Tuesday, 29 December 2015

'Why is my cat making that noise?' and other behaviour FAQs

In the most recent Facebook Q and A, Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow tackled your questions on feeding habits, bedtime routines and grooming. Read some of her answers here.

Question: My cat always sleeps in my bed, but recently she’s been using bed time as play time. She’s always been really cuddly and can’t wait to get under the covers but for the last few weeks, she’s been knocking my glasses onto the floor and searching for ‘other toys’ like jewellery. Is there any way to get her to stop these little acts of naughtiness?

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has been up to mischief at night time! Cats are naturally crepuscular – meaning they are more active during dawn and dusk. Try giving her several short interactive play sessions during the day using a fishing rod toy (store safely out of reach after use) to use up that excess energy. Give her some special ‘night time’ toys such as soft little ball that are quiet to bat, but also glow in the dark to keep her entertained.

Tortie cat sleeping
Photo by Ella Mullins via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: How can I stop my cats deciding that they want their breakfast between 1.30 and 2.00am, no matter how late I give them their tea? They are then quite happy to wait until 18.00-19.00 for their evening meal!

Answer: I think many owners will identify with this problem! You’d think that the dark mornings would have made more of a difference! Try providing your cat with feeding enrichment toys at night. These are things that provide food in other ways compared to a standard food bowl and require them to use their brain! Start off simply with a cardboard egg box and put a portion of your cat’s daily allowance of dry food in there (if they are fed dry food) and show your cat how to ‘paw’ out the biscuits with your fingers.  You can check out more of our boredom busters on YouTube.

Cat looking hungry
Photo by Kevin N Murphy via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My 18 year old keeps drinking lots of water and is very unbalanced when she walks or shakes. Please help!

Answer:  Cats are more likely to develop certain conditions when they are older and it’s worth taking your cat to the vets more regularly in their senior years to keep an eye on their health. Many practices offer ‘senior cat’ health clinics. Drinking more water, being unbalanced and shaking are all symptoms of possible various medical issues. Contact your vet without delay.

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.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A session: CP Vet Vanessa Howie will be answering veterinary questions on 31 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Festive cat
Original photo by Brian Fagan via flickr / Creative Commons
We'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers and staff for everything you've done through 2015. Your support allows us to help around 200,000 cats and kittens every year.

Here’s to 2016!

Cats Protection xx

Monday, 21 December 2015

A new start for Poppy

Little Poppy was just 14 weeks old when she was signed over to the Gosport Town Branch of Cats Protection. Her owner couldn’t cope with looking after Poppy or her mum, four-year-old Josie.

Poppy was tiny – she was taken straight to the vets for a health check. She was underweight, dirty, infested with fleas and worms and had scabby fur with sore patches on her legs.

Tiny 14-week-old Poppy
Poppy was tiny when she came into our care
With ongoing care from her fosterer Chris, Poppy’s weight had increased to over 500 grams a week later, though her fur was still missing in places. She continued to be weighed regularly and had weekly vet checks because she needed to be monitored carefully. Aside from the fleas, the vet felt Poppy’s skin complaint was due to a poor diet.

After two weeks in CP care Poppy’s weight had doubled. The branch said she looked a picture of health and her confidence was coming on in leaps and bounds.

Kitten Poppy on the scales
Poppy at 1kg
Fosterer Chris said: “Poppy loves to have a 'mad' half an hour in the evenings, racing around and climbing before she snuggles up my shoulder where she feels safe and content. Poppy is doing so well but still has a long way to go until she will be ready for adoption. Her weight now as a four- or five-month-old kitten is still only comparable to an eight-week-old kitten.”

Slowly but surely Poppy progressed and gained weight. She was separated from her mum, so that mum Josie could have a quieter time and rebuild her strength. The vet’s opinion is that Josie has had litter after litter of kittens.

The branch said: “Coming into CP care has given Poppy the chance to find a new home. She now looks and acts like any other young kitten!”

Mum Josie is doing well and has now been adopted by a new owner, while Poppy should be ready for adoption early in the New Year.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Get crafty for cats this Christmas

We all enjoy receiving thoughtful, lovingly-crafted gifts at Christmas time.

So with the big day fast approaching, how about making the moggy in your life a present they will enjoy – or donating it to one of the thousands of cats that will be spending the festive season in our care?

There are loads of handmade designs to choose from, and you don’t have to be nifty with the knitting needles to create something that will be enjoyed by your furry friend.

You could make a Captain Cat-Battler toy for your mog
You could make a Captain Cat-Battler toy for your mog

For those who do like to knit, toys and blankets are always high up on our list for cats’ Christmas present l. One of their favourites is the catnip-powered ‘Captain Cat-Battler’ mouse toy, originally designed by Lauren O’Farrell (www.whodunnknit.com) for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Our cats have been waging war against these little guys for years now and, while they inevitably emerge victorious from scuffling with their squeaky foes, they are always on the lookout for more woolly rodent challengers.

Click here to download the Captain Cat-Battler pattern.

Cat playing with Captain Cat-Battler toy

If you’re not a knitter, there are a variety of elegant and fun designs that don’t require special skills to construct. In fact our Ferndown Homing Centre produces its very own Catnip Knots, which require absolutely no sewing or knitting.

To make your own catnip toy, at the price of just the catnip, you could fill an old clean unused sock. Just pop catnip inside the sock then tie it at the end and give to your cat to play away! You can refill with any catnip insert you like – organic or varying strengths of catnip, for example.

Whichever design you go for, you can be sure you will be making a cat very happy – and if you do decide to donate any of your creations to Cats Protection, we can promise you they will be welcomed with open paws!

To donate your crafty creations to us, all you need to do is send them to, or drop them off at, your nearest Cats Protection adoption centre (to find out where that is, simply head to the find us page on our website and type your full postcode into the box.

For more homemade toy ideas, read our previous blog posts: Boredom busters for your cat  and Feeding enrichment puzzles for your cat.

Please note that if you are knitting a toy or blanket for a feline friend, it’s best to avoid the use of stretchy yarns or small plastic items – such as those that can be used for mouse eyes – to reduce the risk of inadvertent injury/ingestion. Loose-weave blanket patterns involving the use of large needles are also best avoided. Any knitted toys should be avoided for cats known to be wool-chewers. Please supervise play with your cat and don’t leave your cat unattended with toys which could be shredded and eaten or cause entanglement. Check toys regularly for signs of wear, replacing when appropriate.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

‘Will neutering calm my kitten down?’ and other neutering FAQs

Want to know more about neutering your cat? Have a read of this blog post which contains some of the answers provided by Cats Protection’s Neutering Manager Jane Clements in our recent neutering Q&A.

Question: I have three cats – the oldest two are neutered but the youngest isn't. He’s not like the other two, he climbs the curtains and runs riot. Will having him ‘done’ calm him down a little? They are all indoor cats.

Answer: It sounds like he is just exhibiting normal kitten behaviour at the moment! Neutering will certainly prevent him from displaying mating behaviours and he will grow out of his kitten behaviours in time.

Our neutering poster outlines some of the other benefits of neutering:

To enlarge, click on the image
See this leaflet for some ideas on stimulation for indoor cats: Indoor and outdoor cats

Question: I have a stray tom who I think has adopted us which is lovely. He needs to be neutered but I don't want to upset him. What do you think?

Answer: Firstly it will be important that you check he is a stray by advertising locally for any owners who may come forward – take him to a vet to check for a microchip, advertise in local shops, social media etc. Do contact your local Cats Protection branch too (obtain contact details here). This article contains more tips about what to do if you find a stray cat. If no-one comes forward and you would like to give him a home after two weeks of looking for an owner, it certainly won't upset him to get him neutered. You can find out more in our Neutering leaflet.

Neutering FAQs
Kittens can breed from four months old; photo by Susan Dobbs
Question: How old do kittens have to be to get pregnant? I want to neuter mine before this happens, she is nearly five months old now.

Answer: Kittens can reach puberty at four months of age and we would recommend neutering once she reaches this age. You can find a vet near you who will neuter from four months using our Kitten Neutering Vet Database.

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.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection’s feline experts a question about your cat? Don’t miss the next live Facebook Q&A session: Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow will be answering questions on 17 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Monday, 14 December 2015

London to Paris cycle challenge for Cats Protection

From 20-24 July 2016, veterinary surgeon Francisco Gomez, Cats Protection supporter Wayne Gregory and Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre Manager Kev Owen will be taking on the 295 mile London to Paris cycle challenge. 

Francisco made the mistake of once saying in front of Kev that he would like to do a hard challenge to help raise funds.  As soon as the London to Paris challenge was announced Kev set about talking Francisco into taking part.  To be fair to Francisco, he not only readily agreed to take part, he immediately upped the ante by adding an extra 500km to the challenge! 

Francisco decided that 295miles (500km) was not enough of a challenge, so he came up with the #letourdefran challenge which entails riding several stages (Tour De France style) before the trio even sets off for Paris. 

Soon after Francisco signed up, Adoption Centre Manager Kev’s training partner Wayne Gregory decided that if he was going to be riding several hundreds of miles helping Kev to train, he might as well do the challenge too. 

Fran, Wayne and Kev will be cycling 295 miles for Cats Protection
Fran, Wayne and Kev will be cycling 295 miles for Cats Protection
Both Kev and Wayne are cycling to raise funds for Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, while Francisco has pledged to cycle for three charities: Guide Dogs, Medical Detection Dogs and Cats Protection Nottingham Adoption Centre.  The three charities will all receive an equal share from Francisco’s efforts.

Between them, Francisco, Wayne and Kev hope to raise over £6,000 for the three charities – and have already raised over £4,000!  

The three of them have a combined age of over 133 years so they hope that their supporters will forgive them for not riding up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe quite as quickly as their Tour De France heroes.

The progress of #letourdefran can be followed at: www.thegovet.org/letourdefran

If you’d like to donate, you can sponsor Francisco here or Kev and Wayne here (Kev and Wayne are raising funds as a joint effort for Nottingham Adoption Centre).

Friday, 11 December 2015

Petplan lends a hand at our new Mitcham Homing Centre

In July employees from our partner Petplan and the wider Allianz community kindly spent the day helping prepare our new Mitcham Homing Centre for its grand opening.  This was an opportunity for staff from their different offices to meet and work together assisting the set-up of the innovative homing centre (read more about the opening of the centre here).
“I thought it was a great day away from the usual office routine, utilising different skills, working with different colleagues and where you got a sense that your efforts made a real-time difference in the run up to the opening of their new cat homing centre in Mitcham. A really worthwhile and life-affirming day for me.” - Cathy Cutler
On the day the volunteers were split into two groups. One group helped the staff at the centre get the pens ready for the arrival of some cats arriving at lunchtime. This involved cleaning the pen area, setting up beds, food and water bowls and litter trays.
“I really enjoyed our productive day; cleaning, hoovering, setting up leaflet racks, removing packing waste for recycling but lots of hands made light work. It was an amazing insight into the amount of effort and dedication it takes to maintain high quality cleanliness and support in an animal homing centre. The staff manage a perfect balance of professionalism and real affection for the cats in their care. When I was in touch with the centre more recently, I was delighted to hear that 20 cats were homed in the first month. I like to think it was the 20 who were there from the start.” - Julie Gallagher
The second group helped centre staff start building a row of shelving units for the store room. This is a vital area for the centre as it stores all the cat food, cat litter, toys etc. Other volunteers were preparing the reception area with leaflets and cleaning the windows. The support on the day was a great help. Even after leaving the centre the volunteers were still helping as they kindly posted leaflets in the local area to help promote the new centre!
“I thought the day was very rewarding. It was great how we all worked as a team to build the shelving unit and get the cat beds ready for the arrival of lots of cute fluffy cats which we got to pet at the end of the day.” - Michelle Williamson
Petplan team at Cats Protection
L-R: Mandy Halls, Commercial Woking, Manuela Georgieva, Finance Woking and Michelle Williamson, Commercial GHO
A big thank you to the employees from Petplan and Allianz for dedicating their time helping to get our new Mitcham Homing Centre ready for launch.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Support cats with our first unique boutique

Christmas Day is edging ever closer and it's time to start thinking about gifts for your loved ones. If you're the kind of person that leaves your present-buying to the last minute or you're seeking something special, you're in luck.

Cats Protection's first concept shop, Cattitude, launches in Bewdley in Worcestershire this December. Promising a unique selection of ladies' clothing and accessories, the boutique presents the ideal opportunity to purchase fantastic fashion items and great gifts, with all the money spent in-store going directly to help cats and kittens across the country. What's more, Manager Dawn Harvey and her team will be offering customers a personalised shopping experience - perfect if you're looking for a unique gift this Christmas!

Poster for Cattitude boutique store in Bewdley

Deputy Store Manager Yvonne Dawson said: "We are very excited to be the first Cattitude shop in the country. This is a great place for people to buy their loved ones some high quality, fantastic gifts at great prices, especially if, like me, they leave their shopping to the last minute."

For those with a passion for felines and fashion, there's also the opportunity to volunteer in the flagship charity shop. From window dressing and visual merchandising to stock selection and providing customer service, there are plenty of roles available for anyone looking to gain new skills, meet new people and help cats in the process. If you're looking to spare as little as a few hours a week, head along to Cattitude's volunteer recruitment session on Thursday 3 December from 12.30-3pm at St George's Hall, Bewley to find out more.

The boutique will be officially opened at 10am on 18 December, where the first 50 lucky shoppers will receive goody bags. Cattitude's opening hours will be 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. If Cattitude is successful, there is hope that more charity boutiques will open in 2016. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Giving Tuesday: how you can help us

After its arrival in the UK last year, #GivingTuesday is back, providing a chance for us all to take a break from the stresses and strains of Christmas preparations and offer our time, money and voices to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

We’re really grateful to everyone who went out of their way to help Cats Protection last time around. For those who want to get involved this year, here’s a reminder of the many ways in which you can help us:

1. Fundraising

Our work helping thousands of cats each year depends solely on donations. We have between 5,000 and 6,000 cats in our care at any one time across the UK which is why fundraising is so important to the charity as it enables us to help the many cats that need our support. Every cat that comes into our care is given a health check, vaccinations and all CP cats which are old enough are neutered prior to being rehomed, which costs us an average of £180 per cat. Cats stay with us for as long as it takes to find them loving new homes and we never put a healthy cat to sleep.

There are many ways that you can help us with our work. You can sponsor a cat pen, leave a gift in your will, make regular donations through your pay (deducted from your pay before tax is taken), sign up to our weekly lottery, donate items to our charity shops and so much more – read all the different ways you can fundraise on our Support us page.

You can also now donate to us quickly and easily via your mobile phone by texting CATS1 to 70907 to make a one-off £3 donation (see the terms and conditions).

Skydive for Cats Protection
Why not do a sponsored challenge like a skydive for Cats Protection?
We welcome more unconventional ways of raising funds too – in the past our supporters have adopted their inner wild cat and faced their fears by abseiling, zip wiring, skydiving and much more. For 2016 and beyond we are very pleased to offer a huge portfolio of challenge events and have something to appeal to everyone, from mountain treks in the UK to volunteering with a tiger conservation project in India, you can run, jump, fly, climb, cycle or even swim to show your support to Cats Protection! Visit our Events page for a full list.

2. Volunteering

When people think about voluntary work at Cats Protection, many automatically picture roles such as fosterers and fundraisers. As vital as these responsibilities are, however, there are loads more ways for people to donate their time and skills.

Whether your expertise lies in administration, education, retail, PR, or something completely different, there are often ways you can help us out. What’s more, with many roles capable of being fitted around busy lives and some able to be performed from home, volunteering for Cats Protection need not be a big commitment.

As well as generating a huge sense of satisfaction and being a lot of fun, it also allows people to pick up a range of new skills. Twenty-two-year-old broadcasting, journalism and media communications student Indi Leigh began helping out in our Wrexham Charity Shop last summer, before becoming a fundraiser for the Wrexham & District Branch:
“Beginning with general shop work, using the till and tagging clothes, I started getting involved in the fashion shows that Sharon, the shop manager, put together. This gave me great experience in marketing and events co-ordination, the career I am trying to pursue. Now I am organising my first event, a Christmas Extravaganza, on behalf of Cats Protection. Volunteering with them is honestly one of the best things I have ever done.”
Cats Protection volunteer at the Llangollen fairy festival
Volunteer Indi running a CP stall at the Llangollen fairy festival 
The work we do simply wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of volunteers like Indi. To discover all the ways in which you can help us, visit the Ways to volunteer page on our website. To search for roles currently being advertised, use our Volunteer opportunities search tool.

3. Raising awareness

Cats Protection was set up in 1927 to inform and educate the general public about cats and the issues they faced, and this is still at the heart of what we do.

We try to spread the word about cat welfare whenever and wherever we can, through national and regional press, via television and radio, and on our website and social media channels. We also regularly address schoolchildren, community groups and veterinary professionals and engage with politicians and other decision makers.

However there are always more people to reach, and there are many ways you can help us reach them, including:

  • subscribing to this blog and our official supporter magazine, The Cat
  • liking us on Facebook 
  • retweeting tweets from our Twitter page
  • subscribing to our YouTube channel and sharing our videos

Cats Protection national Facebook page
Join our 341,000 fans and like our Facebook page
It’s simple acts of support like this that helped make our recent National Black Cat Day such a success and contributed to tackling the inequalities experienced by black cats waiting for new homes.

National Black Cat Day in numbers

  • Our ‘Black Cats: 5 Common Misconceptions’ YouTube video reached 3.8 million people
  • #BlackCatDay trended on Twitter on the day itself with over 47,000 mentions
  • The Black Cat Champion competition on Facebook received around 2,500 entries
  • The day saw a significant spike in new ‘Likes’ and ‘Follows’ for our social media pages

Whatever you can do to help us, whether it’s fundraising, volunteering our sharing our message with others, you can be sure you’re making a difference.

To discover even more ways you can help Cats Protection, head to the Get involved page on our website.

Meanwhile, why not leave a comment below to tell us what you plan to do for Cats Protection this #GivingTuesday?