Toronto

For Osie the rescue cat, 2020 was just perfect

A little black and white cat was one of 347 rescued from a single, squalid two-bedroom Toronto apartment in 2019. This year, during lockdowns one and two, she's become the best thing of her owner's year.

She's working on becoming a lap cat during a quiet, locked down year

Beverly Leung told CBC Toronto that Osie the rescue cat has been her 'best thing' of 2020. (Submitted by Beverly Leung)

Once upon a time, all the way back in 2019, a little black and white cat was one of 347 rescued from a single, squalid two-bedroom Toronto apartment.

Her rescuers wore hazmat suits due to the poor air quality inside. "There were cats everywhere," a city official said as the story hit the news. The last cat saved, possibly a kitten, was almost left behind until a wee squeak revealed their hiding spot: a narrow gap between the fridge and the wall.

But this, dear reader, is a happy story.

Because in 2020, amid a global pandemic that's seen Torontonians and millions around the world urged to stay home, that little black and white cat has a new home and a name: Osie.

And Osie, still smaller than she maybe should be and more than a little timid, has become the best thing of her human Beverly Leung's year. 

You see, Leung has been working from home, resulting in her and Osie spending much more time together in their quiet apartment.

This is where Osie once lived. (Toronto Cat Rescue/Twitter)

Their bond has grown and grown through Toronto's first, and sadly, second lockdown. And while it may not seem like much, Osie now lets Leung pick her up.  

"We are working on becoming a lap cat," Leung said with obvious pride, before laughing and admitting that yes, maybe that sounds a little "crazy cat lady." It doesn't really, though.

Osie not the only happy rescue tale

Better still, it's entirely possible stories like this are playing out all across the city — with black and white cats gladly accepting ear scratches or curling up to nap in sunny window spots. (Imagine how much slower COVID-19 would spread, by the way, if humans could sleep away more than half of every day, like housecats do.)

Mary Lou Leiher, of Toronto Animal Services, said when the hoarding horror story disappeared from the headlines, the community came together and found homes for every single cat that was saved.

Every. Single. Cat.

The resilience of the cats was amazing, she said, noting almost all emerged from their first home in quite good health, before a network of organizations worked together to clean them up and adopt them out.

"It's just hard to believe they all did well," she said.

But Osie (pronounced O-C, named after another "little fighter," U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), is the first cat Leiher has had a detailed update on. 

Osie's no stranger to a teleconference, at this point. (Submitted by Beverly Leung)

The city worker, fresh out of yet another teleconference, said it was heartwarming to hear. 

Back at their apartment, it's also clear Osie is doing some emotional good for her owner.

Leung said the first lockdown truly felt like uncharted territory — especially living alone, suddenly cut off from a normal active lifestyle. Osie helped with that, she said.

"It was really good for both of us," she said.

What does 2021 have in store? "Longer and longer cuddles," Leung said.


You can share your best thing of 2020 in the form below. Or, if you happen to have adopted one of Osie's family members let us know!

About the Author

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.

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