Alex and Vicky Ba were shaken when they found Tigress, a stray cat, nearly frozen to death in front of their North York home on one of the coldest days of the year.
“She was shivering from the cold and couldn’t move,” said Alex, who found the ailing cat Jan. 23 inside a makeshift shelter a neighbour had built for her. “She meowed very weakly.”
Gaping sores Tigress had developed along her neck and right side meant she lacked enough fur to shield her from the harsh -20C weather. The couple, who’ve looked after the stray since 2008, had searched for her unsuccessfully as the temperature dropped the night before.
“When I saw her, I thought the cat was dead,” said veterinarian Dr. Jasvir Salhan, whose clinic agreed to take Tigress in. “She was very hypothermic. There was basically no skin left on her neck and side. I could see all the internal organs.”
Salhan couldn’t guarantee she would survive. She required weeks of intensive work, including surgery on her wounds, the result of compulsive scratching. The Bas, who’d just gotten married and bought a condo, simply couldn’t afford the rising bills. So they turned to the Internet, and its infinite love for cats, to save Tigress’ life.
The couple started an Indiegogo campaign in mid-February to raise funds. Results were modest at first.
But then John Young, head of online organization The Watchcat Coalition, caught wind of Tigress’ story. Watchcat was set up after feral cat Panda was found in an east-end alley in November with wounds from a pellet gun. The feline’s eventual death mobilized a 28,000 person-strong online community of cat lovers.
Within days, donations came flowing into the Bas’ fundraiser. The campaign has already raised $2,270 — just enough to cover the bills.
“It gives some meaning to poor Panda’s suffering,” said Young.
Tigress is now 80 per cent healthy, can move and even play.
The Bas are currently looking for someone to adopt Tigress, as she is no longer fit to live on the streets. Chances are they will find no shortage of volunteers online.
“The Internet really loves cats,” says Young. “That’s a good thing because cats need love.”