Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Kids and kitties: Heart-warming stories of cats and babies living happily together

The arrival of a new baby in the home shouldn’t mean that you need to say goodbye to another member of the family, your cat.

Unfortunately, nearly a third of expectant parents have been told that they should give up their moggy when a baby is on the way, and over half of those that did went on to regret their decision.

To show that you can keep cats and children happy together, we’ve asked some cat-owning parents to share their stories of raising the purrfect family.

Nicola Pennicott-Hall

Nicola and her partner Simon adopted their cat Vera from Cats Protection’s Warrington Branch before they had a child.

“I have stage three endometriosis and Simon and I were told I was very unlikely to have children naturally so Vera very quickly became our baby,” said Nicola. “When we found out we were expecting Aneurin, our thoughts turned to how to prepare his 'big sister' before his arrival.”

As Vera had been used to sleeping on their bed, they got her one of her own and kept the baby’s cot off-limits. They also played baby crying sounds so she wouldn’t be startled when the newest member of the family arrived.

Nicola Pennicott-Hall and cat Vera

“It surprised me how attached she quickly became to my growing stomach and often snuggled up around it, poking it back when he kicked her but still refusing to move from her spot,” Nicola added.

“In my final trimester, she started displaying the same nesting behaviour as I was and became obsessed with one of my red socks. She would carry it around with her, groom it and snuggle it, like it was a kitten. Vera has never had kittens of her own.

Nicola Pennicott-Hall's cat Vera

“The day we brought Aneurin home, we made sure we made a big fuss of her before we took him inside. She sulked for a couple of weeks but soon realised we weren't taking him back!”

Now a toddler, their son loves Vera and is learning to be gentle with her and give her lots of space to get away when she needs to.

Nicola Pennicott-Hall's cat Vera and baby

“She is incredibly patient with him and allows herself to be stroked, within reason! We use Feliway, just to help her relax when he's being particularly busy and make sure she has a good amount of time with us when he's in bed. We never want her to think she's been replaced because she never will be. I have two children... one just happens to be small and dirty, while the other is small and furry!”

Jasmine Cornish

Jasmine is a Cat Care Assistant at Cats Protection’s Cornwall Adoption Centre and owner of three moggies; Charlie, Max and Tiggles. When she found out she was expecting twins, her midwife advised her to give up her cats, but Jasmine didn’t give it a single thought.

“The cats were part of the family first and we were all going to find a way to all live together,” said Jasmine. She made sure she got all the baby equipment out early on in her pregnancy so it wasn’t new and scary for them, and played some baby sounds to get them used to the crying.

Jasmine Cornish's baby and cat

“The main change I made was with the night-time routine. Usually it was everyone into bed, but once the twins arrived I didn’t want the cats in the bedroom at night, so for a few months beforehand I got the cats used to being shut downstairs at night so that the change in their routine wasn’t a big shock on top of two newborn babies in the house.”
 
When the twins arrived, she made sure the cats had somewhere to get some peace and quiet, and that she gave them some fuss each day.

Jasmine Cornish's babies and cat

“For me the most important thing was to teach the twins to respect the cats, learn their individual personalities and read the signs. They are never too young to learn this. Max is very chilled and happy to be fussed and hugged however Charlie can be grumpy at times so the twins learnt to only stroke him a little and never follow him if he walked away.

“Obviously not all cats will cope with babies or small children, depending on their personality, but I think that it’s worth trying to make it work. Cats can teach children all sorts of important skills and emotions, empathy, how to care for a pet, kindness, boundaries to name a few. The twins love the cats and they have an excellent relationship built on love and respect for each other.”

To find help and advice on how to prepare your moggy for your baby’s arrival, visit www.cats.org.uk/kids-and-kitties

Do you have a story about your moggy being the purrfect companion during your pregnancy, or a tale of kids and kitties getting on well together? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Kids and kitties: What is toxoplasmosis?

As part of our Kids and kitties campaign, we’re sharing advice on everything from how to prepare your cat for your new arrival, to keeping cats and kids content when they’re sharing a space.

If you’re expecting a baby and own a cat, you might be understandably concerned about toxoplasmosis; even if you’re not sure what it is. Known to affect unborn babies, there have been various myths surrounding the disease and its relation to cats for many years.

What is toxoplasmosis? The disease is caused by a microscopic parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. Although cats are involved in part of the parasite’s life cycle, human contact with cats does not increase the risk of infection with the parasite.

In our video, Cats Protection’s resident vet Sarah Elliot talks about toxoplasmosis – explaining everything from what causes the disease to how owners can keep themselves safe during pregnancy.



To find out more about toxoplasmosis and our Kids and kitties campaign, visit www.cats.org.uk/kids-and-kitties-toxoplasmosis

Friday, 18 May 2018

Macavity is all grown up after dramatic rescue from inside a wall

When mewing could be heard coming from inside a cavity wall at a Belfast bar, the quick-thinking bar supervisor knew just what to do.

Patrick Gormley got on the phone to Cats Protection’s Belfast Adoption Centre and they were able to send a member of staff out straight away to investigate.

When they arrived at the Shamrock Sports and Social Club, they soon discovered there was no way to get to the poor kitten and so enlisted the help of the nearby Westland Fire Station.

The firefighters were able to locate the kitten by the sound of its cries and got to work removing a concrete block from the bottom of the wall to gain access.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
Macavity was in a sorry state when she emerged from the wall
Thankfully the four-week-old kitten – now named Macavity – was rescued just in time, having only sustained minor injuries from her ordeal. If she had been trapped for just a few more hours, she may not have survived.

“The outcome could very easily have been so different if it hadn’t been for the compassionate actions of Bar Supervisor, Patrick,” said Belfast Adoption Centre Manager Bel Livingstone.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
The poor kitten was cleaned up and nursed back to health
“Sadly abandoned kittens like Macavity are an all too familiar sight for us and we would urge owners to get their pet cats neutered as they are such prolific breeders. Just one unneutered cat can produce up to 18 offspring in a year so neutering will help to prevent more unwanted kittens like this in the future.”

After emerging from the wall, Macavity was quickly rushed to the vets where she was syringe-fed and nursed back to full health.

That was in June 2017 and now that tiny shivering kitten has grown into a happy, playful and well-loved cat.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
Macavity is now looking much more grown up
Her new owners Joanne Reid and her son Matthew are smitten with the new addition to their family and are pleased to report that she happily spends her days snoozing and playing with their other cat Paddy.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
She's a playful character and an expert climber
“Macavity is doing really well,” said Joanne. “She has settled really well into our home and family. She loves being outside climbing trees although she does like a ‘lie in’ in the mornings.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
A fishing rod toy provides lots of entertainment
“She came home with Paddy and they enjoy chasing each other around the garden and afterwards enjoy a good grooming session.


Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre Macavity
Matthew loves playing with his new feline friend
“She is very affectionate but she is very good at hiding when it comes to bedtime and is definitely not a morning person. Paddy is up with the lark but she always needs ‘another 10 minutes’.”

For more heart-warming success stories about the cats helped by Cats Protection, take a look at the charity’s 2017 Annual Review.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

How long should it take for my indoor cat to settle in?

Concerned about your cat’s behaviour? Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow took to our national Facebook page recently to answer live questions from cat-lovers. This time, she heard from a new owner who was worried about their indoor cat.


"I have recently adopted a cat from Cats Protection. He’s eight years old and an indoor boy. How long should it take for him to settle in? I realise all cats are different. We are at work all day and are concerned that he might be lonely. He is not very affectionate."

Nicky says:

Thanks for adopting a cat – what a wonderful thing to do! Cats can take a while to adjust to a new territory as they rely on scent signals and familiarity to keep them safe. To help him settle in, provide lots of scratching posts for him to leave his scent and try to keep a routine.

Some cats may never be fully affectionate towards people. They may not have had enough positive contact with people during the crucial socialisation period of two to seven weeks old. Having time alone is probably a good thing – make sure you allow him to come to you on his own terms. Make sure he has plenty of places to hide as well as places to get up high and perch. This will also make him feel safe. If he does choose to hide, sit quietly in the same room and gently talk to him in low tones. Don’t force him to come out.

As long as your cat is eating and using the litter tray, there is no need to worry. If he is particularly shy, he might not want to come out to eat. In this case, try moving the food bowl closer to his hiding place and leaving the room.

For more advice on settling your cat into its new home, head to www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/bringing-a-cat-home

Best of luck!

Note: If your cat begins to display any behaviours that are unusual or develop a change in personality, the first person to speak to must always be your vet. Many changes in behaviour are due to illness or pain and so you should arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Other seemingly ‘odd’ behaviours that don’t have roots in a medical condition can be explained by understanding the natural behaviour that makes a cat a cat. For these behavioural issues, we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)

Kids and kitties: How to prepare your cat for your baby’s arrival

Counting down to the arrival of your new baby is an exciting time, but as you start to buy bottles and babygrows and decorate the nursery keep in mind that they you’ll need to prepare your cat too.

Cats like routine so it’s important to help them adjust to the new sights and sounds that come with a new baby in the home to prevent them from becoming stressed.

To help you get them ready for a new addition to the family, we’ve put together a helpful visual guide full of tips and tricks you can follow during each stage of your pregnancy.

We’ve also created a free download of baby crying sounds that you can play for your cat to get them used to your little one’s wails. Find it, and instructions on how to use it, here.
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Cats Protection’s Behaviour Officer Daniel Cummings also has some reassuring advice on how to reduce the risk of your cat becoming stressed by your new arrival in the video below.



By taking these simple steps to make sure your beloved moggy is happy, they will in turn be a wonderful calming influence during your pregnancy and make a purrfect companion for your child as they grow up.

A recent survey carried out by Cats Protection found that 9 in 10 expectant parents said their cat was a good companion during pregnancy and 96% of people agreed that there were benefits to children growing up with cats.

For more advice on kids and kitties, visit www.cats.org.uk/kids-and-kitties  

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Kids and kitties: Keep your cat in the family

The arrival of a new baby in the home is a major upheaval and unfortunately some parents mistakenly believe they should give up their pets because of this.

New findings show that around half of expectant parents have concerns about cats and children, yet few seek advice on the topic.

Cats Protection receives hundreds of calls each year from people wanting to give up their cat for reasons related to children or babies, so we’re keen to dispel the myths and put their minds at rest.

To encourage parents to keep their cats during pregnancy and beyond, we’ve launched #KidsAndKitties, a campaign offering advice on keeping cats and kids happy together.
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The campaign has even attracted celebrity support from Emmerdale star and mum-of-two Samantha Giles.

Samantha, whose children are five and nine, explained: “I am a huge supporter of the benefit of cats both to a calm, relaxed pregnancy and on children learning to care for and look after an animal.

“I remember when we brought our first baby daughter home we put her down in the lounge so our cats could have a sniff, which they did. Our cats were fairly elderly then, too, and they accepted and loved both our children.

Samantha Giles and her cat Bob
Samantha Giles and her cat Bob
“Obviously one has to be sensible and not leave a baby alone with any animal and we made sure we shut the door on Eve’s bedroom so that the cats couldn’t get into her cot.

“I’d definitely encourage people not to give up their cats when they are pregnant because there are so many benefits to having a pet in the family.”

Daniel Cummings, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Officer said: “There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice out there about cats, pregnancy and children so we’re keen to stress that you don’t need to give up your cat if you are pregnant or have young children.

“With just some simple considerations, cats and children may live in harmony together and this can bring huge benefits such as helping kids to learn responsibility and compassion for living things.”

Cats Protection ran a survey to find out what concerns parents have about keeping cats in the family and these were the key findings:
  • over half (54%) of respondents who owned a cat while expecting a child had concerns regarding their cat and their pregnancy. The top concerns were handling cat litter (77%) and toxoplasmosis (66%)
  • just under half (49%) had concerns regarding their cat(s) and children with the top two involving the cat(s) scratching/injuring their child (61%) and the cat(s) climbing into the carrier/cot/pushchair with the child (50%)
  • less than a third (30%) sought advice regarding cat(s) and pregnancy/children
  • nearly a third 31%) of expectant parents were told that they should give up their cat, with two thirds (67%) receiving that advice from friends or family
  • 1 in 12 (8%) gave up their cat because they were expecting a baby or had young children. The majority (63%) regretted this decision
To find advice on preparing your cat for the arrival of a new baby and tips for keeping cats and children happy together, visit www.cats.org.uk/kids-and-kitties for videos, guides and more!

If you have a story about kids and kitties getting on well together, share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #KidsAndKitties

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Daredevil cat lover celebrates 70th birthday with 130mph wing walk

While most people would be happy with a party and some cake for their birthday, two dedicated Cats Protection supporters have something more adrenaline-fuelled in mind.

To celebrate turning 70, Dorothy Hyman from Weymouth, Dorset will be strapped to the wings of a Boeing Stearman biplane and take to the skies to raise money for Cats Protection.

Dorothy Hyman  Cats Protection Weymouth & District Branch
Dorothy fosters cats until they find their forever homes

Dorothy said: “I thought what better way to celebrate than by fulfilling a dream of feeling the wind in my hair at 130mph, while helping local cats at the same time!”

Having fostered cats for Cats Protection’s Weymouth & District Branch for the last two years, Dorothy knows the importance of raising funds for the charity's vital work. All the money Dorothy raises will go to Cats Protection’s Weymouth & District Branch.

“I love helping to care for the many abused, neglected and unwanted cats the branch takes in,” says Dorothy. “I am hoping that kind members of the public with sponsor me to undertake this challenge.”

Another cat lover marking a milestone birthday with an extreme challenge is Mary Keenan from Conwy, Wales.

Mary is planning to celebrate her 80th birthday by reaching speeds in excess of 100mph on the Zip World Velocity zip wire.

Mary Keenan Cats Protection’s Colwyn & District Branch
Mary's cat Sandy is going to give the zip wire a miss!

“I turned 80 in January and wanted to do something different to celebrate, while also raising money for cats,” says Mary. “What better way to do this than by chucking myself down the fastest zip wire in Europe!”

She added: “I’ve volunteered for Cats Protection for 30 years, 25 of which I have fostered for, so the charity is very close to my heart.” All the money Mary raises will go to Cats Protection’s Colwyn & District Branch to help them rehome and neuter cats in the area.

If you would like to sponsor these brave Cat Champions, you can find Dorothy’s Just Giving page here and Mary’s page here.

To find out how you can take part in a challenge event to raise money for Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/challenge or get in touch on 01825 741 960 or events@cats.org.uk