Everyone has heard of an alley cat.
They’re wild, fend for themselves, tend to not play nice with others and often don’t have a place to rest their heads at night.
The U-Haul cats, a crowd of felines up for adoption at the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, couldn’t be any more different.
The cats are easily started — not used to the typical noises of a television. Some have mobility issues, while others are nimble on their paws.
They also aren’t your usual breed of domestic shorthair cats.
Instead, they’re mostly Scottish Folds or a mix of the somewhat rare and often sought after breed, says Heather Ashcroft, adoption co-ordinator for the animal shelter.
And their story with the organization began last fall.
Ashcroft said the cats that landed in Hamilton were a part of a larger group — estimated to have been dozens in size — that were found deserted in a U-Haul truck in southern Ontario.
It’s unclear how long the cats had been there, how they ended up in the vehicle or why they were kept in it. The shelter can only reveal a few details, citing the ongoing provincial animal welfare probe.
But they were in “incredibly dire health,” said Ashcroft.
The more than a dozen cats were suffering from communicable diseases and parasites. And likely due to the stress of the ordeal, they also tested positive for ringworm.
“We had to quarantine them and begin treatment,” said Ashcroft, noting that the care can take weeks, even months to complete. “But they all did very, very well.”
And in the last six weeks, at least seven of the cats have been adopted out to their forever homes “after a long journey.”
Ashcroft said the cats are not without their quirks, which likely all stem from their “unconventional” past lives.
“They were not pet house cats,” she said, noting that a majority were not fixed. “They’re going to need a little bit of supportive care as they transition into their new homes.”
The cats aren’t familiar with everyday noises we often take for granted. They’re also used to feline companionship — so they’d likely need another whiskered friend to keep them company, help them adjust and deter behavioral issues.
Ashcroft said the groups of cats—which were all given Scottish names—also vary in age.
Of those still available for adoption, the youngest, Kelly, is less than a year old, while the eldest, Sassenach, is believed to be in her teens. However, those age differences do lend to their personalities, said Ashcroft.
“They’re very delicate and some of them are slow to warm up,” she said. “With time and patience, they do learn to trust and they’re very interactive.”
And with some of the cats being a mix of Scottish Fold or purebreds, there is also a chance that some of them may suffer from osteochondrodysplasia — a degenerative disease that can affect their cartilage, joints and is the reason behind their distinct folded ears.
Ashcroft said that issue, which is a result of their breeding, is one reason why would-be cat owners should look to shelters for their next furry family member.
“Adopting is the way to go,” she said, noting they often see purebred dogs and cats surrendered to the shelter. “That way, you’re not inadvertently supporting someone who might not be breeding for the betterment of the animals.”