Tonka: A Purring Machine
On a chilly January evening, Cat Programs Coordinator Katie Farrell was going about her typical shelter closing routine when something unusual caught her eye. In the parking lot, still covered in remnants of the last snowfall, a cat carrier sat next to a parked car. Expecting it to be empty, Katie picked up the carrier, only to be taken by surprise at its hefty weight. Peeking in, Katie was greeted by the two beautiful emerald eyes of a hunky marmalade cat.
Like many other area shelters, Baypath has seen a substantial increase in local requests by owners to surrender their pets, particularly large dogs. In 2023, we welcomed more than double the number of rehomed dogs into our care than in 2022. Those numbers reflect only the animals we could accept due to our limited space, but the requests are ongoing – something our in-shelter team hasn’t experienced in 15 years in animal welfare.
While there are varied reasons for the uptick in owner surrenders, one major consideration is the current high cost of living. Housing shortages and loss of housing combined with breed, size and number of pet restrictions have led to more families having no choice but to rehome their beloved pets. Compounding these problems are the current decrease in adopters and available foster homes.
Although we don’t know the reason this marmalade boy was left in our care, Katie knew she needed to get him into the shelter and provide warmth, food and a cozy place of his own. As he was found near the tire of a Toyota, staff agreed to make the car model his namesake.
Initially, Toyota did not seem overly-pleased to be at the shelter, as he didn’t enjoy sharing a room with other cats. However, once our team relocated him to an animal-free staff space, he began to thrive, freely roaming around the room, chatting with staff and soaking up one-on-one attention.
After spending some time at the shelter, one of our most loyal foster’s, Wendy Jones, brought this feisty boy home. Fostering countless cats and kittens for Baypath since 2016, Wendy possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience. She knew right away that she needed to give Toyota time to warm up, to let him solicit attention on his own terms and to end cuddle and play sessions before he became overstimulated. Once they understood each other, Wendy enjoyed watching him play, sharing that “seeing such a big boy running and jumping around was fun to watch.”
Toyota in Foster Care
Not one to resist a studly tabby, adopter Kady shares that “he reminded me of a big yellow Tonka truck.” This amusing likeness inspired this deserving kittie’s new moniker – Tonka, which means ‘big and fast truck’ according to Urban Dictionary. An ideal name for this outgoing gentleman, Tonka is an archetype of orange cats, as he is male, talkative and friendly! According to Petsradar.com, 4 out of 5 times, orange cats are male. And not to start a fur fight, but according to Psychology Today, surveys suggest orange kitties tend to be friendlier and more talkative than other cats.
Tonka at Home
Fast forward to today – Kady and Tonka have become inseperable besties! While he still prefers to start and end cuddle session, Kady explains he is super affectionate. “Tonka will sometimes lie on top of me with his head tucked under my chin and his paws around my neck in a hug,” she shares. A huge fan of routine, Kady says her new addition “insists on brushies first thinkg in the morning after breakfast.” Next on his daily to-do list are zoomies, catnip and string toys.
Tonka at Home
Thanks to long-time staff member Katie, caring foster Wendy and doting adopter Kady, this incredibly deserving tomcat went from being abandoned on a cold winter day to living a glorious marmalade tale!