Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Why you should get your cat neutered

In late January staff from our National Cat Adoption Centre were called out to a bedsit in Sussex to collect cats after the owner had a stroke and wouldn't be able to return home.

As far as the family of the owner was aware he owned two cats but once entering the property they soon realised this was not the case. It turns out there were actually 25 unneutered cats and kittens in the one-room home.

Black cat hiding in wardrobe

Unneutered black cat and kittens

Unneutered black kittens hiding

Adoption Centre Manager Danielle Draper says “All you could see was terrified black cats running all over the place.”

“Every single one is jet black and unneutered. They have never been outside and just been allowed to breed among themselves,” she says. “They are all going to need a lot of desensitisation, but I am hoping that once they have all been neutered we will help them find new homes.”

Injured staff after capturing 25 unneutered cats
Staff with their war wounds!
This story has been shared with the permission of the owner’s family and helps to reinforce the importance of neutering your cat.

Although we helped to neuter over 158,000 cats and kittens cats in 2013, there are still far too many cats for too few homes. That’s why we recommend that pet cats are neutered at four months of age or younger, before they start puberty, to prevent unplanned pregnancies. 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. Neutering also reduces straying, fighting and spraying.

Today is World Spay Day and we’re working in conjunction with all members of the Cat Population Control Group (CPCG) to urge owners to get their cats neutered.

A new poll of cat owners found that over half who had experienced their cat having kittens would not let them have kittens again. Find our more in an infographic on our Facebook page and read more about World Spay Day on our website.

Find neutering events near you or find an Early Neutering Vet at www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering 

The National Cat Adoption Centre is raising funds to go towards the care of the cats while they are waiting for homes. As they are black and timid, they are likely to take longer to home than normal and so could be with the centre for a while. Donations are crucial in funding their time at the centre, so if you feel you're able to help the centre would greatly appreciate it. You can make a donation here

If you are interested in giving one of the 25 cats a home, please contact the National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex on 01825 741 330. Cats in our care are treated for any ailments and given a clean bill of health before rehoming. All cats are neutered (if old enough), microchipped, vaccinated and vet checked before leaving the centre. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Zambezi River challenge and Big Cat project itinerary

From 8-18 October 2016, Cats Protection is running an exciting Zambezi river challenge and Big Cat project. It offers a unique opportunity to challenge yourself while raising vital funds for your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre.

The team will fly to the vast, landlocked nation of the Republic of Zambia. Highlights of the trip will include helping on a range of tasks at a lion conservation project and learning about lion behaviour. You’ll also deliver a lesson to local children to educate them on the benefits of conservation and participate in a thrilling downstream canoe expedition on the Lower Zambezi river.

The itinerary is as follows:

Day 1
Fly overnight from London to Lusaka.

Day 2
Arrive in Lusaka where you will be transferred to the Lower Zambezi to meet the local team for a safety briefing before commencing the canoe expedition.

Hippos in the Zambezi River
Hippos in the Zambezi River. Photo by Harvey Barrison via flickr / Creative Commons
Days 3-5 
Spend three full days on the river enjoying all the delights of this spectacular natural landscape. It’s a great opportunity to spot game; elephants and hippos are plentiful and it is also likely you will spot impala, kudu, waterbuck, warthog, crocodile and buffalo. Occasionally big cats can be seen, or more likely heard!

Elephant at the side of the Zambezi River
An elephant at the river side
Day 6 
Travel to Livingstone and visit the lion conservation project.

Days 7-9
Helping on a range of tasks at the lion conservation project such as a snare sweep, which is important to protect the animals from illegal poaching, meat preparation, cub feeding and enclosure cleaning.
There may also be a visit to the human/elephant conflict mitigation research program to learn how it strives to educate people on the best ways to relieve these problems.

Lion cubs in the Zambia lion conservation project
Lion cubs in the conservation project
Day 10 
Travel to Lusaka to enjoy a farewell dinner at a small game reserve on the edge of town.

Day 11
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to London.

It is advised that you are of a good fitness level before departure to ensure fast recovery from each day’s exertions. An ideal candidate would be someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone and trying something new, with a flexible and open minded personality.

Fancy finding out more or signing up? Click here for more information.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Why you shouldn’t overlook shy cats

Cats in our care come from a variety of backgrounds – while some have come from loving homes others may have been strays, abandoned or mistreated. As a result some may be fearful or shy, which also means that they can take longer to rehome. They might hide away in their pen when approached by visitors and won’t ‘perform’ for prospective adopters in the way that more confident cats may.

Timid behaviour could be due to inherited tendencies which mean they will naturally be more anxious than others. It could also be caused by a lack of contact with humans (particularly during their first eight weeks of life), or a previous frightening experience that has made the cat fearful.

Scared cat hiding underneath furniture
Shy or scared cats might try to hide away. Photo by Jessica Fiess-Hill via flickr / Creative Commons
When a timid cat is adopted, despite a gentle welcome and time to settle into their new home, they may remain fearful, trying to run away to hide. Showing patience and sensitivity will go a long way in overcoming a cat’s shyness and it is well worth the extra time and effort.

Sarah Blohm, who recently wrote about how her cats help her through a degenerative spine condition, adopted two shy cats from Cats Protection. “When I adopted my two I didn't really know what one of them looked like as he spent my entire visit hiding under the cat bed,” she explains. “His brother was a little bolder, but not much. When I brought them home I followed Cats Protection’s advice and let them do things in their own time.”

“The little booklets that CP gave me when I had the home check done were extremely helpful as I'd never had a cat before and I didn't want to get things wrong. It was all common sense advice but I followed it to the letter and I'm glad I did.

“When I first adopted them, Gabriel would usually be in his ‘safe place’ – there was an empty chest of drawers in the spare room which I'd made into their room, so he would pull the bottom drawer out, climb into the empty space at the back and drag the drawer closed behind him. All you could see were two enormous, terrified blue eyes.

“All that was needed was a few weeks of giving them space. They are now the most loving and affectionate cats you could want. Gabriel’s favourite spot is now sleeping with me on the sofa.”

It’s really important when you bring any new cat home that you are prepared to be patient and never attempt to rush your cat into things they might not be ready for. Following the advice in our Welcome home Essential Guide will help your cat to successfully adapt to their new surroundings.

You can also read more about making a timid cat feel more secure in our Managing your cat’s behaviour Essential Guide.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Lonely hearts

Doesn’t everyone deserve to be loved on Valentine’s Day?

These poor cats have been in the care of Cats Protection for months and months, overlooked by prospective adopters while others are chosen and taken to new happy homes.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “It’s a complete mystery why these cats have not yet been adopted as each of them has a wonderful and unique quality to offer. A host of research also shows that owning a cat can be good for the health and happiness of people of all ages and from all walks of life. Owning a cat can make men more attractive to women, help children to feel more confident about themselves and provide older people with companionship.”

Can we find these cats new homes?


Friendly Sooty came into our care last August with her three kittens. While the kittens have found new homes, Sooty is still waiting for the right person to come along! She is currently living in Gosport in Hampshire. To offer her a home please call 02392 582 601.

Sooty in Gosport, Hampshire


Tia came into the care of our Central Aberdeen Branch about a year ago as the result of a break up. She needs someone with a lot of time and patience but once you have earned her trust she will make a fantastic companion. Anyone who is interested in Tia should call 01224 740 699.

Tia from Aberdeen


One-year-old Fleur from Shepton Mallet, Somerset has sat in her pen for six months. She’s playful, affectionate and looking for a home where she can be the only pet. To adopt Fleur please call 01749 850 660.

Fleur from Somerset


Two-year-old Sammy from Wolverhampton has been with Cats Protection since March 2014. He has an inquisitive mind and likes to follow his fosterer around to see what she’s up to! He has some special health needs, the care of which is quite straightforward. If you’d like to adopt Sammy, please phone 01902 651 173.

Sammy from Wolverhampton

Winnie and Nelson

Found as strays, eight-month-old Winnie (female) and Nelson (male) have been living at our Chelmsford & District Adoption Centre since July. They’re not very confident so patience and sensitivity from the right owner will go a long way. To give them a home call 01245 478 389.

Winnie & Nelson from Chelmsford

There are thousands more cats like these in desperate need of new homes so if none of the above are in the right area, please visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat and enter your postcode to find a cat near you.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Backstage at the Manifesto for Cats launch

Last night we launched our Manifesto for Cats at a parliamentary afternoon tea reception in the House of Commons. The public were consulted on our 10 Manifesto priorities last May which, if delivered, would create a better world for cats.

The launch was attended by an audience of 40 MPs and Lords, professional organisations and other animal welfare charities. Here’s a lowdown of the launch as it happened:

1pm: The team are carrying a giant cardboard cut-out of a kitten across the bridge on our way to the Houses of Parliament!

Walking across Westminster Bridge
Carrying a disguised kitten cardboard cut-out across Westminster Bridge
1.15pm: We start making our way through the security gates.

1.30pm: We get a cheeky snap of security guards with some of our handmade cat-themed iced biscuits!

Security guards with cat-themed biscuits
The cat-themed biscuits are a hit!
1.45pm: We have a sit down in the public café surrounded by all our equipment. Time for a cuppa and to check that we’ve got everything!

1.55pm: We spot TV vet Marc Abraham, Marisa Heath from the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) and Vicky Craighill from the PDSA in the café.

3pm: We start making our way across to the Strangers' Dining Room. We’ve got a lot of boxes and cases to lug over!

3.15pm: We begin setting up the room. A platform is built for our huge cardboard kitten, which we’ll later be asking our guests to pose with to have their photo taken. Manifesto promotional banners are set up and TV monitors and sound equipment are tested.

Setting up the Strangers' Dining Room
Setting up the Strangers' Dining Room
3.35pm: Guests start arriving and queueing up outside the room.

4pm: We open the doors to all MPs and guests. Away we go!

4.15pm: Neil Parish MP and Angela Smith MP arrive and have their photos taken with Cats Protection’s CEO Peter Hepburn and Chair Heather McCann.

Neil Parish MP CEO Peter Hepburn at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Neil Parish MP and Cats Protection CEO Peter Hepburn; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
Heather McCann and Angela Smith MP at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Cats Protection Chair Heather McCann and Angela Smith MP; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.30pm: Our host Neil Parish MP offers a warm welcome to the reception.

4.32pm: Heather McCann thanks our guests for coming and states that our Manifesto is “not just Manifesto for Cats. It is a Manifesto for people.”

Heather McCann at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Heather explains why we need to speak up for cats; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.35pm: We play a short Manifesto video featuring cat owners explaining why we need to speak up for cats. Watch the video here.

4.40pm: Angela Smith MP and Lord de Mauley offer responses to the video and the Manifesto for Cats.

Lord de Mauley at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Lord de Mauley delivering his response to the Manifesto for Cats; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.52pm: Heather McCann invites everyone to network and have their photo with our giant kitten!

5.05pm: The room is bustling!

5.15pm: A queue begins to form by the six-foot cardboard kitten; it certainly is a talking point!

5.25pm: Felix Burrows, our young star in the Manifesto video has his photo taken with the cardboard kitten.

Felix Burrows at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Felix Burrows; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
5.40pm: We’re handing out loads of goody bags containing our very popular cat-themed biscuits made in the kitchens at the National Cat Centre!

Cat-themed biscuits at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Cat-themed biscuits; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
Cat-themed cupcakes
Cat-themed cupcakes; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
5.45pm: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow strokes the giant cardboard kitten’s chin while having her photo taken.

Nicky Trevorrow at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
6pm: Guests start to vacate the room and the event ends.

What a fantastic afternoon! We hope that the launch of the Manifesto for Cats can help to change outdated laws and policies to protect cats. Our priorities include calls for tighter regulation of the licensing of air guns and banning the use of snares – both of which cause unimaginable pain and suffering, through injury and death, to cats on a daily basis. We're also calling for measures to control the breeding and sale of kittens to drive out unscrupulous breeders and prevent the growing number of unwanted cats.

Want to get involved? You can make a real difference by writing to your MP and urging them to support our Manifesto for Cats. Find out more and read the full Manifesto document at www.cats.org.uk/manifesto

Photos of MPs and stakeholders who attended the launch are available to view on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

‘How can I stop my kitten biting?’ and other kitten FAQs

Last week vet Vanessa Howie hosted another live Q&A with our Facebook supporters. Vanessa took questions on kitten care – here are just some of them:

Question: My kitten keeps sucking my ears and face. Why is he doing that?

Answer: Kittens may do this as a way of bonding or seeking reassurance as this is a behaviour they will have learnt when suckling from their mother. It is a common behaviour kittens may carry through into their adult life.

Grey kitten
Photo by Pinguino K via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Do kittens need a certain number of pouches of wet food a day? Mine only eats one but she has kitten biscuits available all day.

Answer: Kittens under six months old should be fed at least three times a day, to help regulate their blood sugar at this age. The exact amounts required at each feed is something you should check with the manufacturer, as this will differ depending on the type of food fed. Perhaps there is a feeding guideline on the packet?

We would recommend your kitten gets a good commercial kitten food to ensure your kitten's nutritional needs are met. Their food should be checked and replaced at least four times daily.

Question: Do you have any tips how to stop my nine month old kitten from biting?

Answer: I would recommend having a read of this article on kitten socialisation from our official supporter magazine The Cat. You may also find this article about aggression in cats from International Cat Care (ICC) helpful to read.

Ginger kitten in the sun
Photo by Mathias Erhart via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my seven-month-old kitten try to nuzzle for milk out of my five-year-old cat?

Answer: This is a common kitten behaviour that many cats carry over into their adult lives. It is a way of seeking reassurance and releasing calming hormones that may make your kitten feel more relaxed, like small children when sucking a soother for comfort.

Question: My kitten is just over four months old. She’s booked in at the vets tomorrow for having her claws clipped for the third time. She has got a scratch post and uses it daily but her claws grow really quickly. Her claws are cutting my hands, what can I do?

Answer: Cats use scratching posts to remove old layers of claw and to help improve the health and sharpness of their claws. Sharp claws will help when climbing trees to escape predators for example. Avoid playing with your kitten using your hands and always use a toy to redirect her attention away from your fingers. Clipping your kitten’s claws every four to six weeks may help but we recommend only clipping the claws on the front paws.

Blue kitten in the garden
Photo by Bill Stilwell via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My eight-month-old female kitten goes crazy now and again, running around like mad. She bites things and talks a lot. Is this a sign that she is on heat? Is it best to get her spayed?

Answer: We recommend kittens are neutered at four months old ideally to prevent any unwanted litters and to improve the health and welfare of your kitten (read more in our Neutering leaflet). Cats come into heat around every month. It sounds like your kitten is being playful rather than being in heat.

Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems consult your vet who will have access to your cat’s medical history and will be able to examine them.

You’ll find more information about cat care and behaviour in our selection of Essential Guide leaflets and do check out our free online e-learning course too which explains the ancestry of cats.

Fancy asking one of our feline experts a cat care question? Don’t miss the next live Facebook Q&As: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow will be answering questions on cats’ behaviour on 26 February; Vanessa Howie, Field Vet Officer, will take more veterinary questions on 12 March; while Jane Clements, our Neutering Manager, will be online on 7 May. Each Q&A takes place at 2pm for one hour.