I came to be a cat mom unexpectantly after a mutual friend rescued abandoned kittens from the cold and brought them to the shared house I was living in for sanctuary, since his own home was inhabited by 4 dogs. Brothers Hemingway and Howard as we named them, spent their early days rolling over eachother playfully in an old house shared by five girls, until us girls went our separate ways a couple of months later. Howard is now living in Montreal with his adopted mom and I’m here with my Hemingway. Though he grew up with many different people and is a consequently a very confident cat, I’ve often worried that Hemingway needs a playmate. So this past fall I registered to volunteer as a foster home for Toronto Cat rescue.
I submitted my information through the website, and arranged to speak with a volunteer coordinator over the phone in November. She asked me to describe my living situation, my work schedule, and my experience with animals. A couple of weeks later I was approved and added to the contact list for foster volunteers, meaning that I receive frequent updates as to new cats that need a placement. The new cats can arrive at Toronto Cat Rescue in groups as large as 100 depending on where they have been rescued from (often a breeding or hoarding situation in this case), so the TCR team is often scrambling to home cats before new rescues arrive. The new cats are listed on a google form with photo, age and basic care information, so that volunteers can browse the list and see if their home is a good fit.
Though I was eager to be able to start helping, there were a number of reasons that the timing was off for my boyfriend and I in the fall, including financial concern and interpersonal stresses. In February we began renting out one of the bedrooms in our apartment to subsidize our collective rent, which was another reason not to bring in another cat. But then that rooommmate situation fell through after one short month, and I figured while we waited to fill the space again that this may be the best time to try fostering. Cue Yondu.
Unfortunately for my boyfriend I am a very impulsive person, and so when it occurred to me that it may actually work out to foster a cat I jumped at the opportunity right away. Within ten minutes of emailing Toronto Cat Rescue to inquire about the two remaining rescues on the list, I was in correspondance with a volunteer driver who was driving to Scarborough to pick up a black cat named Yondu and bring him to my home. The name, as clarified by a quick google search, is inspired by a Marvel Comics character who presents as a large blue alien. It didn’t seem particularly fitting for him.
As quickly as I was able, I began setting up a sanctuary space for Yondu— aka a room of his own with a closed door and ammmenities, so that he could acclimize to the house at his own pace.
It is Toronto Cat Rescue’s policy that all new fosters be quarantined from people and other pets until they have been able to settle and take in some of the new scents. The foster is safely monitored for any illness or strange behaviours they may be experiencing. In my case, Yondu’s sanctuary room was the shared office beside my boyfriend and I’s bedroom, a cute little room facing west that gets beautiful evening light.
What was clear right way was that Yondu smelled…bad. We assessed him to see where the scent was coming from, whether it were all over or stemming from a specific orfice like his ear canals, mouth or anus. But it was definitely his long black fur, which he likely had been struggling to self clean. In order to avoid the trauma of forcing Yondu into water, I bought a special hypoallergenic cleaning foam for pets which I was told I could massage into his fur without water, and towel dry off. It worked perfectly— Yondu allowed me to clean him with the foam as if I were simply petting him. Then he let me brush out his fur and slowly remove some of the remaining mats.
Within only a couple of days, Yondu grew in confidence. He was playing with toys, running around his room, and pawing at the space below the door where my resident cat patiently awaited him. Now the two are finally playmates. They play like young boys though, which they are (at aproximately 1 year of age respectively). They chase and stalk each other, and wrestle and paw. A few times the slightly agressive play fighting would be interrupted by a hiss or a loud meow and I’d find toughs of their fur on the ground. But they each returned for more immediately so I had to beleive it was still playful.
Beyond the play fighting, Yondu’s habits are pretty typical. He curls up in the sunny spots by the windows, greets us at the door when we return home, and nearly trips us in his excitment for dinner. He’s a particularly vocal cat, unlike my own who looks at Yondu confused when he’s meowed at. I read once that only kittens meow and cats maintain the behaviour to communicate with humans, but not eachother. So I think it’s safe to say that Yondu doesn’t completely know how to hangout with another cat. As such he comes off as awkward and a little needy lol, but what pet owner doesn’t want their cat to need their love? He’s a perfect [people cat], who happens to be playful and social with other animals.
Now it’s just a patient wait to find Yondu a permanent home. In a few days, his bio will be published on the Toronto Cat Rescue website so that people know he’s available for adoption, and I’ll be sure to share that link on social media. You can view the Toronto Cat Rescue adoptable cats at this page.