Thursday, 19 July 2018

Five adorable kittens rescued from Swansea radio station skip

Staff at The Wave and Swansea Sound radio stations in Wales had an eventful day at work when they helped to rescue five cute kittens from a skip outside their headquarters.

They had noticed a moggy hanging around the area for a few weeks, thinking she was an owned cat who was out exploring. However, they soon realised she wasn’t alone.

Early in the morning on 2 July, breakfast show presenter Claire Scott noticed the cat, who she had named Brambles, emerging from an overflowing skip at the back of the office with a couple of tiny kittens in tow.

Brambles had five kittens in the skip
The Wave team called Cats Protection’s Swansea & Distract Branch for help, and they arrived on 5 July to collect the family and take them to the vet.

Brambles was soon tempted into a cat carrier with some food, but the kittens proved a little trickier to find. Luckily, The Wave team were on hand to help out.

"They needed some mug to get into the skip and empty it,” said Rhydderch Wilson from The Wave’s Creative Hub. "I spent a very sweaty, dirty hour in the skip, carefully emptying the rubbish out, knowing there were several delicate life forms in there.

Lots of rubbish had to be removed from the skip

"So I lift up a huge great cardboard box and underneath found three kittens huddled together with a fourth attempting a daring escape. I grabbed the fleeing kitten and popped it into a little basket along with her three chums.

"We were confident we had found all of the kittens, however Anne from Cats Protection suggested we needed to keep digging, just in case. Ten minutes later we found a surprise fifth kitten!”

All of the kittens, one of which is now named Skippy, were then taken to the vet and reunited with their mum. The family are now in the care of the Swansea & District Branch and will neutered before being found loving new homes.

The kittens will be neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and rehomed
That’s not the whole story though. Before Cats Protection arrived, radio presenter Badger had a shock when he found a surprising passenger in his car.

"It was a hot day and I left the doors open on the car to try and cool it down a bit before I went home,” said Badger.

“I jumped in the car, drove about a mile down the road and when I stopped at the traffic lights, I looked in my rear view mirror to see Brambles looking back at me.

"I turned around and returned to the station, pulled into the car park, opened the rear door to let Brambles out. Anyone looking out of the window would have thought I had chauffeur-driven a cat into The Wave car park!"

Monday, 16 July 2018

Fergal the world-famous feline who finally found affection

Fergal, the cat reported to Cats Protection’s Chiltern Branch as a ‘mean and ugly’ stray, has been rehomed after becoming a social media superstar.

The tabby-and-white cat had become known locally for his swollen face and tendency to fight, and was found in a sorry state on the streets of Chesham where it’s thought he had been for a number of years.
Fergal cat Cats Protection
Fergal's battered appearance caused him to be overlooked by adopters
The Chiltern Branch collected him and took him to the vets, where he was treated for weeping abscesses on his face, had broken teeth removed, was neutered and diagnosed as FIV positive.

Once back in the charity’s care he became the focus of the @ChilternCPCat Twitter feed, and his battered appearance and hard-luck story soon won him many loyal fans. He racked up a sizeable 3,095 followers and messages from Argentina, Finland, India and the USA filled the account’s inbox.

Fergal cat Cats Protection
Fergal with his blanket that was donated all the way from New York
Monetary donations totalling £1,247 covered the poor puss’s vet bills, with the remainder used to help other cats in the branch’s care. Food, treats, toys, blankets, brushes and more also arrived from donors around the globe.

Heather Carpenter from New York sent a homemade blanket and toy mouse across the pond. She said: “I sent the blanket because I think every cat needs to know he or she is loved. Even knowing I couldn't adopt him, I fell in love with Fergal right away and wanted him to know that he is loved. Even when you're terrified and lonely, knowing someone somewhere loves you makes all the difference.”

Slowly, Fergal began to grow more confident and began accepting fuss and cuddles, but despite his fame, he was overlooked by many potential adopters who were deterred by his unconventional appearance. However, one man who was not put off, Chris Elliot, eventually took Fergal into his home.

Fergal cat Cats Protection
Fergal was pleased to meet his new owner Chris
“He reminded me so much of myself!” said Chris. “I had been down and broken and, very fortunately, been able to pull myself up and out. Now I could see the chance and opportunity to help such a gorgeous and adorable animal to recover and enjoy a peaceful and happy future and a healthy and loving life with me. When I met him I could see that he had a sad-looking face but also an extremely friendly nature.”

Fergal cat Cats Protection
Fergal happy and relaxed in his new home. Credit: Chris Elliot
Chris wasn’t aware of Fergal’s Twitter fame when he decided to adopt him, but was touched to hear about the love he has been shown online. He said: “It’s unusual having a celebrity cat but lovely to know so many people across the world love him as much as I do – we still have so many gifts and toys to rediscover and enjoy now that he is a bit more settled and is starting to play.

“Fergal took some time to settle but now we are great friends. I have begun to know some of his sweet quirks including his love of breakfast al fresco in his new ‘catio’, and his dislike of sharing my attention with the computer – he is truly adorable, and I’m thrilled to have him in my life.”

To find your own feline friend like Fergal, visit www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat to see the cats looking for homes in your area.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Kitten Academy: Getting the kittens used to different people

Follow the progress of kittens Apple and Apricot over the next few weeks in our Kitten Academy series.

Apple and Apricot are now three weeks old and already looking much bigger and fluffier than they did just a week ago. Apple, in particular, is very fuzzy and still twice the size of her sister Apricot, who is now looking more grey than black as her fur grows.

Black kitten Apple
Fuzzy Apple likes to play

They are still keen to spend a lot of time with their mum Annie, but she enjoys a break every now and then, happily coming out of the pen for lap time and a fuss.

While she is purring away having strokes and head rubs, each kitten can be very briefly picked up and handled before being returned to their sibling inside the pen. When the mum is so affectionate, like Annie is, it helps to be able to work as a team of two socialisers for this, so that she can get plenty of attention too!

Black cat Annie
Annie enjoying some lap time
For cats, the tolerance of and desire to be around people is a learned behaviour, not a natural instinct, so it’s important to gradually get them used to being handled early on. At six weeks old their fear response begins to set in, and so if they have not had any human contact before this age it becomes very difficult to get them used to people. Then after they reach the end of their socialisation period at eight weeks old, it becomes almost impossible!

Grey kitten Apricot
Tiny Apricot loves her mum
It’s not just important to get them used to one or two people though. Ideally, they should be handled by a minimum of four different people, including men, women, children and older people. A kitten that has only ever been handled by women may grow up to be fearful of men, so Cats Protection is always in need of volunteer socialisers of all ages and genders to ensure the kittens in their care are well-socialised.

Between brief handling sessions, curious Apple loves to play with her shiny rattling ball, batting it with her paws and chasing it around the pen until she wears herself out. Meanwhile, Apricot is still very much a mummy’s girl, preferring to spend her time snoozing with Annie. She clearly lets you know when she’s had enough of being handled, as she starts to mew for mum! Annie is still doing an excellent job of doting on her little ones, regularly licking them to give them a wash and lying there very patiently as they try to catch her tail.

Come back next week when the kittens are four weeks old to find out how their socialisation is going!

For more information about caring for kittens, visit the Cats Protection website.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Kitten watch: The kittens are settled in their forever homes

Back in February we began our kitten watch series, following the progress of an adorable litter of kittens being cared for at Cats Protection’s Bridgend Adoption Centre.

In May they were finally old enough to go to their forever homes and we have now had an update from some of their new owners on how three of the kittens are getting on. Their lovely mum Daisy was also adopted by a loving new family, and we have an update on her too!

Emma and Eira

Emma and Eira tabby and white kittens

Sisters Emma and Eira were adopted together and have now been renamed Lilly and Lollipop. Their new owner said: “They are just the most delightful little kittens ever. They settled in so well from day one and they have grown so much and are full of character and mischief. Emma was much smaller than Eira but she now weighs more as they were at the vets recently for their jabs. I don’t know how, as Eira does not like Emma getting anything and tries to steal her food and love/attention.

“They are both very vocal, in particular Emma as she likes a good old meow when she needs/wants something and I call them our little tractors as they purr so much, in particular, Eira. They follow me around the house and play together so beautifully.

“Thank you so much for these two beautiful little girls, you guys and Daisy did so well. Myself and my children, who are aged eight and nine, are just so in love with them and they get treated like royalty so they are very happy...as are we! Thank you for all the wonderful work you all do over at Cats Protection, you truly are gems."

Dewi

Dewi tabby and white kitten

The only boy of the litter, Dewi, has now been renamed Ozzy. His owner said: “He is a fantastic kitten. He is very playful and happy and enjoys sitting in the garden with us. He has started to become more confident and welcomes us when coming home and he always takes an interest at dinner times."

Daisy

Daisy tabby and white cat

Three-year-old Daisy came into the Bridgend centre after her owners moved away and left her behind. She was already heavily pregnant when she arrived and did a wonderful job of giving birth to and raising her litter. She has now been neutered, so she doesn’t have to worry about going through the ordeal of having kittens again, and is enjoying the chance to relax in her new forever home.

Her new owner said: "Daisy is settling in very slowly, loving the attention and is very affectionate but her nervousness was apparent on bringing her home. She needs a lot of reassurance when we are standing up and she is on the floor, she clearly doesn’t trust feet. On the whole she is a delight and very clean but it will take a long time to undo any traumas she has had."

It’s lovely to hear that the kittens and Daisy are happy and healthy in their forever homes.

If you’d like to learn more about how Cats Protection prepare kittens for their forever homes, take a look at our new Kitten Academy blog series following the progress of adorable kittens Apple and Apricot!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

One million steps to raise money for cats and kittens

Cat lover Paul Willis has pledged to walk an incredible one million steps in just three months to raise money for Cats Protection’s Scunthorpe Branch.

Starting in July, he will walk around 11,000 steps a day (equal to around five miles) and by September hopes to have walked 460 miles in total – that’s almost the equivalent of walking from London to Aberdeen!

Paul decided to take up this challenge after adopting his adorable cat Pebbles from our Scunthorpe Branch in February 2018.

Paul Willis and Pebbles the cat

“After I separated from my wife last summer and moved into my own place it was always my intention to have cat once I'd settled in,” explained Paul. “I much prefer cats to dogs as companions as they match my character more – independent, self-sufficient and low maintenance!

“I searched online for rehoming centres and discovered Scunthorpe Cats Protection. I went on their webpage and when I saw Pebbles I was immediately struck by her black and white markings and piercing green eyes.

“She has settled in really well and certainly lets me know exactly what she wants! We have been sharing a home now for nearly four months and she is great company. She is always sat waiting for me when I get home in the evening, wanting a stroke and some food.

“The idea for raising money for Cats Protection came from a previous walk I did last summer for Cancer Research. I walked 10,000 steps per day during June last year and raised about £150. This year I wanted to do something similar to challenge myself, as I'm not generally one for exercise!”

All of the money Paul raises will make a real difference to the lives of more cats like Pebbles. Cats Protection helps around 200,000 cats and kittens every year through rehoming, neutering and educating the public about cats’ needs.

If you would like to sponsor Paul and raise much-needed fund to care for unwanted cats and kittens, visit his JustGiving page.

To find ideas and support for hosting your own fundraising challenge for Cats Protection, visit our website.   

Monday, 9 July 2018

How to train your cat

While training your cat to do tricks can provide them with valuable mental stimulation and impress your friends, it’s best to start by teaching them some essential life skills before you tackle the tricky stuff. Here’s some advice on how to get your cat used to the litter tray, cat flap and the dreaded cat carrier!
 
Toilet training

cat and litter tray

You may wonder how best to house-train a cat, but the reality is that usually there is no need. If they are provided with an appropriate litter tray as a kitten, they will naturally follow their mother’s lead in using the tray as they grow up. Therefore, whether you are buying a kitten or rescuing one, ensure that they have had access to an appropriate litter tray for the first eight weeks of their life.

Often the litter substrate a cat uses as a kitten is the type they will prefer throughout their life. Make sure you ask the rescue centre or breeder which type your new cat prefers and use that to begin with. If you do decide that you want to change to a different litter, do this gradually over time so the cat can get used to it. If your cat is not using the litter tray, try changing the substrate to fine play sand or soil as these more closely mimic what cats would naturally like to toilet in.

Other toileting tips for your cat:
  • the ideal litter tray needs to be big enough for the cat to turn around in and contain litter approximately 3cm in depth so they can bury their waste
  • place the litter tray in a private, quiet location. Cats will be far less likely to use a litter tray in a busy area or, for example, one placed directly in front of a noisy washing machine!
  • cats are very clean creatures, so their litter tray needs to be cleaned out at least once a day
  • if there is more than one cat in the household, ensure that there is at least one litter tray per cat
Don’t get in a flap

cat and cat flap

Another important life skill for your cat to learn is using a cat flap, if you have one installed in your home. Here are some simple steps you can follow to help them learn how to come and go as they please.
  1. Prop open the cat flap and let your cat explore around it. It will help if you have something super exciting for them on the other side of the flap, such as a person they really like or a tasty treat.
  2. Give your cat space to access the cat flap on their own and once they have gone through it a couple of times, lower the height of the flap slightly.
  3. As they get more confident, gradually lower the flap some more.
  4. Repeat until the flap is no longer propped open at all and your cat is happy to go in and out with no incentive.
If your cat is particularly nervous, it may take some more time. Be patient and do not get frustrated. If they do not like going through small spaces or things going over their head, start them off with something easier. For example, place a large box that is open at both ends in an open doorway and reward your cat for exploring and walking through it. Once they are confident walking through this larger space, they may be ready to tackle something a little smaller like a cat flap. Sessions with the cat flap need only be a few minutes long and your cat will normally pick it up in a few days.

Getting carried away

cat and cat carrier

To prevent future vet visits from becoming a wrestling match between you and your moggy, it’s a good idea to get them used to the cat carrier as early as possible. You never know when you may need to use it, so follow these steps for stress-free cat travel.
  1. Leave the carrier out in a quiet place that your cat is likely to visit and put one of your cat’s blankets inside so that it smells familiar. If your cat is particularly tentative around the carrier, try to make it as open and uncovered as possible. Don’t put pressure on your cat to go in straightaway.
  2. After they have explored the carrier a number of times, try putting a tasty treat in the entrance to it. If the cat is scared, you may want to put the treat outside the front of the carrier and then leave them to find it on their own.
  3. Once your cat is comfortable taking a small treat from the carrier, start feeding small parts of their meal inside the carrier, building up the time they voluntarily spend inside it.
  4. Next, start gradually closing the door of the carrier while your cat is voluntarily inside. Only shut it for a few seconds at a time initially and then build this up over time. Do this until you can close the door on the cat carrier and your cat remains calm inside. If your cat panics and rushes out you have gone too fast and will need to go back a step.
  5. If your cat continues to be nervous of the carrier or suspicious of humans near the carrier, gradually start draping a blanket over the entrance so they have to brush past it to get the food. Continue this until the blanket covers all of the entrance but your cat can still creep in. This will help to get them used to being enclosed in a more gradual way.
  6. When your cat is confident being enclosed in the carrier and picked up then you just need to get the carrier out every now and again with a tasty treat or favourite toy in it to maintain the positive association.
This whole process will only take a few minutes of your time over the course of a couple of days. At each stage reward your cat with food or praise for remaining calm.

Remember, any form of training should be relaxed for both you and your cat so if you are getting frustrated that your feline isn’t grasping it quick enough, simply take a break and try again later.

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

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Why is chocolate poisonous for cats?

A bar of chocolate may be a tasty treat for us humans, but you should never share it with your cat.

Chocolate contains a chemical compound called theobromine which is toxic for cats and dogs. It acts as a stimulant to increase their heart rate and a diuretic to increase the loss of their bodily fluids, both of which can prove fatal.

Credit: iStock.com/cunfek
In fact, theobromine is actually toxic for us too, but because our bodies can process it more effectively, we would need to eat around 70 grams to reach a lethal dose. That equates to eating around 35 kilograms of milk chocolate in one go, which isn’t easy for us to do!

Cats and dogs are not as good at processing theobromine, so it stays in their bloodstream for much longer and can accumulate to dangerous levels more easily. Therefore, eating just a couple of grams of chocolate can be fatal for a cat.

Dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa content will contain more theobromine than milk or white chocolate, but all are dangerous. If your moggy has scoffed any of your chocolate stash you should take them to a vet straight away.

Some the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats you should look out for are:
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • excessive urination
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
The severity of these symptoms will depend on your cat’s weight and how much chocolate they have eaten, but if you’re worried it’s best not to wait for the signs to appear before taking them to the vet.

Luckily, your cat is unlikely to want to try your chocolate anyway, as they lack the ability to taste sweetness like most other mammals can. However, you should still always keep it out of their reach just in case they get curious.

Your cat may not be able to enjoy a chocolate treat, but you can! Find out how to make some purrfect chocolate paw print cupcakes in our video below:



To find out more about what you should and shouldn’t feed your cat, take a look at our handy guide.

For more advice about your cat’s diet, visit the Cats Protection website.