Monday, 29 February 2016

Poppy is blossoming in her new home

Remember Poppy, the malnourished, flea-ridden kitten that was signed over to the care of Cats Protection’s Gosport Town Branch?

Tiny underweight Poppy
Poppy was was underweight and infested with fleas and worms 
Thanks to plenty of love and care, slowly but surely Poppy progressed and gained weight. Read her story here.

Last week, Poppy’s fosterer Chris went to visit her to see how she's getting on in her new home.

“Poppy really has gone from rags to riches,” said Chris. “She has a very large house to play in and a large garden. Poppy has grown since she was adopted and has lovely thick glossy coat. She still plays with all her favourite toys and loves playing in the conservatory and watching the wildlife in the garden.”

Chris took a few photos of Poppy but she was far too busy to sit still for a photo session!

Poppy relaxing in her new home
Poppy relaxing in her new home
Poppy is enjoying life in her new home
Enjoying life in her new home
We’re all so pleased that Poppy is looking well and has settled into her new home.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

World Spay Day 2016

Today is World Spay Day, a day that shines a spotlight on the importance of getting your pet neutered. We think that neutering is the only effective way to reduce the number of unwanted cats in the UK.

World Spay Day 2016

In 2014 we helped neuter 163,000 cats, including 28,000 feral cats, making us the largest single feline neutering group in the world.

Neutering is a surgical operation which stops female cats from becoming pregnant and male cats from making females pregnant. Our recommended age for neutering your pet cat is four months.

Find out more about the benefits of neutering your cat by reading and sharing our visual guide below and reading our blog post: Why should I neuter my cat?

To enlarge, click on the image
You can search for your nearest kitten neutering vet and find out how we offer financial support for the neutering of cats for those on means-tested benefits at www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering

Share this image on your site

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Flower is coming up roses

This post has been written by Chloe Cooke, Senior Cat Care Assistant at our Newbury & District Adoption Centre

Here is Flower's story...

"I love my cat but I am moving house and I can't take her with me. She is healthy but does leave red wet patches wherever she sits…"

This sentence rang alarm bells to me and Deputy Manager, Natasha when nine-year-old Flower was handed over to the Newbury Adoption Centre early one morning by her owner.

Poor Flower was covered in fleas
Poor Flower was covered in Fleas
Our hearts broke when we took Flower out of her carrier. She was soaked, she was filthy red/brown colour, fleas were literally bouncing off her in front of our eyes and she smelled strongly of ammonia (it made our eyes water).

Flower's fur was filthy
Flower's fur was filthy
We rushed her straight to the vets. The vet had never seen such a bad flea infestation, her body was covered in a thick crust of flea dirt, fleas and flea eggs were dropping off her and she was dangerously anaemic. It’s devastating to think of the conditions that she must have been kept in to have been covered in so much urine. Cats do not like to be unclean; she couldn't have had access to a clean litter tray.

Flower had weeks of veterinary treatment, love and care and finally began to trust us. Her fleas were all gone and after several baths it was discovered she was actually a grey and white cat and not brown and yellow! She even had a lovely fluffy coat.

Flower went to her forever home in November. We couldn't have wished for a happier ending and we wish Flower and her new family all the very best.

Fluffy cat relaxing
Flower is now in a loving new home

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Cats that helped their owners to find true love

We know that owning pets can bring you happiness – a cat’s purr is widely recognised as having therapeutic benefits for humans and curling up with a feline friend is even known to lower blood pressure.

But can cats also lead the way to love? These cat owners sure think so…

A decent proposal

Nicky Jennings from Warwick met her partner Patrick in August 2003 through an online dating website. “I have to say that the thing that most attracted me to him was the fact he was a cat lover and dad to a pair of cats: Olive and Jasmine,” says Nicky. “The most important thing in my life was my cat, Smudge, a then ageing, black-and-white boy.”

It was Patrick’s photo that initially attracted her to his dating profile. “The fact he had two cats was certainly the clincher that made me decide to initiate contact!”

Couple cuddling cat on a sofa
Cats can bring a couple together! Photo: CP Library
They swapped many emails – including stories and photos, about their feline friends for about three or four months before they met. “It seemed like ages before we got an opportunity to meet up, living so far apart,” she says.

When Patrick went to visit for the weekend he met both Nicky and Smudge. Smudge approved of her choice wholeheartedly. Nicky then made the 150-mile trip from Sudbury, Suffolk to Warwick the following weekend to visit Olive and Jasmine. By October, Smudge and Nicky had moved across the country to live with Patrick and 'the girls'.

Nicky says they made introductions between their cats gradually with Smudge staying in the spare room for the first few days and began by exchanging scents. “As expected, Olive, who’s a real 'daddy's girl', was most put out – with me, as well as Smudge I think! – and there was some mutual growling when they first met, but fortunately no fighting.”

It was hugely important to Nicky that Smudge approved of Patrick. “I think cats are very astute judges of character and Smudge took to Patrick and let him fuss him straight away – unlike some previous boyfriends who he would never let near him!”

She explains that the relationship would have lasted if Smudge hadn’t liked Patrick: “I certainly wouldn't have moved in with him,” Nicky says. “Smudge's happiness and welfare was always paramount in my decision making.”

On New Year's Eve, Patrick proposed. He had planned to place the ring on a loose ribbon hung over Smudge's head – like Mr Jinx wears in Meet the Parents. “We had previously watched the film together and are fans of Mr Jinx. I remember commenting at the time that I couldn't think of a better way to propose – I wasn't hinting, honest! It must have struck a chord with him too”.

The mog of approval

Debbie Thomas got in touch with us via our Facebook page to tell her story. “My partner and I didn't exactly get together because of cats, but they cemented our relationship.”

She explains that her cat Ellie adored her partner. “She only let three of us ever pick her up, me, my mum, and him.

Debbie Thomas' cat Ellie approved of her new partner
“The first time I took her with me when I went to visit him she cried all the way. But when we got there and she realised he was there she was so happy. From then on she would cry in the car for the first five minutes, which is how long it takes to drive to the vet. Once past that point she figured we must be going to see him and she didn't make another sound – but she cried all the way every time we came home!

It was Ellie’s approval that led the way to love.

“Her opinion was good enough for me, but he sealed it when we were talking on the phone one night. He asked me to wait because his cat had just gifted him a whisker and he had to go and put it in his whisker jar. I knew then he was the one I'd been waiting for.”

Unfortunately Ellie has since passed away. “The day I knew I had to say goodbye was the saddest day of my life,” says Debbie. “But she will always be in my heart.”

Debbie isn’t the only one who sought her pet’s approval of her new partner. Catherine Gwilliam told us: “[My cat] told me he was ‘The One’ when she met him. She is no longer with us but I'm convinced she waited until she knew I was safe and sound with my Mr Right.”

Similarly, Tina Hackett said: “I had to pass the ‘Tigger test’. If [the cat] hadn't liked me 43 years ago, I wouldn't have stood a chance with her owner!”

A chance romance

In December 1995 Chris Orton’s black-and-white moggy Gizmo went missing. She describes it as an awful time, explaining that he had always been an ‘outdoor’ cat but came home regularly for his meals. So when he went missing for 10 days all Chris wanted for Christmas was for Gizmo to come home safely.

On Christmas Day, Gizmo appeared at her patio window. But he had a big problem – most of his tail was missing. Chris had to find an emergency vet and Gizmo became an amputee. The vet suspected Gizmo had been trapped by his tail and finally pulled himself free.

Over the next month, Chris was back and forth with Gizmo to the vet. “It had snowed very heavily at this time and I looked like the abominable snow woman, trudging to the bus stop through the thick snow to take Gizmo in his carrier to the vet,” Chris says.

One day while waiting for the bus, a man started chatting to her. It turned out Kieron was also a cat lover and lived just round the corner from Chris. Kieron later told Chris that part of the ‘attraction’ to her was that someone had told him she was involved with cats – she had fostered for her local Cats Protection branch for years.

As they got to know each other better, Kieron often went to visit her at home. He had never owned a cat and loved playing with Chris’s two, Gizmo and Lucky – and they loved him. He firstly fell in love with the cats, and Chris soon followed! Chris and Kieron have been together ever since, thanks to Gizmo.

Can your cat help you find your Mr or Mrs Right? Get mog on the case!


Excerpts of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of The Cat, Cat's Protection's official supporter magazine. Subscribe to The Cat at www.cats.org.uk/thecatmag

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Is your kitten smitten?

Yesterday on the blog we looked at how to recognise the signs of your cat showing you ‘love’ or affection; and how cats in the same social group can show affection to each other (if you missed the post, read it here).

But what happens when your kitten is smitten – and at what age do they begin to mate with each other?

In the latest video in the Simon’s Cat Logic series, Simon’s Cat creator Simon Tofield discusses love between cats in the video ‘Butterflies’.



“One of the stars of ‘Butterflies’ is a fat, chubby girl cat, who is a bit of a love interest for Simon’s Cat,” explains Simon. He goes on to describe the inspiration behind the video and the character of Cloe.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow discusses the concept of love between cats and mating behaviours. Nicky says: “Unfortunately cats aren't really that romantic – cats actually mate with quite a few different partners, they’re not really fussy about who they choose to breed with.

“When a female cat is in season she’ll call quite a lot or miaow and it’s a very different sort of miaow to what owners are normally used to. It’s quite a persistent noise. Some owners that aren't familiar with this sound may actually think their cats are in pain, but this isn't true.

Nicky adds: “Cats can start mating from four months of age which is why we recommend neutering from four months of age.”

Find out more about the health benefits of neutering here.

Feel free to share the video and join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SimonsCatLogic.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Where is the love?

This Valentine’s Day many of us will be thinking about those we love – whether it’s romantically, family, friends and even pets.

Our cats are an integral member of the family – inspiring feelings of peace, joy and happiness and providing fun and laughter. The emotional bond between an owner and their pet can be as rewarding as many human relationships and may offer similar psychological benefits.

Many cat owners derive comfort and a renewed sense of well-being by stroking and grooming their cat. Such activities can improve people’s mood, reducing levels of stress hormones and increasing the levels of a variety of feel-good hormones – as well as bringing great enjoyment for your cat too!

Does your cat love you?

A cat’s emotions are not human-based, so understanding their species-specific needs can enhance our own relationship with them and reassure us that our cats like us!

Cats express ‘love’ in their own particular way which differs from other species. They are naturally a solitary animal and have not evolved to seek companionship or affection from others. However, many cats have learned to love the company of people and will often show affection by rubbing up against us for a fuss and a stroke and to place their scent on us. If your cat chooses to engage with you it is probably safe to say that they are fond of you!

The more you understand your cat’s needs and learn about their natural behaviour the more likely it is that you will have a mutually beneficial relationship. For more information you could read our Essential Guides called Cats and people and Understanding your cat’s behaviour or see our behaviour infographics examining cats’ body language, behaviour and facial expressions.

Are your cats friends or foes?

The behaviour of cats is subtle and it’s easy to misread the signs. Domestic cats have evolved from the African wildcat, which is a solitary hunter and didn’t develop the complex facial measures to show a wide variety of expressions. There are signs that cats like each other but also there are signs they are only tolerating each other or not getting on at all.

Signs of cats being the same social group include mutual grooming (known as allogrooming), mutual rubbing (known as allorubbing) and sleeping together touching, often with interlocking paws.

Cats Protection gif - grooming

Cats Protection gif - allorubbing

Cats Protection gif - sleeping

Cats that are ‘friends’ may also choose to spend a lot of time in close proximity, may greet one another with a tail up, touching noses and play fight with each other.

Cats that are not in the same social group will time share resources like furniture (one cat may use it in the morning and the other cat may use it in the afternoon) and may even live in separate areas/floors of the house. They might emotionally block access to resources like cat flaps or litter trays and you may see behaviour problems like inappropriate toileting, spraying and aggressive behaviour; and/or recurrent stress-related illnesses such as cystitis, over-grooming and skin conditions.

Cats Protection gif - time-share

Cats Protection gif - rooms

Cats Protection gif - blocking resources

Find out more by reading our social groups blog post or multi-cat household post.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Can cats clean up at the box office?

Hands up who’s taken time out of their working day to sneak a look at a kitten on YouTube? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, cats are by far the most popular YouTube category, drawing over 26 billion pairs of eyes to television, computer, tablet and smartphone screens since the video sharing website launched in 2005 – and that hasn’t escaped the attention of those in charge of the UK’s bigger screens.

Cat in director's chair
Illustration by Cats Protection (CP library)
In December, delegates at the annual This Way Up film exhibition innovation conference discussed the popularity of user-generated cat videos and how cinemas should respond. According to the BBC, some chains believe transferring cat videos to the silver screen could convert into box office profits.

But is our fondness for viewing cats on the small screen enough to get us queuing at our local multiplex and parting with our hard-earned cash?

Throughout cinematic history it appears to have been dogs, not cats, that have grabbed all the starring roles in films from Lassie to Rin Tin Tin. However, some domestic felines have managed to rise above their tendency to shun direction to make a mark in the movies. Here are five eclectic examples of small cats rocking the big screen:



The Sick Kitten (1903): Released shortly after the birth of cinema, The Sick Kitten represents one of the earliest on-screen appearances of a domestic cat. The short sees a supposedly poorly kitten nursed back to health by a pair of wonderfully attired Edwardian children (but please don’t spoon feed your own cat, times have changed!). Lasting less than a minute, some would argue that this cute, uncomplicated feline-centric film is over a century ahead of its time!

James Bond franchise (1963 onwards): First spied in From Russia With Love, Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s white Chinchilla Persian has now appeared in eight Bond films. Played by a variety of actors, the Spectre supervillain’s nameless lap cat has been able to keep his cool throughout his master’s battles with the British secret service (with the notable exception of the volcano lair-storming scene in You Only Live Twice) to become one of the most adored – and imitated – stars of the franchise.

Alien (1979): The ‘ship’s cat’ job description on the USCSS Nostromo was probably quite simple, with the words ‘catch’ and ‘rats’ playing a prominent role. Little did Jonesy realise that, by the end of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror, he would have risked many of his nine lives to make it back to Earth with Ripley, the film’s star. Played by multiple actors, the ginger tom served as a key narrative device, operating as a sounding board for Ripley, inadvertently leading crew members to their doom and providing many popcorn-spilling moments.

Meet the Parents (2000): Earning the approval of your would-be father-in-law is daunting enough, but the task becomes almost impossible when you accidentally misplace his much-loved pet (especially when he’s an overprotective, ex-CIA operative bearing an uncanny resemblance to Robert De Niro). Proving once-and-for-all that cats can span the genres, feline actors Bailey and Misha steal the show in Meet the Parents with their side-splitting portrayal of Mr. Jinx, the toilet-using Himalayan Persian.

The Hunger Games franchise (2012 onwards): Hunger Games hero Katniss Everdeen’s contempt for her sister’s cat was nothing compared to the feelings of fans towards those responsible for casting a black-and-white tom in the first film. Buttercup, you see, was supposed to be “muddy-yellow”. The backlash was such that the moggy had to be recast for the sequels. Fully restored to his ginger splendour, Buttercup slowly weaves his way into Katniss’ affections as he plays an increasingly central role in the story – arguably ending up as the greatest Hunger Games survivor of them all.

So there you have it. While it’s fair to say the humble domestic cat is yet to take Hollywood by storm, these examples show that feline thespians have played some standout roles in the history of cinema. But will they be able to take their small screen domination all the way to Hollywood?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tommy is reunited with his owner thanks to Facebook

Tabby Tommy, who had been missing for two weeks, has been reunited with his owner thanks to Cats Protection’s national Facebook page.

Tommy was handed in as a stray to our Warrington Adoption Centre by a member of the public. Upon scanning the cat for a microchip, the adoption centre staff found that he was registered to an owner over 200 miles away in Torquay, Devon.

However, the owner’s details were not up-to-date so the centre couldn't get in touch with them.

Tabby Tommy in a cat carrier
Tommy was brought into Cats Protection as a stray
They advertised the cat locally to try to find his owner, sent a letter to their previous registered address and reported Tommy as missing with the microchip company.

It was only when Tommy’s photo and story were shared on our national Facebook page to over 350,000 people that someone got in touch to say that Tommy was theirs. Tommy’s happy owner picked him up from the adoption centre yesterday.

Deputy Manager Anna Saillet says: “Tommy had been found very close to where he lived. Tommy’s poor owners thought he must have been killed on the road and have had two weeks of upset.

“They have been advised to ensure that they update his microchip details as soon as possible to prevent the same thing from happening again.

“It’s so nice to get a happy ending! Tommy was very pleased to see his owner.”

Tommy being collected by his owner
Tommy was collected by his relieved owner
Microchipping offers cats a safe and permanent method of identification and increases the chances of a lost cat being safely reunited with their owner.

Remember that you should update your cat’s microchip details if you move home or change any of your details. You can update your cat’s registered details by contacting your existing UK database company. You could also contact Petlog on 01296 336 579 or via www.petlog.org.uk; or Anibase on 01904 487 600 or via www.anibase.com

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

‘Should I clip my cats’ claws?’ and other veterinary FAQs

In our recent live Q&A on our national Facebook page, CP vet Vanessa Howie answered our supporters’ feline veterinary questions. Here are some of the queries that came up:

Question: Is it possible to clip cats’ claws? We have two elderly cats (19 and 20) and they seem to have their claws constantly out. As a result they are constantly getting their claws caught in the furniture when they try and jump down. It's very distressing!

Answer: Yes you can clip your elderly cats’ claws. As cats get older their nails become thicker (much the same as people) and they tend not to retract quite as easily. I would recommend that you ask your vet or a vet nurse at the vet practice you use to demonstrate how to clip their claws safely.

Cat claw
Ask a vet to show you how to clip a cat's claws safely. Photo by Jill Allyn Stafford via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My cat’s 19 and sometimes her back legs completely seize up. Other than that she's healthy and happy. Any tips?

Answer: Cats can suffer from arthritis as they get older, particularly in the spine and hips. This may cause them to become stiffer. I would recommend that you get her checked out by your vet. Arthritis can be painful and many cats benefit from anti-inflammatory painkillers or joint supplements such as glucosamine and green-lipped muscle. Please take a look at our leaflet: Arthritis.

Question: Any advice as to why our kitten’s bottom lip keeps losing fur?! This is the third time it's happened in the same place. Here’s a picture of her to show the fur.

Black cat with fur missing near lip
Feline skin disorders can cause skin lesions. Photo by Amy Wyatt
Answer: If you haven't already done so, I would recommend getting this checked out by your vet. There are a few different types of skin problems which may cause similar skin lesions. Skin allergies are relatively common and can cause sore skin and hair loss around the mouth region. Alternatively is your cat damaging their lip on something abrasive? Please take a look at our leaflet on skin conditions for more information: Itchy cats and skin disorders.

Question: Why has my cat suddenly got so fussy about her food? The wet food she has eaten for the last year is now being left untouched but trying her on food twice the price and half the size has her licking the bowl clean!

Answer: With any cat whose eating habits have changed I'd recommend a vet check to ensure everything is OK with your cat's mouth, teeth and throat. If everything is normal then it is likely that your cat is being crafty and knows that you will offer nicer food if she refuses the less palatable varieties! Please take a look at our leaflet on feeding which explores fussy eating in more detail: Feeding and obesity.

Question: I have a five-year-old black boy cat and he has white flaky bits in this fur like dandruff. His back is always twitching and he has scabs on his back as it joins the tail. Why is this?

Answer: If your cat is uncomfortable and has scabs on his back I would recommend that you take him to your vet for a check-up. Do you routinely treat him for fleas? Scabs on the back are often a sign of skin allergy, particularly a flea allergy. Dandruff may be a result of a cat not grooming effectively or generalised skin disease. Supplements containing omega 3 and 6 oils may help reduce the amount of dandruff. Please take a look at our leaflet for further information on skin conditions: Itchy cats and skin disorders.


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: Neutering Manager Jane Clements will taking questions on 18 February; Nicky Trevorrow will be answering behaviour questions on 3 March; and Vanessa Howie will be back talking all this veterinary on 17 March. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 5 February 2016

How to make a stray cat shelter

Stray and feral cats can often find it difficult to find warm and safe places to sleep, especially during the winter months. If you've encountered a cat on the street and you're unsure of whether it has an owner, keep in mind that it might be a feral cat. Feral cats are less likely to appeal to human contact and might even display aggression if they feel anxious - try not to approach unless you need to.

If the cat appears friendly, you should first try to find out whether it has a microchip. If the cat is uninjured and you can take it to a vet, they will be able to find out if it has a microchip and get in touch with the owners. (If the cat is injured, you'll need to contact the RSPCA, SSPCA or USPCA, depending on the location).

If the cat appears well but you're unable to take it to the vet for scanning, get in contact with your local CP - you'll find contact details at www.cats.org.uk/find-us. While we will always help as soon as we are able, branches are run by volunteers in their spare time so we are unable to offer an emergency service. As they may not be able to come to collect the cat straight away, there are a few things you can do to help. Aside from providing the cat with fresh and clean drinking water, building a cat shelter will give them a space away from the elements.

Check out the video below for a handy how-to on making your own shelter.

How to Make a Feral Cat Shelter
Help feral cats stay warm this winter! … The shelter I built is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to help (You can also add a plastic/vinyl flap over the opening once a cat as begun to use the shelter to protect them even more from the elements:)If you're looking to make more substantial shelters, there are many different options to be found here: http://www.alleycat.org/ShelterGallery
Posted by Cole & Marmalade on Saturday, 2 January 2016

It is essential to note that while the Styrofoam and straw in the shelter will offer a warm space for the cat, it is important that these be changed regularly to keep it hygienic. Food should also not be left in the shelter as the smell is likely to attract other animals.

If you like this, why not check out our blog post on How to make a cat tent?

Monday, 1 February 2016

We’re looking for the nation’s top cat

Do you know a fearless feline or miraculous moggy?

The National Cat Awards are back – and we’re after the country’s top feline tales.

Enter the National Cat Awards 2016

Nominations for the awards, which once again are being sponsored by Purina®, open today and the categories are as follows.

Hero Cat – cats that save the day
Most Caring Cat – cats that positively impact a person’s health or wellbeing
Furr-ever Friends – tales of friendship between children and cats
Outstanding Rescue Cat – fabulous felines adopted from animal charities
Purina® Better Together – celebrating the special bond that has transformed and enriched the lives of both a feline and human

The winning moggies, and the overall National Cat of the Year, will be announced at a glamorous awards ceremony at London's Savoy Hotel on Thursday 4 August. The event will be attended by celebrity judges who will present the awards and pay tribute to the nation’s top cats.

Need a bit of inspiration? The winner of the Purina® Better Together award in 2014 was Mr Chips, owned by Anna-Marie McConnell and Ian Turner, of Llandudno, Conwy. Mr Chips was found as a stray with a badly broken leg, left with a permanent disability and also spent six months in a rescue centre awaiting a home. But it didn’t stop him living life to the full and when new owner Ian Turner was diagnosed with a complex medical condition, Mr Chips proved to be an incredible support.



To enter your cat, visit www.cats.org.uk or contact our national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or helpline@cats.org.uk to request an entry form.