Tag Archives: cat welfare

Meet Foster Cats No’s 27 – 34!

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It’s been a bit hectic on the fostering front over the last few weeks….  First of all there was Olive and her five kittens: Alice, George, Ivor, Jack and Nancy.

Above: Jack, Alice, Ivor and Nancy

Olive:

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Olive had given birth to her kittens in someone’s garden.  Fortunately the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT) were called in and came to the rescue.  I took them on when the kittens were six weeks old, as their previous fosterers had a family emergency and were not longer able to care for them.

Alice and Ivor:

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All the kittens had been very well socialised by the previous fosterers, and were what’s known in the cat rescue world as ‘Bomb-proof’, i.e. super-friendly, super-confident and suitable for any kind of home.  Olive was nervous initially, but soon grew in confidence once she came to the conclusion that I was OK because: a) I wasn’t going to hurt her and was actually quite nice; and b) I was going to provide her with lots of food.  Actually it was mainly b) – Olive loves her food!

Nancy and George

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Olive and her kittens were with me for around a month before they went to the CHAT Lewisham rescue centre for rehoming.  As you can imagine it didn’t take long to find homes for this bunch of cuties, and they were all adopted (in pairs) within a couple of weeks.

Ivor’s magic wand tail!

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After Olive and co. departed I decided to take a break from fostering.  I’ve fostered almost continuously for around five years now and was feeling a bit burnt out.  I planned to stop fostering all together for a few months and then act as an emergency-only fosterer for Cats Protection.  Just in case you’re wondering why I’ve changed charity: I’ve been volunteering in the Cats Pro Greenwich charity shop for nearly four years now (18 Old Dover Rd, SE3 7BT – always good for a bargain if you’re in the area!).  Earlier this year I was asked to join the branch committee, and since then have become a lot more involved in the cats side of things.  I’m now the branch’s Homing Officer, and it doesn’t really sit comfortably with me to be fostering for one charity while rehoming cats for another, so hence the switch from CHAT to Cats Pro.

Anyway, the not fostering thing lasted for less than two weeks after a woman came into the Cats Pro charity shop and told me that she’d found a male kitten wandering up and down a very busy road.  She’d already been caring for the kitten for nearly three weeks – while she’d tried unsuccessfully to locate an owner – but was unable to do so any longer as her dog was becoming jealous and she was worried he may lash out.  I went to scan for a microchip (there wasn’t one), and discovered that the kitten was in fact female, around six months old and hadn’t been spayed.  There was nowhere else for the kitten to go other than back out on the street, so that evening, on my way home from the shop, I called round to collect Susie – as she’d already been named – and took her home with me.

Susie:

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I wasn’t too concerned at having my fostering break interrupted as Susie is an incredibly friendly, affectionate and generally bomb-proof kinda girl, who I knew would be easy to re-home.  I’d made a couple of home visits to prospective adopters earlier the same day, and thought that Susie would be ideal for one of the couples I’d been to see.  I rang them, they were very keen, and we made arrangements for them to come and meet Susie after she’d been spayed, microchipped and had her first vaccinations.  They came round this afternoon, it was love at first sight, they adopted her, and off she went to her new home.  I’ve since had a text to let me know that she settled in straight away.  Hooray!

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But I still don’t get to take my fostering break.  On Monday I received a call from our Welfare Officer, who’s a veterinary nurse at a rescue-minded practice which carries out a lot of procedures for our branch.  They’d taken in a young female for a neuter-and-return – she was one of a small group of cats who live in the underground car park of a housing estate and are fed and cared for by one of the residents.  However, when they examined her they discovered an old infected *collar wound under her right leg.  The wound needed surgery, which in turn required external stitches and then a buster collar (aka Cone of Shame) to prevent the cat from worrying at the stitches.  Obviously she couldn’t be returned to the car park in that condition, so now Holly (as I’ve imaginatively named her, given the time of year) is Foster Cat no. 34.

Holly

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The good news is that Holly is a charming, people-friendly, affectionate adolescent kitten (she’s around 9 – 10 months old), and I’m pretty sure I’ve already found her a home.  So once the stitches are out hopefully she’ll be off to pastures new, and I’ll restart my fostering break.  Wonder how long it will last this time?!

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*Collar wounds are inflicted by cat collars with an elastic insert which allows the collar to stretch if it becomes snagged on anything, so that the cat can escape.  The trouble with these collars is that they will also stretch if a cat paws at them, allowing the cat to pass one of its front legs through the collar, which then rapidly cuts into the ‘armpit’ area of the leg causing a nasty and very painful injury.  These elasticated collars are sold as ‘safety’ collars which really pisses me off as they’re not – strays with collar wounds are all too common.  A genuine safety collar will have a break-away buckle, which allows the collar to snap open when snagged, therefore making it impossible for a cat to step through the collar and rip its ‘armpit’ open.

Black Cat Jewellery in Celebration of National Black Cat Day!

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Today is National Black Cat Day, as declared by Cats Protection, the UK’s largest cat charity.  The purpose of National Black Cat Day is to raise awareness of the plight of black (and black-and-white) cats, who generally wait much longer for adoption in the UK’s rescue centres, as they are often overlooked in favour of their more colourful cousins.

So in honour of National Black Cats Day, here’s some lovely black cat jewellery from a selection of UK Etsy sellers.

(Top) Black Cat Aluminium Bangle – hypoallergenic, so suitable for sensitive skin, £19.50 from De Cumi Designs

Midnight Light Cat Earrings – resin cats with sterling silver wires, £37.95 from Jolyon Yates.

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Black Cat Pendant, £7.37 from Shimmer Creek.

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Black Cat Ticket Brooch, £7.00 from Lauras Jewellery

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Grumpy Tabby Cat Tote Bag to Raise Funds for Cats in Need!

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Barney, the grumpy tabby, fell asleep inside a nice, cosy bag and then woke to find himself at a supermarket checkout.  No wonder he looks a bit peeved.

The Tabby Cat Tote Bag – screen printed by my own fair hands – is available for £8.00 from the newly re-opened Cool for Cats UK Etsy shop.

Measurements: bag – 43cm x 35cm; handles – 64cm

All profits from the shop will be donated to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT), a UK charity who carry out invaluable cat rescue and re-homing work in London and the South East and also run two clinics in London which offer affordable neutering and veterinary care to animal owners on low incomes.

CHAT is a charity very close to my heart.  All my cats are CHAT rescues, and in fact three would not be alive today if they hadn’t come into CHAT’s care…

Severely injured Martha had been ‘rescued’ by another charity who were intending to euthanase her – they regarded her as feral and therefore difficult to re-home, and so not worth saving.  Thankfully she was passed over to CHAT, who amputated her injured leg and fought to save her life.  It was touch and go for a few days, but she’s a tough little soldier and pulled through.  I originally took her on as a foster cat before deciding to adopt her, and it was immediately apparent that she wasn’t feral – just very nervous of people, probably due to previous mistreatment.  She’s now a very affectionate lap cat who loves the great outdoors, and is a champion tree-climber – despite the missing leg!

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Alflie and his sister Ethel were members of a feral colony living in underground garages on a South London housing estate.  The cats were under constant threat from dogs and human residents of the estate – several dead cats were found at the scene – and so CHAT trapped and rescued the whole colony.  Alfie and Ethel came to me as feral foster kittens, but I decided to keep them when they were returned after a failed adoption.  It took them a while to get the hang of the whole being-friends-with-humans thing, but these days they’re both very affectionate, and could almost be described as civilised!

alfie - rescued by the celia hammond animal trust

ethel - rescued by the celia hammond animal trust

So, everything you purchase from the Cool for Cats UK shop will help fund a charity who are really committed to cat rescue and animal welfare.  I’ll be adding new products to the shop over the next few weeks – watch this space!

Herbal Remedy Toys for Feline Emotional Issues

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We’re all familiar with catnip and the effect it has on some of our feline friends, but the idea of using herbs to help cats with emotional issues is perhaps not so familiar to most of us.

The Alley Katz range of herbal toys, containing mood-improving herbal remedies for cats, is by natural therapist, George McBurney.  George has studied zoopharmacognosy* and essential oil therapy for animals, and now works together with sewist, Tracy Sherman, to produce these cute therapeutic felt fish.

* (Me neither – it’s the study of behaviour in which non-human animals apparently self-medicate by selecting and ingesting or topically applying plants, soil, insects and psychoactive drugs to treat or prevent disease.  So now you know what it means, but I bet you still can’t pronounce it!)

The fish are available for £6.50 each, and measure 12cm x 6cm.

So what exactly are these herbal toys supposed to do for your cat?

Top:

1. Black – Catnip; no explanation needed here.

2. Blue – Yarrow; for cats who are over-sensitive.

3. Yellow – Chamomile; for cats who are anxious or suffer from tension.

4. Red – Rose; for cats who have suffered past trauma, need nurturing or need to release anger and resentment.

Below:

1. Pink – Jasmine; to calm and comfort cats deprived of affection.

2. Purple – Lavender; for cats who are nervous and anxious.

3. Grey – Comfrey; for bone, ligament or tendon repair.

4. Orange – Lemon Citrus Herbs; uplifting and aids concentration in cats.

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1 Green – Peppermint; for cats who lack confidence, or often find themselves bored or lethargic.

2 Cyan – Seaweed; for cleansing the mind, body and soul and giving cats a sense of peace.

3 Cream – Angelica root; for rescue cats who may have deeply held emotions.

4 Brown – Valerian; for calming aggressive cats and helping them to focus.

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While I find this range of toys an interesting concept, I have to say that I’m pretty sceptical as to any benefits our cats may actually derive from them.  I think the majority of benefits reported by humans who use herbal remedies are down to the placebo effect, and placebos just don’t cut the mustard where cats are concerned.  Anthropomorphic phrases such as ‘For cats who need to release anger and resentment’ also bother me, as I’m wary of ascribing human emotions to our feline companions; regarding cats as little hairy people can lead to unrealistic expectations for the human/cat relationship, resulting in disappointed humans and misunderstood cats.

But, as anyone who knows me will readily confirm, I am a cynical old bastard.  But not a dogmatic cynical old bastard, so if anyone reading this has had positive results from using any of the above herbal remedies to help cats with emotional issues, please leave a comment below and tell me all about it.  I promise to keep an open mind!.

 

Everday Heroes – the RSPCA’s Inspectors & How You Can Help Them to Save Animals from Cruelty

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For us animal lovers, the RSPCA is the fourth emergency service.  I have the charity’s Cruelty Line number (0300 1234 999) saved on my mobile, so that if I see an animal in distress anywhere in the UK I can report it to the RSPCA and feel confident that the animal will receive the help it needs.  It’s the RSPCA’s inspectors who investigate complaints of cruelty, and deal with incidents ranging from unintentional neglect due to lack of animal care knowledge, to horrific cruelty cases such as organised dog fighting and badger baiting.

EVERY DAY HEROES is the RSPCA’s latest campaign, which aims to highlight the invaluable work carried out by their inspectors.  A call is made to the Cruelty Line every 30 seconds, with 28,741 reports of abandonment and 220,421 reports of animal abuse needing to be investigated.  Times are tough at the moment, and the RSPCA desperately needs your help to enable their inspectors to save animals from cruelty.

The simplest way to help is by texting HERO to 88010 – this will give £3 (you’ll also be charged your standard network message rate).  You can donate online, or request a fundraising pack – check out the Everyday Heroes page to find out more.  You could also help spread the word about the campaign by sharing the Everyday Heroes page on social media.

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I have nothing but admiration for RSPCA inspectors: in addition to dealing with sometimes harrowing cases of animal cruelty, the inspectors can find themselves in dangerous situations, including being threatened with weapons such as knives and shotguns.  They truly are everyday heroes.

Here’s Steve Walker, an experienced RSPCA inspector, talking about his job, the dangers he sometimes faces and what keeps him motivated.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored blog post (fee will be donated to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust).

Win Goodies for You and Your Cat in the BUAV ‘Our Best Friends’ Photo Competition!

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UK charity, the BUAV, has been campaigning peacefully for over a hundred years to ‘create a world where nobody wants or believes that we need to experiment on animals.’

Our Best Friends is the BUAV’s new campaign to raise awareness of and end the use of cats and dogs as research animals in the UK.  Sadly, each year in the UK hundreds of cats and thousands of dogs are experimented on for research purposes.  If you’d like to join the campaign to save them, check out the Our Best Friends page on the BUAV website – the campaign has the support of several animal-loving celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Miranda Richardson, Paul O’Grady and Chris Packham.

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To help spread the word about the Our Best Friends campaign, the BUAV are running an exciting photo competition.  To enter you need to ‘like’ the Our Best Friends Facebook page, and then submit a photo of your cat (or dog!), and a brief explanation of just what it is that makes your cat (or dog) so special.  The competition will be judged by Sue Parslow, editor of Your Cat magazine, and Rachael Millar, from Your Dog magazine.  Entries must be in by 16th December 2013.

‘But what’s the prize?’ I hear you ask.  Well, the winning cat will receive a rather fabulous goody bag which includes a pet portrait of the winning photograph, a 3 months’ supply of cat food, a pet pamper hamper worth over £65, cat toys and some cruelty free cosmetics for their humble human servant.  (The winning dog will receive a doggy version of the same prize.)  Sounds fab, doesn’t it?  Best of luck to everyone who enters!  And whether you decide to enter or not, it would be great if you could help publicise the campaign and competition by sharing the Our Best Friends page on social media.

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