Please help us find a way to rehome two lovely cats, near Toronto
April 7, 2015 6:17 PM   Subscribe

We've been hit with the perfect storm of awful over the last few weeks. We've found a way around a lot of it, or through a lot of it, but all leads for rehoming two cats (who are just lovely, and sweet) have failed us. Can you point us to someplace/one that could help, potentially? Any ideas we may not have thought of? The location is Oakville, Ontario, near Toronto.

I've been struggling with symptoms for months, and only after a referral to an allergist did I discover the worst - I have developed an allergy to our two cats. Soon after, we discovered our residency application and extension work permit in Canada were rejected. We now have to sell off or store everything we own and go back to the US. Which is terrible. But the worst of it is that there will be no way to take these cats. We'll be traveling in an RV to get back to California from the Toronto area. Two cats, my allergies, and an enclosed space are a recipe for misery for all involved. But we don't have any other options. The loss of the permit means no work, so hubby and I are both out of work and scared financially. We can't afford to fly them to California, and even if we could, we can't keep them with the allergies.

This is hard and horrible, and it took me too long to post this because I was so afraid of the reactions. Yes, this is horrible. This is the first time I have ever rehomed an animal, and it's harder knowing these will be our last cats. At the same time, they would be miserable having to ride through the next step in our journey, and they deserve a nice quiet home to loll about in. We have tried rescue groups as far back as February. We also asked friends, coworkers, relatives, and pretty much everyone we know. The rescue places tell me it is "near impossible" to find a home for an older cat (they are 10 and 11). Someone suggested the Toronto Humane Society - but they can't even get us in for an evaluation of the cats until 2 days after we have to be out of Canada. We also have tried Oakville Humane Society who, oddly enough, told us we HAD to post a "free to good home" poster in their lobby to even be considered - "Free"? That seemed unwise. But we did it, against our better judgement, to get evaluated for the cats to go there. We've heard nothing yet from them. Another option we've been afraid to follow is Kijiji (Canada's craigslist). But we're up against a wall here. We have 10 days to get out of dodge. And I have no idea where these cats will go. And every day it's scarier and sadder. I just don't know where to turn. So here I am. Can you help me find a way to do this? Is Kijiji as scary an idea as I think it is? Where do you turn when you're running out of time?

Obligatory Photo link.
posted by routergirl to Pets & Animals (34 answers total)
Please know that you are not a bad person, and I say this as someone who has 3 shelter animals of my own and who also loves animals.

Perhaps obvious, but have you tried your vet's office? Maybe they know someone who can temporarily home the cats until the humane society can take them.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:30 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sorry about the cat situation. Have you tried relevant Facebook groups and pages? A page called The Toronto Pet Daily has 13,423 likes; that's a good mass of pet lovers; they might have ideas. Toronto Cat Rescue? And fishing around for those pages brought up others that looked like possible good sources of info/referrals.
posted by kmennie at 6:35 PM on April 7, 2015

Response by poster: Just so everyone knows - we are near the Toronto area (in Oakville) in Ontario, Canada. Yes, we've tried Facebook posts, our vet hung a flier for us ages ago, and I've contacted about a dozen rescue places (mostly in Toronto) and the group we got our dog through pointed us to Toronto Humane Society via Toronto Cat Rescue contacts. They all tell me they are full and point me back to the Humane Societies. Toronto Cat Rescue told us to get them microchipped (we did) and then asked for photos for their courtesy postings - but then after we got them everything, nothing happened. I reached out to them via email a week later, and they've never replied.
posted by routergirl at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2015

Mod note: Added the location above the fold.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2015

They look like Bengals -- have you considered trying a breed-specific rescue?
posted by jeather at 7:13 PM on April 7, 2015

Actually it looks like only one might be. But I'd still get in touch with breed-specific rescues, who might be willing to help anyhow. (Especially if you can bring them with you at least into the US.)
posted by jeather at 7:16 PM on April 7, 2015

If they are Bengals, it looks like there may be resources here and here. Even if you yourself cannot transport them to, say, the Great Lakes rescue, I know there are rescue travel networks which might be able to get them moved. Most of them handle dogs primarily, but surely cat fancy people might have some sort of equivalent?
posted by sciatrix at 7:17 PM on April 7, 2015

Response by poster: Pandora is a Bengal - Daisy is a standard tabby cat. We thought of the Bengal rescue route - but they've grown up together. Would a Bengal rescue take both in the interest of keeping them together, I wonder?
posted by routergirl at 7:20 PM on April 7, 2015

They're beautiful. This sucks. I just wanted to remind you, in case you have friends who would take them but can't because they live in no-pets buildings: No pet clauses are illegal and unenforceable in Ontario.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:20 PM on April 7, 2015

They might. I've known dog breed rescues to be flexible about the breeds they take in for things like a bonded pair of animals, for example. It's worth asking, and at the very least you might find a solution for Pandora.

Honestly, you may have to split them up. It's going to be much, much easier to find two homes for one middle-aged cat apiece than it is to find one home for two. That said, a rescue certainly might take Daisy as well if they come as a set.
posted by sciatrix at 7:23 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I bet you could advertise them/post on the Facebook page looking for homes for both of them, too, especially since you DO want them to stay together.
posted by sciatrix at 7:24 PM on April 7, 2015

I would imagine a rescue network would be willing to keep a bonded pair of cats together. If they say no, you're no worse off.
posted by jeather at 7:24 PM on April 7, 2015

The Great Lakes rescue explicitly says that it takes in Bengal mixes as well--I really think they'd be likely to take both cats if you asked or at least let you advertise them on their site.
posted by sciatrix at 7:33 PM on April 7, 2015

The OP has said that she's been trying rescue groups for a couple of months. Animal rescues are not a magic bullet, and with older cats, it's really hard.

That having been said, in addition to a breed specific rescue, try senior cat rescues.

Definitely, definitely ask your vet.

But honestly, the world is full of cats and dogs, and animal rescue groups cannot take them all. You have ten days, and while I wish you the best, I'd reach out to your personal network again and straight up beg. Could you afford to fly the cats to a friend? Can anyone take them temporarily? Keep the appointment with Toronto Humane, and follow up with Oakville.

And why not try Canadian Craigslist? Seriously - what's the worst that could happen just by putting up an ad?

When I was trying to rehome an older animal, I ended up keeping him. And a lot of rescue groups asked me for money. And yet everyone on Metafilter was like, "Try a German Shepherd rescue!"

And I was like, "No shit, they all said no."

But cats might be an easier sell than big, scary looking dogs. But I digress . . .

If you have a facebook link or anything, post it here and everyone will network for you. I am so sorry you're dealing with this. I'd suggest as a very last ditch effort telling your allergist you need some heavy duty shit to get through a trip with your cats, and then dealing with this when you get to California, but I don't feel comfortable saying that not knowing the extent of your symptoms.

I hope that, at the very least, Toronto Humane Society comes through for you.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:15 PM on April 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Print a flyer with a photo. (this photo is my favorite). Include health information (since they are older). Make it short, not sales-y sounding, and hand two copies to people you know -- I know they all already said no, but ask them to please, please pass the page along to anyone _they_ know who might possibly take a couple of kitties. If they have a physical piece of paper, they are more likely to think about it a bit more.

Include your e-mail address, of course.

Other places to post and _talk to people_: caf├ęs, university departments (for grad students, staff, or faculty), medical centers.

You could even try just talking to people. I once talked a lady into adopting kittens from me in the waiting area of my auto mechanic's shop -- it didn't work out, her kids were too young, but it will amaze you how random personal contact can make the difference. This is the only time it worked out for me that much, but I've only tried maybe 5-6 times (and by "try" I mean mentioning "Oh, and I have some kittens that need a home in case you know anyone looking).

You can also try going door-to-door in your neighborhood.
posted by amtho at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2015

You should definitely reach out to bengal groups and I would also play up the bengal angle in any flyers or online ads you post (with a clear caveat that they are a package deal). Some people are unfamiliar with bengals but once you point it out they'll be interested.

There are plenty of bengals on Kijiji as well. Frankly, Craigslist is preferable to dropping them off at an animal shelter since at least you get to meet the new owners first.
posted by acidic at 8:50 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you decide (or have no option but to) do as ablazingsaddle suggests and ask an allergist for heavy duty meds and take the cats, then I suggest also going to the vet before your trip and see if they can be sedated for much of the trip. If they were sedated you could keep them, and hopefully their allergens, confined to a relatively small space. I imagine it would also help minimize their travel trauma. I don't know if this is possible given the likely length of the trip and the age of the cats, but it can't hurt to ask. In California you wouldn't have as much time pressure to find a solution.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:18 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't take them, but I'll ask around on facebook.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:57 PM on April 7, 2015

They are out of your way, but Annex Cat Rescue?
posted by radiocontrolled at 12:39 AM on April 8, 2015

Are you a member of a Church, or other similar social group that meets regularly? Someone abandoned a kitten outside my Church (not a great idea, since no one was looking for them) and there was nearly a brawl over which family got to take him home. If you could reach out to a Minister to make an announcement after a service, you might reach a fairly large audience that feels more personally targeted.
posted by fermezporte at 4:13 AM on April 8, 2015

Definitely try Kijiji! I have a friend who adopted 2 older cats from a post she found on that site. The family could not keep them because of allergies and now they live a cat's life of luxury with my friend and her daughter. You can be picky about any prospective interested people/ask for references, etc. Good luck!
posted by fourpotatoes at 4:31 AM on April 8, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! I have posted the cats on Kijiji, and it appears Toronto Cat Rescue has posted Pandora (but not Daisy) on their Instagram. I will be on the phone today to all the other Humane Societies and options suggested. We already tried the Annex Cat Rescue.
posted by routergirl at 6:09 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would also say - don't be so worried about offering cats free. Sometimes good, loving people will not take cats that are advertised at a price, but will take free cats.

I am one of those people - when we were looking for additional animals, I was really bothered by ads saying 'Come adopt our cat! $200 rehoming fee' because it made me think people were secret kitty farming rather than trying to find loved homes for their kitty friends - even though I could at that time have easily paid $200, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. 'Free to a good home' still lets you evaluate whether it will be a good home.
posted by corb at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Will the cats have to spend any time in official quarantine if you bring them to the U.S.? That could paradoxically buy you time. Check the map of your planned drive to California and start contacting shelters near the border, ones all along your route, and ones that you/they could drive to meet along the way.

On the social media route, try putting up a version of this post on Tumblr with cute kitty pics and tagged with every possible relevant #hashtag. I don't follow any cat tags and have still seen a "NYC cat needs home" post reblogged across my feed this week. (I don't know if that cat has actually FOUND a home yet, so this is a long shot.)

If you can't work anything out at all before you leave, take the cats with you. Talk to your vet about keeping the cats sedated for the car trip, and talk to your doctor about allergy meds for you. Taking the cats to a groomer to be thoroughly bathed and brushed can cut down on dander. There are also wipes and sprays for cats that are supposed to minimize dander. The cats stay caged throughout the trip (safer anyway), you stay as physically distant from the cats as possible, and after handling the cats your husband changes clothes and/or bathes before coming near you. It will be an unhappy trip but perhaps not an impossible one.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:44 AM on April 8, 2015

I'm so sorry to hear of your situation. I've got a few questions about your cats. I currently have two cats. One is sick (cancer), so I don't think I can help you myself, but I may know someone. I realize your priority is to find someone, but as an adopter, there's also the issue of not bringing them into a situation where they don't fit.

What are your cats like? Personality-wise? Friendly, talkative, tend to keep to themselves, lapcats (or not)? Are they used to having someone home?

Have your cats interacted with dogs? Children? Have they every interacted with other cats?

How big are your cats? Physically? This may sound odd, but I know I worry about my smaller cat being overwhelmed).

Do your cats have any existing conditions?
posted by Peppermenthe at 11:18 AM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: I can't stop thinking about your cats. Any chance you'd be coming through Chicago?
posted by travertina at 3:33 PM on April 9, 2015

Response by poster: We have two people showing slight interest from Kijiji, but nothing firm. We probably can't go through Chicago, but I'll talk to husband and see. No quarantine for Canada to US. So we don't have that on our side.

As far as more on the cats - I'll put this here in case it triggers any other ideas. Peppermenthe, mefi mail me!

Daisy: Keeps to herself until she's learned who will pet her by approaching them sneakily and letting out a tiny "merw?" When she was a kitten she was overly affectionate, constantly wanting to be fussed, so when she woke me at night I would call the Sheltie dog up on the bed, and she'd immediately run to the dog and they'd groom each other, all curled up in a furry ball, and let me sleep. Daisy likes to hunt things, but being an indoor cat, she hunts cat toys, and brings them to our door sometimes at night. You hear her when she has toys, she meows to let you know. But she meows with an Mff at the end, because her mouth has a toy in it. She is definitely a lap cat once she knows you. She runs at loud scary noises unless she's in the lap of someone she trusts. She sleeps a lot under our bed in the office, with Pandora. Daisy has never had kittens but she has a weird flappy belly like she has. The vet was baffled by it when she was a kitten.

Pandora: Talkative. Snobby. Doesn't like to be held. Thinks she is more graceful than she is. Has a slight underbite and gorgeous eyes. Will tell you things, but you may not understand what she wants until you get to know her. She likes running water to drink from, so we have a cat fountain. The breeder I got her from (who went out of business years ago), used to feed the cats chicken, so when Pandora smells chicken, she will sit and stare at it and meow, very pointedly. Pandora will get pissy around new cats/dogs. She took a few months to adjust when we got our last dog, hissing and batting occasionally, though she eventually decided he was OK, and now will rub against him. Pandora, when upset (in a car ride to the vet for example) will almost sound like she is attempting human speech in her effort to let you know she is Not Happy. Daisy does some plaintive mews and then goes silent.

Both cats grew up with dogs, and we lived with other cats, actually for a few years with my mom. They got on fine with those cats - mostly left them alone, really. No existing conditions. Pandora may need her teeth cleaned, but the vet can't get her to open her mouth enough for her to see. Daisy on the other hand will do whatever the vet needs her to - again, if she is with someone she's learned to trust. They have not been around kids except my own. I had three boys - aged 7, 10 and 11 when I got these cats, so they all grew up together. They are used to being home alone while everyone is at work/school, and have never had any problems with it, though when we went away for a few days and had a cat sitter stop by, they were glad to see us return (lots of mews and MEOWS).

Physically how big? Not very, I guess average cat size (I'll look up the last papers from the vet and get you a weight via mefi mail if that would help). Pandora is a bit stockier, whereas Daisy is a flimsy little creature. Neither of them have ever straight out attacked any other animal. Just a hiss and a bat to let others know to leave them be, is probably the worst they've done. Pandora will claw you if you try and hold her too long - she gets itchy and MUST GO NOW. Daisy will let you hold her once she trusts you and you can carry her around all day if you like.
posted by routergirl at 4:15 PM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: Chicago is only 8 hrs drive (!) from Toronto. Travertina, if you are serious about adopting routergirl's cats, you two should talk about how to have that happen.

(I have been thinking about these cats as well, I'm actually too far away, though).
posted by nanook at 5:49 PM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

yes. sending you MeMail.
posted by travertina at 6:52 PM on April 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Just a quick update - it looks like these two cats may soon be big city cats in Chicago, with travertina. Not quite what I expected out of this post, but so amazing.
posted by routergirl at 6:44 AM on April 11, 2015 [14 favorites]

Oh I am so happy about this.
posted by jeather at 10:49 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

YES i was hoping this would happen!
posted by ghostbikes at 12:58 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We added a leg to our maiden voyage in the RV to deliver two very RV stressed cats to the lovely Travertina in Chicago last Sunday. I'm not sure how many Metafilter Cat Swaps there have been, but I'd like to think this was the best.
posted by routergirl at 7:31 AM on April 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

Was just coming in to update this-- I'm so pleased that routergirl and family could bring their two lil ladies to me! We're doing great!
posted by travertina at 10:17 AM on April 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

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