didn't happen that morning, and to this day, weeks later, it still hasn't happened.
We get to Toronto Animal Control in Etobicoke, on The East Mall. I go inside to talk to them, leaving Smudge in the truck. We had a brief conversation and then they asked me to bring him in. Nobody is really certain his story so far besides living on our street, being fed by some of the neighbours. I figure he's been abandoned, his family moved and left him behind. He's a very social cat, not a wild feral like I see in other street cats. Once inside, the lady pulled him out of Meadow's carrier and had him on the counter giving him a quick examination, checked for a microchip and then totally violated him as she checked for neutering. And all through this, Smudge just went with the flow. I could see the confusion on him, but he didn't put up any fight. I thought the lady to be brave to just grab a strange cat as how she did, but bravo to her. And more so, bravo to Smudge for behaving himself.
He was taken to the back and placed under quarantine for the next week. I was told to call back anytime after that if I wanted an update. I don't know how many times I told her he is a sweet cat and deserves a home, not a life on the streets, and not to be put to sleep. She never talked about euthanizing but I couldn't help shake that thought.
I gave Smudge one last rub on the chin before I left. It tore me right up inside looking into his face. And then I walked out the door. It was a long drive home.
I reminisced about the last couple months with him in our lives. The affection he poured out to us, and how submissive he was to Meadow even when she hissed, snarled and swatted at him.
Life got pretty busy with the Falcon watch I've blogged about recently but after that first week with Smudge gone, it was in my head to check up on him. I didn't though. I was busy. But I was also afraid. I feared I'd get the story of him being put down.
Finally today, July 4th, I made the call at work. I had to! I needed to know. I ate my lunch, then stepped out to the truck to make the call in private. I dialed the number, it rang a couple times, then a woman answered the phone, said "Toronto Animal Services, please hold". I was on hold for probably 2 minutes but it felt like forever. I kept thinking the news was going to be bad. She finally came back to the phone and I said "I'd like to inquire about a cat that was turned in a few weeks ago". She asked for the ID, I gave it to her, and a second later her voice raised in a happy tone, she went on about this cat, what a character he is, and actually the favorite at the shelter these days. This woman in particular looks forward to coming in the mornings and goes right for him, they have a great session of affection before she starts her day. Actually a few of the workers have gotten quite attached to Smudge. At this point, he didn't have a name, he was going up on their adoption website today and she asked me for a suggestion. Of course "Beggar" came to mind first, since that is what I first called him; but I know that's not right for him and I said "Smudge". She loved the name, talked about the black spot on his nose, and said it was perfect; and that a home was certainly in his future.
Tonight I looked him up through Google and found him on their adoption page. And there is his name now with the profile and not just an ID number.
I really hope the best for Smudge, and that a good loving person will take him home soon. He certainly deserves it and will put a smile on someone's face every single day.
I didn't share what has been going on with him with my family and friends just because I wanted to have more information to give than just "oh, Smudge went to a pound... the end". And also I felt horrible for doing it even though it was the best for him.
Here he is sleeping the sunny days away in my ornamental grass out back.
I'm going to start pushing his need for a home again. I swear if one of my friends would take him in, we'd pay the adoption fees... in return we'd just like to hear about him and have a visit once in a while. If any of you can help him out, contact me, or the adoption centre in the above link. Or at the very least, send some well wishes his way. He is better off now; not on the streets, is in air conditioning instead of this humidity, and is getting a lot more attention/affection from people daily. I always worried the longer he was out there homeless, the wilder he would become. But, he still needs a family and a home.