Thursday, September 22, 2011

We've been adopted by a cat.

 Meet the latest member of our little clan:


It's been said that cats adopt people, but in this case, it's true.

Here's the story:

The Beginning:

In late May, as far as we can figure, a feral Momma cat gave birth to a litter of kittens under our back porch.

We didn't twig onto this until late June.  Getting near them was pretty much impossible at first.  But eventually, Momma cat very cautiously let me get some pictures.

Lefty(left) and Momma

(left to right) Topper, Rum Tum Tugger and Gordito

Yes, we eventually named them, more on that later.

So now I started doing some research on feral cats in Toronto and wasn't quite sure just what exactly I was going to do about this.  But first things first, maybe they'd like to be fed.  Not wanting to go overboard on this, I started buying Whiskas pate wet cat food.  They liked it.

We fed them for several days but Momma cat didn't seem to appreciate all the attention.

One night, she moved them away.  Some place where those pesky humans can't get at the kids!  We noticed one Friday evening, the kids were all hanging around the back of our next-door neighbour's house and a day later, they had completely vanished.

We figured that was it.  Oh well.  Such is life.

A week or two later, we spotted one of the cats cavorting around the rubble in our back-yard neighbour's yard.  It seems they moved diagonally across from us basically out of sight The cats could get to our back yard fence, if they came, but we couldn't get to them.  So, I dug a little access path for them under the fence, just in case they wanted to come by for a bite to eat.

Lefty Having Dinner

It Worked like a charm

At this point, Momma cat was a bit more easy going about us feeding them because they now had an easy escape route.  Even Momma joined in and had some vittles -- as long as we left the area.

We didn't always see all the kittens.  Some were more adventurous than others.  Some would stay behind the fence and probably didn't come out unless we weren't anywhere near the food.

The Breakthrough:

On August 11, I came out with some food as I usually do.  There were no kittens near the fence.

I placed a container of food near the opening of the fence.  The first kitten to appear was a grey tabby with a brown face I rarely saw but this time he seemed bound and determined to get to the food.  You could tell he was fighting his instincts.   He tried twice to go under the fence but backed away at the last minute.  But the lure of the food was too much for him -- either that or he was just plain starving -- he was the smallest of the bunch.

He started to devour the container of food and he wasn't prepared to share with any of the others.

I slowly and very tentatively reached out to pet him.  He was oblivious and just kept on eating.

He ate the whole container of Whiskas and then looked at me for more.  For some reason, he wasn't afraid of me.  He even let me pick him up and hold him.  Full-out petting wasn't an issue.

Since I had several containers of food, I opened another one and he went at it but this time, he was willing to share with the others.

It's at that point that, seeing how he was inhaling this food, I thought "Here's one that just love his food -- it won't be long before he's chubby.  I should call him Gord -- short for Gordito -- Spanish for chubby."

I mentioned this to Melody and somehow, the name stuck.

I think I made an impression on him since whenever I came out back to feed the kitties, Gordito would be the first one out running to me.  Once I parked a lawn chair about 10 feet from the fence and sat down.  He not only ran to me, but hopped on my lap, cuddled for a while, then I would feed him and the others.

Needless to say, I was in love.  This would go on every day with Gordito spending more and more time with me or Melody -- sometimes as much as an hour before he would go back under the fence -- probably for a nap.  When Melody would come home in the evening, she'd go back to see the kitties and Gordito would cuddle up with her too.

Decisions, Decisions.

OK.  So now we have this cat who seems to like us.  And we obviously like him.

Do we invite him in the house?

What about Quita, our budgie?

Not to mention the state of the house isn't really in any condition for a cat to roam freely.  We almost get lost in the rubble.  A kitten would almost certainly get lost in the abyss and never bee seen again.

After a lot of discussion, we decided we'd do it.  But first, we had to de-clutter the house and clean things up.

But there was still the question as to whether or not Gordito really wanted to spend the rest of his life with us.

On Monday, August 29, I was out all afternoon and wasn't sure if any of the Kitties were awake from their afternoon naps to have something to eat.  Well, guess who came out first to greet me?

So I told Gordito I'd run into the house and grab some food.  When I got to the back door, here's what I saw:

Gordito followed me all the way (well over 50 feet) to our back door to wait for me.

A lovely cuddle and dining session for Gordito followed.

So, we decided that we'd try keeping him in the bedroom with us at night and, until we were ready, let him out during the day.  Overall, it worked out well.  We had a litterbox and food in the bedroom and we kept the door closed to he couldn't get into any trouble with Quita in the birdcage.

During a session the folowwing Thursday, I heard voices from one of the houses behind us.  There was some conversation relating to the cats but I wasn't able to follow it.  I just had a feeling that we needed to get on this sooner rather than later.

The Clincher

On Friday, Melody and I had a late dinner out as we usually do.  We got back after 9:00 and weren't sure if we'd be able to get Gordito to come in for the night.

What happened next blew us away.

He was waiting for us at the back door.


If there was ever any doubt as to where he wanted to be, this definitely erased it.

We often get a pet, develop a bond and have a wonderful relationship with it but the thing is, how often do you have an animal tell you they want to be with you?  He had complete freedom to be anywhere he wanted but chose of his own free will to be with us.  I found it pretty awe inspiring and really gave us a feeling that we were doing the right thing.

With it being the Holiday weekend, we figured we'd blitz things and at least get things somewhat into shape.

Gordito stayed in the house that weekend.

The first thing we decided to do after a major de-cluttering was to build him a "Kitty Condo" based on plans in this website:

Marva Marrow is a Cat Behaviourist and breeder in California and has this wonderful idea for building enclosures made out of wire shelving.  I would up building a lovely enclosure measuring 6 feet wide by 6 feet tall by three feed deep.

The Kitty Condo
It's uses nothing but wire shelving and is help together entirely by nylon zap straps.  It's amazingly sturdy and very inexpensive.  It even has doors that close so we can safely leave him in there when we leave the house or overnight.  Because of the birdcage, we need to be mindful to keep him away from Quita and not let his instincts get the best of him.

He absolutely loves it.  You can see him having dinner at right side of the enclosure.

In any case, I had the chance to write Marva thanking her for such a wonderful idea and she really seemed to be touched by it.  Check out her website at

Things Happen For A Reason.

Earlier, I had mentioned that I had a feeling the previous Thursday that something was up and we needed to move fast.

On the Labour day Monday, we left some food out in the backyard for the other cats but didn't see any of them.  We didn't think much of it since it was cool and rather early.  However, we did see them all weekend and they were doing fine.  I wasn't quite sure how we would handle the rest of the cats but for the time being we think we would continue to at least feed them.

On Monday afternoon, we found the food untouched.  Monday night, same thing.

The food was gone Tuesday morning but I figure it was the raccoons that got to it.  I left something out for them on Tuesday and it remained untouched throughout the day.  I saw no sign anywhere of any of the cats.

I'm hoping that they were taken in by our backyard neighbours or by one of the cat rescue organizations, hopefully to be socialized and given happy comfortable homes.  I suppose there are other things that could have happened to them but I'd rather not consider that option.  I'd prefer to think on the positive side of this.  If anyone has any information, I'd love to find out what happened to them.  I don't claim any ownership or anything, I'd just like to know that they're in the hands of someone who cares.

I guess that makes me all the more thankful that we took Gordito in when we did.

One Big Happy Family.

So, thanks to a little kitten, the house is getting to the the point where we can invite friends over and not feel embarrassed.

And, we have a creature we affectionately call "The Little Bugger" who we just can't enough of.

One of Gordito's favourite spots to sleep.
But only when we're around to supervise.
He now owns my desk

Such a pitty he hates his kitty condo

He has already had his first vet visit.  Dr. Thomas at The Cat Hospital in Willowdale is a gem.

He cuddles, eats sleeps and loves running around the house.  So far, he's won every heat of the Gorditoplis 500.  :)

And, strangely enough, Quita has been happily singing a lot more lately.

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