Thursday, 29 January 2015

A fundraising flight of a lifetime

A brave Cats Protection supporter will be walking on air this summer to raise funds for her local branch.

Dawnie Cassidy has arranged to be strapped to the top of a Stearman biplane while flying at a speed of 130mph. She is aiming to raise £500 for the Rayleigh, Castle Point & District Branch by undertaking the 20 minute flight on 6 June 2015.

Dawnie Cassidy is doing a wing walk at 130mph for Cats Protection
Dawnie bravely undertook a wing walk for Cats Protection in 2013
“I have followed CP since the 80s and feel they all do an amazing job of rescuing cats,” Dawnie explains. “[Wing walking] is slightly out of the ‘norm’ so hopefully will attract more sponsors.”

Dawnie completed a wing walking fundraiser in 2013, raising £822 for the Southend Branch of the charity and hopes this event will be just as successful.

She will be attached to the aeroplane by a rig and harness and will have free movement of her legs and arms. “We’ll do gentle stunts like run and break, fly pasts, and dives!” she says.

If you’d like to support Dawnie in her brave endeavour, you can donate on JustGiving at https://www.justgiving.com/Rayleigh-Cats-Protection11

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

My cats are a lifeline for me

In honour of Blue Monday yesterday, which has been named the most depressing day of the year, Cats Protection has released a selection of cats purring to sooth the soul.

A study carried out in conjunction with the Mental Health Foundation revealed that owning a cat is beneficial for our health. The survey found that 87 per cent of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing and research has shown that a cat’s purr is widely recognised as having therapeutic effects.

Sarah Blohm reports that her cats are vitally important in helping her deal with a degenerative spinal condition:

“I used to have a very active life – between a job that I loved, various sports I played, travelling and socialising, one of my old housemates once complained that she never saw me! These days things are very different.

“I was diagnosed several years ago with chronic degenerative disc disease which has required me to have numerous procedures, two operations to replace badly damaged discs and to stabilise the base of my spine and lengthy periods of rehabilitation. As the damage progressed I found myself increasingly unable to do things I used to take for granted – culminating in having to give up work due to the level of pain caused by my condition. I take several different pain medications which help the mechanical pain to a degree but which have little impact on the neuropathic pain. The best way I can describe the neuropathic pain is that it feels like someone jamming red hot needles through my spine, into my hip and down my leg. Not nice!

“During my first appointment at a pain clinic the psychologist asked me if I had any pets. He explained that the company of an animal can have a positive effect on a patient's health, both physically and mentally. It's not uncommon for people suffering from chronic pain to experience depression and/or anxiety, which makes dealing with the physical pain that much harder. Thankfully I was able to say yes, I had my cats. I adopted Charlie and Gabriel from Cats Protection around five years ago, at a point when I was still able to work part time. They are both sweet natured, gentle, naturally affectionate boys – and it's no exaggeration to say that they have been a lifeline for me.

Sarah's cats Gabriel and Charlie help her through health problems
L-R: Gabriel and Charlie
“It's not unusual for the pain to cause me to go without sleep for a couple of days at a time and a lot of my time is spent at home. The pain means that sometimes I don't want to speak to other people, but as a sociable person this can be very isolating. The affection and comfort I receive from my cats is unconditional – they don't care if I'm still in my pyjamas at 4pm, looking rough as anything! When the pain is particularly bad, bad enough to bring me to tears, they stick close by me. The comfort of having one or both of them curled up with me on the sofa or in bed is enormous.

“Studies have shown that just petting an animal can have a positive effect on a person's health. Having something to focus on other than the pain, or the fact that my life isn't what I expected it to be really does help. Also, being responsible for their welfare, making sure they are fed and well cared for, gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning when otherwise I would probably remain in the cocoon of my duvet.

“When I used to work in social housing I often visited elderly and disabled people as part of my job. I lost count of the number of times people would say to me "you probably think I'm daft but I don't know what I would do without my pet". But it's not daft – not at all. The company of another living thing cannot be underestimated if you are isolated from other people much of the time. It's not just the softness of my cats’ fur under my hands, or the feeling of their purrs reverberating against me when they're on my lap or draped around my shoulders. They also often make me laugh – and laughter can be a powerful thing. Only the other day, in an attempt to jump onto the window ledge to survey his kingdom, Gabriel somehow managed to jump between the curtain material and the liner material, then turned himself around and around in an effort to extricate himself. I went into my bedroom to find a rather lumpy looking curtain that was miaowing loudly.

“The psychologist at the pain clinic was right. My cats have helped me more than I ever imagined possible. Adopting the two of them was one of the best decisions I ever made. Every day I'm grateful for their company, their affection, and their ability to change my tears of pain and frustration to tears of laughter.

“My boys have 100 per cent saved my sanity. I guess you could say we've rescued each other.”


Yesterday we released recordings of cats purring to help ease the stress of Blue Monday. Listen to Phoenix, Buddy and Maddie purring in our blog post A purr a day will keep the blues away.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A purr a day will keep the blues away

Today, 19 January, has been dubbed Blue Monday and is reported to be the most depressing day of the year. Whether it’s the cold weather or the aftermath of the Christmas excitement, January can seem rather miserable.

But there is a way to combat the gloom: research carried out in conjunction with the Mental Health Foundation has shown that owning a cat can help lift the spirits and a cat’s purr is widely recognised as having therapeutic benefits for humans – some find that it even helps with medical conditions.

Long term Crohn’s disease sufferer Leona says that her cat helps her get through her health issues:

“My name is Leona, I am 26 years old and I am the owner of Snowball, a beautiful white cat with tortie markings. I adopted my cat nearly three years ago from the Stonehaven Branch of Cats Protection because I was struggling with depression and loneliness.

Snowball helps Leona with her health problems
Snowball
“For the past 15 years I have been battling with a very severe form of Crohn’s disease and for the past six years I have been suffering with depression and anxiety. Crohn’s disease affects the digestive tract so over years the I have had to have surgery to remove parts of my intestines and I am currently having to be fed through a tube that goes directly into my stomach as the Crohn’s has damaged my oesophagus.

“Due to these health problems I spend a lot of time at home by myself and because of this I sometimes feel alone and isolated. I am very glad to say that this has all changed since adopting Snowball, I honestly could not have asked for a better a furry friend.

“Snowball purrs a lot which is very beneficial for me as there is something about a cat’s purr that is so soothing. Having a chronic illness like Crohn’s can be extremely stressful and it can also cause extreme anxiety so listening to that soothing purr while stroking Snowball can really help me to relax and de-stress.

Leona's cat helps her to de-stress
Leona
“No matter how sad or depressed I feel Snowball always manages to make laugh. It can be something simple like her rolling around on the carpet trying to show off or it can be her jumping into a really tall box and then wondering how she is supposed to get out. They always say that laughter is the best medicine and in my opinion I think that this is very true.”

We have released recordings of cats’ purring to ease the stress of Blue Monday – the soothing sounds of Phoenix, Buddy and Maddie purring are below.


Find out more about Cats Protection and adopting a cat by visiting www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Friday, 16 January 2015

‘Why does my cat overgroom?’ and other behaviour questions

Do you ever wonder why your cat behaves in a certain way? On Monday we hosted our first live Facebook Q&A of the year with Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow. Nicky was answering our supporters’ behaviour-related questions – here are just a few of them:

Question: Why does my cat scratch the wallpaper even when he has large scratch trees and access to the garden?

Answer: I'm afraid that many cats can't resist wallpaper, especially if it's textured - they just love it! It's great that you've provided your cat with large scratch trees. Try encouraging him to use it by rubbing it with cat mint (found in many garden centres) and playing around the scratch post with a fishing rod toy. Ideally scratch posts should be tall enough (at least 60cm), sturdy enough for the cat to put his weight against and have vertical thread (as opposed to horizontal rope), but these are hard to find. Check out our leaflet about Managing your cat’s behaviour for more advice.

Kitten with scratching post
Photo by Jennifer C via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Do you have any tips for preventing my cat from overgrooming please?

Answer: It's all about finding out the underlying cause. The first step would be to rule out any medical reasons for overgrooming as there are many. Take a video of your cat overgrooming to show the vet, so they can see if your cat is plucking the fur or biting the fur etc. If your vet rules out medical reasons, then we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as the APBC.

In the meantime try general stress reduction measures, such as Feliway® which is a synthetic copy of a cat’s facial pheromone (speak to your vet for more information), ensuring your cat has enough resources, like food bowls, litter trays etc. To learn more about your cat’s behaviour, check out our free online e-learning course, Understanding feline origins.

Photo by Ryusuke via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my cat dart from room to room for no reason? She will be sitting quietly and then start running around.

Answer: Some cats seem to just have a 'funny' five minutes. As long as your cat doesn't have an underlying medical problem (if you're at all unsure then get your cat health-checked by your vet), then it could be 'self play' (sometimes called locomotor play) and it's also useful for exercising their muscles and reactions. Try playing with your cat with a fishing rod toy for another style of play. Ensure the toy is stored safely out of reach after use.

Question: My one-year-old tom always falls to the ground at my feet, rolls around and rubs himself on me. I've never had a cat do this and he does it every time he comes into the house! Why does he do it?

Answer: This is a type of greeting behaviour and it's really cute! The best way to respond is to say 'hi' to them and give them a quick head rub. Don't be tempted to rub their belly as you may end up with a hand full of claws and teeth!

Check out our video on cat body language for more information.
  


Question: After watching the recent Horizon programme, Cat Watch 2014, my daughter said she'd like to be a 'catmologist'. How did you become a cat behaviourist and what subjects would be good to study in preparation?

Answer: Love it – catmologist! For GCSE level, a good grounding in sciences would be recommended. For more advice for becoming a cat behaviourist for further study later down line, check out the following websites:


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.

Our next live Q&A will be on our Facebook page on 29 January 2015.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Parting with a much-loved pet

This letter was written by a little girl whose cat Bella had to be given up at our Bridgend Adoption Centre because it just didn’t settle with the other cat in the home.

It’s very touching and highlights the sadness many people experience if they have to part with their much loved cats.

Caitlin's touching letter to her cat Bella

The letter says:

Dear Bella
I would always love you… would you always love me? I shall never forget and always remember you… would you always remember me? I really don’t want you to go… are you really unhappy here? I love you so much Bella but if you really don’t love [our other cat] or our home, I guess I have to say goodbye. And say that I love you, I love you kadallions and all the way to space…
Goodbye Bella, I hope you love your new home…
Lots of love, hugs, strokes and kisses,
Your best friend Caitlin xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Cat Behaviour Counsellor Vicky Halls wrote in the Summer 2012 issue of The Cat magazine: “This is one of the hardest dilemmas that loving cat owners face. As the cat is a territorial species the environment within which it lives is fundamental. The space available and the other cats sharing that space, together with the owner’s interactive style, will dictate which elements of the cat’s unique character and temperament is expressed and to what extent. Sometimes, with the best will and care in the world, ‘square cats’ find themselves in ‘round houses’ and no amount of shaving off the edges will make them fit.”


If you find yourself in this situation it may be worth talking to your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre as it may be preferable all round for you and the cat to part ways. The cat’s next home could well be the perfect one for them.

When a cat is rehomed by Cats Protection we offer ongoing support to settle them into their new home and ask owners to get in touch if it’s not working out.

Find your local branch or centre at www.cats.org.uk/find-us

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Donate unwanted Christmas presents to charity

Did you get a few too many presents at Christmas? Perhaps you could consider donating your unwanted gifts to a Cats Protection charity shop.

Cats Protection charity shop

Whether it’s clothes, DVDs, books or kitchen utensils, don’t let them go to waste, we’ll gladly received any unwanted items. The funds raised will go towards helping the cats in our care – we have thousands at any one time all over the UK.

To find your local Cats Protection shop, branch or adoption centre, enter your postcode at www.cats.org.uk/find-us

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year’s resolution ideas

After indulging over Christmas, many of us decide to get fit or stop smoking in the New Year. We’re inspired to learn new things, develop ourselves or change aspects of our lives. How about this year also making a resolution to help a good cause like Cats Protection?

“I will volunteer for my local branch or adoption centre”


A study by Royal Volunteer Society research showed one in three Britons believe volunteering is good for your health and one in 10 think they should volunteer to gain work experience and skills.
Volunteering is such a rewarding experience – you will meet new people, learn new skills, challenge yourself and make a huge difference to a cause you care about.

We have roles available in all sorts of areas – perhaps you’d like to socialise kittens, write for your local branch’s newsletter, organise events, manage Facebook pages or drive cats to check-ups at the vets. Have a look at our Find an opportunity search to look for volunteering vacancies near you.

“I will run a marathon for Cats Protection”


Cross something off your bucket list this year by taking part in a challenge event and raising money for Cats Protection at the same time. You can even combine this with your existing resolution. For example, if you want to get fit, why not train to run a marathon on behalf of the charity? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to do a skydive, bungee jump or walk across flaming hot coals?

London Marathon runners raising money for Cats Protection
Darran Reynolds and Julie Noble running the London Marathon on behalf of Cats Protection
Find out about the kinds of events you can get involved with on our Events page.

“I will give donations as presents”


With a charitable donation gift, you can make a contribution on behalf of someone to a cause that is important to them. To support Cats Protection you could buy a sponsorship gift to help provide unwanted cats with shelter, warmth, food, medical care and the love they deserve. In a gift pack they will receive a welcome pack as well as regular updates about the cats in their sponsored pen.

All of these resolutions will help the thousands of cats in our care.


What is your New Year’s resolution for 2015?