I began cat blogging around 18 months ago with a plan of action in mind…
Phase 1: to provide a handy resource for UK cat lovers interested in cool cat products, and, in doing so, (hopefully!) build an audience of regular readers.
Phase 2: to raise awareness of cat welfare issues here in the UK, and also help fund raise for my favourite charity, the Celia Hammond Animal Trust.
Phase 1 seems to be going quite nicely (thanks very much to all you lovely subscribers and other regular readers!), and so now, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Phase 2 is underway!
This post marks the first of what will be a monthly feature highlighting some of the amazing cat rescue and rehoming work carried out by the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT). We will be taking a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in a very busy rescue and rehoming centre in Lewisham, SE London, and also focusing on individual CHAT cats and kittens and their stories.
I hope that this peek into the world of cat rescue will prove interesting to all you cat lovers out there, and also provide an insight into the essential and, sadly, relentless nature of the work carried out by CHAT. In fact I hope all this information will prove so interesting that some of you will be moved to donate a few pennies to CHAT via the Cool for Cats UK ‘Just Giving’ page (more of that later)!
Although CHAT is well-known and well-loved in the areas of London and the South East where the charity’s veterinary clinics and rehoming centres are located, I suspect those of you who live outside these areas will be largely unaware of CHAT’s existence, and the invaluable work it carries out. (This is because CHAT channel as much money as they possibly can into providing quality care for as many cats as they possibly can – and, consequently, don’t possess the slick marketing and publicity machines employed by other more familiar animal charities.)
And so, ladies and gentlemen: kindly allow me to introduce you all to the wonderful world of the Celia Hammond Animal Trust!
CHAT was founded in 1986 by Celia Hammond, a supermodel who gave up her career in the early ’70s to devote her life to helping stray and feral cats, and who is still working long hours helping cats in need today. (You can find out more about Celia’s truly inspirational dedication to animal welfare here.)
Celia carried out pioneering work with feral cats, and in doing so helped change society’s attitude towards the feral cat population – ferals were previously regarded as vermin, and often dealt with accordingly (i.e. exterminated). You can find out more about feral cats and CHAT’s work with them here. (This link’s well worth checking out – you’ll learn a lot about feral cats and kittens!)
CHAT’s prime objective is to humanely reduce the population of unwanted cats and dogs in the UK by neutering, but the charity actually does way more to help cats and other animals than this.
The work carried out by CHAT can be divided into two branches:
- The provision of affordable neutering, vaccinations, micro-chipping and veterinary care to pet owners who are unable to pay private vet fees.
- The rescue, neutering and rehoming of unwanted, abandoned, stray and feral cats (and a few dogs, rabbits and occasional other animals).
CHAT operates two veterinary clinics in London, one in Canning Town and one in Lewisham. Each of these clinics also houses a cat rescue and rehoming centre. In 2012, the two London centres rescued and rehomed over 1,000 cats and kittens each – that’s an incredible 2,000+ cats in need who found their forever homes thanks to CHAT in one year alone. The charity also runs a beautiful cat sanctuary and rehoming centre in rural Sussex.
Before I get round to asking you to check down the back of your sofas for loose change, you’ll probably want to know why I think CHAT deserves your support.
Why I think the Celia Hammond Animal Trust is so Blimmin’ Great:
- The charity just does so much to help cats (and other animals). Other charities do an excellent job of covering aspects of CHAT’s work (such as subsidised neutering, the neutering of strays and ferals and caring for feral colonies, rehoming unwanted cats and kittens, dealing with reported cases of animal cruelty, and the provision of affordable veterinary care), but I’m not aware of any other organisations who take CHAT’s all-encompassing approach to cat welfare.
- CHAT operates a 24-hour emergency animal rescue service.
- CHAT operates an out-of-hours affordable veterinary service from its London clinics.
- CHAT also provides vital help to some very vulnerable people. Not everyone with an un-neutered, multi-cat household is an irresponsible idiot: often these situations arise because the cat owners in question are simply unable to cope. Problem multi-cat households usually come to the attention of local authorities when neighbours report the cats as a nuisance. This is where CHAT is frequently asked to step in and work with housing authorities and mental health teams to neuter, treat and (if necessary) rehome the cats. This intervention by CHAT often prevents vulnerable members of society from being evicted from their homes.
- CHAT truly is a No Kill charity – no animal in their care is ever put to sleep unless they are suffering and beyond veterinary help. I think most of the major animal charities claim only to euthanase on humane grounds, but you’d be suprised at how variable the interpretation of the word ‘humane’ can be. This sometimes leads to the ‘humane’ destruction of cats who would maybe prove difficult to rehome – otherwise healthy FIV+ cats are routinely put to sleep by a couple of the well-known charities; cats deemed to have ‘behavioural problems’ and feral cats can also fall victim to ‘humane destruction’ policies. (Although I do have direct experience of other animal charities’ destruction policies – HQ Cat, Martha and former foster Eric were both rescued from another charity’s ‘death row’ by CHAT – please don’t ask me to name names, as it’s a contentious issue and I don’t want to be sued for libel!)
So now you know more about the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, and what (in my opinion, anyway!) makes the charity so special, here’s how you can help:
Pop over to the Cool for Cats UK Just Giving Page and make a donation. It’s a simple and secure process involving a couple of clicks – you can donate using your credit/debit card or via PayPal (don’t forget to Gift Aid!), and you’ll receive an emailed receipt. Donations of any amount* will be most gratefully received – even a few pence will be enough to make a difference (for example, 50p will purchase a 400g tin of cat food)!
I appreciate times are hard at the moment (and I don’t want to turn into the online equivalent of those people who stop you in the street in an attempt to press gang you into taking out a direct debit for whichever charity they happen to be promoting that day), so if you’ve no cash to spare you could still be of great help to CHAT by sharing this page via social media.
I thank you in advance for any help you’re able to provide! xx
PS, If there are any aspects of cat rescue and rehoming work that particularly interest you, or that you’d like to discover more about, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to cover the topic in a future post.
(The first photo used to illustrate this post is one of mine; all other images have been borrowed from celiahammond.org.)
*Edit 06/07/13: I’ve just discovered that Just Giving require a minimum donation of £2.00. Apologies for the oversight- it wasn’t my intention to deceive!