CanadaStrays.com is now offline

After a number of ongoing technical issues involving the hosting of CanadaStrays.com, as well as other issues concerning cost, overheads and time spent on volunteering and administering the web site, I unfortunately had to make a decision to take the site offline.

It’s a shame this is the case, given that the site was working well for a number of years and had, in fact, reunited over 1,000 pets with their owners. The issues outlined above were simply too much to deal with and—after being online for more than 6 years—it eventually became untenable to maintain the web site single-handedly and without any financial support.

I sincerely apologize to the many loyal users of the web site and its services, but I know there are other places on the Internet that can help in finding lost pets, or in finding good homes for pets in need.

1003 pets found by owners!

I’m pleased to see that since its launch in 2003, my Lost and Found Pets web site at CanadaStrays.com is still going strong. In fact (within the last day or so, I guess) the counter on the sidebar has just passed the 1000 mark of “pets found by owner”. This is measured by the number of owners who remove their pets’ ad from the site after having been reunited with them. Now, that’s not to say that all 1000+ pets were found because of this web site, but when the owners do delete their ad they also have the option of commenting on the site; in particular about whether or not it helped them. After reading all the comments that come in to my inbox, I would say that around 60% of the owners found their pet through CanadaStrays.com, which isn’t at all bad in my book.

I originally created CanadaStrays.com as a birthday gift for an animal lover friend of mine from Ottawa. She was always trying to find homes for strays in her neighbourhood, so I thought this would be a useful tool for her. Once it took off, shortly after its launch, the database of pets just grew and grew until it became a useful resource for pet owners from all over Canada.

In March of this year, it’ll be six years ago that I launched the site. I hope it does just as well in the next six years and eventually passes the 2000+ mark for pets found by owner.

Warm light

 

We got Keaton from the Toronto Humane Society in November, 2007 – not long after my cat Milo died. He’s a grey cat with lots of personality, who follows us from room to room. A regular lap cat, he likes nothing better than collapsing on me in the evening as I’m couch potatoing. He can also be found napping on the bed especially if there’s sunlight streaming in, which is how I found him today.

If they’re treated well, pets can have such a carefree life and it’s grounding to see how little they have to care about. I often wonder what thoughts, if any, pass through their tiny brains:

“Warm light – must lie down and stretch!”
“Human – feed me!”
“Scratch my belly!”
“Purrrrrr…”

Here’s a picture of Keaton, stretching in the warm light.

I am Cat, hear me snore!

Milo the Cat

October 26, 2007 was the day I had to put my cat, Milo, to sleep. That was hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Milo was my little buddy who’d been with me since I arrived in Canada in 1999. He was an orange and white cat who grew from a little ball of fur to a whopping 19 lbs – hard to imagine I could fit him into the palm of my hand when I first got him.

Milo developed cancer of the lymph nodes, which quickly spread, and the prognosis wasn’t good – 6 to 12 months with chemotherapy and even that wasn’t guaranteed to be a success.

I first discovered the lumps in his throat when El Franco and I were watching TV one night and Milo, as was his wont, jumped onto the couch and demanded his rightful place in my arms for a chest-and-belly rub. That’s when I felt the lumps and I immediately realised something was wrong. My initial thought was that he had a virus of some sort; having just moved into an old Victorian house with a small back yard, I let Milo hang out with us whenever we were enjoying the last warm days of summer. He would spend a lot of time sniffing around the perimeter and I thought he might have contracted something from another cat’s feces.

That week, the vet performed a biopsy and the results came back after more than 7 days. Needless to say, they weren’t favourable and I took him to a cat oncologist who had some doubts about the fine-needle biopsy and wanted to remove two of Milo’s lymph nodes in order to get better test results. I had to wait another week for the results and at this point I was already greiving for my little buddy. His personality had changed and he became more and more withdrawn, not wanting to spend time with me or lay in my arms. Eventually, the second set of results confirmed the first and that’s when I got the final prognosis.

Throughout this whole period, Milo had been poked, pricked, pinched and subjected to a battery of tests, none of which were pleasant for the little guy. He had to be force-fed medication and analgesics, which tasted abominal to him and made him froth at the mouth whenever his teeth punctured one of the capsules. The poor thing had just about had enough, I think, and the last few days were a listless existence for him – and, it felt, for me too.

In the end, I had to decide on quality of life versus a humane and painless end for the best cat I’d ever had in the whole of my life. That was so hard. I never thought I’d be without Milo, at least not for another 10 years or so, and it was incredibly painful to take him to the clinic in a cab, in rush hour traffic, knowing that I’d be going home without him. All the while, he’d rub his chin against my hand in his carrier and nibble my fingers.

Milo died peacefully in my arms at the animal clinic, kneading my face and neck as I scratched his chest and belly, just like old times.

Although the pain will ease as time passes, I wonder if I’ll allow myself to feel the same for another pet ever again.