Friday, 30 September 2016

Ain’t misbehaving – spraying

Last week in our ‘Ain’t misbehaving’ series we explained why cats might wee outside their litter tray. This time, our animation is busting a myth about spraying.

Myth: A cat who sprays inside is being naughty… 

Cats spray urine to mark areas with their scent and may spray indoors when they’re ill or feeling stressed by a perceived threat or change in the household. It doesn’t mean that they’re being naughty so don’t punish them as it will only make them more likely to spray due to stress.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow says: “When cats spray in response to something stressful, it’s like leaving a ‘note to self’ that they should be wary in that area.”

The first thing to do is take your cat to the vet for a health-check as it’s important to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. Your vet may also refer you to a qualified behaviourist to help identify the causes.

Give your cat plenty of places around the home to hide and get up high, which will make them feel safe. Ensure they have access to lots of resources such as food bowls, water bowls and litter trays (ideally one per cat plus one extra) spaced out around the house.

You may also find it useful to read our Behaviour focus blog post on spraying.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ain’t misbehaving – weeing

Today we’re launching a mini-series of animations called ‘Ain’t misbehaving’ which aim to bust a few cat behaviour myths. First up, we’re looking at weeing.

Myth: If a cat wees on your furniture they’re being spiteful or doing it on purpose…

Actually there are lots of reasons why a cat might urinate outside of their litter tray – it doesn’t mean that they’re being naughty so don’t tell them off as it might make the behaviour worse. It could be that your cat is stressed or in pain.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow says: “Cats are naturally very clean animals so it is certainly a sign that all’s not right in their world if they start inappropriately urinating in the house.”

The first thing to do is take your cat to the vet for a health-check as it’s important to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. Your vet may also refer you to a qualified behaviourist (from a body such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) to help identify the causes.

You may also find it useful to read our Behaviour focus blog post on litter trays and see our infographic on Your cat’s perfect loo.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cassie’s golden years

This post has been written by Gill Canning, Co-ordinator at our Glastonbury & Wells Branch

Cassie first came into the care of the Glastonbury & Wells Branch of Cats Protection as a young un-neutered stray complete with a litter of kittens. She had found her way to a local recycling plant and luckily for Cassie, the staff were cat-friendly people who were concerned about her welfare so contacted us for help.

Once her kittens were weaned Cassie was neutered, she became a happy, friendly tortie. She was homed to a couple in Wells and life was rosy.

But about 12 years on, life changed when one of her owners died. The husband struggled on for a while but by then Cassie, at 15 years of age was needing care that he felt unable to give, so she came back to Cats Protection. All Cassie really wanted at her time of life was a quiet, settled life with human contact and regular meals.

Elderly Cassie got a second chance at a happy home

While Cassie was being fostered by one of our volunteers, it soon became clear that with as she was deaf and had bad eyesight she needed an indoor home with someone who could spend time with Cassie and give her the human contact and reassurance she wanted.

At this point we received a call from a lady in Wells in Somerset who was home alone, had a safe environment and desperately wanted an elderly cat to love and cherish for her twilight years. We introduced Tracey to Cassie and it was mutual love immediately.

Cassie has found her fairy godmother and Tracey is overjoyed to have a furry, purry friend to care for.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Little Lucy

This post has been written by guest blogger Katherine Forrest

Both my partner and I grew up with cats and knew we would love to get a cat together. For a long time we lived in a small flat on a second floor and for us, it wasn’t right to take on a cat. However, missing a garden and wanting somewhere bigger we soon found ourselves packing our belongings into endless boxes and moving to a flat with some more room and a garden. When viewing places to move to we jokingly talked about how suitable it would be for a cat: “It’s very near a busy road, I’m not so sure” or “It’s a very small balcony, it won’t be enough space for the cat”. Estate agents gave us strange looks when they asked about our cat only to be told that we haven’t got one yet but were dismissing properties out of hand based on an imaginary pet…!

No sooner were the kettle and cups unpacked, we found ourselves on the CP website – a bit like the cat equivalent of ‘Rightmove’; we were able to enter any special requirements and narrow a search to our local area. We had already visited our local centre on Junction Road in Archway to register and to find out if adoption was for us and found the help and advice extremely useful. Back to the app and I had spotted something that had caught my eye: “Look at this little one” I said – showing the profile of a girl cat Lucy, to my partner. Key for us was that she was ok with children – with four nieces who visit fairly regularly, we wanted our potential new four-legged family member to be ok about visiting children. Ah. Yes. More on the four legged bit in a moment…

Lucy looked beautiful – there was something about her pictures and a lovely write-up for what seemed a smashing little lady cat in need of a home. Only one thing, and it was something we of course needed to know about before committing to adopt. Lucy was on a special diet. And has three legs.

Tabby cat Lucy in her new home

We couldn’t stop thinking about Lucy. We contacted our local branch who took our details and told us a bit more about Lucy and how she came to be in the care of CP. They seemed to like us (thankfully!) and put us in touch with Lucy’s foster mum Janet who was giving Lucy extra special care in her home. It turned out that Lucy had only lost her leg in January (by now it was May) and Janet was helping her get used to her new disability and adjust to her new life.

After speaking to Janet on the phone and telling her a bit about us, we arranged to visit. We were nervous about meeting Lucy – would she like us? Would she want to come and live with us and would we all get along? It took us less than half of a second to instantly fall in love with the little bundle of fur that sleepily looked up as we went in her room to meet her. A yawn and a stretch and then she sussed us out with a sniff and a head bump before having a scratch on her post and a look out of the window. We were smitten. Janet told us all about the practicalities of an amputee cat and  the cystitis which Lucy also had at the time, but which has since been resolved. We were experienced cat owners and felt it was something we would could take on and provide the necessary extra care that it might entail. Janet had been giving Lucy lots of care, attention and support as she recovered from a really tough time. Janet had clearly done an amazing job because Lucy was remarkable given all that she had been through. Janet gave us lots of tips and advice so we could carry on this good work. We couldn’t be more grateful for her expertise and help.

Lucky Lucy relaxing in her new home

Lucy's owners are overjoyed with their new pet

A few weeks later, we got to take Lucy home. We made a few adjustments in the flat so that she had everything she needed in the spare room. We had plenty of spare boxes after the move and made lots of hiding places for her. Turns out Lucy is a very curious little lady and quickly gave herself a full tour of her new home before she plonked herself down in a sunny spot on the sofa for a fuss.

We’ve had Lucy for about six weeks now – although it feels much longer – and in a good way. In such a short time she has brought so much joy into our lives. We miss her when we are at work and race to get home to see her. We hope we make her as happy as she makes us and would urge anyone thinking about adopting a cat to get in touch with Cats Protection to find out more. And don’t be put off by cats that might have special needs like Lucy – they are often all the more lovely for it.

We couldn’t be happier (or more in love!) with our lovely little Lucy.

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

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Why gifts in wills matter

This week is Remember a Charity in your Will Week so we want to thank the kind supporters who have left a gift in their will for future generations of cats. Every gift we receive from our supporters, no matter how large or small, makes a real and tangible difference to the lives of the cats and kittens we help and care for. After providing for your loved ones, by leaving even just 1% of your estate to Cats Protection, you could make a huge difference to cats and kittens for years to come.

What will you pass on to the cats of tomorrow?

To enlarge, click on the image
Please visit the Why gifts in wills matter page on our website to see examples of just some of the cats who have benefited from gifts in wills and discover the difference you could make by leaving a gift to Cats Protection

If you have any questions or would like more information about leaving a gift in your will, please contact the Gifts in Wills team on 01825 741 271 or

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

What will you pass on to future generations of cats?

Cats Protection was formed by a group of cat lovers in 1927 and since the beginning gifts in wills have played a vital role in ensuring that we have been there to care for as many cats and kittens as possible. Below are just some of the examples of the legacies that have enabled us to carry out our work for cats over the years.

A Cats Protection volunteer with two cats
A volunteer with two of the cats in care
1935 was an important year for Cats Protection as a gift left in the will of a member of the Slough Branch meant that we were able to open our first headquarters in the town. This building acted as a temporary shelter for unwanted and stray cats while they waited to find their new homes, as well as a base for the hard-working volunteers.

The Slough headquarters was left to CP in a will
The Slough headquarters, left to Cats Protection in the will of a supporter
In 1950 another kind supporter left a legacy to help us meet our aim of establishing shelters to provide a temporary refuge for cats in need. A property in Haslemere was purchased using the money from this gift and it was converted into a much-needed shelter to provide a temporary home for neglected cats.

Haslemere is still home to one of our adoption centres to this day, having gone through various refurbishments over the years to ensure that the facilities are up to scratch for the feline residents!

Black cat Freddie is looking for a home
Can you give four-year-old Freddie a home?
Four-year-old Freddie is just one current resident at our Haslemere Adoption Centre. He came into Cats Protection’s care as another cat in his home took a dislike to him and picked on him. Freddie is an extremely loving and friendly cat who likes to snuggle up on the sofa and loves attention. He’s previously lived with children and will be a lovely family cat, but needs to be the only cat in the household.

To find out more about Freddie, contact our Haslemere Adoption Centre by calling 01428 604 297 or visit their website at

As well as enabling us to convert and build new adoption centres, gifts in wills have been vital in ensuring that our branches can continue to raise enough funds to care for the many unwanted cats and kittens in their area. The Banstead Shop, which is run by the Epsom, Ewell & District Branch of Cats Protection, is just one example of the many shops our branches have been able to open thanks to gifts in wills.

In 2014, Pat Hogan, a volunteer of 24 years at the Cats Protection Epsom, Ewell & District Branch, sadly passed away, leaving a generous gift to the charity in her will. Pat joined the branch in 1988 and spent many years fundraising at events, recruiting volunteers and members, and giving talks to women’s groups about cats and the work that Cats Protection does.

Pat Hogan's legacy to Cats Protection
Pat has passed on her legacy to future generations of cats
Having shown so much dedication to help raise money and care for the many cats and kittens that the branch had taken in over the years, they felt that opening a shop with some of the money she had left in her will would be the perfect tribute.

Cats Protection's Banstead Shop
The Banstead Shop will raise much-needed funds to help the branch care for cats
We’ve come a long way since 1927; we now have 32 adoption centres, over 250 volunteer-run branches and nearly 100 shops. Gifts in wills fund over half of everything we do – so without these generous gifts, we would only be half the charity we are today, meaning we would only be able to help half of the cats we currently do.

By leaving a gift in your will, you can help us ensure that future generations of cats and kittens will be able to receive the vital care they need until we can find them new homes. To find out more about how you can pass your legacy on to future generations of cats, please visit

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Baby love

This post has been written by Lisa Jackson, a volunteer at our Southend & District Branch, and her husband Dan Jackson

I’ve recently had a baby and have always loved and owned cats. I adopted two cats from Cats Protection while I was pregnant and some people questioned whether having cats and a baby was a good idea. So, although I was sure it was, I thought I’d look into it.

Funnily (or not) my cats were given up to CP because the owner was pregnant and couldn't cope.

It’s often thought that cats don’t mix well with pregnant women, however this is far from the

A special bond can be formed between cat and baby

During pregnancy it is important to remain calm and according to ‘Owning any pet is good for your heart. Cats in particular can lower your stress level – and lower the amount of anxiety in your life. Petting a cat has a positive calming effect. One study found that over a 10 year period cat owners were 30% less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than non-cat owners’.

However, there are, of course, precautions that you should take to protect you and your baby. One of the things to consider with cats and pregnancy is toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can be present in cat faeces. It’s difficult for cats to transmit it to humans and there’s a greater risk of becoming infected from eating raw meat or gardening! It is generally harmless* – the NHS says that for pregnant women ‘toxoplasmosis could cause a miscarriage or stillbirth, or the infection could spread to the baby and cause complications.’** However this is very rare in the UK with only one in 10,000 to 30,000 babies being affected. This sounds scary, but you can take simple preventative measures (probably measures you’re taking anyway). When cleaning the litter tray (or cleaning up any cat faeces) wear gloves, always wash your hands afterwards and never touch faeces directly. But this is good advice in general. Or, if you can, get someone else to do it for you.

Cat and baby resting together

Before the birth, ensure you keep vaccinations, worming and flea treatments up-to-date to keep them healthy and don’t forget that things are likely to change for your cat.***

Once your baby has arrived the change may still come as a bit of a shock to your cat, so be aware of this and ensure that your cat always has an escape route to a quiet room they can retreat to.

You should definitely allow your cat to get close to and smell your baby, to investigate and learn about their new housemate, but never leave your baby alone with them, just in case. Even a playful tap can hurt a baby, or a playful tap from a baby can scare a cat! Over the past few weeks our cats have gone from leaving the room whenever the baby makes a noise to coming up and sleeping right next to him on my lap!

When your baby becomes a toddler, it’s important to teach them to respect your cat and make sure the cat still has an escape. If the cat wishes to leave, your child shouldn’t prevent them for doing so. It goes without saying that you should teach them to never pull a cat’s tail! Animals are a great way for young children to learn responsibility and compassion. Get them to help look after any pets as they grow older, but never allow your toddler to go near a litter tray as they tend to put everything in their mouths!

CP cat with a newborn baby
Thanks to Sue Bennett for the brilliant Cats Protection T-shirt!
So please don’t get rid of your cat just because you’re pregnant, with a bit of common sense having a cat can be great for both you and the baby. I am already seeing a lovely bond forming between our baby and cats and it’s really a joy to watch!

Veterinary note: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T gondii). As it is a disease that can affect unborn babies, many pregnant women are understandably concerned. However, recent studies have shown that – contrary to some misguided beliefs – while cats are involved in part of the parasite’s life cycle, human contact with cats does not increase the risk of infection with the parasite. In fact, vets working with cats are no more likely to be infected with T gondii than the public, including people who are not even in contact with cats. To find out more, read our leaflet Cats and pregnant women – Toxoplasmosis.

*for most people unless they have a compromised immune system. Many people infected will develop a lifelong immunity if exposed

** These risks are if the mother has not has previously exposed to Toxoplasmosis prior to pregnancy and becomes infected during pregnancy.

*** Cats are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Introducing a new routine gradually for your cat before the baby arrives will help ease the situation when the big day comes. Begin by:

  • putting the nursery room strictly out of bounds – this is particularly important if your cat has previously had free rein in the house
  • reducing the amount of ‘lap time’ your cat gets – you won’t have time to give your cat as much attention once the baby arrives
  • if you need to move your cat’s feeding or toileting place, do it gradually so it will not upset your cat’s routine too much

Pet ownership is associated with many health benefits and there are really very few instances where a pet needs to be rehomed to safeguard their owner’s health. Cats can also be wonderful companions to children and there are a number of things you can do to prepare them for your growing family before baby arrives – follow the tips in our leaflet Cats and people.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

‘How can I make my cat lose weight?’ and other veterinary FAQs

In our latest live Facebook FAQ event, resident vet Sarah Elliott took control of our national Facebook page to answer questions from cat owners and supporters.

Cats Protection vet Sarah Elliott
Sarah Elliott answered questions live on our Facebook page
Don’t worry if you missed out, our feline specialists will return again soon; have a look at the bottom of this post for upcoming dates to pop in your diary.

Here are some of the questions that Sarah answered:

Question: My cat is overweight – he weighs 7.5 kilos. When I cut him down from four sachets a day he simply goes on his food run and eats dried food and puts even more weight on. Any tips?

Answer: It can be tricky to diet cats, especially when they have access to food sources elsewhere! Most vet clinics will run a free weight loss clinic for pets and they should be able to recommend a tailored programme for your cat. Encourage him to play and use feeding puzzles when you feed him his meals instead of a food bowl. Food puzzles are available to order online or you could make your own – see our video below.

Question: Every few months, both my outdoor cats get gooey eyes. Is it possible to treat them myself with some over-the-counter type of remedy? At the moment, I wipe them with a cloth and warm water.

Answer: If you notice any signs of squinting, redness, soreness, excessive discharge or green/yellow discharge from the eyes or are concerned at all, then this must be checked over by a vet. For normal brownish minimal levels of goo you can wipe it away with a damp tissue. It is important to keep the eyes clean as bacteria and viruses can live in the goo and the goo can irritate the skin it sits on.

Question: I can’t get rid of fleas – nothing is working! I’ve tried everything, any suggestions?

Answer: I would recommend that you visit your vet and talk to them about the most appropriate flea product to use on your cat. It is important to remember when treating your cat for fleas that only the adult fleas will be found on the cat and the flea eggs and larvae will be in the environment ie in your carpet and on your soft furnishings. It is therefore very important to treat the environment as well as any other animals that you have in the house for fleas. You may find our leaflet on fleas helpful too:

Cats Protection Veterinary Guide: Fleas and other parasites leaflet

Question: One of my cats keeps being sick pretty much straight after eating his food – he has James Wellbeloved complete dry cat food. Sometimes he is ok and is never sick after wet food. The food still tends to be whole, like he hasn't digested it properly. Yesterday there was some grass in it. He had a trip to the vet a few weeks ago after a cat fight and they checked for the sickness at the same time but his temperature was fine and they couldn't find an explanation for his vomiting, could he just be eating too fast or too much?

Answer: I'm sorry to hear that your cat has been vomiting. It is good to mention this to your vet as there can be a different underlying cause depending on whether this is true vomiting or regurgitation. If his diet has changed recently then this might be worth investigating. There are lots of diets available that are specially formulated for sensitive stomachs. Any diet change should be made very gradually over the course of one week to reduce the risk of a stomach upset.

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.

See our Veterinary Guides for further advice:

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 Neutering Manager Jane Clements on 22 September; Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 29 September; and vet Sarah Elliott on 12 October. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Monday, 5 September 2016

How to make a fishing rod toy

As hunting is a natural activity for cats, keeping your cats amused with toys is important as it keeps them mentally stimulated, provides good exercise and can actually strengthen your bond with them.

Toys don’t have to be expensive either; it’s really easy and cheap to make your own toys at home. This video shows how you can make a really simple fishing rod toy:

You just need:

A cane
A small toy

A cats’ hunting instinct is often triggered by movement, so toys that move like fishing rod toys with feathers are a useful way to provide pet cats with this outlet, as well as great fun for you too. Short games of a minute or two throughout the day are best to mimic your cat’s natural hunting activity.

Cats are generally most active during dawn and dusk (as this is normally when their prey is most active), so it can be useful to have extra play sessions during these times to use up that extra energy.
It’s important to let your cat catch and ‘attack’ the toy to help prevent frustration and release happy hormones (endorphins) and always store toys safely out of reach after use.

Happy playing!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

On the prowl

Hunting is a natural behaviour for cats. In the wild, they’ll spend a lot of time on frequent hunting expeditions, catching up to 12 small rodents per day. In comparison, our pet cats are given bowls of food, so a meal doesn’t take long to eat or make use of their great senses.

So it’s important that they’re given plenty of opportunities to play to keep them mentally stimulated. The stalk, pounce, play and kill releases feel-good hormones called endorphins.

Hunting behaviour does create a tricky conundrum for cat owners who love wildlife – it may not be possible to stop them entirely, but there are things you can do to reduce it – see the tips in our visual guide and post below.

To enlarge, click on the image
  • Cats are more likely to hunt at dawn and dusk so keep them indoors at night
  • Provide them with plenty of interactive play sessions and feeding toys

Feeding wildlife

  • Don’t feed wildlife on the ground 
  • Keep bird tables well away from fences or areas your cat can hide and stalk
  • Hang feeders from a tall, thin shepherd’s hook – cats can’t climb these!
  • Attach cut-up plastic drainpipe/bottles around bird table posts to make climbing difficult
  • Plant a scaredy cat plant (Coleus canina) or a curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) near feeding stations to deter cats
You’ll find more information about ensuring harmony between your cat and your garden in our post here.

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