Friday, 19 October 2018

A day in the life of a Cat Care Assistant

Cats Protection has thousands of cats in its care at any one time and many of these moggies are looked after in our 36 centres across the UK.

Cat Care Assistants (CCAs) work in our centres to ensure the needs of each cat are met, so their role involves everything from feeding and grooming to cleaning, socialising and administering medication.

Some of the cats that come in to our care are frightened, poorly or in desperate need of medical attention, so CCAs play an important role in helping these cats on their road to recovery.

Another vital part of their job is to match potential adopters with the right cat to make sure owner and moggy are happy, as well as provide information to the public on the best way to care for cats.

Cats Protection currently employ 207 CCAs and 17 Senior CCAs in its centres.

Holly Cole is a CCA at our Cornwall Adoption Centre and explains more about why her job is so rewarding.

Holly Cole Cats Protection Cat Care Assistant

“I always try to provide the best care for the cats, which at times can be very challenging,” said Holly. “We are often tight for time due to the high number of cats in our care. It does not look like a demanding job from the outside but it is so much more demanding than I anticipated – but that’s what I love about it.

“There is always something to do; a pen to disinfect, a cat to microchip or health check, or a nervous cat or kitten that would benefit from a bit of extra socialising and of course not forgetting potential new owners to talk to.

“I have yet to find something more rewarding than spending hours and hours with a nervous cat, getting past the fearful and defensive behaviour to the sweet cat underneath, bringing them one step closer to being rehomed.

“I have worked at the Cornwall Adoption Centre as a Cat Care Assistant for almost two years, volunteered for two years prior to that and I’m still learning now.

“When I leave work at the end of the day I am still thinking about ways I can improve their welfare, whether that be through how I socialise specific cats or what enrichment they could try next. It also comes naturally as part of the job that by accident we are always talking and hopefully educating others about feline welfare and behaviour, whether that be family, friends or someone in the queue behind me in the supermarket.

“I thoroughly enjoy my job as Cat Care Assistant and feel so lucky to be in my position and able to offer help to the cats that come into our care.”

This year, support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will help us to successfully care and find loving new homes for more cats, by funding essential Cat Care Assistant roles across England, Scotland and Wales. 

To find out how you can become a Cats Protection Cat Care Assistant, visit www.cats.org.uk/work-for-us 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

How to train your cat to lie down on command

In our last cat-training guide we showed you how to teach your cat to sit on command. If you and your moggy have mastered this challenge, you can now move on to the next stage – teaching them to lie down on cue.

While most cats spend a lot of their time lying down when sleeping (cats sleep for 16 hours a day on average!) it can be useful to get them to occasionally lie down when they’re awake too, eg to make grooming them easier.

ginger kitten lying down
Training them to lie down on cue can also provide them with mental stimulation as by giving them positive reinforcement, you can make it an enjoyable experience for them and improve their confidence.

Here we are going to teach you how to train your cat to lie down using a lure, eg treats.

To get started, you will need:
  • a physically able and confident cat (older or infirm cats might struggle) that already known how to sit on command
  • a quiet room with no distractions
  • some tasty treats that don’t require a lot of chewing
  • a bit of patience
Now you can begin training:
  1. Get your cat into a sitting position directly in front of you using the training techniques you learned previously.
  2. Hold a cat treat between the very end of your index finger and thumb with your palm facing upward.
  3. Stand in front of your cat with the treat 1-2cm away from their nose (some cats may prefer it if you sit or kneel so they are not being leant over).
  4. Slowly lower the treat towards the ground in front of them. They should then follow it with their gaze and look down.
  5. Once the treat is just above the ground, start to slowly move it towards you/away from them. If they follow the treat with their gaze they should naturally lower their front legs until they are lying down. It may take them a few seconds to figure this out so hold the treat in position if they don’t lie down straight away.
  6. As soon as your cat is lying down, say ‘yes’ and give them the treat. If your cat is good at following treats, throw the treat a short distance from them so they move and naturally reset their position ready to start again. If not, do not worry, hand feed your cat then move yourself so they stand up and you can restart the process.
  7. If your cat is comfortable with this process, repeat steps 1-6 a couple of times so they learn that lying down will get them a treat.

  8. white cat lying down

  9. Once your cat has mastered this, you can start to reduce the reliance on treats. Put your hand into the treat bag/bowl but don’t actually take one out. Still present your hand to your cat in the same way you did before and repeat the actions. If your cat lies down, say ‘yes’ and then get them a treat – you always need to reward them in some way.
  10. When this technique is working reliably, you can then present your hand without pretending to get a treat beforehand. Hopefully your cat will still lie down in response to your hand movement alone, but make sure you still follow it up by saying ‘yes’ and then giving them a treat.
  11. Now you can start to reduce your hand movement to a simple flick of the wrist. Do this gradually, increasing the distance between your hand and the floor each time you repeat the actions. Eventually you should be able to just hold your hand out in front of you and then bring it down to your side and you cat will recognise this as the cue to lie down.
  12. Next you can start to train them to lie down in response to a verbal cue as well as a visual one. Repeat the process as before but one second before you give the usual hand signal, say your chosen cue word. This can be any word you like, as your cat will only be responding to the sound, not the meaning (eg you could say ‘floor’ or even ‘grapefruit’ or ‘llama’). However, avoid using a word that you have previously used to get them to do something (eg ‘down’ when trying to get them off the sofa) as they will already have an association with this word. After repeating this process a number of times, your cat will begin to pre-empt the hand signal by lying down when you say the cue word instead.
  13. Once your cat is comfortably lying down on cue, you can start to repeat this process while standing at a greater distance from your cat, or encouraging them to stay lying down for longer periods.
black cat lying down

Throughout training, try to keep sessions to a maximum of three minutes long and then give your cat a break. If you can stick to three, three-minute sessions a day, you should hopefully be able to get your cat lying down in response to your verbal cue within seven days. However, it’s important to remember that some cats will take longer to master this than others, and some may not get it at all.

Be patient and if you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break and come back to it later. It’s important not to physically force your cat into position, as this will cause them to become stressed and could lead to behavioural or medical problems. Training should be a fun experience for both you and your cat, so always use positive reinforcement and make sure they have the choice to stop if they want to.

Have you managed to successfully train your cat to lie down on command? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

If you have any problems training your cat, take a look at our advice on the Cats Protection website or contact a qualified behaviourist.

See also:
How to train your cat to sit on command
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
How to train your cat to use a scratch post
How to train your cat to toilet outside
How to train your cat to be comfortable with handling

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Caring cat lovers give stray Toby a new home

When Jagoda and Michael from Norfolk found a poor, flea-infested cat roaming the streets, they were immediately concerned that he had lost his home.

They called up Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre to see if anyone had informed them of a lost cat in the area, but when there was no match with any of the local missing moggies the branch listed him on the Lost & Found section of their website.

Next Jagoda and Michael took the cat to the local vets to get him scanned for a microchipped, and were relieved to find that he did indeed have a chip! However, their excitement turned to disappointment when the contact details listed turned out to be a dead end.

Tabby and white cat

The vets administered flea and worming treatments to help with the poor cat’s infestation and then took some photos of him to post on their Facebook page, in case there were still owners out there to claim him.

As he was unable to stay at the vets, Jagoda and Michael offered to give the cat a temporary home while the search for his owners continued. They prepared a room in their house that he could have to himself, away from their own pet cat, with all of the resources he would need.

They also continued to put up posters around the local area, but after four weeks had passed, there was still no sign of any owners coming forward.

Having become quite attached to their temporary house guest, Jagoda and Michael made the decision to make him a permanent part of the family. They named him Toby and took him back to the vets to get him checked over and vaccinated, then registered their own details on his microchip.

Tabby and white cat lying on back

Next came the tricky task of introducing Toby to their other cat, Fluffy. Thankfully, Cats Protection was able to help, as by following the steps on our helpful video guide, Jagoda and Michael were able to make sure the introduction went smoothly. They said: “They now get on very well together. They have their moments, but seem to be enjoying each other's company most of the time and even share their food!

“We just wanted to say thank you to Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre for listing him on your website and for the advice you've given us on how to help him. We got really attached to him, he's such a friendly and grateful fella.”

If you find a stray cat, follow our advice at www.cats.org.uk/found-a-cat to give them the best chance of a happy reunion or finding a loving new home.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Black cat stars of movies and TV

Cats Protection finds loving homes for thousands of cats each year, but sadly some moggies often get overlooked by potential adopters.

Black cats can take 13% longer to be rehomed than cats of other colours, yet over 40% of the kitties taken in by our centres are black or black and white.

Some may believe that black cats are boring, but we disagree. You only have to look at the many monochrome moggies that have appeared on the big and small screen to see why.

Here’s our pick of our favourite black cat stars…

Salem (Sabrina The Teenage Witch

via GIPHY

Sabrina’s talking sidekick was always delivering witty one-liners and coming up with plans for world domination, but most remember him for his insatiable hunger and wonderful singing voice – something many cat owners may recognise in their own moggies! Although Salem hasn’t been on our screens for over a decade, he is about to return in Netflix’s upcoming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, although we’re not yet sure if he has a speaking part!

Binx (Hocus Pocus)

via GIPHY

Although he began the film as a human boy, Thackery Binx was soon transformed into an immortal black cat by the movie’s witchy main stars. Despite his family no longer recognising him, he still guarded their house every Halloween night, hissing at potential spooky intruders. Do you have your own black cat bodyguard?

Sylvester (Looney Tunes

via GIPHY

Whenever Tweety Pie ‘tawt he taw a puddy tat’ it was usually tuxedo moggy Sylvester creeping up on him. The cunning bird often managed to outwit his feline assailant, causing Sylvester to exclaim his classic catchphrase ‘sufferin’ succotash’ – if he’d been chasing a fun fishing rod toy around, he wouldn’t have been left so disappointed!

Snowball II (The Simpsons

via GIPHY

Although the original Snowball was white, the somewhat unimaginative Simpson family decided to keep the snowy name for their second cat, even though she was black. Snowball II was really Lisa’s trusty feline friend but also got on quite well with the family dog, Santa’s Little Helper – proof that sometimes cats and canines can be good friends.

Isis (Star Trek

via GIPHY

There were actually a couple of black cat stars in Star Trek, and they both happened to be shapeshifters. The monochrome moggy called Isis could communicate telepathically when in her feline form, while the cat in episode ‘Catspaw’ switched between being a woman called Sylvia and a mysterious feline that Spock took a shine to. Of course, on Earth the only shapeshifting cats do is to try and fit in their favourite cardboard box.

Figaro (Pinocchio

via GIPHY

First appearing as Mister Geppetto’s cheeky pet in Pinocchio, Figaro went on to star in many other Disney short films on the insistence of Walt Disney himself. Walt loved the little kitten so much, he even made him Minnie Mouse’s own pet moggy. If owning a black cat is good enough for Minnie, it’s certainly good enough for us!

To celebrate the beautiful black cat, get involved in National Black Cat Day on 27 October. Visit www.cats.org.uk/black-cats to download our colour chart to find out your own black cat’s true shade or find a monochrome moggy you can give a loving home.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Kittens rescued from locked car after 2,000 mile voyage from Cyprus to UK

Three tiny kittens have survived a week trapped inside a car with no food or water on a voyage from Cyprus to the UK.

The cruising kittens, who have been named Neptune, Sinbad and Galene, were discovered inside a vehicle on board MV (Military Vessel) Eddystone midway through a 10 day, 2,000 mile journey from Limassol in Cyprus to Southampton.

Tabby kitten
Neptune the kitten. Credit: Kris Bird
After being looked after by the ship’s staff, the kittens were given a clean bill of health by a UK vet and have now begun a three-month stay in quarantine, being paid for by Cats Protection who will find them a new home.

The kittens were found by crew at the end of September during a routine check of the ship’s cargo. They contacted the Sea Mounting Centre in Marchwood, Southampton where the boat was due to dock on 4 October.

black kitten and tabby kitten
Nepture (left) and Sinbad (right). Credit: Kris Bird
“The staff were surprised to see three kittens sitting on the car’s dashboard staring out at them,” said Patrick Fortnum, the ship’s agent who is based at the centre.

“The kittens were about three or four weeks old and were in remarkably good condition considering they’d had no food or water for a week. Their survival is miraculous.

black, tabby and tabby and white kittens
Galene (left) and Sinbad (right) with Neptune in the background. Credit: Kris Bird
“Our staff quarantined them in an empty cabin for four days and kept them fed and warm. The kittens were very friendly, and weren’t timid or shy at all.

“We don’t know how they got into the car and they must have kept very quiet when the car was driven onto the boat because the driver didn’t hear or see anything odd.

tabby kitten and black kitten
Neptune (left) and Sinbad (right). Credit Kris Bird
“The car was locked at the port of Limassol so it’s possible their mum had exited the car sometime before and is still on the island.”

The cost of the kittens’ quarantine, and finding them a new home is likely to reach over £2,000 so Cats Protection would be grateful for any donations towards the cost.


To give to Cats Protection’s Cyprus kittens appeal, please visit www.justgiving.com/cats-protectioncypruscats or text CATZ83 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070. 

Please note all funds raised in excess of the Cyprus appeal will be used to help other cats in the charity’s care.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Big cat challenge raising money for little cats in the UK

On Saturday 13 October, 10 fabulous Cat Champions will travel to India to trek through the Himalayas and spend time with a tiger conservation project, all to raise money for Cats Protection.

The team have been busy fundraising for the past 18 months and have so far raised an incredible £40,000 to help unwanted moggies in their local communities.

Naomh is going to India in support of her local St Neots, Huntingdon & St Ives Branch and has been getting creative with her fundraising from day one. She has had lots of fun hosting a Pawsome Afternoon Tea, selling items at car boot sales and on eBay and even auctioning off a tiger painting created by a well-known local artist. She also asked people to donate Tigger toys to create a huge Tigger tree display, and then sold the toys to raise funds. All of this amazing work has resulted in Naomh surpassing her fundraising target by £300.

Cats Protection charity stall
Naomh selling items to raise money for Cats Protection
To read more about how the team’s fundraising is going and find out their individual reasons for taking on the challenge, visit their group JustGiving page.

Cats Protection offers supporters the opportunity to take part in a big cat international challenge every year, each time helping to raise in the region of £60,000 for the charity’s important work.

The next challenge will involve a trip to Africa to spend three days canoeing down the Zambezi River and then visit a lion conservation project in Livingstone. You’ll also get the chance to spot other magnificent wild animals on a safari tour.

Elephant and canoes
Sign up for the Zambezi challenge in 2020
To find out more and sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, visit www.cats.org.uk/zambia20

If you’re worried about not raising enough funds for your challenge, Cats Protection’s Events team can help to support you every step of the way.

Still not convinced? Here are some previous big cat challenge Cat Champions to purrsuade you…

Kelly

Kelly Eyre, 27, from Wales was one of the first people to sign up for the 2017 Himalayan trek and tiger conservation project. Kelly worked as a Cat Care Assistant at Cats Protection’s Wrexham Adoption Centre for three years before studying to become a vet nurse. At the time she worked at the vet practice that looks after the cats in the centre’s care and has adopted a couple of unwanted moggies of her own, called Jelly and Smokey.

As well as raising much-needed funds, Kelly motivation was that training for her Indian adventure would also help her to shed a few pounds and improve her fitness.

“Anybody who knows me will know full well that I DO NOT like walking up hills or any slight incline, and I can't even make it to the top of Moel Famau!” said Kelly.

“When this opportunity arose, I thought it was the ideal thing to inspire me to get fit while raising money for Cats Protection at the same time.

“Having worked at the Wrexham Centre I know full well how hard the staff and volunteers work to help cats in need and it will be really nice to give them a much-needed boost.”

Cats Protection 2017 Himalayan trek
The 2017 Himalayan trek team
Roz and Yaz 

Roz, the Assistant Manager of Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, and local cat lover Yaz also took part in the 2017 Himalayan trek.

“Here at Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, we have average veterinary bills of around £3,000 per month,” said Roz. “This means that we really do rely on people to fundraise for us to help us continue our vital work. The money raised helps us provide a second chance in life for all of the numerous cats in our care. While a new home is sought, we rely on donations and raised funds to ensure every cat is kept warm and loved, is fed and, if necessary, receive veterinary care.

“Cats Protection’s national commitment to a wide range of programmes that include vaccination, microchipping, neutering and passing on the need for responsible cat care to owners of all ages, would not be possible at our local level without the help of people like Yaz fundraising for us.

“I first met Yaz last December at our adoption centre's Christmas Fayre, where I had invited her to have a stall to help with her fundraising. We've since done a lot of fundraising together and have become very firm friends, so much so that we are going travelling for a week together in Nepal, after the Himalayan Trek.”

For more information about how you can take part in an event to raise money for Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/events

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Thirteen cats dumped on a road in Wigan

Thirteen cats that were dumped out of the back of a vehicle on Edge Green Road in Wigan are being cared for by a group of cat-loving volunteers.

tabby cat with bad eye

Cats Protection’s Atherton & Wigan Metro Areas Branch is currently caring for the cats, none of which were microchipped, and is appealing for the public’s help to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of their veterinary treatment and time in care.

Around one third of all the cats taken in by Cats Protection across the UK are stray or abandoned, so it is a problem the charity’s volunteers are desperate to highlight.

black and white cat with bad eye

A spokesperson from the Atherton & Wigan Metro Areas Branch, said: “We were alerted to this case by the owners of a nearby farm who spotted the cats at night while driving. Luckily, they were able to catch these thirteen but we suspect there may be one or more still to be trapped.

“Each of the cats was suffering from a combination of signs of cat flu, dehydration, malnutrition and flea infestations. Four of the cats have very serious eye injuries but we are doing our best to save their sight. However, it is looking likely that one cat will have to have one eye removed.

black cat with bad eye

“The number of cats being dumped is a major problem for us because it can take weeks and sometimes hundreds of pounds to nurse just one unfortunate cat back to health.

“We seem to be living in a throwaway society where some people think nothing of just dumping cats.”

grey cat with bad eye

The branch is appealing to raise a total of £1,300 to cover the costs of veterinary treatment and care. Donations towards these costs can be made on the branch's JustGiving page. Any donations will go a long way to getting these cats back on their paws.

The charity urges all owners to get their pet cats neutered, as they are such prolific breeders. Just one unneutered cat can produce up to 18 kittens in one year.

For more information about neutering, visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering