Cabbagetown Festival This Weekend

The 38th annual Cabbagetown Festival of the Arts, Toronto’s longest running community festival, is on this weekend and Cat Busters will be there! Our good friends at the Cabbagetown Pet Valu (240 Carlton Street, M5A 2L1) have generously allocated space for us to host a booth.

We’ll be greeting locals, fundraising, offering information, recruiting volunteers and also seeking loving forever homes for our rescues.

You’ll find us there both Saturday & Sunday from 11am to 3pm (longer if things get busy). Come on out to revel in the festivities and please drop by to say ‘hi!’

Further details:

In Memoriam: Lydia Allain

Lydia AllainIt is with grief and a heavy heart that we announce that one of our foster caregivers passed away on Saturday. Lydia cared more for her animals than she did herself. She vigilantly scanned Kijiji and Craigslist for pet postings, looking for urgent cases and assisting people in finding homes for their pets. On the odd occasion when she couldn’t find help, she took in the animal herself until a forever home could be found. Always thinking of her friends, she made a point of locating items and opportunities that would benefit others. She will be missed, all the more so given the magnitude of change she effected through all the animals she saved. Let us take a moment today to honour her memory. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

Cats and Ladies = Art and Charity

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A group of local women artists, who also happen to be friends of Cat Busters, are putting on an exhibit called Meow Wow running from Aug 6 to Aug 31 at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse.  The exhibit’s opening reception will be on Aug 6 from 7:00 to 11:00pm.  This Cat & Lady Art Show explores the complex and varied associations between cats and women.  From the event programme:

There is no denying that cat culture is incredibly popular. Cats have held a captive audience in works of art, literature, in the home and today on the internet featuring prominently in many internet memes. While these depictions have been both positive and negative, one cannot deny the staying power of the imagery associated with cats, particularly their relationship with women. Witches familiars, ancient fertility goddesses, crazy cat ladies, Japanese cat girls and sexy leather clad feline villain women all show different sides of the ongoing relationship between cats and women in a cultural sense. Why are people drawn to cats this way?

These talented women are also generous: 10% of all art sales will be donated to Cat Busters!  Find a work of art to adorn your walls, support local artists and help an animal rescue, all at the same time!

All Paws on Deck for Pet Appreciation Weekend (PAW)!

AdoptionDay_PAW_20140705Our good friends at Pet Valu are gearing up for another Pet Appreciation Weekend. Four Pet Valu locations — The Beach, Laird, Jones & Danforth and Cabbagetown — will be hosting Cat Busters and many of our wonderful, adoptable rescues this Saturday. Come meet your new best friend or do your shopping while contributing to Pet Valu’s Pet Food Bank Program, which will be making substantial food donations to organizations like Cat Busters!  The same campaign in April raised over $1 million nation-wide.  Please click on the flyer for further details.

Celebrating 10 Years of Cat Busters!

CBAR 10th AnniversaryIt’s hard even for us to believe, but today marks Cat Busters Animal Rescue’s 10th anniversary. Since our modest beginning as a team of 5 in 2004, we’ve somehow managed to rescue nearly 500 animals. That’s a lot of lives changed through sheer dedication and compassion. We hope you’ll indulge us a little pat on the back as we survey the 10 years of hard work. None of this would have been possible without volunteers — you amazing, wonderful people who have worked with us over the years and the new faces we hope to meet in the future. We celebrate you as much as the 10 years of happy tails.

To commemorate this milestone, Cat Busters’ CEO and founder, Adrienne Bentley, participated in this brief Q&A about the group’s origins and colorful history:

How did you get started with animal rescue work?
AdrienneI’ve always loved animals and as a child rescued any strays (or what I thought were strays), in my neighborhood. During the winter of 1999 I ran into a friend of mine on the subway, who was also a cat rescuer. She mentioned to me that she was fostering a blind kitten for Toronto Cat Rescue. Having just seen a fundraising special on television about the Toronto Humane Society and fostering, I had been considering volunteering to do that. At the time I was unaware of the existence of independent rescue groups other than the Humane Society shelters, the Ontario SPCA and a local Toronto organization, Animal Rescue Mission (ARM), long gone now. So finding out about Toronto Cat Rescue and subsequently all the other rescue organizations, was wonderful. I asked her to send me a contact for TCR, and within a week, I was fostering my first cat for TCR. The rest as they say, is history.

How did Cat Busters come to be?
Initially, myself and Mary Anne started discussing the idea of spinning off. At the time we were both volunteering and fostering with TCR. It was then as it is now, a very large group, involved in many avenues of animal rescue. At the time, (April 2004) the COO of TCR made the decision that they were no longer going to be involved in rescuing animals from an animal services shelter that were slated for euthanasia. Both Mary Anne and I felt this was unacceptable, so after some discussion, we decided to start up CBAR. CBAR’s first rescues were all from a high kill shelter outside of Toronto.

How did the group get its name?

IMG-20120109-00260_modCBAR initially started up to rescue animals basically on death row in animal control shelters. Our name came from the concept we were busting them out of jail, to freedom and safety. I wanted to call us Cat Lovers Animal Rescue, Diane suggested Feline Animal Rescue Team (FART), but we ended up with Cat Busters Animal Rescue as a result of a being outvoted at an Exec. Meeting.

How do you balance the demands of volunteer work with your day job?
It’s very hard to do. I go to work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, usually spend at least 4 hours an evening dealing with CBAR business, (answering phone calls or emails, researching for various fundraising and grant opportunities as well as other things) and spending time with both my own pets, and the cats I am fostering for CBAR. My time on weekends is usually spent doing the same. All our senior volunteers have it slightly easier, as they do not have to deal with the communications aspect of the group.

Photo by Greg Hume

Photo by Greg Hume

What’s the most unusual animal Cat Busters has taken in?
Although we primarily rescue felines, we are not restricted to just cats/kittens, we want to help all animals in need. The most unusual animal we have placed was a red-eared slider turtle, Matilda. She was one of four I personally had rescued prior to even being in TCR. I had kept the four as pets, for several years, as I didn’t know what else to do with them. Eventually I found out about an organization that was releasing them back into a conservation area, in the southern US, where they would be safe. By the time it was Matilda’s turn, they were no longer doing that out of Toronto. By this time I had started CBAR, so we added her to our available for adoption internet listings, and a really good home came up for her. We have also placed some fish as well as found homes for two rabbits. The animals we take in to help are really dependent on the foster homes we have. Currently, all we have are people willing to foster cats and kittens, so felines are all we can really help. I took on fostering the rabbits, so we were able to help them as well.

Are there any special rescues who have left a lasting impression on you?
There are many rescues that have lasting impressions on me. I remember in some degree or another, every cat we have taken in (over 400 in the ten years), where they have come from, their names etc. Some rescues are most certainly more memorable than others, usually due to the circumstances they were rescued from. Tripod, the three legged wonder, who returned to her family (of course we didn’t know for sure at time the kittens were her family), injured and still managed to protect them. Tripod’s kittens, who I fostered and bottle fed. Emma, the attack kitty, who was found by a teenager tied up to a tree in a very infrequently visited area of High Park. When I agreed to foster her, she was aggressive towards people, would scratch and bite if she felt cornered, and scared of other cats. She decided to accept my affection, and only mine, for the longest time, anyone else would get growled at, and if she felt cornered, scratched. As we determined she was a safety risk to others, at the time of her rescue, I offered to adopt her. After five years, Emma is a happy cat, who likes other cats and my dog, and is pretty good with most other people.

How do you personally cope with the sheer volume of animals needing help?
IMG-20120117-00006_modIt’s hard for me to personally cope, but I must. The only way I can cope is to put things in perhaps a prioritizing perspective. As the CEO of CBAR, I am ultimately responsible for the well being of all the animals we currently have in our foster homes. The pressure is always on me to make the decisions about when we can help an animal and when we can’t. I’ve found the best way is think of the animals we already have in our foster homes. Will bringing one more into an already crowded foster home stress out the animals already there? If the answer is yes, then we can’t take the animal in outright. The best I can do then is to offer other placement alternatives, or the option of our owner/foster program.

What is your proudest moment as a Cat Busters founder?
I think maybe one of my proudest moments was when we were able to step up even though we didn’t really have the space in our foster homes, to save 16 out of 25 cats (the other 9 were accepted by two other rescue groups), that were going to be euthanized by another rescue organization as they were deemed to be unadoptable. We have all found homes for all the cats deemed to be “unadoptable”. I even adopted one of these lovely natured cats.

What are the best ways people can make a difference?

IMG-20111229-00244_modBeyond the usual responses of financial donations, or responsible pet ownership, (getting their pets spayed or neutered and keeping them in), and of course, fostering. One of the best ways people can make a difference is to give up a few hours (even if only monthly), to volunteer with a rescue group. We all need help. Anything from spending four hours a month at an adoption day, to writing copy for advertising or special event posters, to spending a few hours in a foster home with some of the shy cats so they can get used to other people. It doesn’t have to be a lot, and every minute someone volunteers is valuable.

Lend a PAW this National Pet Appreciation Weekend!

For the second time this year, Cat Busters and Pet Valu are at it again. While shopping for your usual pet supplies, you have a chance to meet our adoptable rescues and/or help Pet Valu raise donations on behalf of rescue groups such as ours. This is one of our biggest events of the calendar year, often yielding many happy adoptions, new volunteer recruits, and substantial food and cash donations that go a very long way towards helping the animals in our care. We’re at FOUR locations so come on by and say hello!

CBAR PAW Event Flyer

New Year, New Look!

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Check out our new look! After 7 busy and productive years, we decided it was time to retire our purple logo and freshen things up a bit.  Thanks to Oliver, our very talented and generous volunteer who was able to accommodate all our ideas and scattered requirements into a clean and elegantly simple design.  Hope you like it as much as we do!

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A Year of Mixed Blessings… Our CEO Reflects

With 2013 coming to an end, I find myself thinking back on our activities over this past year.   One rescue in particular, comes to mind. 

Kittens 1This is the story of Tripod and her kittens: Einstein, Shorty, Marigold, Daisy and Blossom.  In early May, one of our volunteers was contacted by a neighbor regarding a feral cat and her newborn kittens who had taken up residence behind the shed in her backyard.  The little feline family was welcome to remain in the yard until the kittens were old enough to be taken in.

Unfortunately, at end of May, tragedy struck.

Kittens 1bThe young mother cat seemed to have disappeared for a few days, leaving her kittens to fend for themselves.  Our volunteer and the neighbor put out food and water and the two-and-a-half to three-week old kittens came out from their shelter to eat and drink.  They were shy, scared and defenceless but so hungry and thirsty that they braved the world.

Temporarily having no mother to defend them, the kittens were vulnerable to raccoons who would stalk them as prey.  A decision was made: the kittens had to be brought in and cared for by an experienced foster home if they were to survive.  As we are a small group with a handful of foster homes, I was the best option.

Kitten 1On the first weekend of June, as we were making the arrangements to get the kittens, the mother cat was seen returning.   Our volunteer had spotted her earlier hopping rather than running across the street.  We do not know what happened, but she was missing most of her left hind leg.  Somehow she survived this ordeal and returned to her kittens.  She was probably in a lot of pain, but she did her best to protect  her babies from the predatory raccoons and us.  However, it was soon obvious the she was not able to feed them.

So the plans to bring in the kittens proceeded.  The five kittens were caught and I took them home to begin caring for them.  This included treating infected eyes, undernourishment and various other health issues.  Sadly, Blossom, the weakest of the five didn’t survive.

Kittens 2Kittens 3

The other four grew, adopted my dog Bailey as their surrogate mum and although small in size, are almost grown-up kitties now.  Einstein, as his name suggests, is the smartest of them all and at three weeks old trained himself to use a litter box without having to be shown.  Later,  he taught his brother and two sisters.  He was adopted into a wonderful home in August and is doing very well with his new brother and sisters.

The three-legged mother was taken in by the volunteer who first notified us of the young family.  Inevitably named Tripod, the mother turned out to be very young herself; the litter was likely her first.  Surgery was necessary to address the shattered bones in what was left of her stump.  Once recovered and freed of pain, Tripod proved to be an agile and active cat.  In foster care, she has discovered the pleasures of chin scratches, canned food and an abundance of toys.

Tripod 1 Tripod 2

The feline family’s saga encapsulates why we do what we do.  There may be challenges and heartache, but the sound of a feral rescue purring while being petted or the sight of a spunky little kitten finding his place in the world are just a couple of the countless rewards of being an animal rescue volunteer.  May 2014 bring more happy stories like this one.  Season’s greetings to you all!

New Beginnings

In 2006, on a fall day not unlike today, a rescue organization based south of Grimsby, Ontario, found themselves suddenly occupied with dozens of new charges: a large group of abused, malnourished cats saved from the most horrific and deplorable conditions imaginable. Considering how hard it is to place even just one animal in an adoptive home, euthanasia seemed to be the only plausible outcome for 25 of those cats who were deemed “unadoptable”. These sad creatures had apparently been rescued only to be condemned.

Despite our limited resources, Cat Busters immediately took in 16 of those refugees. Through our efforts, each and every one of those cats found new homes where they could live out their years in the embrace of loving families and (hopefully) leave their nightmares in the past.

EmmaThis is only one of countless stories in Cat Busters’ history. Since our inception in May 2004, we have rescued 484 animals, including dogs, two rabbits and a turtle. 283 of them have found forever homes. It validates Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” There were 5 of us when Cat Busters began. Today, we have 11 volunteers, 9 of which are also foster homes.

Just 6 months shy of our 10-year anniversary, it gives us great pleasure to launch this new website. It also marks a new chapter in our operations, as we welcome new volunteers, new partnerships, and an evolution in the way we tackle our Mission, which is:

“…to make a difference for all animals, to provide care until they can find their new loving families. By our actions and by example, our goal is to not only influence but to educate the communities we serve. Our aim is to put the humanity back into being human and re-establish our connection with animals. Ultimately we are looking to prevent the unnecessary euthanasia and neglect of companion and feral animals.”

We aspire to keep improving this site and rely on your feedback and support to continue doing what we do. As our new tagline says, “We’re here for them. They’re always there for you.”