Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our supporters, volunteers and staff! Thanks to you, we’ve helped thousands of cats this year. We couldn’t have done it without you.

We hope you enjoy our festive animation.

Love Cats Protection (and the cats!) xxx

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Why cats hunt

In the latest video in the Simon’s Cat Logic series, creator Simon Tofield and Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow have teamed up to talk about Simon’s Cat’s behaviour in the video ‘Nut Again’ and explain hunting behaviour.

Simon describes once watching his cat Teddy running down the garden after a squirrel. “I’ve never seen him run quicker – I thought ‘What’s he going for now?’ and going even faster than Teddy was a squirrel,” he says. “Seeing Teddy running after this squirrel – it made it up the tree – and Teddy went up the tree after him, I thought, I’ve got to do an idea of a cat chasing a squirrel and what can happen.”

“Cats are perfectly adapted to hunting,” says Nicky. “They have excellent eyesight so they can see in low light levels, they have really good hearing for hearing tiny little squeaks of their prey species, they’re very fast and agile and they have an excellent sense of balance.”

A cat’s hunting drive is separate to the hunger drive, so cats will hunt even if they’ve just been fed. Interactive play, with toys like a fishing rod toy, will simulate this behaviour and release feel-good hormones.

If you want to learn more about your cat’s behaviour and why they act the way they do, visit our online behaviour hub.

Is your cat a hunter? Let us know on Twitter @catsprotection and use the hashtag #SimonsCatLogic.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Furry therapists: how cats improve our lives

Listening to the heart-warming stories of the positive impacts cats and kittens have had on the lives of entrants to this year’s National Cat Awards reminds us of the many benefits that spending quality time with our feline friends can bring.

Announced as the overall winner in August’s star-studded award ceremony held at The Savoy, Tink raised the alarm when his owners’ house caught fire, ensuring they escaped from an horrific situation that could have cost them their lives. But while Tink’s heroics represent an extremely palpable — and, thankfully, rare — benefit of owning a pet, there were also many moving accounts of cats who, simply through their comforting personalities and loving natures, improved the lives of their owners.

Katie Paine with cat Skye
National Cat Awards finalist, Skye with her owner Katie; Photo: Koray Erol - Caters News
Take 15-month-old Skye, a finalist in the Most Caring Cat category. Skye's owner, Katie Paine had suffered from debilitating panic attacks and agoraphobia for 15 years, making everyday actions like collecting her children from school a terrifying prospect. 

However when Skye arrived, Katie's life was changed. Skye’s calming influence has played an important role in helping ease her depression and the moggy’s apparent instinct for knowing when she is most needed has ensured that she is always by Katie’s side at exactly the right time.

During the competition, Katie reflected on her husband, doctor and mental health worker all commenting on how much more relaxed and calm she had been since Skye arrived. She noted that she was sleeping better, enjoying going out and smiling more. “Our lives have improved no end,” Katie said, “My children are happier because I’m happier and I’m doing more things with them.”

And Katie isn't alone in feeling that her relationship with a feline friend has improved her sense of wellbeing.

A succession of scientific studies — including one carried out jointly by Cats Protection and the Mental Health Foundation in 2011 — have trumpeted the psychological and medical advantages of interaction with cats. On its website, the Mental Health Foundation lists the benefits of pet ownership for those suffering from depression and autism, children with ADHD, the elderly and people who live on their own.

One moving story of this process in action hit the national headlines earlier this year. Six-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw  had been diagnosed with severe autism and her parents were warned that she may never be able to talk or develop relationships. After trying a number of therapies, Iris’s parents took the decision to introduce her to a Maine Coon kitten, whom they named Thula, and the transformation in her was incredible.

Thula became Iris’s constant companion. Not only did Iris talk for the first time in Thula’s presence, the kitten also helped her overcome her fear of water by sharing baths and, ultimately, swimming with her. In the same way that Skye seemed to innately understand when Katie needed her, Thula would come to Iris’s aid when she sensed she was required, even bringing her toys when she woke at night.

Iris’s mother, Arabella, who shared her daughter’s amazing story in a book, described Thula as a ‘guardian angel’. Her constant presence at Iris’s side, whether she’s sleeping, playing or reading, has brought about a change in her that few thought possible.

However, while there are many more touching stories like those of Katie, Iris and their families, we shouldn’t ignore the positive impacts moggies have on those of us who aren’t faced with such life-changing challenges — those who are simply stressed out and laid low by the everyday demands of life.

Tests have discovered that spending time with cats causes the release of the so-called 'happy hormone' oxytocin, while simultaneously reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This results in lower stress and anxiety levels, which in turn reduces blood pressure.

It’s no wonder, then, that cats and kittens are being turned to by those in high-stress environments like hospitals, workplaces and educational establishments.

There have been a number of stories in recent years of universities introducing ‘kitten rooms’ during stressful exam seasons and inviting students to sit with, stroke and talk to their furry friends. But undergraduates at the University of Southampton have taken this relationship a stage further by appointing a cat as their Student Union’s honorary president.

Named after the initials of the Union in which she has spent so much of her life, Susu has been entertaining and de-stressing students since 2002, when she first arrived on campus as a stray. Once name-checked on University Challenge, she has now been awarded the ultimate honour in return for her “contribution to reducing students’ stress levels.”

But, as deserving as they are of our adulation, cats don’t need awards or fancy titles to recognise their benefits to us super-stressed humans. Whether we’re facing seemingly-insurmountable challenges or have simply had a bad day, nature’s stress-relievers are always there for us, fixing us with the healing powers of their contented purring, soothing us with the sensation of their soft fur and comforting us simply through their presence. It’s hard to argue that cats are a breed apart!

Don’t believe us? Take a peek at our #CatTherapy video!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Railway sleepers

For most of us, visiting a train station is a purely transitory experience. It's a 'nowhere place'; an inescapable interlude that we endure because it gets us to where we want to be. For some, however, stations represent a destination — and we’re not just talking about humans.

Photo: Prandina (with modification)
In September, the Citizens Advertising Takeover Service grabbed the headlines by replacing all the advertisements at Clapham Common tube station with photographs of cats, including many waiting to be rehomed by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Cats Protection.

But while many busy South London commuters were undoubtedly buoyed by the fleeting appearance of 68 adorable moggies staring back at them from the station's grey walls, few would have realised just how many of their fellow train users across the UK get to experience the real thing on a daily basis.

Earlier this year, managers at Huddersfield station announced that they were promoting a member of staff that had been working at the West Yorkshire hub for five years. The fact that this was no ordinary promotion was reflected in the announcement making it onto the pages of a number of national newspapers.

Black-and-white longhair Felix had been taken on by the station in 2011 in order to resolve its rodent problems. She acquired her name before staff realised they had mistaken the gender of the then nine-week-old, but the name stuck as the popular moggy became part of the furniture. So vital has she been to the day-to-day running of the station, in fact, that when impenetrable ticket barriers were installed, they included an integrated cat flap bearing her name.

Felix's cat flap
Station renovations included Felix's own cat flap. Photo: Neil Turner via flickr / Creative Commons
Felix’s promotion to Senior Pest Controller brought with it a badge but her daily tasks remain unchanged: catching mice and brightening the lives of her 90,000 Facebook followers and the thousands of commuters that pass through the station every day.

One station with even more experience of felines than Huddersfield, meanwhile, is Kent's Tonbridge railway station. Back in 2010, an enlightening two-part feature focusing on cats residing in train stations appeared in our magazine, The Cat. It featured Jill and Louis, a pair of moggies that had become such an important part of everyday life at the station that plaques were erected in their memory after they passed away.

Since that article was written, Jill and Louis’ legacy has been continued by a black-and-white eight-year-old cat who took up residence at the station last year when her owners moved out of a nearby house. It's no great surprise that Sapphie has become a big hit with passengers at the Kentish commuter station and Southeastern Trains have even made her the star of a 90-second video that forms part of its ‘Amazing Journeys’ series.

According to the Kent Online website, Sapphie has made her home in the Station Manager’s office — the only part of the station where litter can be put down for her — and has the run of the premises. In return for being the staff’s ’little extra helper’, she is spoiled by commuters who have brought her treats and even a bed.

However while Felix was adopted by staff for a specific purpose and Sapphie found a new home with the blessing of her previous owners, a recent story in The Herts Advertiser reminds us that, while cats are often welcomed in by train station staff and commuters, their histories aren’t always straightforward.

After spending a year at St. Albans City station, ‘Brian’ is waving goodbye to the rattle of locomotives and the bustle of rush hour after staff discovered he belonged elsewhere. The black-and-white moggy turned up at the station in 2015 and, as his visits became more regular, he was greeted with food and water and allowed to sleep in the heated storeroom during the winter months.

It had been assumed that Brian belonged to owners of a nearby property and had simply come to enjoy the surroundings (and mice!) at the station. However over time it became apparent that this wasn’t the case and a member of staff decided to take him to a veterinary clinic for a check-up.

From looking at the information stored on his microchip, the vet discovered that ‘Brian’ was actually named Obama and that his true home was some 25 miles away, in London. It emerged that he had escaped three years before while his owner was visiting a relative in St. Albans and had, apparently, survived on his own until he found sanctuary at the station. While this is a happy ending – and a stark example of why microchipping pets is so important – 'Brian' is already being missed by the staff and passengers who had become used to his comforting presence.

But as the commuters of St. Albans wait patiently for their next feline traveller, it seems there are evidently many more train users in the UK enjoying the heart-warming sight of moggies mingling with staff and passengers on busy platforms. As long as they are healthy, happy and aren't being missed by their owners, it's nice to know that these 'first-class felines' are transforming tiresome train journeys across the country.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The importance of socialising your kitten

In this post, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains the importance of kitten socialisation.

Did you know it is important to socialise your kitten? Cat behaviour is influenced by both nature and nurture, including everything from genetics through to specific learning experiences. Because of this, preparing a kitten to cope with the challenges they will face throughout their life is vital, and has one of the most important impacts on their lifelong welfare.

The socialisation period is identified as between two to seven weeks of age. During this period, kittens learn what aspects of the environment are ‘normal’ and ‘safe.’ Equally, when they’re an adult they are likely to be scared of anything they didn’t come across during this period.

Did you know pet cats need to be socialised to humans when they're 2-8 weeks old?

Cats do not have an inbuilt need to be with people, so this is usually a learnt behaviour. Early handling by a variety of different people during this time is essential in order to socialise kittens with humans. At Cats Protection, we use a structured kitten socialisation programme developed by Dr Rachel Casey, helping kittens get used to various experiences to adapt to life in the home environment.

Socialising your kitten

Before handling the kittens, it is worth spending time with the queen or mother cat, to ensure she is familiar with the person through positive associations of gentle interaction. It is important to ensure that experiences and interactions are positive for each individual kitten.

Time spent handling each kitten can be gradually increased over successive weeks, and should ideally be carried out by a minimum of four people including men, women, children and older people. Studies show as little as 40 minutes handling a day during this period has a profound effect on the friendliness of kitten and their willingness to approach people. In addition to holding the kittens, gently performing health checks such as examining sensitive areas like the ears, feet and tail will prove invaluable later in life when the cat visits the vet.

If you’re looking for a kitten, adopt with confidence from Cats Protection. We have thousands of kittens across the UK each year, all looking for new homes.

For more information on how to care for your kitten, take a look at our online essential guide.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

‘Why doesn’t my cat purr?’ and other veterinary FAQs

In our latest live Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection vet Dr Sarah Elliott answered a variety of veterinary questions from curious cat owners. Here are just some of the topics discussed:

Question: One of my cats has never purred… is that normal?

Answer: Cats have not been domesticated very long in terms of evolution, unlike the dog. The cat's wild ancestors would have lived solitary lives and did not need to interact with each other or to develop sophisticated vocal signals – they would have been fairly silent unless with kittens or mating! So the lack of purring may well just be normal cat behaviour for your cat.

Yawning cat
Cats should have an annual vet visit to check their teeth
Question: Can you give some tips to ensure good dental health for my cat?

Answer: All cats should have an annual vet visit to check the status of their teeth. Unfortunately even with the best diet and dental care, cats are still quite prone to dental disease. There are a number of things you can do to help keep your cat's teeth healthy.

Brushing teeth daily with a toothpaste specifically designed for cats will help to reduce the build of plaque and tartar and help to keep the gums healthy. There are a variety of toothbrushes to choose from such as finger brushes, microfibre cloths for your finger and full-length pet toothbrushes.

There are specific dental diets designed with bigger kibble available from your vets to help clean teeth, along with solutions and natural supplements to add to your cat's food and water which may help prevent dental disease.

I'd recommend speaking to your vet for more information and you may find our Teeth and Oral Health leaflet useful.

Question: My cat sneezes quite a bit but shows no other symptoms. Is he ok?

Answer: The sneezing will be down to an irritation within the nose. This could be caused by an irritant like dust, or an allergy, or an infectious agent like a viral or bacterial infection. Some cats can develop polyps or growths inside their nose – this is more common in older cats. It’s best to get him checked out to rule out something more serious, and to relieve any discomfort he may be experiencing.

Question: My cat has just turned one and she is getting a bit of a saggy belly. She eats a 400g tin of food a day. How much is healthy for her to eat daily?

Answer: How much you should feed your cat really depends on the age of the cat, whether the cat is overweight or underweight or has any particular medical requirements that may their influence diet. Most vet clinics will offer a weight clinic to help advise on the right diet for your cat and most good quality cat foods will have a feeding guide on the packaging.

For food-obsessed cats, feeding using puzzles may help. Have a look at the videos in our boredom busters playlist:

These websites have some good ideas too:

There are many ways of creating handmade feeders. Scatter feeding and tossing single treats is a start. Place food in different locations and at different heights as well.

Microchip feeders can help limit how much food your cat can eat if your cats are microchipped.

Question: I’ve noticed that my three-year-old cat is drinking a lot. Any cup you put down, he's straight in it. I have changed his food from wet to dry around one or two months ago – could this be why or is it worth a trip to the vets?

Answer: Cats have desert-dwelling ancestors and as a consequence may not feel the urge to drink as readily as we do. Cats on a wet diet will get the majority of their water from their food. It might be that you have noticed more drinking due to the change to dry food.

As a general rule, a cat’s normal water intake varies from 20-70ml per kg a day. If the drinking seems excessive, it is always worth checking this with your vet in case there is an underlying medical cause.

Veterinary note: 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 sessions: chat with Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 22 December; or vet Dr Sarah Elliot on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The purrrr behind the throne

Upon being asked to name pets from high-profile households in the United Kingdom, most people would probably picture the Queen's corgis pottering around the grounds of Buckingham Palace. However over the past six months it's been cats, rather than dogs, that have found themselves curling up on the country's seats of power.

When black-and-white longhair Gus found his forever home in September after a spell at Cats Protection's Mitcham Homing Centre, he became the latest in a growing number of moggies making the headlines for joining prominent political households.

Gus, who won the hearts of MP George Eustice and his wife Katy after making a beeline for them when they visited the centre, quickly made himself at home at the couple’s residence, with the MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle reflecting: “Gus, the newest addition to our family, took all of 20 minutes to settle into his new home and stretch out on the sofa. All the team at Cats Protection were fabulous. Charities like this do great work.”

Gus being collected by George Eustice MP
George Eustice MP leaving the Mitcham Homing Centre with Gus
However, the three-year-old puss was simply following in the well-trodden paw prints of a number of adopted cats who have recently reached the national consciousness through the celebrity of their political owners.

As Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr Eustice MP would have already been familiar with Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. Adopted in 2011 from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to solve number 10's rodent problem, Larry shot to fame when David Cameron, apparently stung by suggestions that Prime Minister and Prime Mouser didn't get on, name-checked the brown-and-white tabby in his final speech as PM, producing a photo showing Larry stretched across his lap as he discussed matters of state.

Presumably impressed by the fine job Larry was doing across the road, the Foreign Office adopted its own moggy. The impressively-named Palmerston, also from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, arrived on Downing Street only a couple of months before some of its more high-profile residents were moving out.

Unfortunately, like furry neighbours across the country, Palmerston and Larry have sometimes struggled to come to terms with their new situation, and their regular confrontations have been highlighted by the throng of reporters permanently stationed outside the country's most famous black door.

These altercations will have undoubtedly been stressful for both cats, but they did at least prompt a surge in nationwide interest about cat behaviour, with experts from organisations including the British Veterinary Association being invited by the world’s media to share their expertise and provide advice to owners experiencing similar situations.

Some suggested they were merely two ’social, bold and confident’ cats battling for territory while others wondered whether the disruption caused by the change of Prime Minister and subsequent Cabinet shuffle could have unsettled them.

Away from the headlines, however, the pair must have been carrying out their primary duties with aplomb as a third Whitehall department, the Treasury, also decided to adopt a cat. Pictures of 18-month-old Gladstone are regularly shared on his very own Instagram account. The black moggy even received a public welcome from his new boss, Philip Hammond, when the incoming Chancellor of the Exchequer sent him a tweet.

A photo posted by Gladstone (@treasury_cat) on

With the increasing number of pusses padding around Whitehall – there have been rumours swirling since August that the Cabinet Office are considering adopting a moggy who will go by the name Cromwell – it seems that staff at the Houses of Parliament are beginning to feel a little left out and the request to ‘get us a cat’ scrawled on a poster advising on how to address the building's rodent problems is perhaps understandable.

Whether or not we'll soon see another political puss warming up the benches of Westminster is anyone’s guess. However, it's great to see politicians setting a good example by adopting their feline colleagues – especially black and black-and-white ones, who tend to get overlooked by many potential owners.

In the meantime, Larry, Palmerston and Gladstone will continue carrying out their vital ministerial paw-tfolios, which will presumably include exerting their stress-busting influence over Whitehall residents with demanding jobs.

As Rosie King, the Deputy Manager at Cats Protection’s Mitcham Homing Centre, observed about gorgeous Gus: "Like many cats, Gus has a lovely, calming presence so we know he will be well-suited to a political household. We're thrilled they've found each other and wish Gus all the best in his new life."

Friday, 2 December 2016

How to have a pawsome Christmas

Most of us look forward to the festive period, but it can be a scary or stressful time for cats because of the number of changes in the house that Christmas brings. It can mean a houseful of visitors – potentially with their own pets – Christmas trees and decorations, candles, different smells and foods.

Cats are very sensitive to change; much of their feeling of security and ability to relax comes from being surrounded by the familiar sights, sounds and scents of their own territory. Some of the following tips can help to make Christmas a safe, happy and stress-free time for them.

Tonkinese cat byChristmas tree
Photo: Sean Naber via flickr / Creative Commons 

Avoiding food nasties

You might be tempted to share some of your leftover Christmas dinner with puss to save yourself from turkey sandwiches for the rest of the holidays, but restrict it to a small amount of boneless turkey. Remember that any treats you give your cat should be taken from their daily food allowance.

Some foods are toxic to cats and so should be avoided:

  • chocolate
  • allium species (onions, garlic, leeks, spring onions and chives)
  • grapes (including raisins, sultanas and currants)
  • alcohol
  • some mouldy foods (including dairy products, bread, rice and fallen fruits and nuts)

Don’t leave food unattended in the kitchen or on your plates and make sure your properly store away leftovers and firmly close waste bins.

To find out how to spot the signs of poisoning, click here. If you think your cat has been poisoned, take them to a vet immediately.

Christmas hazards

You may want to deck the halls with boughs of holly at the first sign of frost, but did you know that holly is poisonous to cats? Here are some other traditional festive plants that you may not have realised are toxic to cats:

  • Christmas cherry
  • holly
  • mistletoe
  • ivy
  • Christmas roses

For a full list of plants poisonous to cats, click here.

Avoid using tinsel and ‘angel hair’ on your tree as they can get stuck in cats’ throats, and keep the electrical cords of your fairy lights covered up. If you favour a real pine tree, vacuum around it frequently – as well as being a choking hazard, pine needles can hurt cats’ feet and cause infections.

Don’t let these tips ruin the festive spirit though – how about making some of your own cat-friendly Christmas decorations and treats? We’ve got plenty of fun crafty cat projects in our Pinterest board.

Reducing stress

Having friends and relatives to visit is part and parcel of the Christmas period and it’s likely to create a busy and noisy household. Remember that your cat may not wish to join in with the festivities and could find it quite a nerve-wracking time; the following advice will help to make Christmas less stressful:

  • avoid using party poppers or crackers
  • ensure that your cat has a quiet room to themselves with their food, water and litter tray easily accessible
  • provide somewhere where your cat can hide, up high if possible
  • play quiet, soothing music or leave a television on in the room with them
  • use a Feliway plug-in diffuser in the cat’s designated room to decrease anxiety

We’ve teamed up with Ceva who are kindly donating a bundle of festive goodies for one lucky blog reader – a Feliway Classic Diffuser, a Kong Active Treat Ball and a blanket worth around £40.
Ceva prizes
To enter, email with the subject line ‘Festive competition’ and tell us your name, phone number and full postal address. The competition closes at midday on Friday 9 December 2016. See terms and conditions here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Give a Christmas gift that keeps on giving

#GivingTuesday is back this year and is bigger than ever. An antidote to the hustle and bustle of the festive season, it gives everyone a chance to commit time and money to doing good stuff on the same day – whether that means volunteering for a charity or tweeting about a cause you feel passionate about.

If you’ve not yet got started on your Christmas shopping, why not purchase a gift that keeps on giving from Cats Protection? You’ll find plenty of great ideas for the cat lover in your life while helping cats in need. To give you a helping hand, here’s some of the ways you can help Cats Protection just by doing your Christmas shopping:

1 - Give the gift of a great read

The Cat magazine Cats Protection

If you’ve got a feline fan to buy for this Christmas, a subscription to The Cat magazine could be the ideal gift. Each issue is packed with news, views and features as well as expert advice from vets. You can subscribe to the magazine for just £15 a year and by doing so, you’ll be contributing to the care of unwanted cats in the UK.

2 - Raise funds by being a VIP

Join the Pets at Home VIP Club and you could raise money for Cats Protection every time you swipe. You’ll also receive exclusive discounts and a free quarterly VIP magazine – perfect if you’re looking to make a pet-themed purchase this Christmas.

3 - Give the gift of becoming a Cats Protection sponsor

Kitten in Christmas hat

Sponsoring a cat pen is an ideal present for the cat lover in your life. Best of all, you’ll know that you’re providing cats in need with shelter, warmth, food and medical care. You can sponsor a cat pen from just £6 a month, making a great gift for someone special. 

4 - Raise free donations simply by shopping online

Sign up to Give as you Live and every time you purchase a product through their website with Cats Protection as your chosen charity, you’ll generate a free donation. With a vast range of retailers including eBay, Expedia and Moonpig, there’s plenty of opportunity for Christmas gifts too.

5 - Get wrapped up in our Christmas shop

Christmas wrapping paper Cats Protection gift shop

Our Christmas shop is packed full of feline-themed cards and gift wrap to add the finishing touches to your gifts, while our gift shop has great present ideas, feline or otherwise. Best of all, every penny in profit goes straight to helping the thousands of cats that need us every year.

What are you planning to do for Cats Protection this #GivingTuesday? Why not tweet us using the hashtag and let us know?

Friday, 25 November 2016

‘How can I get my cat used to their carrier?’ and other behavioural FAQs

In our latest Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow responded to live questions from cat owners. Here are some of the topics discussed:

Question: My cat is due her annual booster again soon. She is terrified of her cat carrier and travelling. She gets so distressed and aggressive and it takes numerous cancelled and rebooked vet appointments to get her there. I have tried many things including a bigger carrier and even sedation tablets from the vets to no avail. Have you anything you could recommend? She also soils herself on the journey.

Answer: You could see if your vet will do a home visit. Many people face this situation, but there are steps you can take to gradually get your cat used to the cat carrier. However, this does take some time and may not work in time for your cat's booster, depending on how soon it is. This video is the first in a series looking at how to get cats used to carriers:

There is more information found in The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. We would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist ( too.

Cats relaxing in pet carrier
Photo: Rob Marquardt via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my 18 year old cat cry and face the wall? The cry is really unusual.

Answer: Sorry to hear your cat is crying and facing the wall. I would strongly recommend getting your cat seen by the vet to rule out medical reasons as there are quite a few possible underlying reasons. If you can get a recording of your cat's cry to show the vet even better (although it's amazing how quiet cats get when there's a camera pointed at them). If you can't get a video, an impression can work too! If the vet feels it's behavioural, then I'd recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist (see link above).

Question: I have a mother and daughter, aged two years and 18 months, and the mother constantly hisses and spits at her daughter. I got them from CP one year ago and they have never been close, although I hoped their relationship would improve. The little one is quite timid. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Thanks for adopting your cats from Cats Protection and I'm sorry to hear they are not getting along at the moment. There are many possible reasons for a break down in a relationship so it is always worth ruling out medical reasons for both cats first. While there are also many behavioural reasons, one possible is that cats go through social maturity between the ages of 18 months and four years of age, and may drift apart or even fall out with one another around this age as they develop their independence. Cats are less likely to experience conflict if they have plenty of resources spaced out all over the house (eg one resource per cat plus one extra, eg three litter trays, three food bowls etc). It would be worth contacting your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre where you got your cats from for more advice and support. All the best.

Veterinary note: 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 at

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 sessions: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 30 December and 12 January; and vet Dr Sarah Elliott on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Don’t give grooming the brush off

Our Haslemere Adoption Centre recently had the lovely Autumn brought into their care after she’d spent some time living outside. Her coat was heavily matted because it hadn’t been groomed.
Fur can become matted when a cat’s undercoat sheds (moults) and gets trapped under the top layer of fur. Poor Autumn was in a lot of discomfort but after a much-needed clipping treatment, she is on the road to recovery.

Autumn before her clip
Autumn before her clip – her whole body was a solid hard lump!
Clipping Autumn's cat hair
Starting to clip along Autumn’s back
Matted cat fur coming away
The whole side of her coat coming away in a complete matt
One side of matted cat hair removed
One side removed
Why longhaired cats need daily grooming
This picture really shows how trapped poor little Autumn was under the matts
Matted longhair from a Persian cat
The matted hair
Matted hair can swamp a cat if not groomed
With all this fur off, the tiny underweight cat is revealed underneath
Underside of cat pelt removed
The underside of all the pelt removed 
Top of removed cat pelt
The top of the removed pelt
These pictures really stress the importance of grooming longhaired cats regularly. If you struggle to groom your cat, ask your vet for advice.

To find out more about cat care, read our Caring for your cat leaflet

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

‘Should I bathe my cat?’ and other veterinary FAQs

In our latest live veterinary Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection vet Dr Sarah Elliott answered a variety of questions from curious cat owners. Here are just some of the topics discussed:

Question: Should I bathe my cat?

Answer: There isn't much need to bathe a cat. They often will keep themselves clean and tidy, but occasionally they may need help with grooming by brushing them, especially if longhaired (longhaired cats should be brushed daily). Bathing can strip the coat of essential oils which are needed to promote skin health and add a layer of waterproofing. Also if you are using topical flea control products, you might risk removing these during bathing.

Cats like to groom themselves; Photo: Takashi Hososhima via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my cat scratch the floor around her bowl after she's finished eating?

Answer: Cats can do this as a way of disguising what they view as 'uneaten prey'. In the wild, any uneaten food could draw the attention of bigger predators or other cats that could pose a threat, so cats may feel this instinct kicking in and want to hide uneaten food.

Question: My cat has a hanging ‘pouch’ of very loose skin under her belly, in front of her hind legs. I read that it's normal, especially in spayed cats, and more pronounced as they get older, but wanted to make sure before I take her to the vet for nothing (very stressful for her!).

Answer: Many cats develop a ‘dewlap’ – a hanging apron of skin on their belly. It is a place for fat storage and is a normal feature. As you describe it, I'd say this was nothing to worry about but keep an eye on her weight, especially as she gets older and less active.

Question: What is the best way to reduce the risk of gingivitis and plaque build-up? We adopted our cat as a stray when she was around three years old and she had many teeth removed due to plaque. We still have her and her two daughters, and at the most recent vets appointment, they said they had gingivitis, and if it got worse they would put her on antibiotics. What would you suggest is the best way to help with this? To me, 'just waiting' until she needs antibiotics certainly does not solve the problem! I must also add that we regularly give them Dental Bites and have been putting some plaque prevention stuff in her food once a day to see if it helps.

Answer: Your little stray is lucky to have found you! There are a number of things you can do to help keep your cat's teeth healthy. Brushing teeth daily with a toothpaste specifically designed for cats will help to reduce the build of plaque and tartar and help to keep the gums healthy. There is a variety of toothbrushes to choose from, finger brushes, microfibre clothes for your finger through to full length pet toothbrushes. There are specific dental diets designed with bigger kibble available from your vets to help clean teeth, along with solutions and natural supplements to add to your cat's food and water which may help prevent dental disease. Although I find that the stuff added to water doesn't always work to well and it can put some cats off from drinking enough water. I'd recommend speaking to your vet for more information and you may find our Teeth and oral health leaflet useful.

Veterinary note: 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 sessions: chat with Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 17 November; or vet Dr Sarah Elliot on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A wonderful ending for Walter

This post has been written by our Colwyn & District Branch

You may remember that back in March we wrote about Walter, who got his leg caught in his collar, causing a very deep wound.

Walter on admission to Cats Protection
Walter on admission
The healed wound
Walter's wound has now healed
Unfortunately his owner no longer wanted him so we kept him in our care until the treatment was complete and we could find him a suitable new home.

At long last Walter has a home. He has a large garden giving him safe access to the outside world, and a mum and dad all to himself. We were sad to see him go but know he will be quite happy in his new home.

Walter's progress
Walter's made brilliant progress
Walter has recovered from his ordeal
We know he'll be a happy chappy in his new home
This video shows just how well he is doing now:

Friday, 11 November 2016

What happens to cats during puberty?

This post has been written by Dr Sarah Elliott BVetMed MRCVS, Central Veterinary Officer at Cats Protection

It is tough growing up, particularly when puberty strikes and hormones go haywire.

But did you know that some cats experience puberty from only four months of age? And there are plenty of feline teenage mums out there who are not having a great time!

Cats reach puberty at around four months of age

When puberty hits, a cat becomes capable of reproducing. They will start exhibiting certain behaviours which will let other cats know that they are looking for a mate. A female cat may ‘call’ for a mate, and become more restless or affectionate. This behaviour last for around five to 10 days and will continue every couple of weeks until she successfully finds a mate. Male cats may start to roam further away from home and become more territorial, getting into late night fights and spraying their territories with strong-smelling urine.

After puberty, cats will become prolific breeders. One female cat may give birth to up to 18 kittens in a year! Young mums are particularly at risk as they are physically underdeveloped and too inexperienced to successfully raise their kittens. The mother’s own health can suffer as a result of carrying a pregnancy when still so young.

Fortunately, cats can be neutered before puberty begins. Neutering from four months of age is hugely beneficial for cats from a social, health and population control perspective. Four months is the age at which neutering recommended by Cats Protection, The Cat Group and many other veterinary bodies.

To find out more about neutering, visit or speak to your vet for advice.

Friday, 4 November 2016

A life-changing canoeing and wildlife challenge in Zambia

This post has been written by Amy Rutter, Publications & Digital Officer at Cats Protection

When I signed up for the Zambezi River and Big Cat Project, I don’t think I realised just how gruelling it would be. It would be a challenge – I always knew that – but even more so in 42 degree heat. The days were long and tiring, there was lots of travelling and lots of information to process.

But I also didn’t realise quite how much wildlife we’d see, how well we’d connect as a group and how much we’d all learn.

A giraffe in Zambia
Watch out: giraffe crossing
 When we arrived in Lusaka (via Johannesburg) after more than 24 hours of travelling, we were taken to a campsite – our first home, for that night at least – and introduced to our canoeing guides, TK and Martin. It was dark so they welcomed us with a hot meal they’d whipped up by campfire and we then discovered that the Zambezi was only about 10 feet behind our tents. They said we were likely to have some visitors in the night – hippos most likely – but that they were there to listen out, protect us and shoo them away.

Camping in Zambia
Setting up our tents alongside elephants
Sure enough, a number of us awoke to the sound of snorting and the rustling of canvas just metres from our heads. Wide eyed, I tried not to make a sound. In the morning, TK told us a hippo was in the camp and they had to politely send him on his way.

The great thing was, no matter how many wild animals we or they (often by moonlight without our knowledge) came across, they made us feel absolutely safe.

Cats Protection Zambezi canoeing
Championing the CP banner!

Finding a lion paw in Zambia
Finding a lion paw in the wild
I thought we’d be lucky to see a single hippo or crocodile. We saw hundreds of hippos in the river; we were constantly steering our canoes around them to avoid disturbing them. We saw many a crocodile too – the largest looked around 4.5 metres long – and beamed in amazement when we came across herds of elephants bathing in the water.

Canoeing was hard work, especially at points in the day when the wind picked up and we’d get carried by the current. We all got very sore thumbs too; the paddles are not kind to your hands! We’d have to use all our combined power in our two- and three-manned canoes to stay within the safe zones of the water, out of harm’s way.

Elephants in the Zambezi
Spot the elephant!
After three days of canoeing a total of 70km down the Lower Zambezi, we travelled by coach to Livingstone for the next part of our adventure, volunteering at a wildlife and environmental conservation and research project.

The project’s aim is to ensure the future of Africa’s wildlife and one program rehabilitates and reintroduces the offspring of captive-born African lions back into the wild. We fed the lions and also helped with data collection – observing the pride to evaluate whether they were functioning as wild-born lions do. We collected data on a variety of social, territorial and hunting behaviours of the pride – it sounds very easy but it was difficult to not get distracted and keep an eye on which lion was your own when they all look so similar!

Lions drinking from a waterhole
Monitoring lion behaviour; photo by Helena Peck
We also searched for and monitored wild elephants, buffalo and waterbuck to understand their impact on the ecosystem and conflict with rural communities; and accompanied our guides on a snare sweep (we found over 40 between us) to stop poaching of wildlife.

On one of the mornings we also visited a school to meet the local children. We played games with them for a while and delivered a lesson, helping them to learn English and encouraging them to talk to us and their peers. Educating the local community on conservation and managing their environment, as well as teaching basic life skills helps the locals to understand the advantages of living alongside and conserving the local wildlife and habitat.

Saturday club school in Zambia
Playing with schoolchildren
The whole trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and our participants worked hard to raise over £60,000 between them, which will make a huge difference in helping the thousands of cats and kittens in our care.

If you’re thinking about signing up to our next big cat challenge and want to read the stories of all those who took part please visit the group fundraising page here.

If you want to find out more about our 2020 Zambia challenge, visit  

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween tricks and treats for felines

With pumpkins aglow and cobwebs creeping across the UK, it must be time for Halloween. This year, we've put together our own selection of tricks and treats just for you. Take a look at our videos of cats doing clever tricks, or get set to make your own cat-friendly treats at home with our handy how-tos.

Clever mogs!

This smart kitty completes an amazing task

While this cat has learnt how to high five!

This cat does a whole range of tricks for treats

And now for some treats...

Why not watch our how-to video and make our homemade meaty cat food treats?

Take a look at our cat-shaped biscuits - perfect for humans wanting a treat too! Click on the image for our recipe.

Happy Halloween!

Editorial note: Ensure any treats you give your cat are taken from their daily food allowance.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

National Cat Day – celebrating our work with cats

At Cats Protection we help around 200,000 cats every single year. So in honour of National Cat Day today, we thought we’d look back over just a handful of our successes so far this year.

Arthur and Charlie

A charity that trains guide dogs in Scotland welcomed some unusual new arrivals in January – two 20-week-old kittens.

 The strange pairing came about after Guide Dogs charity contacted us looking for two cats to come and live at its school in Forfar where they would become part of the training programme for new dogs. Following discussions with our Arbroath and Forth Valley branches, a confident pair of kittens called Arthur and Charlie were found to replace cats Belle and Tinker who were formerly at the centre.

Kittens adopted by Guide Dogs
Laura Robertson with Charlie, Lisa Leighton with Kandy the dog, and Susan Robertson with Arthur


Tabby cat Tommy was reunited with his owner thanks to our national Facebook page after being missing for two weeks. He was handed in as a stray to our Warrington Adoption Centre by a member of the public. When they scanned the cat for a microchip, the staff found that he was registered to an owner – over 200 miles away in Torquay, Devon.

Unfortunately, the owner’s details were out of date so the centre couldn’t get in touch with them. So they reported Tommy as missing with the microchip company, sent a letter to their previous registered address and advertised him within the local area. Tommy’s picture was also shared on our national Facebook page and thankfully, his owner spotted him!

Cat reunited with happy owner after two weeks
Tommy being collected by his happy owner


Bluebell (previously named Susie) came into National Cat Adoption Centre after her owner sadly passed away. She had made plans to ensure that Bluebell would be cared for in the event of her death by registering to our Cat Guardians service.

The Cat Guardians service is a free-of-charge service available to cat owners in the UK; offering peace of mind that in the event of their death, their cat will be cared for and rehomed.

After just a couple of months in care, Bluebell was adopted by Linda Whitear and her daughter. Linda says: “Bluebell is such an adorable cat, she settled in straight away and we were surprised how relaxed she seemed.”

Bluebell was given a second chance at a happy home
Bluebell was given a second chance thanks to our Cat Guardians service


George was in a bad state when he came into the care of our Beverley & Pocklington Branch; he had a flea allergy and big open sores.

But after numerous visits to the vets and treatment over several months his skin healed and his fur grew back. Throughout all his treatment, George was the most patient and loving cat – the cat you would like to take home with you.

George is now happily settled in his new home, a kindly lady who recently adopted a 12-year-old from the branch fortunately fell for George as well.

George found a new home thanks to Cats Protection
George has a happy new home


Twenty-one-year-old Barney was adopted from our Caterham, Redhill & East Surrey Branch last year but we received a wonderful update about him from his new owner Jo earlier this year.

“My friends all thought I was mad taking on an older cat but there are many advantages to getting a more mature moggy!” she says.

“I wanted to take on a cat that no-one else wanted. As soon as I saw his photos I was smitten and went to meet him. Great job CP and thank you!”

Senior cat Barney found a new home
Golden oldie Barney wasn't left behind

Florence, Betty, Leia and Solo

We rehomed the last working animals from a British coal mine – four feral cats – following the closure of the Kellingley Colliery, the UK's last deep coal pit. Florence, Betty, Leia and Solo had been kept at the colliery in Beal, Yorkshire, where they carried out essential vermin control duties in exchange for bed and board.

When the pit closed, concerned miners contacted our York Adoption Centre to ask for help in finding them a new home. All four have now settled into their new homes.

Florence and Betty – named after miners’ wives Florence Anderson and Betty Cook, who took a prominent role in the 1984 strikes – were rehomed to Karen Scholey at her family's farm near Green Hammerton, Yorkshire.

Leia and Solo have settled in to their new home at Amanda Beal’s livery farm in Beverley, Yorkshire.

Colliery cat Leia finds a new home
Gorgeous Leia has a new home at a livery farm

To find out more about Cats Protection’s work, visit 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

17 reasons why black cats rule

If you're an owner of a brilliant black cat or black-and-white cat, you'll be only too familiar with how great they are.

Today is National Black Cat Day, giving us an opportunity to celebrate what makes these fantastic felines so unique. If you ever needed a reason to why black cats rule, here's some of our favourites:

1. They make excellent companions

2. They can be surprising

3. They've got plenty of attitude

4. Some are chatty

5. They like to test the laws of gravity

6. They're curious

7. Sometimes overenthusiastic

8. Some are lazy

9. Others are inventive

10. They're often observant

11. They can be keen on their food

12. While others are happier with water

13. Some black cats love the limelight

14. While others prefer to be able to hide

15. Some are playful

16. While others prefer to rest

17. After all, being a cat is tiring work

All black cats have their own individual character and charm, making them great pets to own. However, black and black-and-white cats take, on average, 22% longer to find a home than cats of other colours.

If you want to join in with the celebrations for National Black Cat Day 2016, head to the website to see how you can get involved.

Caspar shows beauty is more than fur deep

We’re very pleased to announce that the winner of our National Black Cat Day 2016 competition is Caspar!

Caspar - the face of National Black Cat Day 2016

This year’s celebration of black and black-and-white celebrates the uniqueness of black cats and focuses on what makes them individually special. After all, beauty is more than fur deep. So we asked cat lovers to help us demonstrate this to the world by sharing the photos that best showed their black cats’ personalities.

We received thousands of entries so it wasn’t easy to pick a winner but we think that Caspar was the top cat! With his sleek fur, sparkling eyes and winning personality, we hope our new feline pin-up will inspire more people to adopt a monochrome moggy, which typically wait longer to find new owners than other cats, such as tabbies and gingers.

Owner Jane Scott, of Wallington, Surrey, said she and husband Andrew were delighted Caspar had been chosen as the feline figurehead for black cats.

She said: “Caspar is a truly lovely cat – he is very friendly, playful and loves to be around people, so we’re thrilled he has been chosen as the face of Black Cat Day 2016.

“If anyone is thinking of adopting a cat, I’d say give black cats a chance. There’s no telling what a cat will be like based on the colour of its fur, although all the black cats I’ve met have been super friendly, just like Caspar.”

Cats Protection’s Social Media Manager Gemma Croker said Caspar was a great ambassador for black cats throughout the country.

She said: “Sadly, black and black-and-white cats like Caspar wait around 22 per cent longer to find a new home than other cats such as tabbies or gingers. It’s heart-breaking, as they can be just as fun-loving, playful and affectionate as any other cat.

“Caspar just goes to show just how special black cats can be and we hope he will inspire more people to open their hearts and homes to a monochrome moggy.

“We hope this year’s National Black Cat Day will help people understand that beauty really is more than fur deep and that black and black-and-white cats have just as much to offer as any other cat.”

The ‘Beauty is more than fur deep’ theme brought out the romantics in us, too! Our brand new National Black Cat Day video has an online dating feel, watch it here:

We couldn’t resist having some fun with our favourite competition entries by turning them into cute dating profiles that showcased the featured cats’ brilliant and most appealing qualities. Here are our competition runners up:

National Black Cat Day 2016 runners up

Two-year-old Benny from Wickford, Essex was rescued after being dumped in a cardboard box. Owner Kate Mills says: “I adopted him when he was eight weeks old and he is a little ray of sunshine. He is incredibly sociable and will always greet me at the door and follow me about whatever I’m doing.”

Louie was adopted 11 years ago from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and his owner describes him as their “rock”, adding: “I can't imagine coming home and not having him there to greet me.”

Robbie’s owner said: “This is Robbie. We rescued him as a tiny ‘pipe cleaner with legs’ from the RSPCA two years ago. Since then he has developed into our best friend. He talks with us all day long and loves cuddling up to us whenever possible. He has so much love to give!”

If you’d like to give a black cat a home, visit to meet needy felines in your area.