Organization for the Rescue of Animals

Princess Diana basking in the sun last summer in our covered cat enclosure


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Princess Diana
Layla and her kittens

Although the objective of ORA is to work for the benefit of all animals, cat rescue is one of ORA's main activities at the present time. This is due to the huge problem of feline overpopulation that afflicts most urban areas.

People allow their unneutered or unspayed cats to go outdoors without realizing that this is the cause of enormous miseries and suffering for the cats. The cats mate, reproduce and the offspring have to fend for themselves — often dying of starvation, or cold, or becoming victims of predators, cars or deranged humans. The kittens who are able to survive will reproduce and in turn continue the horrific story of suffering and death. Since female cats can give birth up to 3 times a year, to up to 6 kittens per litter, you can imagine the impact that this creates on the feline population. In fact an unneutered male cat and an unspayed female and their offspring can produce 270,000 in seven years! Is there still a doubt left about the importance of spaying or neutering your cat?

ORA promotes the spaying and neutering of all cats before they become able to procreate. The spaying and neutering should be done at the age of six months. The same rule applies if you keep your cat indoors. An unspayed or unneutered cat will eventually be successful in running away to mate.

Out of love for cats, we think all cats should be neutered and spayed to avoid new births. We are also committed to procuring the best life possible for all existing cats, domestic, stray or feral. One of our main activities is to rescue stray and feral cats and to take in cats surrendered by their owners and to find good adoptive homes for them. Any cat that is rescued or taken in by ORA is vaccinated, spayed/neutered and de-wormed as needed. The cat receives any other necessary veterinary care and then is placed in a foster home if a suitable adoptive home is not readily available.

The cats that are not suitable for adoption, either because they are too old or they need constant medical attention, are kept in our "residential shelter" that now counts 22 permanent occupants. We have a strict no-kill policy. We do not believe that we have any right to terminate a life, just because the cat is sick. All curable sickness and controllable health problems are treated. Fortunately we can count on veterinarians who treat our cats at very discounted rates and to whom we are extremely thankful. Even so, because of our policy of caring for all sick animals and because of the sometimes costly operations necessary, our vet bills are very high. We resort to euthanasia only when cats are terminally ill and in pain.

ORA has also started a program of rescuing older or medically challenged cats from pounds that euthanize non adoptable cats. We have found that the majority of these cats are very gentle animals, and very grateful to have been saved. It takes a little longer to find good compassionate homes and more money must be spent to restore these cats back to health. Unfortunately this last program, which had proven very successful, had to be abandoned for the time being due to lack of funds and the insufficient number of foster homes willing to take care of these cats. We are heartbroken at the thought of those cats that we could have saved but we are at least for now absolutely unable to do anything about it.

A large part of our financial and logistic resources are taken by cats given up by their owner. Pet ownership should be considered more seriously. No cats should ever be adopted, unless a commitment can be made to keep that animal until the end of his natural life, which could be over twenty years.

It is painful to watch a cat that has just been given up by an owner. They are distraught, they have been taken away from their home, betrayed by the people they loved and they look up for food and comfort. They hide in a corner depressed. Some are angry, hissing at everything and everyone, often refusing to eat. We've had cats in perfect health, who refused to eat on their own for up to three weeks. In a regular shelter they would be classified as having behavioral problems and they would be euthanized. However, since we give individual attention to each cat, we have discovered that these cats are perfectly normal, they are just traumatized and they now mistrust humans. We need a lot of understanding for those cats, we need to empathize with them: to put ourselves in their "paws" and many must be force fed. At the beginning they react fiercely, then little by little they start liking the attentions we give them, they accept the force feeding routine, a few come to enjoy it and finally one nice day they go back to eat on their own. That is the breakthrough moment: they feel comfortable again and the human/cat relationship is reestablished. Generally, soon after, they start playing and purring: that is the biggest reward from our work. The last step is to find a loving "forever home", where they will be considered part of the family and where the thought of giving them up would be inconceivable.


At ORA we are all volunteers, and my partner and I are full time real estate agents. Last year, on a cold day in February we were carefully making our way through a pack of snow towards the entrance of a house that we were going to show. Suddenly we heard a loud and repetitive "Meow, Meow".

Someone was demanding our attention. I looked around just in time to see a skinny red tabby cat placing herself in front of my partner’s feet almost to block her way. Before I could have a clear picture of the cat, I heard my partner say, "What has happened to you, oh, you poor thing?" The cat was blind on the left eye and pus and blood were leaking out of it. Her right ear had a large growth the size of a walnut with coagulated blood. It was obvious that the cat was in pain and she was literally asking for help. While one of us rushed through showing the house the other knocked at a neighbour’s door to get a box to transport the cat to the vet. We then explained to our clients the emergency of the situation; not being animal lovers they didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cat needed immediate attention. She showed very little resistance when she was scooped up and put into the box. It was Saturday and the emergency vet clinic was quite far away. In the car, the cat was very quiet enjoying the warmth of a heated place, a luxury that probably she had never known before.

The veterinarian confirmed what we already knew, the cat needed to have the growth removed and nothing more could be done that day. We took her home and disinfected and cleaned up a bit around the growth in her ear. She gave some opposition however all was forgiven when she was given something to eat and she demonstrated a very healthy appetite. We confined her to a cage so as not to expose the other cats, as we did not know if she was affected by some transmittable disease. She settled herself in the cage very comfortably, sleeping deeply and waking up only to empty her dish . Obviously she had not had sufficient food for a long time.

The following Monday we took her to our ordinary vet where she was operated upon. The growth was benign. The bad news was that the growth was an inflammatory polyp that would re-occur. She had to undergo a long period of antibiotic treatment to clear the infection to the left eye, and also a second operation. We then decided to treat her homeopathically. We spent over $1,000 on her and it is not finished. She is one of our "unadoptable cats" since she needs constant care and medical attention.

My partner called her "Princess Diana", because all cats are beautiful.
Princess Diana is a very happy cat, she goes around with her little head held high, happy to belong somewhere, to have a home. She is very playful and particularly fond of ‘cat soccer’ which she can play for hours. She has become our mascot, because with her happiness she rewards us every day for our rescuing efforts and she reminds all ORA volunteers of the value of their work

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ANOTHER RESCUE STORY, The story of Layla and her kittens Percy and Mimi

It was on a Monday morning when David, a structural engineer and one of the owners of “Land Construction Company Ltd” called ORA to ask if we would take in some cats that were roaming  inside a vacant building on  the east side of  Scarborough. His crew had noticed two or three cats that were appearing mostly in the late afternoon and since “Land Construction” had been hired to board up the building, they were concerned about those cats living in the building. They offered to deliver the cats to our residence. We agreed to take in the cats, but how were they planning to capture them?  Were they domesticated? From a few questions it became apparent that we were dealing with feral cats. The construction workers had fed the cats regularly since they first saw them, but they could not get to them.
I asked and obtained  permission to access the building with other ORA volunteers to trap the cats. The day after three of us went to the building armed with traps and lots of  tuna. As soon as we saw  the interior of the building we were disheartened. The building was quite large with a lot of rooms; it was difficult to decide where the traps would be the most effective. Also, there were so many spaces and holes where cats could hide: a real heaven for feral cats! 

But which cat can resist the smell of tuna? After only three hours we successfully trapped a young kitten. However the lady who was carrying the trap toward the exit, suddenly felt the trap getting lighter and before she could realize what had happened she saw a kitten running away at the speed of light. The kitten had succeeded in escaping from an opening not bigger than one and a half inches from the back of the trap. The gap was tied up and the trap reset. Nothing happened for a full day. The following afternoon we received a call from the site informing us that two cats were in the traps. We rushed  to pick them up and to take them to the vet to be checked, vaccinated  and spayed/neutered. One of the cats was the mother cat. We named her Layla, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat, probably less than one year old. The second cat was one of Layla’s kittens, a gorgeous orange tabby, approximately three to four months old that we named Percy.

We knew that there was at least another cat in the building, the one that first escaped, but we could not get her back.  The workers learned to activate  the traps every morning and then they would tie them back at nights before leaving so that the cats would become accustomed to eating  inside the trap.
Three full days went by and we took a few daytime and evening trips to the building, but no more sightings of the kitten. She would eat the tuna during the night when the traps were tied back, but not during the day when  they were activated.  Finally, four days after the mother and the sibling were taken, we got  her: Mimi, a tabby/calico and exceptionally smart kitten. We left the traps for another four days just to be sure that no other cats were in the building. After four days in which the food was left uneaten we concluded that we had all the cats. The workers finished the boarding of the building and we started the socialization process of the three cats.

With Mimi it did not take long. She is watching the other cats in the household and learning how to use the scratching posts, how to politely ask to sample human food and how to entertain herself with all the cat toys. She is really showing her joy to be part of the domesticated cat population. Percy is less responsive, he is very reserved, but follows his sister and takes directions from her. They are both absolutely adorable and they are now ready to be adopted. For their mother Layla it will take a bit longer. She was obviously on her own for awhile and she had learned to fear people; for her the change is very radical.
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We want to express here our deepest gratitude to the members of “Land Construction Company” for their assistance and their help in saving these cats.We hope that their example of compassion towards the animals will be imitated by more builders and construction workers who in their daily activities encounter and displace all kind of animals.



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