Thursday, 10 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Boots helps owner Shirley Ann cope with loneliness and grief

Shirley Ann, from Dalry in Scotland, feel less lonely following the death of her closest friend, all thanks to her cat Boots.

Shirley Ann was devastated when, in November 2013, a suicide attempt left her best friend permanently paralysed and hospitalised for 18 months.

grey and white cat with woman with red hair

After 35 years of friendship, Shirley found this a terribly stressful and lonely time as she could no longer reach her friend on the phone or go off on adventures with her.

One day Shirley decided that without any children or family, the love she needed had to come from a pet so she adopted Boots from a local rescue charity.

grey and white cat with paws crossed

Boots was in a bad way when Shirley took him. So bad in fact that when she called to enquire about him the lady in the rehoming centre told her to come right away as he was “giving up” following the death of his previous owner.

Initially very shy and withdrawn, Boots eventually came out of his shell to become a loving companion.

grey and white cat with woman with red hair

Shirley Ann said: “I gave him lots of petting which did raise a few purrs and out of the blue, one night, I felt him jump onto the bottom of my bed. I liked the feeling of his warm little body against mine and this was the start of our beautiful friendship.”

On 31 March 2015, six months after adopting Boots, Shirley Ann, who already suffered with severe fibromyalgia, was diagnosed with Addisons Disease. Then just two days later her friend, who was now in a nursing home, passed away unexpectedly.

grey and white cat sitting on the floor

These two huge blows often left Shirley Ann feeling very depressed but during these moments Boots would come and put his paw on her knee to comfort her.

She said: “I was utterly heartbroken when she died and without the love from Boots waiting for me at home I wouldn’t have survived. After her funeral I returned to my flat where Boots greeted me with head butts and such love.

“Nearly five years have now passed and, while others didn’t offer me the support I expected, I survived because Boots needed me. He won’t have anything to do with anyone but me. I look after him and he cares for me.

grey and white cat sitting on a red rug

“Boots gives me the love and companionship I so badly need. As I’m disabled, I spend most of my time at home so his company is invaluable. He’s always there to greet me when I get home, looks as though the world is ending when I leave (which makes me feel wanted), makes me laugh by leaving the room if I start singing (every one’s a critic!) and with his crazy antics.

“I want to pay tribute to Boots and the way the love of a cat can change your life. I bought a t-shirt a while ago which reads ‘In my darkest hour I reached for a hand and found a paw’. Nothing could be truer.

“Boots is more than just a cat, he is an angel with whiskers, an old soul who loves me as I do him.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

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Monday, 7 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: My cats have helped me through my darkest days

Blogger Aimee Wilson explains how cats are more than just pets, they’ve helped her cope through mental health struggles and a hospital stay. 

Growing up, I always had pets; gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, fish… then, when I was about twelve, my dream came true and my mum finally agreed that we could get a cat! Saffy was like a little companion or friend for the evenings after school when my mum would still be at work. And when I went through a trauma at the age of 15, she could be there for me in ways that no human ever could. When I’d have flashbacks and find myself reliving the trauma, stroking Saffy’s fur helped soothe me and ground me back to reality so that I recognised that I was safe now.

a black cat with red collar sitting on a pink blanket
Saffy helped Aimee through her trauma 

After my mental health dramatically deteriorated as a result of the trauma, I was admitted to a specialist psychiatric hospital in 2012 that was over 100 miles from home. Of course, I missed my friends and family, but I also missed Saffy. My mum would send me photos and cute videos of her on social media so that I could still see her and that hugely helped to serve as a reminder that she – and many others – had been supportive through my darkest days. I owed it to them – and myself – to put all the effort that I had into working towards my recovery and discharge from hospital.

When, after about a year, I finally started to notice improvements in my mental health, my mum came up with the brilliant idea of buying a cat collar to remind me of my ultimate recovery goal of having my own home with my own cat. That collar hung from a photo frame in my hospital room for a further 18 months before I was finally discharged, and it ended up around my kitten’s neck.

woman holding a tabby kitten
Kitten Dolly made Aimee's new house a home 

Getting my own kitten, Dolly, was both an easy and hard decision; on the one hand, I knew that I needed company in moving from having people around me 24/7 to being in my own home, and on the other hand; I didn’t want it to look as though I was trying to replace Saffy. This thought became even harder when, one Christmas, Saffy began struggling to breathe and had to be put to sleep. I think that being in my own home and having Dolly made losing Saffy a little less painful because I still had a cat around. It was a lot harder on my mum though, whose only company for the years I’d been in hospital was Saffy, so she got another cat; Millie.

tabby cat sitting on Christmas presents under a Christmas tree
Dolly was a lively companion through Aimee's recovery

Dolly was a completely different cat to Saffy though! She was much more lively and friendly and having her by my side through my mental health recovery meant the world to me. When, in October 2018, her organs began to fail, I was in pieces; I still had my bunny, Pixie, but my house wasn’t a home without a cat in it! So, it took less than a week for me to adopt Emmy, my little calico.

young woman holding a calico cat
Aimee now shares her home with the lovely Emmy 

It was so much more rewarding to adopt rather than ‘shop’ for a cat because it felt as though I was doing a good deed and that thought helped me whenever I missed Dolly. It’s also nice to be able to give Emmy a good life full of everything she could ever want after her rough start of being found wandering the streets, alone, at only a few weeks old. All cats deserve love but to have Emmy come from a such a horrible beginning into a home that is full to the brim with kindness, care and love is really special.

calico cat stretched out in its back and yawning
Emmy is settled after having a tough start to life

It’s an absolute honour to be asked by the Cats Protection team to share my story on how cats have benefited my life and I hope that if readers can get just one thing from this piece, then I’d like it to be the knowledge that your cat is more than ‘just a cat’.

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

Friday, 4 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Lianne honours her much-missed companion Skittles

Skittles stuck by her owner Lianne Loveridge through the toughest of times, so when she passed away at 11 years old, a big hole was left in her home and heart.

young woman wearing Christmas jumper and holding white cat

“Skittles had helped me through so much, from suffering with severe depression in my early to mid-20s to getting back on my feet and settling down to get married,” said Lianne from Warwick. “She was there for the good times and the bad, and we had a very close bond.”

Sadly Skittles was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2019, and just eight weeks later she passed away.

white cat lying on purple checked blanket

“Losing her really knocked me – suddenly my constant companion was gone,” said Lianne. “Friends and family tried to say comforting things, but it didn’t help me get over the feelings of loss. I also felt guilty, as it was up to me to take that final decision for her to be put to sleep.”

Struggling with the loss of Skittles, Lianne decided to call Cats Protection’s grief support service, Paws to Listen, to speak to one of our volunteer listeners.

“Speaking to someone at Paws to Listen helped me enormously – the volunteer helped me understand that I had done the right thing and that my feelings were perfectly normal.

close up of white cat looking at camera

“I still have ups and downs, but the support has helped me to focus on the good memories and to deal with my feelings of loss.”

Lianne recently got married and, while the thought of going through such an important life change without Skittles around was upsetting, she found that the emotional support she received really helped her to cope so she could enjoy her big day.

Although the Paws to Listen service is confidential, Lianne said she wanted to speak publicly to help other people in need of support following the loss of a cat.

young woman cuddling white cat

“Skittles loved to be the centre of attention so what better way to honour her memory than for people to know about the happiness she brought me.”

“Skittles was more than just a cat. She was my constant companion and supportive best friend.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

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Thursday, 3 October 2019

5 reasons why your cat is better than your boyfriend

When it comes to helping you find your perfect match, here at Cats Protection we really do our research.

We’ll assess your personal preferences, your living situation and your daily routine to find you the ideal companion to share your time with, and you can be sure that they’ll be in tip top condition and ready to settle down.

Even better, you won’t have to do any swiping left or right, or get dressed up for any tedious dates – we do all the hard work for you. All you need is an open heart, a little bit of patience…and a suitable carrier to take them home in.

That’s right, we’re talking cats not boyfriends! Any cat lover knows that felines are much less complicated than fellas and here are some of the top reasons why…

They take up less room in the bed 


Although your kitty may still like a snuggle at night-time, they’re at least a little more respectful of your personal space. They don’t ‘starfish’, they don’t hog the duvet and they don’t snore – instead you may be treated to a relaxing purr to help you drift off to sleep.

They don’t leave pants and socks on floor 



Tired of tripping over underwear on your way to bed? Your cat doesn’t have any dirty laundry to leave on the floor, and may even be willing to help keep your clean laundry safe – it’s a great place to snooze after all!

They don’t care what you look like 


If you can’t be bothered to change out of your pyjamas and do your hair or want to spend all day sat on the sofa covered in biscuit crumbs, there’ll be no judgement from your moggy. As long as they get a chin rub and some dinner, they’ll be just be happy with your unkempt company.

They don’t hog the TV remote 


No matter what boxset you want to binge or videogame you want to play, your feline friend won’t moan and try to change the channel. They may even be happy to keep your lap warm while you’re on the sofa – better than any blanket or onesie!

They don’t argue back 



Whether it’s a squabble over the washing up or a tiff about not texting back, human relationships can have their challenges, but your cat has no interest in confrontation. If they’re not interested in the topic of discussion then they’ll just slink off to their favourite snoozing spot until they hear the food cupboard open.

To find your perfect match, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Monday, 30 September 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Dusty improves Eve’s mental health after breakdown

Eve Hawker from Romford in Essex says her mental health has improved dramatically since adopting her feline companion, Dusty.

woman holding long-haired white and black cat

Eve was struck with anxiety from a young age but had always just thought of herself as a ‘worrier’.

However, in January this year she suffered a complete mental breakdown and was signed off from her job as a nursery nurse, which she found very difficult to come to terms with. She later resigned in order to take a complete break and find out who she was again.

white and black cat looking up

During a therapy session in early March, Eve came to the realisation that she had often based her life around the needs and opinions of others and was encouraged to think about what she really wanted.

She admitted that she had always wanted a cat, so that evening Eve started browsing the website of Cats Protection’s Hornchurch & District Branch.

white and black cat lying on floor with paws in the air

She was instantly drawn to a fluffy white-and-black cat called Dusty, so she sent in an enquiry about him. The next day she was contacted by the branch and arranged to visit him at the home of his fosterer, Chris.

Despite being told that Dusty was quite a shy cat, within two minutes of entering his pen Eve was able to stroke him and spent the next hour getting to know him.

blonde woman holding white and black cat in garden

The next challenge was to see if Dusty would be ok with Eve’s husband Stuart, as there was a note on his record that he didn’t get on with men. Happily, the pair also hit it off well and Dusty seemed totally at ease. Eve was so relieved that she reserved him that day and soon took him home.

Eve said: “Seeing him for the first time it was love at first sight and the rest is history. That was when I was at the worst of my breakdown and I feel he came to me just in time.

white and black cat wearing a batman collar

“I’m so grateful to Cats Protection for bringing Dusty and me together. He has saved me and given me a purpose as well as more love and affection that I ever expected. He’s always with me and will help when I’m not feeling myself by nudging my hand and being even more affectionate than usual.

“Since having him in my life, my confidence has started to come back and I’m in a much better place and I absolutely believe he has played a huge part in improving my mental health.

“Dusty is so much more than just a cat, he’s my little angel.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is


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Friday, 27 September 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Spike helps Ian through mental and physical health struggles

Ian Turner from Llandudno in Conwy, Wales suffers from a complex medical condition affecting both his physical and mental health but says his cat Spike keeps him going through times of despair.

man with ginger and white cat asleep on his chest

Ian has idiopathic intracranial hypertension – a condition that has similar symptoms to a brain tumour, including debilitating headaches, and can sometimes leave him feeling suicidal.

Throughout his worst moments, however, Spike is there to offer a supportive purr.

ginger and white cat with paw up

“There is no cure for this condition – you just keep getting through each day the best you can and Spike is a huge help with that.

“When moments come along when I think I can’t do this anymore, Spike seems to know and is there to comfort me. He will climb on my shoulder and look into my eyes as if to tell me he’s here and check I’m ok.”

selfie of a man and his ginger and white cat

Ian was initially reluctant to get a cat but since his partner Anna-Marie introduced him to cat ownership, he’s never looked back.

The couple previously owned a ginger cat called Mr Chips, who won the Purina Better Together Category of Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards in 2014 for the support he gave Ian throughout his illness and numerous operations.

ginger and white cat sitting on man's chest with paws around his face

The couple sadly lost Mr Chips three years ago but Spike, who himself suffers from cerebellar hyperplasia which means he’s a little wobbly on his feet, has since taken over this important role.

“You get so much back when you open your heart and home to a cat. I don’t know what I’d do without Spike in my life. He’s always there when I need him, brightening my day.

“Spike is more than just a cat, he’s my motivation to keep going when times are tough.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is


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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Domino is the purrfect best friend for autistic Marnie

Five-year-old Marnie Quince from King’s Lynn in Norfolk finds making friends difficult.

Having been diagnosed with autism, she often struggles to communicate and interact with other people, but her life has been transformed by her new best friend Domino.

black and white cat lying on bed next to young blonde girl

The black-and-white cat was adopted by the Quince family from Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre in April 2019, and has already had a big impact on her new owners.

Marnie’s mum, Nissa said: “Since coming home with us Domino has slotted straight into our family. She’s cheeky and loves a game, but the biggest thing for me is how much having Domino has helped my little girl. Marnie and Domino are best friends and always together. This in turn has helped Marnie with communication.

young blonde girl reading book with her black and white cat inside a tent

“Marnie can be often be found talking to Domino, telling her she loves her, reading her stories and asking her to play outside or come upstairs with her. It’s amazing to see them together.

“Being only one year old, Domino is very playful but seems to understand Marnie and has never once scratched or bitten her when they are playing together. She even comes to find Marnie when she is upset and helps her to get up in the mornings for school.”

young blonde girl petting black and white cat on the head

Domino has also been a big help with Marnie’s bedtime routine. Nissa adds: “Part of Marnie’s autism means she doesn’t sleep very well and struggles to get to sleep and get up for school in the morning. At night-time Domino comes into Marnie’s bedroom to sleep and this helps Marnie understand that it is bedtime.

“From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Cats Protection for bringing this gorgeous little cat into our lives, she has helped us all so much and we couldn’t imagine our life without her now. 

black and white cat sitting on table next to mirror and vase of flowers

“Domino is more than just a cat, she’s my daughter’s best friend.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is


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