Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from everyone at Cats Protection

Thank you all for your support and generosity this year – it has helped us to create happy futures for thousands of cats and kittens and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!

Sleepy cat at Christmas
Original photo by Orangeaurochs via flickr / Creative Commons

Monday, 22 December 2014

Missed the Christmas post?

Have you missed the last posting date, or forgotten to send someone a Christmas card?

Fear not, you can share this funny cat e-card with your friends and family!



The video is also available to view at www.cats.org.uk/ecard-2014 – share the link with your loved ones this Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Simon’s Cat’s visit to the vet

Last month we wrote a blog post about a visit we had from Simon Tofield, creator of Simon’s Cat.

Simon came to the National Cat Centre in Sussex to do some research for a new film and to find out what happens at a typical check-up at the vet.

The video about the visit to Cats Protection has been released!

Watch it here:

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

We need your cat drawings!

Do you know a budding young artist or a junior cat lover?

We’re after cat drawings, letters, photos and emails from our younger supporters for the children’s’ section of our official supporter magazine, The Cat.

Every one printed will win a JellyCat toy for themselves and a Kong prize for their cat.

Recent submissions to the magazine include a picture of a family of cats waiting for a home drawn by Molly from Northamptonshire; a one-year-old cat called Pudsey by Sorcha from Berkshire; and a drawing by Eve from Wimborne of her cheeky cat, Onion.

Family of cats drawing
By Molly from Northamptonshire
Pudsey cat picture
By Sorcha from Berkshire
Drawing of ginger cat Onion
By Eve from Wimborne

If you want to send in a submission, you can email editorial@cats.org.uk with Kids’ Corner in the subject line – please tell us your name, age and address. Alternatively you can post items to The Cat magazine, National Cat Centre, Chelwood Gate, Sussex, RH17 7TT.

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Facebook helps Timmy find his way home

A guest post from Lynne Pothecary at our Wokingham & Bracknell Branch

We knew that his name was Timmy and that he was a lovely little older gentleman. Timmy was found on a residential street in Bracknell, when he wandered through the cat flap of a house. Although he had a microchip, which was registered to an address two miles away, the address was out of date. Having contacted the existing residents at the address, they had no forwarding address for his owners.

Timmy had a small area of shaved fur on his neck, indicating that he had recently had a blood test at a local vet, possibly for a hyperthyroid condition. In the meantime he was cared for by our own vets who undertook blood tests to check whether he did have a thyroid condition – which he did and so they put him on medication. The surgery then contacted lots of other local vets, in the hope that one of them had recently treated him, but unfortunately none of them could confirm that.

Black cat Timmy
Timmy
We were at a loss as to where this lovely old chap had come from so we launched an appeal on social networks, using our Facebook page. The reaction was amazing, with the appeal reaching 3,470 people and in stepped two lovely ladies who followed our page and had seen the appeal, Emma and Linsie. They turned detective for us made it their mission to help hunt for Timmy's owners using electoral rolls.

The good news is that they managed to find Timmy's owner the very same day that we launched the appeal and he was reunited with her the following night. She was very anxious to find Timmy, because he was on thyroid medication and had been missing for some time.

We were just so delighted that Timmy was able to go back to his real home, and so quickly – after just 10 days – and this story does 
show how important it is that your pets' microchip details are up to date!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to recognise the symptoms of poisoning in your cat

There are a number of everyday household items that can be poisonous to cats, so as they are inquisitive animals it's important to keep them out of their reach. This visual guide lists some common cat poisons, explains what the symptoms of poisoning are and what to do:

Most importantly, if you suspect your cat has ingested poison, take them to a vet immediately.

Recognising cat poisoning
To enlarge, click on the image

Common cat poisons

Spot On dog flea treatments: Never use a dog treatment on a cat. Some dog flea treatments contain concentrated permethrin insecticide, which is highly toxic to cats. Cats can even be poisoned simply through contact with any dogs that have been recently treated with flea spot on products containing concentrated permethrin, so read labels and take care.

Human medicines: Common painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol can be deadly – just one paracetamol tablet can be enough to cause severe illness or even death.

Antifreeze: Antifreeze is lethal to cats – ingestion of just a small amount can lead to kidney failure and death.

Household chemicals: Disinfectants (particularly those containing phenol, which usually go cloudy when added to water) and decorating agents like white spirit are toxic to cats. Pest control such as slug pellets, insecticides, weed killers and rodent bait are also very dangerous.

Lilies: A number of plants can be toxic to cats, but lilies in particular can be lethal. Cats have been poisoned by simply brushing against toxic plants and then licking the pollen from their fur, so avoid them altogether. You can see a full list of plants that are dangerous to cats on International Cat Care’s website.

Human foods: Certain human foods including onions, raisins, coffee and chocolate can poison your cat. It’s also worth noting that although it’s not poisonous, a common food intolerance in cats is to lactose in milk.

The symptoms of poisoning

The symptoms of poisoning can vary, but the most common signs are:
  • Vomiting
  • Appearing ‘drunk’/uncoordinated
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fitting

What to do if you think your cat has been poisoned

  • Do not panic
  • Seek veterinary advice immediately – even if your cat appears well, as delaying for just a few minutes may endanger their life
  • Do not try to make your cat vomit or feed them salt water, without veterinary advice
  • Take any samples or packaging of the suspected poison with you to show the vet
  • Keep other pets away from the toxic source

Prevention is better than a visit to the vets so keep poisonous substances out of cats’ reach as anything that gets on your cat’s feet or fur is likely to be ingested when they are grooming. Potentially toxic items should ideally stored in a sealed container or closed cupboard or shed.

This list and advice is not exhaustive. For further advice please consult your vet; and to find out more about keeping your cat safe read our leaflet.


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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thousandth cat rehomed by Gateshead & District Branch

Cats Protection’s Gateshead & District Branch has rehomed its 1,000th cat – Camilla.

Camilla is the 1,000 cat rehomed by Gateshead & District Branch
Camilla is the 1,000th cat rehomed by the Gateshead & District Branch
Camilla and her newborn kittens were found taped up in a box at a recycling centre. The branch was alerted by a member of public who came across the abandoned family, who were distressed, cold and hungry. They were moved into a foster home and their health gradually improved once they were given the good care they deserved. The kittens thrived and were successfully found new loving homes. Camilla’s terrible experiences left her timid and frightened but she also became more settled over time.
It has taken two years – much longer than average – to find Camilla her permanent home. Beryl-Anne Massey from Frosterly, County Durham adopted Camilla on 15 November. It was love at first sight for Beryl-Anne. “I very sadly and unexpectedly lost my beloved cat Pookie earlier this year,” she explained. “I saw Camilla’s picture and immediately wanted to meet her. She is a very special cat and I’m really looking forward to sharing my home with her.”

Ann Clarke, Branch Co-ordinator, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to reach our 1,000th cat adoption. This landmark figure reflects all the hard work of the volunteers past and present at Cats Protection’s Gateshead & District Branch. However, it sadly also highlights the number of cats who, for many reasons, are being abandoned or given up.”

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Top tips for a cat-friendly Christmas

Christmas is on its way which for us means fun times aplenty. But for our pets, the arrival of trees, fancy food, toys and guests can have an impact.

Longhaired cat with Christmas presents
Photo by Clay Shonkwile via flickr / Creative Commons
Here is a checklist to ensure your cat’s festive season is a safe and happy one:

Tree safety

1. If your cat is tempted to climb the Christmas tree, discourage them from doing so – and never encourage them to play with decorations

2. Ensure that the base of the tree is as sturdy as possible just in case your cat decides to have a mountaineering adventure when your back is turned!

3. Avoid glass baubles which can break; and tinsel which can get stuck in cats’ throats and tummies

4. If you have a real tree, cover up the base so your cat can’t get at it. The water may contain preservatives which are poisonous to cats

5. Vacuum around a real tree frequently as pine needles can hurt your cat’s feet

6. A number of festive plants are potentially fatal to cats, including mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, ivy and Christmas roses so choose carefully and keep them out the way. Find out which plants may be harmful here

Tabby cat and Christmas tree
Photo by Rosana Prada via flickr / Creative Commons
Tasty grub 

7. Restrict any turkey you give your cat to a small amount of cooked boneless meat for his Christmas dinner and take account of any treats like this in your cat's daily food ration

8. Some rich foods like chocolate are poisonous to cats so should be off the menu

Giving gifts

9. Ensure any toys you buy for your moggy are suitable for cats 

10. After opening presents throw away the wrapping – string and ribbon could be dangerous if your cat eats them

Grey and white cat with Christmas presents
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via flickr / Creative Commons
Welcoming visitors

11. If there are friends and relatives visiting, this could be quite stressful for your cat, so provide a quiet place for them to hide with access to their food, water and a litter tray – party bangers, Christmas crackers and the general hub bub can all be disturbing to a cat

12. Try using Feliway, a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone that helps to support and comfort cats. Pheromones are important for cats to recognise safe and familiar parts of their home – they do this by rubbing their cheeks against objects and areas to leave the pheromone behind. They regularly top these up as they go around the home. Feliway provides this pheromone during times when they are not able to mark for themselves due to stress or changes in environment. We are currently offering 25 per cent off Feliway products in our online shop (see offer details at www.cpshop.co.uk)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

How to support Cats Protection

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving. After Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday shopping online, #GivingTuesday is a remedy to the pressures of Christmas spending and an opportunity to help the causes we all care about.

This year the campaign has been launched in the UK and is encouraging people, charities and businesses to donate time, money or their voice to help a good cause.

Here are three ways you can help Cats Protection on #GivingTuesday:

1. Fundraise

We do not receive any government funding, so our work helping thousands of cats each year depends solely on donations, which is why fundraising is so important to the charity.

You can sponsor a cat pen, leave a gift in your will, take part in a workplace giving scheme, sign up to our weekly lottery, offer a donation and so much more – read ways to fundraise here.

We welcome more unconventional ways of raising funds too – in the past we’ve seen sponsored speed-dating events, skydives, abseiling, firewalks and one supporter even launched the Cats Protection logo into space!

Sponsored abseil for Cats Protection Belfast Adoption Centre
Andrew Doherty abseiling for Cats Protection's Belfast Adoption Centre
2. Volunteer

We help over 500 cats a day on average and this wouldn’t be possible without the invaluable work of our 9,100 volunteers. Whether it’s caring for cats by fostering, neutering or rehoming; volunteering as an education speaker; fundraiser; charity shop assistant; helpline phone volunteer or website editor – there are many different roles available. You’ll make a difference, feel good, learn new skills and most of all have fun!

Sue Emlyn-Jones is a kitten fosterer for our Bridgend Adoption Centre. She says:

It takes patience, a lot of time and commitment and endless cleaning of sometimes very mucky kittens – but it is so worth it. The difference just a few weeks’ of love and warmth makes the sleepless nights and the worry over these little dependent creatures, the very best role I could imagine.”

Find an opportunity to volunteer near you here.

Hand rearing a kitten
Feeding a tiny kitten is just one part of Sue Emlyn-Jones' role as a volunteer fosterer

3. Spreading the word

The Cat magazine
The Cat magazine - Winter 2014
One of our main objectives is to improve people’s understanding of cats and their care. We spread the word of cat welfare through national and regional press, TV, radio, our websites and more – and we even give talks to schools, community groups and the veterinary profession as well as taking opportunities to engage with politicians and decision makers.

But you can help us spread the word too – by subscribing to our official supporter magazine, The Cat, you’re helping us to help more cats. By ‘liking’ our Facebook page or retweeting our tweets, you’re getting the message out there and supporting our vital work for cats.

Anything that you can do to support Cats Protection this #GivingTuesday is much appreciated. Please leave us a comment to let us know how you support us!


Find out more about Cats Protection and the work we do at www.cats.org.uk

Thursday, 27 November 2014

‘Why does my cat have diarrhoea?’ and other veterinary questions

Last week Cats Protection vet Vanessa Howie took over our Facebook page for an hour, answering live questions from our followers.

Here are just a few of the questions she answered:

Question: My cat has had diarrhoea for about a week now. He's eating and drinking normally and doesn't show any signs of other illness as he seems fine! What's best to do now?

Answer: Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of things, both infectious and non-infectious. Common causes include worms and dietary problems. Stress can also be a major cause of diarrhoea. You don't mention how old your cat is or whether he has had diarrhoea before. I would recommend that you get him checked by your vet as he has had diarrhoea for a week. In the mean time getting him on a bland diet such as plain boiled chicken or white fish and making sure he has been wormed will help. This leaflet may be useful – Digestive disorders – vomiting and diarrhoea

black cat eating food
Photo by Alan Wu via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My female cat has just been spayed and now she eats everything in sight, including my other two cats’ food if they leave anything. I am worried about her putting on weight. Is this normal and is there a way to help prevent it?

Answer: Neutering doesn't generally cause a cat to have an increased appetite; however it may cause the metabolism to slow down a little due to the change in hormone levels. This change in metabolism can contribute to weight gain and I would recommend reducing the about of food your cat gets if she does start to increase weight. An increased appetite can be caused by other things such as worms and I would advise that you talk to your vet about your cat’s increased appetite if it continues. Microchip feeders can help limit how much food your cat can eat if your cats are microchipped.

Question: Are there ways of making life a little more comfortable for very elderly cats, particularly when health problems begin to develop and can these be dealt with as they occur?

Answer: Our Elderly cats leaflet provides lots of information on this subject. There are many health problems which can be easily diagnosed in elderly cats and then managed with medication. I would advise that as your cats get older that they have more regular check-ups at your vets, for example every six months to check their health.

Old tabby cat relaxing
Photo by Diana Parkhouse via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My kitten keeps biting my older cat’s ears. How do I teach her to stop?

Answer: It sounds like your kitten is showing normal kitten behaviour, probably trying to get your older cat to play with her. Usually you'd expect the older cat to let the kitten know when this behaviour is not acceptable or when they have had enough, for example the older cat may bat the kitten with its paw. You can try to divert the kitten's attention to other play such as using fishing rod toys and this may help to steer the kitten away from biting ears. Try not to react yourself when the kitten does this though as it may reinforce the behaviour, particularly if it appears to the kitten that she is getting rewarded for her actions. You may find the following leaflets helpful to read – Understanding your cat’s behaviour and Cats living together.

Question: My three-year-old cat has allergic reactions to flea bites – her skin scabs and she loses her fur. She is treated with Advocate and wormed monthly, but she still has loss of fur in small patches on her back end and scabs round her head and neck even though the last reaction was months ago. The vet gives her steroid injections and it clears slightly but they haven't really given us answers. She is healthy otherwise, on a diet of dry food and plain water. Can you offer any advice?

Answer: Allergic skin disease can be very difficult to manage. Cats can be allergic to a number of things including, fleas, food and other allergens such as house dust mites. It's important to get your cat on regular monthly flea treatment and your vet can advise which is the best one to use. Food trials to rule out a food allergy are usually a good starting point. Treatment is usually about managing the condition rather than curing it. Adding an omega 3 & 6 supplement may help to improve the skin and reduce the amount of steroid needed to keep on top of the allergy. Our Itchy cats and skin disorders leaflet may be of help too. Do speak to your vet about getting a plan in place for your cat's long term management.


You can find more information about cat care and behaviour in our Essential Guides and do check out our free online e-learning course
Please note we are unable to make diagnoses over the internet – if you are concerned about your cat’s health please consult your local vet.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Feeding enrichment puzzles for your cat

Like their ancestors, the African Wildcat, domestic cats are programmed to hunt. Each part of the hunting activity – the stalk, pounce, play and kill – releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Cats need to have frequent successful ‘kills’ to avoid frustration and are most likely to hunt at dawn and dusk.

Cats in the wild spend a lot of their time on frequent hunting expeditions, catching up to 12 small rodents per day. In comparison, our pet cats are given bowls of food, so a meal doesn’t take long to eat or make use of their great senses.

That’s why it’s a good idea to create interest at meal times by hiding food around the house for your cat to search out. Short games for a few minutes frequently throughout the day are also a good idea to mimic the cat's natural hunting activity.  Ensure that you spend a few minutes showing your cat how to use new feeding enrichment items so that they get the hang of it.

You can easily and cheaply make your own enrichment feeders for your cat, here are some ideas:

Egg box feeders

Start with a cardboard egg box that's open and place a portion of your cat’s daily allowance of dry food (if they have dry food) in the egg box for them to paw out.

Enrichment egg box

You can build up to more complex enrichment very gradually. For example, you could slowly start to close the lid of the egg box so your cat has to open it to find the food; or you could loosely scrunch up small pieces of newspaper and wrap the biscuits up.

Egg box with dry cat food

Then let your cat enjoy the food!

Egg box puzzle feeder

Toilet roll puzzles

Use sticky tape to attach cardboard toilet roll tubes together, adjacent in a line. Take further rolls and place them on top to make a second row in a brick-like pattern. Again, tape these to any adjacent rolls. Continue to tape rows of tubes in a descending numbers, to make a pyramid shape or rows of toilet rolls inside a box, as pictured.

Remember to use tape on both sides of the pyramid and you could add a cardboard base to make it extra stable.

Cat with toilet roll pyramid

You can teach a cat how to use the toilet roll puzzle by 'pawing' at it with your fingers.


Food must be taken out of the cat’s daily amount of weighed biscuits to avoid obesity. Read more about feeding in our leaflet Feeding and obesity.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A new concept – Gildersome Homing Centre

On 12 November 2014, Peter Hepburn, CEO of Cats Protection, hosted an Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) meeting and gave a talk about our Homing Centre at Gildersome, Leeds.

The ADCH has a membership of all of the large and many smaller rescue charities. The ADCH aims to share good practice and raise standards in rescue and rehoming work. 

Cats Protection Gildersome Homing Centre entrance

Cats Protection’s new Homing Centre at Gildersome is a totally new concept in rescue.

The model is as follows:
  • The Homing Centre has just 12 pens
  •  Fosterers initially care for cats in their own homes and when the cats are ready to find new owners they move to the centre
  • Volunteers get them ready by vet checking, neutering, chipping, etc
  • We do all we can to home our cats. We homed 430 in our first year at Gildersome
  • Our new site is on good communications routes and we give it lots of publicity
  • We have volunteers to feed cats seven days a week, morning and evening, with three staff posts to manage the centre, including volunteers
  • We subsidise the net cost (building, staff and running costs, less adoption fee) from two local shops and fundraised income, especially legacies
  •  Our nearby shops not only raise funds but also promote the cat work at the centre

It’s very different to our typical centre which has between 35 and 200 pens, and some of our centres are old, legacy sites which can be hidden away (and so require lots of publicity so people know we’re there). We subsidise the net loss (building, staff and running costs, less the adoption fee) from fundraised income, especially legacies.

The development and opening of a small, low net cost homing centre with strong volunteer involvement was seen to be a likely way to increase homing while minimising the extra net cost to the charity. Against these aims the centre has delivered very well!

Black cats at Cats Protection Gildersome Homing Centre

In its first 12 months, from opening at the end of October 2013 to October 2014 Gildersome Homing Centre homed 421 cats and kittens from 12 homing pens.

To read Peter Hepburn’s full speaking notes – click here.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Simon’s Cat visit Cats Protection

Earlier this week we were very excited to receive a visit from Simon Tofield, creator of Simon’s Cat, at the National Cat Centre in Sussex.

Following a successful crowdfunding project, Simon’s Cat raised funding to create an 11 minute colour film, Off to the Vet. Simon and his colleagues visited us to do some research for the film and to chat to Cats Protection vets about a typical check-up.

Off to the Vet will tell the story of how Simon's cat instinctively knows a trip to the vet is imminent and the lengths he'll go to avoid it. For long-suffering Simon, it is a day he dreads as he is forced to try all kinds of tricks to get his cat to co-operate. Simon tries to minimise stress, but fails miserably. That said it's equally stressful for Simon as it is for the cat.

Simon spent some time talking to our Veterinary Officer Emily Billings, who discussed what happens at a general check-up at the vets and how she makes a cat more comfortable during the procedure. There was a very noisy cat in the pen alongside her which you may hear miaowing in the video!

Simon Tofield interviewing Emily Billings
Simon talking to Emily
Emily showed what she’d do in a typical check-up with Yoda, a beautiful white cat currently in our care. She explained that she’d assess a cat from a distance before checking them over from nose to tail looking for any signs of disease; checking their eyes, ears and teeth and then listening to their heart and lungs with a stethoscope.

Simon Tofield with Nicky Trevorrow and Emily Billings
Simon with Nicky, Emily and Yoda the cat
Simon also spoke to Nicky Trevorrow, our Behaviour Manager, who explained how to minimise the stress associated with a visit to the vet – right from the home, throughout the journey and in the waiting room.

Simon Tofield chats to Nicky Trevorrow
Simon chats to Nicky
Nicky Trevorrow filmed for Simon's Cat video
Nicky gets ready for her close-up!
Simon Tofield with white cat Yoda
Simon cuddles up with Yoda
Watch this space for the announcement of Simon’s Cat’s video about the day. The Off to the Vet film will be released in 2015, watch the teaser below.




Cats Protection isn’t able to provide veterinary services for the public. However, you might want to consider a home visit for your cat if your own veterinary practice offers it, or look for a cat-friendly clinic, accredited by International Cat Care. For more information, check out the Cats Protection veterinary guide called You and your vet.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Cat fosterers needed in London

A guest post from volunteer Louise Wright

As you’re reading this, hundreds of cat fosterers around the country have a little furry lodger enjoying the care and comfort of their home. Without these volunteers Cats Protection just wouldn’t be able to help the number of cats and kittens that they currently do. If you’ve ever thought about it, but don’t really know what’s involved, this time of year is an ideal time to try it out.

Around Christmas we always have cats that need to go into a home environment and as most people have some time off, it’s a good opportunity to see what it’s like. Not that you have to be home all day to foster cats. It’s extremely flexible and we have people with a variety of lifestyles helping us out. As foster cats aren’t allowed to go outside, you can live in an upstairs flat or a four-bedroom house and anything in between. If you’ve always wanted a cat, but haven’t got one because you’ve got nowhere to let them out, then fostering could be the perfect way to get your cat fix.

Dana and Craig have been fostering for 10 years now and regularly take in litters of kittens. “We have enjoyed all the foster cats we have had over the years, but kittens are a special pleasure. Watching them develop from birth, pick up sounds and then to see ‘in focus’ – and to watch their wobbly first steps turn into dashing about and pouncing on their toys (and each other) provides hours of fun. Of course there's also the business of teaching them about the world - all part of the reward of feeling you have given them a good start in life.”

Volunteer with tiny foster kittens
Volunteer Craig with foster kittens
All our cat fosterers make a huge difference to the work we do and at the moment we urgently need cat fosterers in the north and south London area. With a new Mitcham Homing Centre due to open in the spring, Volunteer Team Leader Stephanie Osborne said: “This new centre will help us cope with the huge demand in the London area. We’ve taken in 620 cats in north London alone this year, up 30 per cent from 2013. That would’ve been impossible without the invaluable help of our volunteer fosterers.”

If you live in the London area and would like to find out more about fostering cats please email Steph at volunteering.london@cats.org.uk or call 020 7272 6048.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Why should you neuter your cat and other neutering FAQs

Every so often we run live Q&A sessions with Cats Protection experts on our Facebook page. Most recently, Neutering Manager Jane Clements answered questions about feline neutering.

Supporting and encouraging the neutering of cats is one of the charity’s objectives and helps reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens. To find out more about our neutering work and the procedure itself, visit www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering

Here is a selection of questions that Jane answered:

Question: Why is it a good idea to neuter a cat?

Answer: Cats can lead happy, healthier lives when neutered, as neutering prevents the onset of some cancers and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as diseases caught through cat fights. Cats are less likely to fight and roam if neutered. To find out more read our Neutering leaflet.

Question: What's the earliest age a female cat can be neutered? Also can a cat be neutered if I think she's pregnant already (not my cat!).

We recommend kittens should be neutered at four months old. Cats can be spayed when pregnant, depending on time of gestation and your vet would be able to give you specific advice about this. However, cats are property in the eyes of the law, so it is important to make sure the cat does not have an owner before you take it on and get it neutered.

White kitten
Photo courtesy of CP Library
Question: What's the difference between the terms neutering and spaying?

Answer: Neutering is the term used for both male and female cats; spaying refers to neutering a female.

Question: Can you get any help towards the cost if you have a low income?

Answer: Yes, please call our helpline on 03000 12 12 12 (option 3) between 9.30am-1pm Monday-Friday and look on our website for any local neutering campaigns in your area.

Question: Is there any way to check if our adopted cat has been neutered?

Your vet may be able to detect a scar from the neutering procedure if it has already been done. I would also consider whether she is displaying any signs of coming into season? If not, then she probably is neutered. Your vet will be the best person to give advice on this.


Anyone seeking financial help with neutering should call our neutering line on 03000 12 12 12 (option 3), Monday-Friday, 9.30am-1pm for advice on what is available to them.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Q&A on 17 November 2014.

Friday, 31 October 2014

A collection of black cat tales

In honour of National Black Cat Day, we’ve collected photographs, stories, tweets and more from around the internet in celebration of black and black-and-white cats and kittens.

Why do we celebrate monochrome moggies every year? Sadly, black and black-and-white cats are often overlooked for rehoming by adopters in favour of their more colourful counterparts. Don’t forget that darker cats are just as lovely and make wonderful pets.

Find out more about National Black Cat Day.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Please sponsor a cat pen

Four-year-old Jingle was admitted to us by her owners when they were moving and could not take her with them.

Black cat Jingle in our sponsored pen

Poor Jingle was in quite a bit of distress when she first arrived – we soon discovered she was suffering from a case of untreated cystitis and a luxating patella, which is a knee joint that dislocates. Thankfully, we were able to effectively treat both of these conditions and lovely Jingle is much happier now.

This gorgeous, friendly young girl is very lively – she has lots of energy and loves human attention. She would best suit a home with older children and with no other cats or dogs, so she can really be the queen of her future household! Jingle absolutely loves to play, so when the volunteers visit her with feathers and strings it is usually the highlight of her day!

Here she is, enjoying a fuss:



Sadly, Jingle is just one of thousands of unwanted black cats who pass through our centre each year. She is in one of our sponsored pens at the National Cat Adoption Centre. Sponsoring one of our cat pens is one of the best ways you can help cats in our care and you can do so for as little as 19p a day. Find out more about sponsoring a cat pen and make a difference today.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

If a black cat crosses your path

Black cats have long been associated with superstition.

Worshipped by the Egyptians and adored by the Romans, ancient beliefs were that all cats (including black ones) were to be worshipped and to kill one was considered a capital crime.

But by the 17th century cats were associated with witchcraft and considered evil. In witch trials, ownership of a cat was taken as evidence of witchcraft. Even today, in the United States, Belgium and Spain black cats are considered very unlucky – and a costumed witch during Halloween celebrations will often by accompanied by a black cat.

Unlucky black cat
Photo by Jason Howie via flickr / Creative Commons
In Britain the opposite is true and the association has long since changed to one of good fortune. To meet a black cat is considered good luck, especially if it runs across the path of the observer. There are some variants of this belief, such as that in Yorkshire, where it is lucky to own a black cat, but not to meet them. In other areas it’s said that a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride!

For some reason, which could be linked to superstition, black and black-and-white cats in the care of Cats Protection are often harder to home.

Gemma Smith, Cats Protection’s Digital Communications Officer says “Black and black-and-white cats make up around half of all the cats in our care – and sadly they wait much longer to find their forever home than the average cat”.

That’s why we’re urging our supporters to share their tales of ebony cat ownership to show that a black cat is for life, not just for Halloween.


If you’d like to consider homing a black cat, use our Find-a-cat search.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The most popular black cat names

It seems that many owners of monochrome felines favour traditional names for their pets. We conducted a survey of over 18,000 cat owners on Facebook (see the results in our infographic) which revealed the most common cat names from across the UK.

Based on the responses from those surveyed, Sooty is the most common name for black cats and Felix is the most common name for black-and-white cats.

What have you named your black or black-and-white cat?

Sleek black cat Salem


30 October 2014 is National Black Cat Day and we’re celebrating everything that’s wonderful about black cats. Find out more here

Fireworks frighten cats

Fireworks season can be a scary time for our pets, so we’ve put together this infographic which explains how to keep your cat safe and calm.

Fireworks frighten cats infographic





























Keep your cat in after dark and provide them with a litter tray if they’re used to outdoor access. Make sure you securely fasten all doors and windows and keep the curtains drawn to reduce outside noise. Playing soothing music may also help.

You can create a reassuring environment by using a Feliway® plug-in diffuser, which is an artificial pheromone product that mimics the scent from a cat’s facial glands, helping cats to feel more secure. Also provide a safe, comfy place in familiar territory for your cat to hide – a hiding place can be something as simple as a cardboard box on its side, an igloo style cat bed, a space under the bed, or in a wardrobe with the door left ajar.

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Find out more about caring for your cat by reading our Essential Guides series of leaflets.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The history of National Black Cat Day

Thursday 30 October 2014 marks our fourth National Black Cat Day, Cats Protection’s annual campaign to celebrate black and black-and-white cats.

Black cats are often overlooked by potential adopters and take on average a week longer to home. We’re not sure why but we don’t want to see them left waiting in the wings so invite you to join us in commending the beauty of black cats.

2011


Thousands of people backed the UK’s first ever Black Cat Awareness Day – as it was known then – on 27 October, which drew attention to the hundreds of homeless black cats in Cats Protection’s care and the apparent reluctance of people to adopt them.

Fictional mascot Billy Noir-Mates was the face of the campaign, starring in his own video and donning social media profiles.



The campaign’s Twitter hashtag, #CPBlackCats, was in the top 10 trends on Twitter and at one point it was the third most-talked about subject among UK users, temporarily beating Justin Bieber! The campaign also attracted support from celebrity cat-lovers including Twiggy Lawson, Samantha Fox and creator of Simon’s Cat, Simon Tofield.

Black Cat Awareness Day was so successful that we decided to turn it into an annual event.

2012


In the campaign’s second year we changed the name to National Black Cat Day and really embraced the power and reach of social media. We asked our supporters to upload pictures and stories of themselves dressed as black cats and to share photos of their own real-life black cats. We also encouraged people to change their social media avatars to a specially designed black cat version.

Model Lucy Pinder helped us to promote the campaign which reached nearly 330,000 people on social media.

2013


In 2013 we invited owners of black and black-and-white cats to share photos of their pets on Instagram. We received more than 2,000 entries and created a poster to showcase some of our favourites which was used as a homing campaign in a shopping centre.

National Black Cat Day 2013 homing poster

We also encouraged our supporters to send in funny videos of their black and black-and-white cats – Emma Wallis’ video of her bin-loving cat Rupert topped the votes.



Finally, we developed a black cat download pack on our website, which contained photos, posters and a black cat mask for cat lovers to spread the word.

2014


This year we've launched a National Black Cat Day Champion competition on Facebook which invites our supporters to share their rescued black cat selfies (with stories). The winning ‘Champion’ will win a photoshoot and will become our black cat rehoming ‘poster cat’ in our homing posters and publications. You can vote by liking your favourite on our Facebook page on Wednesday and we’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

You can also share your black cat photos on Twitter with our #CPBlackCats hashtag and on our Pinterest board. On our website we have a section full of cute, beautiful and funny videos and photos of gorgeous black and black-and-white cats. Find out more about the campaign at www.cats.org.uk/black-cats


We hope that our campaign can continue to prove that monochrome mogs are just as lovely as cats of other colours.

If you’re thinking of adopting a cat, why not consider a black or black-and-white one? Find your perfect new pet through the Find-a-Cat tool on our homepage www.cats.org.uk

Friday, 24 October 2014

Cat Match tips and tricks – new cats to unlock

We’ve just released a new tips and tricks video which explains that as you progress through the levels of Cat Match, harder to rehome cats and rarer types of cats are unlocked. For example black cats, which are often overlooked, will need greater promotion in order to rehome them from your simulated adoption centre.

This mirrors our real life adoption centres and branches, which find that some cats are often overlooked by potential adopters, just because of the colour of their fur, a medical condition or their age.

That’s why we hold an annual celebration of black and black-and-white cats every year. Keep an eye on our blog and social channels for activity around National Black Cat Day next week.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

‘Why is my cat aggressive?’ and other cat behaviour FAQs

In our most recent live Facebook Q&A session, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow answered a range of questions about cat behaviour.

It’s important that if you notice any change in your cat’s behaviour, you get them checked by a vet to ensure there are no underlying medical causes. Your vet will have access to your cat’s history and will be able to carry out a full examination. If your cat’s given a clean bill of health you can investigate a behavioural cause by contacting a qualified behaviourist at www.apbc.org.uk

Here are some of the questions that Nicky answered:

Question: Why does my cat look like he’s trying to hide his food? It looks like he’s scratching the floor and trying to cover it with imaginary dirt.

Answer: There are a few possibilities here. If your cat eats from the bowl quite well and then does the scratching behaviour and walks off, then it could be a 'caching' behaviour left over from the African wildcat days, eg saving the food for later. However if your cat approaches the food, gives it a sniff and then starts doing it without eating the food, perhaps there is something putting him off. Try different types of bowls (eg ceramic), placing the bowl away from his water bowl and away from the wall so that he can see the room more easily.

Cat eating from bowl
Photo by Tom Thai via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My cat keeps pulling fur out of his legs and tummy. We have taken him to the vet and they said he was stressed. He gave us tablets but my cat refused to take them and the ordeal of trying to force him to take them seems to have stressed him out more. We have tried Feliway®. Do you have any ideas?

Answer: This seems to be quite a common problem. The best thing is to identify the root cause of the problem and a qualified behaviourist can help with this. In the meantime, ensure your cat has plenty of places to get up high, lots of places to hide and plenty of other resources (eg litter trays, water bowls etc) in lots of different locations around the house. To learn more about your cat’s behaviour, check out our free online e-learning course. Also check out our leaflets called Understanding your cat’s behaviour and Managing your cat’s behaviour.

Question: We have a very playful but boisterous 14-week-old kitten. We can manage the hand and arm biting but what it the best way to stop him from running up and biting and scratching faces? At the moment I’ve been trying to take him off, tell him ‘no’ and give him a toy. Any ideas?

Answer: Kittens are often more energetic than we remember them being! That said they need to be encouraged to chew and pounce on appropriate items such as toys. Ensure that you and everyone in the household is suitably covered in thick clothing to prevent injuries. For any bites and scratches, please consult medical advice. Fishing rod toys are great for redirecting this behaviour onto something appropriate. Buy a few and stash them all over the house so it's easy to get hold of one. Remember to always let the kitten catch and 'kill' the toy and store them safely out of reach after use. You'll need to do this very consistently so that they learn appropriate play. Best of luck!

Beautiful ginger kitten
Photo: CP Library
Question: My two-year-old male cat was neutered two weeks ago but he is still peeing everywhere if he is not close enough to his tray. It’s almost as if he can’t help himself and when told off runs off while still peeing. Does he have a weak bladder? What can I do?

Answer: Sorry to hear about your cat. Firstly I would take him back to the vet and get him fully health checked, including a urine sample tested. Once you've checked your cat's health at the vets, try:

  • Cleaning litter trays twice a day
  • Putting litter trays in quiet, private locations
  • 3cm of soft sand-sized litter, non-scented
  • A large litter tray not kitten-sized, covered as well as open ones for choice
  • Don't use odorisers or litter tray liners

Ensure that your cats have lots of resources (litter tray, food bowl, water bowl etc) – ideally one per cat plus one extra to avoid any competition. It's important to differentiate between inappropriate urination (a puddle on the floor) versus spraying (backing up to a vertical surface and spraying a small amount of urine). Each has different motivations. To identify the underlying behavioural cause, we recommend that you find a qualified behaviourist near you; and do have a read of our Managing your cat’s behaviour leaflet. Please don't tell your cat off as it will only make the problem worse. Hope it resolves soon!

Black-and-white cat in litter tray
Photo by Leonora Enking via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: I have a question about my mum's kitten. He is almost five months old now, he’s quite aggressive and bites/scratches constantly. He doesn't like to be held or stroked. He is also very possessive over his food. He growls and will attack if you get too close! He is a beautiful kitten. What can we do about his behaviour?

Answer: Sorry to hear about your mum's kitten. This doesn't sound like normal kitten behaviour. Where did your mum get her kitten from? Do you know whether she saw the kitten with his mum and siblings? Was the kitten socialised to people during the ages of two-seven weeks? Kittens need to have positive experiences with people and gentle handling at this age to get used to humans, otherwise they can show feral type behaviour and be quite fearful. I would suggest taking the kitten to the vets to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. The number one medical reason for aggressive behaviour is pain, although there are LOTS of possible different causes. If you are still having problems after the vet check, then get a qualified behaviourist involved.

Question: Is there somewhere or someone we can approach to help with one of our five-month-old kittens? We adopted two sisters from Cats Protection at 14 weeks and while one is really affectionate and happy to site on laps etc the other we can't get near. She is constantly on edge, we have never been able to stroke her and she makes no noises or gestures towards us. It's like we are only really living with one kitten and I feel like the second is missing out. I hate to think she's unhappy. Any ideas?

Answer: I’m really sorry to hear that one of your kittens is so quiet. I would suggest speaking to your local CP branch or adoption centre to find out more about the kittens' backgrounds. Sometimes, we don't always know the backgrounds if they were found as strays, however it would be worth trying to find out how well socialised these kittens were. Genetics also play a role as fearful fathers tend to produce fearful kittens and one litter of kittens can have several fathers. Just take it gently with your fearful kitten and give her plenty of places to hide and get up high so she feels safer, and allow her to come to you in her own time. Contact our national helpline if you are still having problems on 03000 12 12 12. Best of luck.

Two kittens
Photo: CP Library


Thank you to all of our Facebook supporters who took part in the Q&A with Nicky. The next live Q&A is on 31 October with our Neutering Manager. 

If you have a question, you can find lots of essential cat care information and advice on our website. 

If you have any concerns for your cat's health, please do consult your vet.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Help moderate online sales of pets

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) is calling on the public to join the fight against bad pet adverts, reporting anything suspicious they find while browsing online classified pages directly to the sites.

Cats Protection is a longstanding member of PAAG comprising leading animal welfare and specialist agencies across the UK. PAAG has been working on a pilot scheme with online sites to develop and agree a voluntary set of minimum standards to improve the welfare standards of online pet adverts.

Now that the pilot is over, PAAG would like responsible consumers to assist with its efforts – keeping an eye out when browsing the pet sections of classified websites for any adverts they spot that are misleading or illegal. To find out more and how to report adverts, watch this video.


Friday, 17 October 2014

Secrets to taking successful photos of black cats

A post from professional photographer Kathryn Collinson

Black and black-and-white cats are more difficult to rehome and unfortunately they are also more difficult to photograph. With National Black Cat Day celebrated this month, here are some useful tips for taking photos which capture the beauty and personality of the black cat.

Black cat portrait
Photo by Kathryn Collinson
1. Prepare yourself and the cat: Fluff shows up more on black fur and will be obvious in photos, so for cats that like a fuss, the first thing to do is defluff. If it’s not chilly, use a damp cloth (not wet otherwise the fur will look wet) and give the cat a relaxing stroke over to help them look their best.

As cats may not want to sit still for long, especially if you are trying to take a photo, get everything ready in advance. Also try taking a photo just after they have eaten or naturally woken up. They are more likely to be a bit sleepy and more relaxed.

Enlist some help to attract the cat's attention. Get someone to squeak a toy just behind you, or dangle a toy out of view of the camera. Don’t forget to give the cat a toy to actually pounce on once you’ve got your pictures!


2. Get the background right: Avoid white backgrounds; a black cat on a white background might look good to the naked eye, but in photography it creates too much contrast. This creates problems for your camera as it will struggle to focus and to expose accurately. Go for a background which complements the colouring of a cat's eyes such as gold or green, or for something which sets off their fur colour. A lot of black cats are really dark brown, so browns, reds or blues work well.

Try to avoid including too much background in the shot. Not only will it be a weaker composition, but also the camera will expose for the background not the cat and you could end up with just a featureless black blob. If the cat enjoys contact, get in close as this forces the camera to expose for the cat.

If you are using a smartphone, don't be tempted to use the zoom feature. The camera basically guesses what the image should look like which is why zoomed images always look degraded. It is much better to crop in afterwards.


Portrait photo of black cat Milo
Photo by Kathryn Collinson
3. Switch on the lights: You need lots of light to photograph a black cat, as light is absorbed and reflected by their fur. Avoid the flash, especially on smartphones, and use natural light or a lamp. To give the fur texture, try and angle the light across the cat, but don’t dazzle the cat.


4. Play with exposure: Most cameras have an exposure compensation (EV) button (+/-) which allows you to override your camera's exposure settings. If your photos aren't coming out as you hoped, try these solutions:

  • If the cat looks grey rather than black (over-exposed), you need to let less light into the camera by decreasing the exposure.  Set the EV button to - 0.7 or -1.0 and try again
  • If the cat is just a black mass with no discernible features (under-exposed), you need to let more light into the camera by increasing the exposure. Set the EV to +0.7 or +1.0 

If you don't want to manually set the exposure check to see if your camera has AEB (multi-exposure bracketing). By just pressing the shutter once, you can take three shots of the same scene at different exposures (normal exposure; under-exposure; over-exposure). This saves you manually adjusting the exposure between each individual shot. This can be particularly useful for black-and-white cats as by default they are high-contrast. Fingers crossed the cat stays still long enough!


Marmite black cat portrait photograph
Photo by Kathryn Collinson
5. Consider other apps: If you are using a smartphone consider the other camera apps available. They tend to be better than the stock camera app and will give you more controlled shooting. The following apps are worth considering:


Once you've installed an app, practice and get to grips fully with the features before you need to use it.


And finally, if you are still struggling to get a decent photo, get the cat to take a selfie with Snapcat! They chase an icon around the screen and every time they tap it with their paw it takes a photo. But again, only use if for a short time and remember to give the cat a real toy to play with and catch afterwards, to avoid frustration.


This post has been written by a guest blogger. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Cats Protection. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

New home for kittens abandoned by roadside

A post from Natalie Ross-Smith, Guildford & Godalming Branch

While rushing around, busy with lots of chores, Elspeth Rijbroek, newsletter editor at the Guildford & Godalming Branch spotted a box, discarded at the side of a noisy road. At first she thought it was just litter, but then she noticed a tail sticking out of it. Rushing over, she found two cute, scared little kittens.

With her husband’s help the kittens were quickly taken to the nearest Cats Protection fosterer where they were warmed, watered, fed and cuddled!

Hungry kittens Storm and Lucy
Hungry kittens Storm and Lucy
The gorgeous little pair had obviously been loved; they were clean, well behaved and confident around people. A vet check-up confirmed that they were in perfect health too. We’re not quite sure what lead them to being dumped by the side of the street.

Lucy kitten miaowing at the camera
Lucy
Storm kitten playing with feathers
Storm
We’re pleased to say that Storm and Lucy have found a forever home with a lovely family in Bramley. They are already loved and much a part of the tribe!

Two kittens playing together
Storm and Lucy playing together