Monday, 19 August 2019

How to take amazing photos of your cat

If you want to know if someone is a cat owner, you only need to take a look at the photo album on their phone, or even their phone screen background, to find out.

black and white cat in front of a green background

Taking countless photos of your cute kitty is a great way to preserve your memories of them and share their antics with others, but our moggies are not always the easiest to photograph.

To help you capture some stunning cat photos, we’ve put together our top feline photography tips as well as some advice on setting up your camera, no matter what kit you have.

Feline photography top tips infographic

If you have a smartphone:


1. Explore your settings
Although smartphone cameras are often quite simple, some do have different shooting modes to choose from. See if you can select a pet mode or portrait mode, or even find a new camera app that will allow you to adjust some more settings.

2. Turn off flash
Before you take a photo make sure the flash is turned off as this could startle your cat. Shoot outdoors or in a well-lit room for lovely bright shots.

tabby cat sitting in basket next to window

3. Tap to focus
Just before you take the shot, tap on the screen to focus. The best point to focus on is your cat’s beautiful eyes, they are the window to the soul after all.

4. Edit your snaps
Once you’ve got the shot, use one of the many photo editing apps available to tweak your shot, making it brighter if needed or adding a stylish filter.

If you have a compact camera:


1. Select your mode
Most compact cameras allow you to choose from different shooting (or scene) modes, and there may even be a pet mode. If not, you can select a portrait mode if your kitty is sitting still, or an action mode if they’re in a playful mood.

2. Stay in focus
When selecting your focus mode, it’s best to choose continuous autofocus as this will do all of the hard work for you, especially if your model is on the move!

ginger cat leaping through the grass

3. Use natural light
Make sure the flash is switched off as this could scare your moggy. It’s best to use natural light instead by shooting outdoors or in a well-lit room.

4. Keep shooting
Many cameras have a burst or continuous shooting mode which will take several shots, one after the other, every time you press the shutter button. This will increase your chances of getting the perfect shot – you can just delete all the blurry ones later.

If you have a DSLR:


1. Choose your lens
A zoom lens if often useful when photographing cats as you won’t need to invade their personal space. However, if they like getting up close and personal, a portrait lens might give you a nice soft focus background effect.

2. Set up
Selecting a fast shutter speed is often better for cat photography, as it will help you capture sharp shots even if your kitty moves. If you can’t find enough natural light for your shot, increase the ISO instead of using the flash to make your photos brighter.

ginger and white cat lying down outside

3. Banish blur
If your camera has a continuous autofocus mode, this will help to keep moving subjects in focus. If your cat is sitting still, then manual or single point focus is preferred, as you can really focus in on their eyes.

4. Increase your chances
Shooting with burst or continuous shooting mode switched on will increase your chances of getting a good shot as the camera will take several shots, one after the other, each time you press the shutter button.

Once you’ve got the hang of setting up your camera, try taking your shots from all sorts of creative angles to get some truly unique snaps. From mid-pounce action shots to captivating portraits, the possibilities are endless when it comes to capturing your moggy in all their glory.

Don’t forget to share your amazing photos with us @CatsProtection on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we’d love to see the results!

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Nine reasons to take on the Nine Mile Challenge for cats

Cats Protection’s Nine Mile Challenge returns this September and the idea is simple – we’re inviting you to walk or run nine miles to raise funds for cats and kittens in need.

Last year, an army of cat-lovers from across the country signed up to help local cats and kittens in need – and 2019 is set to see even more adventurers taking on the challenge.

tabby and white cat walking through long grass

Whether it's a daily jog or one big expedition, you choose how, when and in which location to complete your miles. There’s no limit to where your trek could take you!

But just in case you needed any further convincing to take on the Nine Mile Challenge, here are our top nine reasons to make like a cat and roam free…

1) Invest in some me-time 

It’s an opportunity to enjoy a change of pace away from the demands of everyday life and take the time to reset and recharge. And as you can spread the nine miles across the month, you can schedule your walks or runs for when you need the mindfulness most.

2) Get back to nature 

What better way to admire the scenery, enjoy the outdoors, spot local wildlife and maybe even stroke a friendly moggie en route! When it comes to getting back to nature, nothing compares to a good old fashioned walk or run – and best of all, it’s completely free.

3) Meet new people 

While most cats might prefer to roam alone, there’s no reason your walk or run has to be a solo challenge. You could ask your local walking group to get involved, or run with a friend for support. Once registered, you’ll also be invited to join our Nine Mile Facebook group where you can share suggested routes and fundraising tips with fellow trekkers and runners.


man wearing backpack walking along a path

4) Boost your mood 

It’s been well documented that aerobic exercise like walking and running can help to increase the serotonin levels in your brain. The effect of this is reduced stress and a boost to your sense of wellbeing, meaning the Nine Mile Challenge might even make you happier.

5) Help the environment 

Swap your wheels for walking boots, or trade the tube for your trainers – for one week in September, why not walk or run to work instead? By turning your commute into the challenge, you’ll not only be helping cats but also doing your bit towards saving the planet.

6) Get some fresh air and exercise 

From heart health to bone strength, there are almost too many physical health and fitness benefits to list, but you can rest assured that whether you choose to run or walk the distance, it all counts. Mobile apps like Strava, Map My Walk or Run Keeper can be useful to help you track your route, speed, steps and record those all-important miles.

tabby and white cat sitting under cupboard with some trainers

7) Enjoy the long summer days 

We often see an Indian summer in September so, just like a cat, enjoy being outdoors and make the most of the weather before winter comes. By soaking up the sunshine, you’ll help to top up your vitamin D levels and give your immune system a welcome boost too.

8) Explore a new area near you 

It’s the perfect excuse to roam further afield than your usual walk to work or jog through the park. Research a new route and you might even discover a local beauty spot you never knew existed. Organisations like the National Trust have some great recommendations for walks in your area.

9) Feel good about helping cats 

Your legs may be aching and you might have a blister coming on, but just think of how amazing you’ll feel knowing that your steps will help cats and kittens get back on their paws. You can be proud of being a fantastic fundraiser and a real #CatChampion!

So what are you waiting for? Dig out your trainers and register for the Nine Mile Challenge now!

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Kitten found abandoned in a plastic box needs your help

A 14-week-old kitten who was found abandoned in a box has had to have complex surgery costing over £1,800.

Spencer was handed in to Cats Protection’s Haslemere Adoption Centre on Monday 15 July by members of the public who found the box dumped on a road nearby.

Spencer’s mother Scarlet and sister Sugar were also in the box. All three cats were very hot and lucky to have been discovered in time.

black kitten sitting in front of cat carrier
Spencer the kitten 
“It’s shocking enough that the cats were dumped, but the fact poor Spencer was in such a state is just heartbreaking. The poor cats have definitely used at least one of their nine lives.” said Hannah Ashwell, Cats Protection’s Regional Fundraising Manager.

Scarlet and Sugar have been given the all clear but Spencer was in need of a little more investigation. He had a noticeable limp and an open, infected wound in his groin area. He was also showing signs of discomfort coming from his right hind leg.

After a referral to a specialist vets, X-rays showed that Spencer had a fracture to the top of his right femur. Because of his injuries, Spencer needed some complex surgery on his hip to stabilise the joint.

“He’s been recovering from his surgery at a fosterer’s house along with his sister Sugar,” said Hannah. “As soon as Spencer is well enough, they will be looking for their forever homes.”

Spencer has a long road to recovery and will be receiving veterinary care over the coming weeks with regular check-ups. However, Hannah and the Haslemere team believe Spencer will be back to full strength in no time at all.

Hannah added: “The total cost of Spencer’s treatment, medication and after care, will cost over £1,800. Anything people can donate to help cover this cost will be hugely appreciated and will go a long way to helping.”

Anyone wishing to donate to Spencer’s care should visit his JustGiving page. Any funds raised above the centre’s target will be used to help other cats and kittens currently in the care of Haslemere Adoption Centre.

While Spencer and Sugar will be in care a little longer, Scarlet is ready to find a new home of her own where she can enjoy some home comforts.

If you would like to find out more about adopting Scarlet you can call the centre on 01428 604 297, email haslemere@cats.org.uk or visit www.cats.org.uk/haslemere for more information.

To find cats and kittens looking for homes in your area, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Monday, 5 August 2019

5 surprising differences between cats and dogs

With cats and dogs the most popular pets in the UK, it’s no surprise that they are often compared to one another in the great cats vs dogs debate.

Of course, we love both canines and felines equally, but there are some key differences that mean they need to be cared for in different ways – and some just might surprise you!

Here are five differences between cats and dogs, as well as a few ways they’re similar too!

tabby and white cat looking at a black and white dog

How are cats different from dogs? 


1. Cats were domesticated much later 

While there is some debate around when exactly dogs were domesticated, it has been estimated to be up to 40,000 years ago, as they would have helped early humans to hunt. Cats on the other hand are believed to have been domesticated only up to 12,000 years ago when agriculture evolved, as they were effective for pest control. Find out more about the history of cats with our blog post.

2. Dogs are a more social species 

Dogs have evolved from a social species and so they often benefit from some form of companionship. Cats however have evolved from a solitary species and so don’t need other cats to be their friends. In fact, cats can often become stressed when made to live with each other, unless they have a strong social bond. Take a look at our blog to find out if your cats are best friends.

3. Cats rely more on scent for communication


tabby cat rubbing its cheek on a puppy

As they are a social species, dogs rely heavily on body language and facial cues to communicate with each other. As cats are more solitary, they rely more on scent for communication with other cats. Scent glands on their cheeks and paws mean they can let other cats know where they’ve been by rubbing on or scratching surfaces. Want to know how your cat lets you know that they love you? Watch our video to find out.

4. Cats are better at hunting 

Even though dogs have evolved from a species that would have been able to hunt in packs, they have not retained their hunting behaviour like cats have. Cats need to be able to express their natural hunting behaviour as it releases happy hormones in their brains, so it’s important that they have the opportunity to stalk and pounce on toys. Watch our video for tips on how to play with your cat to keep them happy.

5. Dogs don’t need to eat meat 

Dogs are omnivores, meaning that provided they have a nutritionally balanced diet they do not necessarily need to eat meat. Cats however are obligate carnivores, so they must have meat in their diet in order to get all the nutrients they need to keep them healthy. For advice on what cats should and shouldn’t eat, take a look at our blog.

The similarities between cats and dogs 


black cat and brown dog lying on a sofa together

1. They can both be trained 

It’s a common misconception that cats cannot be trained like dogs can. However, with a bit of positive reinforcement, cats can be taught all sorts of things, from responding to their name to sitting on command. You just need to find something they like to encourage them! Find out how to train your cat with our blog series.

2. They both need love and care 

Cats are often considered to be easier to look after than dogs and not require as much input from their owners. However, while they can be a bit more independent than dogs, cats still need lots of care to ensure their needs are met. Owning any pet is a big responsibility, but you get out just as much as you put in! For lots of help and advice on how to care for your cat, visit the Cats Protection website.

3. They can both be part of the family 

As any pet owner will know, our furry friends really do make a house a home and manage to quickly worm their way into our hearts. And despite their differences, cats and dogs can live happily alongside each other, provided they have a proper introduction. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide on how to ensure your cat and dog get along.

Do you have a cat, a dog or both? Let us know some of the differences and similarities you’ve noticed between mogs and dogs in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, 2 August 2019

Monty returns home after two years thanks to his microchip

A cat who was missing for nearly two years has been reunited with his owner after finally turning up in a village three miles away.

Four-year-old Monty was reported as a stray to Cats Protection’s Bracknell & Wokingham Districts Branch after taking shelter in a garden in Farley Hill.

A quick scan of his microchip revealed the details of his owners, who had been searching for Monty ever since he went missing from their home in Aborfield in 2017.

young boy in school uniform hugging ginger cat on bed
Aaron is reunited with his best friend Monty 
Relieved owner Lydia Butler said: “We had only just moved to our new home, and despite keeping him indoors, Monty had snuck out of a small gap and must have become disorientated.

“We were so devastated and searched the streets, putting up posters and delivering fliers, but there was no sign of Monty at all. Our son Aaron took it particularly badly, as they were very close. All the time he was gone, Aaron never stopped talking about Monty.

“Eventually, and with a heavy heart, we came to the conclusion he had probably died in a road accident. So we were absolutely over the moon when Cats Protection called to say he’d been found. We brought him home, and he recognised Aaron straight away – they’ve been pretty inseparable ever since.”

Lydia added that the family have no idea where Monty could have been while he was missing, but that he seemed in good condition when he was found.

The happy reunion comes as Cats Protection renews calls for a change in the law to ensure that all owned cats, like dogs, are microchipped.

Microchipping is a safe, permanent and cost-effective method of identification which ensures cats can be reunited with their owner should they go missing. It means lost cats are not mistaken as strays and taken in by rehoming charities.

Microchipping also ensures owners can be notified if their cat has been injured or killed in a road accident. Cats Protection encourages local councils to scan any cats they collect that have died in road accidents for a microchip so their owners can be informed.

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations said: “It’s always lovely to hear of stories where cats have been reunited with their owners, but most of these happy endings are only possible if a cat has been microchipped.

“Microchipping is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, and is already compulsory for dogs. This should now be extended to ensure all owned cats are microchipped, giving the same level of protection to keep them safe and protected.”

For more information about microchipping, visit the Cats Protection website

Monday, 29 July 2019

How are domestic cats related to big cats?

All cats, from our own pet moggies to lions and tigers, belong to the same family of animals; the Felidae family.

These animals first began to evolve 25 million years ago and have become the most highly-developed carnivorous hunters of all the mammals.

The oldest cat lineage is the Panthera, which split from its common ancestor 10.8 million years ago. This is the line our modern day big cats, such as tigers (Panthera tigris), panthers (Panthera pardus) and lions (Panthera leo), have evolved from. As the tiger was one of the first to evolve they have spread out and adapted to the most environments around the world, from the -40°C nights of Siberia to the +40°C swamps of the Sundarbans.

two photos of a ginger cat and a tiger next to each other

The Felidae family continued to evolve and branch off into different common ancestors until 3.4 million years ago when the Felis genus appeared. This group includes the wildcat (Felis silvestis), the jungle cat (Felis chaus) and our own domestic cats (Felis catus).

Our moggies are most closely related to Felis silvestris lybica, also known as the African wildcat. As they separated into different species not that long ago, their genetic makeup is almost identical and they share some of the same behaviours, such as hunting and the need to be alone. Our cats are also closely related to the Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) which is why they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring.

While our domestic cats and tigers shared a common ancestor around 10.8 million years ago they in fact share 95.6% of their DNA! However, that is not where the similarities end.

5 similarities between cats and tigers 


1. They have a similar body shape 


ginger cat asleep on a wooden floor

While there are vast differences in size within the Felidae family, with tigers weighing up to 300kg and our largest domestic cat breed the Main Coon weighing up to 8kg, there are common themes to their body shape. These include strong supple bodies, a long tail for balance, fine heads with sharp teeth and retractable claws perfectly adapted for hunting their prey.

2. They are obligate carnivores 


a tiger eating a chunk of meat

As they are highly adapted to hunt it is no surprise that, like the tiger, our domestic cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to have meat in their diet. This is because without meat they can become deficient in certain nutrients, such as taurine, arginine, arachidonic acid and retinoic acid, which can cause a range of health issues. While tigers have to hunt for their food, our cats have the luxury of commercial well-balanced complete cat foods to meet all of their needs. Despite this our moggies still have a strong hunting instinct.

3. They scent mark their territory 


a ginger cat rubbing its face on a book case

Territory and personal space is very important to both tigers and domestic cats. They will mark their territory by spraying, rubbing their facial scent markers on objects and scratching around the area to warn off other cats. For help on how to stop your cat scratching in the home, visit www.cats.org.uk/scratching

4. They prefer to live on their own 

a tiger standing on a log in the jungle

The only members of the Felidae family that frequently establishes social groups of ‘families’ are lions. Other felines usually prefer to live alone, typically only coming together to mate. This is because they are highly territorial. As a result of being solitary, they have fewer refined facial muscles for communication, compared to social species like dogs.

5. They like boxes 


a ginger cat sat in a cardboard box

With many zoos becoming more focused on improving animal welfare, the use of enrichment has become a normal part of the animals’ daily routine. This has shown us how, just like our domestic cats, tigers love a good box too! It’s important to provide your cat with plenty of enrichment at home, to make sure they don’t get bored. Watch our video for ideas

For more information about the history of cats, take a look at our blog.  

Saturday, 27 July 2019

The realities of being a cat parent

Reality is, being a cat parent isn’t always as glam as it appears. For every Instagram post with a cute kitty staring at the camera, there’s a whole camera roll of outtakes – usually involving shots of a cat walking away. There’s no denying that our feline pals have their own unique character traits.

We love them for it, which is why we thought it was time to reveal some of the realities of being a cat parent. Which ones do you identify with?

Dream: Cats are perfect for buying presents for

Reality: They won’t use half of what you get them


via GIPHY

Anyone who has ever bought a new toy will be all too familiar with the nature of their feline. They are particular in their tastes and we appreciate them for it.

Dream: You’ll always have someone to greet you at the end of a long day

Reality: They’ll greet you on their terms


via GIPHY

Instead, you might find yourself greeting your cat as it arrives home through the cat flap – a good hour after you’ve settled yourself indoors.

Dream: They’ll rest all nicely curled up on your lap

Reality: They’ll sleep wherever they are comfiest


via GIPHY

You might notice that if your kitty really loves being close to you, they don’t have a concept of personal space. Whether that means climbing on your head when it’s close to breakfast time, or lounging around on your feet

Dream: Cats will sleep at night and play during the day

Reality: They’ll do quite the opposite!


via GIPHY

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during twilight. So while you’re enjoying a lazy Sunday lie-in, they’ll be up and about. And during the day when you want to play? You’ll get a few minutes with the fishing rod toy before they head off for a snooze.

Dream: They’ll enhance your Instagram grid with their cuteness

Reality: Whip out your phone and they turn into the most camera-shy creatures ever


via GIPHY

Anyone who has tried to capture their cat’s cuteness will be disappointed to find that the minute a camera is pointed at them, they always seem to move/leave the room/turn around. Well, who can blame them when a strange inanimate object is placed in front of them?

While cat ownership isn’t always a dream experience, it’s their little quirks that really bring joy. Are there any unexpected realities of being a cat parent that make you smile? Let us know by tweeting us @CatsProtection.