Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Behind the scenes at our Mitcham Homing Centre opening event

On Saturday 25 July our Mitcham Homing Centre opened its doors to the public.

Mitcham Homing Centre sign with balloons

London is home to an estimated 1.5million cats and the Mitcham Homing Centre is our first step in targeting urban areas identified as being of high need.

The new centre is the first of its kind and has a transportable model which allows the internal structure to be moved to a new site if demand in the Mitcham area drops in the future.

Emma and Agnieszka from Cats Protection at the Mitcham grand opening
Emma and Agnieszka from Cats Protection at the grand opening
Cat loving visitors were taken on tours of the new pop-up centre and children had the chance to make cat masks, toys and get their faces painted at the event.

Visitors on a tour of Mitcham Homing Centre
Visitors were taken on tours of the new pop-up centre
Making cat masks at Mitcham Homing Centre
Children got the chance to make cat masks and toys at the event
The centre was opened by Mayor of Merton, Cllr David Chung and attended by staff and volunteers from the charity.

Mayor of Merton, Cllr David Chung at the Mitcham Homing Centre
Mayor of Merton pictured with Cats Protection staff and volunteers
Eleven-week-old kitten Josephine, pictured below with Deputy Manager Rosie Wheeler is just one of the cats being looked after at Mitcham Homing Centre until she finds a new home. The centre aims to find homes for up to 50 cats each month.

Deputy Manager Rosie Wheeler with 11-week-old kitten Josephine
Deputy Manager Rosie Wheeler with 11-week-old kitten Josephine
To find out more about Cats Protection’s new Mitcham Homing Centre or to enquire about adopting a cat or volunteering, please visit mitcham.cats.org.uk or phone 03000 120 285.

All photos by Graham Fudger

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Never miss a post again!

Ensure you never miss the latest success stories, information and advice from Cats Protection by signing up as a subscriber to the official Meow! blog.

Whether it’s an inspiring tale of an unwanted cat finding a loving new home, feline veterinary and behaviour tips or a day in the life of a Cats Protection volunteer – you’ll find pages and pages of useful and interesting cat-themed topics.

Ginger cat lying on laptop
Photo by Jonas Löwgren via flickr / Creative Commons
Just pop your email address in the field in our sidebar (look for 'Subscribe via email') to receive instant emails every time we publish a blog post.

You can also keep up-to-date with all the latest from the charity by following us on our national social media profiles or via our national website.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Diary of a teenage fosterer #4

This post has been written by Tristan Goodway-Sims who is undertaking a volunteer placement for a Duke of Edinburgh award

Honey’s kittens are now six weeks old and the time has flown by. As the kittens have increasingly been awake and a lot more active, there has been more cleaning out and tidying. I can only look longingly at my Xbox controller as I slap on the disposable gloves and get stuck into the dirty litter trays, bowls and pens.

Tristan's black foster kitten

Poo seems to be the theme over the last few weeks as Honey and one of her kittens had a mild case of the runs. I discovered this when I stumbled downstairs at 6.30am in the morning and was attacked by a foul smell! I found Honey and her kitten had had upset tummies. One kitten had managed to wipe his mess around – unfortunately on the fur of his litter mates! Time to call in reinforcements… time to wake up my own mum! We filled a bowl with warm water and sponged each kitten clean. I then cleaned the pen with detergent and disinfectant and washed all the bedding on a very hot wash. Honey and the kittens were given special food for upset stomachs for 24 hours and then normal service was restored.

I am really impressed with how well and quickly the kittens have learnt to use the litter tray, much quicker than our dog Megan was toilet trained as a puppy. The cats and kittens do like a clean litter tray so I have to be even more vigilant to clean out the trays with all four kittens using them as well as their mum.

Tristan's tabby foster kitten

When they were five weeks old the kittens had their first trip to the vets for a check-up and their mum Honey had her second set of vaccinations. This meant a trip in the car, so the kittens went in one cat carrier and Honey in the other. The kittens seem to enjoy the car trip but Honey found it more stressful and made a nice pongy pile in her cat carrier (I did warn you that poo was the theme!). The vet seemed very pleased with all the kittens after a thorough examination and Honey had her injections. We also took the opportunity to collect more supplies for Honey and her kittens. On the way home the kittens dozed but Honey pooed again. I don’t know who was more pleased to get home – Honey or me!

Tristan grooming his foster kittens
Tristan grooming his foster kittens

Read Tristan’s previous post in the series here.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Magnificent 7 Cats Facebook page gains millionth fan

Former rock tour model Sasha Jordan has exchanged her leathers for seven cats and a hugely popular Facebook page.

Sasha, who used to tour with rock acts such as Ozzy Osbourne and Pantera retired in 2010 to settle down in Putney with her fiancé, Steven and a growing number of cats.

‘The Magnificent 7 Cats’ (later Mag7 Cats) Facebook page first came about in late 2012 after Sasha posted a few photos of her new Persian kitten, Tomerine, on her Facebook page. Tom, with his teddy-bear looks, googly eyes and cheese obsession was an instant hit so Sasha set-up his own Facebook fan page. Sasha’s other six cats followed and Mag7 Cats was born.

Mag7 Cats owner Sasha with cat Junior
Sasha with gorgeous Junior. Photo by Sasha Jordan/Steven Croston
The page, which is known for its high-quality photography of gorgeous cats and the global community that’s grown-up around them is now celebrating having gained its millionth follower.

“Cute cats are really popular,” says Sasha. “Undoubtedly having pretty cats pop-up on social media feeds gives cat-fans a kind-of instant gratification. And having seven cats, all with different looks is great; it’s a bit like a teenage boy band or group of super heroes: each has their own personality (or super-powers!) and you pick your favourite.

Magnificent 7 Cat Junior
Sasha and Steven's cat Junior. Photo by Sasha Jordan/Steven Croston 
“But I think the success of Mag7 goes beyond cute pictures. The Mag7 community is very active. I post at least a couple of pictures every day and I read all comments. I think captioning pictures cleverly is very important and it’s through captions and subsequent chat in the comments threads that we’ve been able to develop a distinct personality for each cat. The wondrous thing is that our fans get to know and understand this. They’ll write to each cat with advice, witty comments or ticking them off for their behaviour. Some even ‘pimp-out’ their own cats as suitors!

“The Mag7 Cats page is a safe, very loving fantasy world where cats are in charge. Escapism it may be, but there’s no harm in that.”

Mag7 Cat Rocky
Mag7 Cat Rocky. Photo by Sasha Jordan/Steven Croston
The page has really been a force for good across the world, uniting cat lovers all over the world.

Sasha explains: “When cats or their people are in need it’s quite usual for friends around the world to rally together in support to offer advice and share their experience.”

“Late in December 2013, I saw an online advert for the sale of a two year-old Turkish van with bi-colour eyes,” Sasha recalls. “His owner no longer wished to keep him and intended to have him put to sleep if a home couldn’t be found.

“I messaged one of our long-term friends in Ohio, USA. She’d always loved Turkish vans and went to the rescue. She faced a drive of several hundred miles, and then a visit to the vet for neutering, tests for FIV/FELV and full vaccination.

We set up an online appeal and very quickly raised the $400 required to get Beau his forever home. He’s still there, happy and healthy and even has his own Facebook page!”

Friday, 10 July 2015

Old cats need love too!

All this week we are celebrating elderly cats, who on average take around five times longer than kittens to be adopted*.

This video demonstrates the point perfectly:



During kitten season (April – September) older cats take six-and-a-half times longer to be homed than kittens.

As feline life expectancy has increased, in particular over the past 10 years, many household moggies are now living into their late teens and early 20s in good health. There are many benefits of older cats, who often have a more settled nature and are more likely to be a lap cat. Life in a pen is no substitute for a permanent home so we would urge people to consider adopting an older cat.

Elderly cat Katie is looking for a new home
Elderly cat Katie is looking for a new home
Sixteen-year-old Katie, for example, is currently in the care of our Bristol & District Branch as her elderly owner went into hospital and could no longer look after her. Katie is in good health and is a lovely cat who loves her food and sitting on a good lap. She is looking for a home with a garden and as an only cat. If you think you can offer her a home, please contact the branch directly on 0117 966 5428 or CPBristol@outlook.com

* Kittens are classed as 0-6 months and older cats as 11 years old and over.

There are lots of simple steps you can take to ensure the later years of your cat’s life are comfortable and happy – read our Elderly cats leaflet for more details.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Older cat Jess – an inspirational life

This week we are celebrating golden oldies. During kitten season (April – September) older cats take six and a half times longer to be homed than kittens. 

This post has been written by supporter and cat owner Phil Douglas

Imagine you are a cat and that late in life you have the misfortune to develop chronic kidney disease that has raised your blood pressure to such a level that it has caused both retinas to detach. So you are now blind and you are homeless as your previous carer died. What is your future? How do you survive? If you are lucky enough, Cats Protection will find you a loving home. As a blind cat you adapt and live your life to the maximum possible. Life can still be good.

Elderly cat Jess
Gentle Jess
15-year-old Jess came to us from CP's Rayleigh, Castle Point & District Branch some six months ago, our first blind cat. We had to do some serious decluttering of the home to make it as easy as possible for her to navigate with no sight. Then keep everything the same, don’t move furniture around and don’t leave your old boots lying around in the hall. Jess has the run of the downstairs floor, no stairs for her of course and occasionally, in the better weather, she goes outside into our secure garden where we can make sure she comes to no harm.

Jess initially had to ‘map’ our home. She would turn in circles until she met an object and kept doing so for many weeks until she had fully memorised the layout of her new ‘forever’ home. She is calm and adopts a measured and considered approach to walking around. She does not hurt herself and she knows the shortcuts behind the sofa, around the coffee table and even under it. She really loves to go ‘off-piste’ and she totally disappears sometimes, only to come out from under a loudspeaker stand or from behind the television with cobwebs on her head (we should clean more). She is intrepid. Nothing stops her from going where she wants to go, as with all cats of course. And that is the main thing – she is still an inquisitive cat and her disability will not deter her nor stop her from living her life to the full. She is an inspiration.

She finds the litter tray nine times out of 10 (a better hit rate than many of us men apparently) and knows where all her watering stops are, which she needs for her condition. She sometimes needs help with moving her food around the bowl and she has a tendency to silently creep up on us so we have to be extra careful where we put our feet! She just adores the vacuum cleaner, following it around and purring big time when she gets near the noise!

Jess has a fleecy blanket with two hot water bottles underneath to help keep her aches and pains at bay as she has some muscle wastage in her back legs and likely rheumatism. She loves the heat and spends her resting time on or between the bottles. Jess loves cuddles too and knows the exact location of where she is likely to be picked up (at my feet where I sit watching TV).

Jess is a very sweet, loving girl and she is Little Miss Cutie with her black coat with white socks and whiskers. She just needs the right care and attention, but nothing that many of the good people reading this could not provide for a cat with a similar condition. Daily medication can sometimes be a challenge, but some cats accept this more easily than others. It is fortunate that I am self-employed and work from home, so I am usually here to look after Jess. Blind cats really need someone around most of the time to give them comfort that they are not alone and to be there for them.

As we live near a busy road junction and despite having a high-walled back garden, a young, fit cat would undoubtedly scale the wall and we’d be worried about her safety near the road. That is one reason we don’t look to home a younger cat. An older cat would tend to stay indoors a fair amount and on the odd occasion it would go out, would probably be content to sit in the sunny back garden without going too far afield. That is our experience.

Another reason is that the older cat finds it very hard to get a new home, especially if they are black or black-and-white (an unpopular colour choice it seems) and may also have a disability or a medical condition. Not homing a cat because of its colour is ridiculous. The last three cats we had took nine months, 12 months and six months respectively to find a home (ours). That is a very long time for a cat to be in a cattery, bedroom or garden pen. We feel it is only right to give the older cat a chance.

So as long-term cat lovers and keepers we always adopt an older cat as we have found from our experience of homing a number of oldies over the years that they are the most rewarding of cats. They give you immediate unconditional love and companionship and come ready trained in the art of using a litter tray. They just want to be loved and cared for, with a cosy bed, food, water and unlimited cuddles. They usually fit in with your home life straight away.

So what is not to love about an older cat? They have a lifetime of experience, have done their wandering and just want a comfortable home for their remaining years.

Jess gives us so much love in return for us giving her a home. She is a most rewarding and gentle girl and we feel extremely lucky to have her.

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

Monday, 6 July 2015

A second chance for elderly Dotty

This week we are celebrating golden oldies. On average older cats take around five times longer than kittens to be adopted. Elderly cats deserve loving homes too!

This post has been written by Julie Wilding, Volunteer Neutering Officer at Lancaster & Morecambe Branch

Dotty arrived in our care in mid-February 2015 when she was 15 years old.  Her owner was unfortunately too ill to look after her any more.

15 year old Dotty

It was obvious that there was something wrong with her ears and it was thought it was an untreated abscess on her ear.

Unfortunately it progressed a lot and became evident it was a nasty case of skin cancer. Despite being an older cat she coped really well with the operation to remove her ear flaps and has healed well.

Her hearing is unaffected and she lives her life just as before. Her hair will grow back and she will not be aware that she looks any different from other cats.

Dotty's operation stitches

Elderly cat Dotty following her operation

Dotty has been so brave and is such a lovely character. We found her a wonderful new home in mid-May, only a few weeks after her operation. She has settled really well and will have a happy and loving retirement with her new family.

Friday, 3 July 2015

‘Why do my cats attack each other?’ and other behaviour FAQs

It’s that time again: our Behaviour Manager, Nicky Trevorrow took to Facebook to answer your cat behaviour queries.

The questions below are just a few that she answered in our most recent Q&A:

Question: I have three cats: one mother and two daughters. We introduced a new kitten about six months ago and while the mum cat and one of the girls are fine with her, the other girl can't stand her. She hisses as soon as she sees her and if the new girl, Millie, goes near her she attacks. We've tried the Feliway plugins and sprays [which copy a cat’s natural pheromone they rub in an environment in which they feel comfortable] and gradually introducing them to each other’s "territory" but nothing seems to work. Any ideas?

Answer: Sorry to hear that they are not getting along. It's really important to provide lots of resources (ideally one per cat plus one extra); litter trays, food bowls etc, around the house to reduce any competition for these items. Check out our leaflet called Welcome Home and Cats living together as it may be that you need to go back to the beginning with scent swapping and keeping the cats separate. You may wish to contact a qualified behaviourist to help ease the transition. You can search for one using www.apbc.org.uk In some cases, despite people's best efforts, a cat may need to be rehomed. All the best.

Question: Although our cat eats 'wet' cat food, he doesn't seem to drink water. (He likes treats and a little dry food as nibbles.) I was wondering why he isn't drinking any when he is outside? He does chew blades of grass. Is this normal, especially in the hot weather? He looks fine.

Answer: This is common for many owners. There are a few things you can do to help:

  • if you can, provide a few places where he can access the water and make sure it doesn't get hot as this may prevent him from drinking it
  • cats prefer not to put their heads over the top of or in the bowl so keep the water topped up at all times
  • try offering a water fountain as cats favour moving water
  • cats need to be able to access their water without having to pass objects that they perceive to be frightening, such as other cats, so ensure the water bowl is sited in a location acceptable to the cat. 
  • try a wide, shallow ceramic bowl as some plastic bowls can taint the taste of the water
  • you could also try putting a shallow container outside to collect rain water as some cats don't like the taste of chlorine in ordinary tap water

Cats often chew grass to make themselves regurgitate to bring up fur balls. You can speak to your vet about grooming advice and appropriate brushes, as well as diet as some can help with fur balls.

Cat drinking water from tap
Cats prefer drinking moving water. Photo by Dave Dugdale via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: I have an 18-month-old cat. Since she came to us she 'suckles' on a fur throw I have on my bed. Is this a comfort thing for her or is it to do with mimicking being fed by her mum? She still does it now!

Answer: Suckling to gain milk from the mum, often accompanied with kneading, is a left-over kitten behaviour. Normally this behaviour fades away as they grow up. Most cats just tend to do the kneading (sometimes called padding) when they are content and happy. The main thing to look out for with suckling is that they don't ingest any of the blanket. Wool eating is more commonly seen in Siamese cats and Orientals but can happen in moggies too. If so, contact your vet and tell them that the cat has eaten material as it could cause a foreign body and/or blockage. If the cat is just licking or suckling on it, and it not harming them then it's ok to let them do this, but don't encourage it. Hope that helps.

Cat suckling blanket
Suckling is a left-over kitten behaviour. Photo by CaptMikey9 via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My youngest cat (who is around eight months old) gently puts her paw on my older cat’s face (six years old) while I am making their food. She then walks in a circle and does it again. Any reason why she does this?

Answer: It would be difficult to say without seeing your cats but it could be that your kitten is pushing your older cat out of the way as she wants the food. Try feeding both cats in separate locations, even if they get on well at other times. I'm sure your older cat will probably appreciate some peace and quiet!

Also place food bowls away from their water bowl (as they don't like to eat and drink in the same place) and away from the wall so they can easily see the rest of the room.


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 here.

Would you like to ask one of our feline experts a question about your cat? Don’t miss the next live Facebook Q&As: CP vet Vanessa Howie will be available on 16 July; Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be hosting on 30 July; and behaviour specialist Nicky Trevorrow returns on 13 August. Every live Q&A is held on our national Facebook page from 2-3pm.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Focus on fostering

This post has been written by Lizzie, a fosterer at Rayleigh Castle Point & District Branch

I started fostering for Cats Protection in August 2013. I had always thought of myself as a dog person and I wasn't overly fussed by cats! I found them stand-offish and aloof, not loving and friendly like dogs. Then in 2010, a ginger kitten moved himself into our house and my love affair with cats began! This tiny, eight-week-old bundle of fluff strutted into our front room, swiped the dog across the face and promptly claimed ownership of the dog’s chair! The dog duly noted her new place in the household hierarchy, below the cat! In 2013, our neighbour moved and needed to rehome her four-month-old kitten. Fizz moved in with us and we became a two cat household. The dog downgraded herself again in the pecking order!

2013 was a funny year for me. It was approaching the 10 year anniversary of my mum’s death and the children were in full time education. I felt the need to do something to mark this big anniversary, so I decided to have a year of saying ‘yes’ (within reason!). I signed up to sell daffodils for Marie Curie (I still do this every year, and have now roped my sister-in-law in to do it as well!), I completed my first Race For Life, and I volunteered to foster for Cats Protection. Fostering was not a decision we took lightly as a family. I followed the hard work of our local Cats Protection ladies on Facebook, then I saw the appeal for fosterers. It was something I wanted to do, but I knew it was something that would impact on the whole family. I had two boys aged six and four at the time, as well as my husband to consider. But my wonderful husband knew about my year of ‘yes’ and he saw that it was something that I wanted to do, and he agreed to let me use our spare bedroom as a cat B&B!

Once we knew it was something that we really wanted to do, we had a home visit from fellow branch fosterer Val, who talked us through everything and checked our suitability as fosterers. Thankfully she thought our rather household would be a good fostering environment. At this point, we had to sit the boys down and let them know what we were up to! We told them that we wanted to look after cats that didn't have a home of their own, but that the cats would only be staying with us for a holiday until they found a forever home of their own. Thankfully the boys thought that this was a brilliant idea, and they couldn't wait for our first foster cat to arrive.

Since we started fostering, we have had a wide range of different cats, each one lovely in their own way. Much as I miss the foster cats when they move to their forever home, it is such a great feeling to see a down-trodden or forgotten cat go to new owners who will love and spoil them in the way that they deserve. We have had an epileptic cat, cats that have just appeared in people’s gardens, cats that people have got from Gumtree and many kittens. The more memorable ones are Dash, who was found tied in a carrier bag ready to be thrown into the lake, Casper and The Wombles. Casper was a beautiful, but depressed, long-haired stray who came to me after moving into someone’s back garden. He was only with us for a few weeks when I took him to a homing show.

A couple came to the show to donate, but not adopt, as they had only recently lost their cats and weren't ready for another. She asked for a cuddle with Casper, but was adamant that she didn't want to adopt. He wouldn't let her go! He reached out for her when she passed him to her husband and they committed to adopting him there and then! He is now a thoroughly loved and spoilt cat who has found an amazing home. The Wombles were four kittens found in a box in the park. They were handed into the PDSA and then passed onto us to foster. This was at the beginning of the summer holidays. The kittens were approximately three weeks old and needed hand feeding. We had four hungry kittens totally dependent on us! The boys came into their own at this point! They got stuck in with hand rearing these kittens, syringing feeding them kitten milk, playing with them and giving them unlimited love and affection. My children learnt so much that summer, it was an experience that they were very privileged to have and it taught them so many qualities that will be useful in life. It taught them kindness, compassion and patience, but best of all, it kept them occupied for the whole six week holidays!

Our circumstances have changed slightly and we now need to use our bedroom for humans. So we have a cat pen instead! It is attached to the side of the house, and has its own heater and outdoor run. It means we can still have foster cats when we are on holiday, as people can access the pen to look after the cats for us.

Although I am mainly a fosterer, I do get involved with other aspects of Cats Protection’s work as well. I have helped a little with collaring cats that may be strays, including the infamous KFC kitty who lived in their car park eating as much chicken as she could fit in her tummy, and have participated in a chip and snip event, where over 80 cats were booked in for neutering in four hours! I also joined the Cats Protection ladies in the carnival last year and had one of the most fun days I've ever had! I laughed and danced my way around the town in a blue wig and cat ears!

Fosterer Lizzie at Rayleigh Castle Point & District Branch
Lizzie spreading the CP message at a local carnival
I have made so many good friends at Cats Protection and have met so many wonderful people in the course of my volunteering. Interacting with the public when you are wearing your blue army uniform is brilliant. You meet so many people enthusiastic about cats and supporting you in the work that you do. I can honestly say that I am so pleased that I had a year of ‘yes’. It took me considerably outside of my comfort zone but it also changed my life in a positive way. There are no words to describe the satisfaction of watching a cat that you have nurtured and loved leave to join their new family.


If you think you could make a difference and volunteer for Cats Protection, search for a volunteering opportunity in your local area.