Between 1.2 and 4 million cats do not have a home in Canada. These cats have a hard time in winter, especially in Quebec, which is the world's fifth snowiest city. One native Quebec woman encountered this problem first-hand on Valentine's Day, 2020.
The anonymous woman woke up to find a stray cat clawing at her window. But was the cat really a stray? And could the local rescue save this cat from his many ailments? Come along for the heartwarming story about an internet-famous Quebec cat.
A Surprise From The Quebec Snow
Winters get cold in Quebec, Canada. In February, temperatures range from a high of 24°F and a low of 8°F. Some people might be surprised that any animal would walk around outside in that weather. But that surprise was doubled for an anonymous Quebec woman.
In February 2020, a woman awoke to scratching and meowing sounds. When she followed the noise, she found a cat pawing at her door. The poor, scraggly cat was outside in several inches of snow.
This Lone Cat Needed Help
The woman had no idea what to do. She was not equipped to care for a stray cat, but she refused to leave this animal alone. The saddest part? It was Valentine's Day.
The woman could not leave this animal alone in the snow. She let the cat inside, and the cat seemed grateful. He wasn't hissing, biting, or scratching--in fact, he acted like a house cat. He frequently meowed and seemed eager to cuddle with the woman.
Sadly, No Rescue Center Would Take Him
When the cat was inside, the anonymous woman called several animal rescue centers around Quebec. Unfortunately, none of these centers had space to take in the cat. Animal shelters and rescues tend to become full during winter, when animals try to go inside.
Feeling distraught, the woman reached out to her friend. The friend, Jaelle, was a volunteer at the cat rescue center Un Chat à la Fois. Jaelle connected the woman to her boss.
...But One Nonprofit Had Room
The woman called Un Chat à la Fois, which is French for One Cat at a Time. The nonprofit organization treats stray cats and gives them forever home. The anonymous woman sent them a photo of the cat when he was clawing outside of her window.
This caught the attention of the owner, Marie Simard. "It broke my heart to see him," Simard told Bored Panda, "so I told her to take the cat to the vet."
From A Stranger To A Vet To A Rescue
The unnamed woman brought the cat to a local vet. According to her, it was easier than expected. When she put down a crate, the cat immediately walked inside.
Meanwhile, Simard dropped all of her Valentine's Day plans to meet this cat at the vet. Within 30 minutes, the cat went from an anonymous woman's house to the vet to the Un Chat à la Fois clinic. But Simard and her colleagues had a lot of work ahead of them.
He Definitely Wasn't A Stray
Un Chat à la Fois performed dozens of health checkups, from blood tests to fur checks to x-rays. The members quickly determined that this cat was not a stray. "We thought he was a lost cat because he was just too friendly to be born outside," Simard said.
If this cat was indeed lost, there was a chance that his previous owners were looking for him. Volunteers did not want to adopt a cat that already had owners.
But That Was Only The Start Of The Cat's Problems
The more the vets examined him, the more health problems they discovered. The cat had frostbite and was bleeding from a bite wound. He also had rotten teeth, fleas, worms, diabetes, eye problems, a skin allergy, and an immune disease called feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Sadly, the cat's condition was so bad that he had to be hospitalized for at least a few days. The vets said that if he had not received immediate medical attention, he would not have survived the winter.
Naming The Cat Aslan
Members of Un Chat à la Fois decided to name the cat Aslan. Not only did he look like the proud lion of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he was also a gentle fighter. He didn't fight others, but he fought for his life.
Volunteers described Aslan as affectionate. He would stick his paw outside of his cage to ask for pets. He also frequently meowed and cuddled up against the vets. It's no wonder why so many of the volunteers loved him.
Did Aslan's Owners Abandon Him?
But finding the owners was easier said than done. Aslan had no collar, and when the vets searched for a microchip, they could not find one. This led the volunteers to believe that he had been abandoned.
"We assumed he was left behind by irresponsible owners," Simard later said. "We have many cats left behind by people—people that cannot afford to pay the vet care." Although it was sad, Aslan had to find a new forever home.
But Before That, He Had To Be Healed
Although Aslan required several treatments, Un Chat à la Fois could not afford all of them. It was a nonprofit, after all, and it relied on donations. To pay for all of Aslan's treatments, Un Chat à la Fois needed at least $1,150.
But Simard didn't give up. She knew that there were good people out there who would donate for Aslan's health. So she drafted a post for the nonprofit's Facebook page, Un chat à la fois / One cat at a time.
To Save Aslan, They Needed Donations
Simard posted Aslan's story on the nonprofit's Facebook page. "For Valentine's Day, I would have liked to give you a photo of a healthy cat, but here is Aslan," she wrote in French. "A cat doesn't live outside; it survives."
Simard elaborated on all of the diseases that the six-year-old cat had. She asked for urgent help so that Un Chat à la Fois could give Aslan treatment that night. It wasn't the ideal Valentine's Day post, but they were desperate.
Hundreds Of Strangers Rallied For Aslan
The Facebook post received over 260 likes and 400 shares. Even people who lived outside of Canada thought that Aslan needed a better life. Donations rolled in faster than Simbard could count them.
On top of that, many commenters seemed interested in adopting Aslan. Volunteers knew that he would be a popular cat as soon as he was ready for a new home. But first, they had to rehabilitate him. It took longer than expected.
The Long Path To Recovery
Now that they had the money to treat Aslan, Un Chat à la Fois got to work. They started with cleaning the wound in his side. Then, they began surgery that fixed Aslan's rotting teeth and the irritation in his eyes.
The rest required more time. Aslan needed to eat enough to recover from malnourishment, and the frostbite subsided as he warmed up. In total, Aslan spent three days in intensive care. And the vets STILL weren't done!
Who Could Adopt Aslan?
Now that Aslan was ready to find a forever home, the question became: who could adopt him? Although Aslan had gained internet popularity, he required more care than other pets. He had a few chronic diseases that require a special diet and close monitoring.
Aslan needed an experienced owner. Because of this, Simard knew that it would take time to find him an appropriate family. In the meantime, he lived with an experienced foster family.
The Health Risks Of Aslan's FIV
Because Aslan had FIV, spending time around other cats was risky. The disease does not spread easily, but cats with FIV are at a higher risk of catching diseases. If Aslan fought with other cats, he would run the risk of not being able to fight off an infection.
Fortunately, Aslan seemed to get along with the other cats. He was just as affectionate with his fellow cats as he was with the humans who took care of him.
He Also Needed A Special Diet
Because Aslan had diabetes, he also required a special diet. But that wasn't a problem for this cheerful cat. "Aslan has a special diet due to his diabetes, but he likes food!" Simard said. "In fact, his mom needs to closely watch her own plates because Aslan would not hesitate to steal her food."
Although Aslan is clearly a cat with specific needs, he is also a joy to care for. Sometimes, his mom will give him little treats that won't worsen his health.
Before His Forever Home, He Went To A Foster Home
Fortunately, one foster parent was ready to take care of him. When the anonymous woman first found Aslan, she contacted Un Chat à la Fois volunteer, Jaelle. She was to become his new foster mother.
Like many volunteers, Jaelle came to love Aslan. "He is so kind and loving," Simard said. "He purrs with gratitude and he is really happy to be an indoor cat again." It makes sense that Aslan would join Jaelle's family.
Aslan Was Also Joining Two Other Cats
The only potential issue is that Jaelle already owned two other cats. There was an older cat named Jasmin and another cat named Cleo. As the new foster cat, Aslan learned to bond with the other cats.
Sadly, Aslan did not get to know Jasmin for long. She passed away shortly after Aslan was fostered. However, he and Cleo quickly became close. And don't worry about kittens; Aslan was neutered when he entered Un Chat à la Fois.
Cleo And Aslan Became BFFs
Aslan and Cleo quickly became best friends. Jaelle often finds the two cats cuddled up in their beds or on the couch. Cleo seemed to act as Aslan's new parent by immediately taking him under her wing.
"Aslan is a very affectionate cat," Simard detailed. "He forgot his outdoor life; he doesn't try to go outside. He likes to sleep on her pillow and he likes to cuddle." It seems that he's been an indoor cat all along!
From Foster Mother To Permanent Mother
After a short time in his foster home, Aslan no longer required an adoption process. Jaelle decided to adopt him herself! Although that wasn't a part of the initial plan, Aslan and Cleo became so close that Jaelle couldn't tear them apart.
Plus, Jaelle loved Aslan herself. He was affectionate, vocal, and had a newfound vivacity as soon as he recovered. Who wouldn't love him? Fortunately, as one of the first people to meet him, Jaelle had first dibs!
Could It Have Been Fate?
When the Un Chat à la Fois Facebook page shared the news, Aslan's internet fans rejoiced. Many wondered if it was fate. One commenter said, "[Aslan] knew he picked the right home. They always know somehow. That's always amazed me."
It seemed that Aslan scratched on the right person's door that day. Other people might not have known what to do with the cat, or they might not have brought him to Un Chat à la Fois. Perhaps it was fate all along.
Now Aslan Lives A Happy Life
Aslan was a lucky cat. Canada has an enormous cat overpopulation problem; nearly 160,000 cats were lost or abandoned in 2016 alone. But Aslan survived the harsh winter and ended up in a happy home.
Fortunately, there is hope for every cat like Aslan. Many of the Facebook commenters recounted stories of finding lost cats and keeping them too. Every cat deserves a happy and loving home, and Aslan got that. Best of luck to him and his family!