Toronto Cat Rescue: Saving Feline Lives

All proceeds for meowfest 2019 will go to Toronto Cat Rescue, an amazing volunteer-run organization. Check out our interview with Belinda Vandersluis, its Executive Director.

All photos below courtesy of Toronto Cat Rescue.

Belinda Vandersluis, Executive Director at Toronto Cat Rescue

meowfest: Tell us about the creation of Toronto Cat Rescue.

Belinda Vandersluis: Toronto Cat Rescue was started by a group of community cat rescuers 25 years ago. Since 1994, we have grown immensely, but the vision hasn't changed. We want to make sure that any adoptable cat in Toronto, and now in the Kitchener Waterloo area, is not at risk of euthanasia or homelessness. Cats at shelters don't always have the best chance of survival, so we focus on taking those at-risk cats and caring for them through our network of foster homes and partner pet stores. All of our cats get the medical attention they need, and are spayed or neutered and vaccinated before they are adopted.

Snowflake, a gentle blind kitten, was recently rescued by TCR and is now being spoiled by her forever family.

mf: TCR rescues so many cats every year, but is there one happy story that stood out to you?

BV: There are so many great stories. Recently we rescued over 60 cats from an overloaded shelter in Quebec. Lolita was among the group, and we think she's a Persian cat. She is deaf and blind, and would not have survived. Affectionately known as Loaf or Queen Loafelia or Queen of the Loaf (because of her love of sleep), she is now a favourite special girl with our foster homes. Her foster parents will care for her, socialize her, and make sure she has a beautiful adoptive home in the future.

Rescue day: Queen of the Loaf having a well-deserved snooze on one of TCR’s amazing volunteers, after her 10 hour trip from south of Sherbrooke, Quebec.

mf: What’s next for TCR? What are some exciting new projects you're working on?

BV: We are in the middle of an exciting opportunity to narrow the technology gap within our charity. Capital One hosts a Gift the Code Hackathon each year, and we were privileged to be chosen late last year as one of the six charities to put forward challenges to the 200+ developers, designers and coders who attended. We are now working on implementing the tech solutions that developed at this fantastic event. We believe this is a considerable boost since we can't afford to hire IT and tech staff. We know tech solutions can create significant savings and efficiencies if done well.

mf: How can people help Toronto Cat Rescue?

BV: There are so many ways to help TCR's mission. First and foremost, be a good cat owner. Make sure your cats and kittens are spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Keep your cats indoors. Just doing these two things will extend their lives significantly. To contribute more directly, think about volunteering. We have over 20 different roles, and many can be performed from home with just a computer. Others are caring for cats directly as a foster home or a store volunteer. We also have a volunteer centre that always needs dedicated volunteers. You can find our calls for volunteers on our website. Donations help sustain us, so we can consistently foster and adopt about 250 cats per month. We pay for all the medical and dental bills, prescription diets and meds at a whopping $600,000 per year. All donations, small and large, help save cats' lives.

Come meet the team behind Toronto Cat Rescue at meowfest, where they will be hosting on-site adoptions. Snag your tickets here before they sell out!