Thursday, 31 March 2016

All Fingers and Thumbs

They may be tiny, but with a total of 12 extra toes between them, kittens Fingers and Thumbs have knockout appeal. The pint-sized pair, who are currently in the care of our St Helen’s Adoption Centre in Merseyside, were both born with polydactyly – a rare genetic trait that gives them extra digits on each paw.

Polydactyl kitten Fingers
Little Fingers was found living under a bush
They were handed in the adoption centre after being found at just two weeks old living under a bush in a garden with their stray mother and five littermates.

“Fingers and Thumbs are everything a kitten should be – fun-loving, adventurous and inquisitive – they just have that little bit extra in the form of their huge paws!” says our North West Adoption Centre Manager, Sonia Scowcroft.

“We don’t see polydactyl cats very often, it’s a really unusual quirk of nature. Having extra toes is neither an advantage or disadvantage for cats and, so long as they don’t get their extra claws caught on things, it shouldn’t present any problems.”

Polydactyl kitten Thumbs
Kitten Thumbs has extra digits on each paw
Although Fingers and Thumbs have thrived since they were handed into the centre, their tough start in life meant three of their littermates – two of which were also polydactyl – were not so lucky. They became very ill with feline parvo virus, which kittens are particularly susceptible to given their immature immune systems.

“While it’s a common virus, it’s easily prevented by vaccination,” says Sonia. “Sadly as a stray cat, [their mother] Zoot had not been vaccinated and therefore she couldn’t pass on her protection to her kittens through her milk. Had she been vaccinated, these three kittens may not have died.”

Now 12 weeks old, Fingers, Thumbs and their remaining two littermates will all soon be available for rehoming – they’ll be fully vaccinated and neutered.

Sonia added: “Neutering is vital to reducing the number of unwanted kittens and the stray population, while vaccinating is a simple and effective way to protect your cat from serious illnesses.”

To find out more about adopting Fingers and Thumbs, please contact Cats Protection’s St Helen’s Adoption Centre on 01744 817 718 or email sthelens@cats.org.uk

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The difference gifts in wills can make

Cats Protection’s Southend & District Branch was fortunate enough to receive a very generous gift in the will of a cat lover and keen supporter which went towards opening a charity shop in Westcliff-on-Sea.

Cats Protection Southend-on-Sea shop
Our new charity shop in Southend-on-Sea
Without the kindness of people who remember Cats Protection in their wills we would not be the charity we are today; these special gifts fund more than half of everything we do.

The shop’s opening in October 2015 was attended by Countdown and Strictly Come Dancing TV personality Rachel Riley and Sir David Amess MP who brought a bag of donations.

Rachel Riley at our Southend-on-Sea shop
TV personality Rachel Riley attended the opening of the shop
Customers in Cats Protection's Southend shop
Customers flooded into the new charity shop!
Sue Bennett from the Southend & District Branch said: "The legacy has been a real gift of a future for the branch."

All profits from the shop go directly towards the branch’s work for cats including paying veterinary bills and providing them with warmth and food until they’re adopted by their new owners.

Black cat Jet is just one of the cats that benefited from the funds raised since the opening of the shop. Jet was being fed as a stray before being brought into the branch’s care. He had developed bare patches on his skin, likely due to an allergy. He is now being treated in the hope that his fur will grow back and the branch will continue to care for him until he finds a new home.

Black cat Jet in the care of our Southend & District Branch
Jet has been cared for thanks to profits from the charity shop
By leaving a gift in your will you can help change the lives of thousands of cats and kittens for years to come. Find out more about how vital these gifts are in helping us care for so many cats and kittens and how you can remember Cats Protection in your will by visiting www.cats.org.uk/giftsinwills

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cats Protection's Easter egg hunt!

Fancy winning an Easter goody bag full of Cats Protection goodies?

We've created a fun Easter egg hunt on our website. To take part, you need to find the answer to a simple question by searching around the site.

An Easter egg hunt with Cats Protection

The question is:

What age does Cats Protection recommend you neuter your cat?

Go to www.cats.org.uk and start looking for the answer!

When you find the answer, you should also spot the ‘Easter egg’ which contains a link through a contact form to enter the competition.

The competition is open for entries from 2pm on Thursday 24 March 2016 and closes at 10am on Tuesday 29 March 2016. To read the terms and conditions, visit www.cats.org.uk/easter-terms

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

‘How can I reduce dander?’ and other veterinary FAQs

Do you have a burning question for a vet about your cat? Have a read through the advice below from Cats Protection vet Vanessa Howie, all covered in her recent live Q&A on Facebook.

Brushing your cat
Photo by Brendon Connelly via flickr / Creative Commons 
Question: What's the best way to try and reduce my cat’s dander or dandruff? Constant (assisted) grooming with a brush? Is there something in their food that can help? Or other coat products?

Answer: If your cat is suffering from excessive dander/dandruff then I would recommend that you get your cat examined by your vet. Supplements which contain omega 3 and 6 may help to condition the coat and reduce dandruff formation. You may find our skin disorders leaflet helpful too.

Question: My 18-year-old cat was recently diagnosed with dementia. She is yowling most nights from about 4-6am and just sitting staring at a bookcase. She's also quite vocal before and after going to the toilet. Can you help please?

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has been diagnosed with dementia. There is medication and a number of supplements that may help improve brain function, I would recommend that you talk to your vet about these. I would also recommend maybe keeping a light on overnight (particularly if your cat's vision is deteriorating with age) and keeping routines and the house layout the same to avoid confusion. You may find our elderly cats leaflet helpful.

Question: One of my cats, Rory, seems to wash himself more than needed to the point where he has created small bald patches. There are no scabs or dry skin though. Why is he doing this?

Answer: I would recommend that you get your cat examined by your vet in the first instance. There are a number of reasons a cat may begin overgrooming, including having a skin allergy, being in pain or stress. Ruling out skin parasites such as fleas is the first thing to do and your vet can advise on the best products to use both on your cat and in the environment – they can also check for fleas and flea dirt on your cat. Have a read of our skin disorder leaflet (linked to earlier) for more information.

If your cat is overgrooming you need to find out the underlying cause. Photo by Douglas O'Brien via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My young cat seems to drink a lot of water. He does also eat a lot of dry food though, is this a problem?

Answer: Cats that eat mainly dry food will drink more than a cat that eats either only wet food or a mixture of wet and dry food. Wet canned food tends to contain around 75 per cent water so a cat will obtain a large proportion of their daily water requirement from the food. However if you feel your cat is drinking in excess I would recommend that you get him checked over by your vet. Measuring how much water he is drinking in a 24-hour period will be useful for the vet to know.


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: Nicky Trevorrow will be answering behaviourial queries on 14 April; Vet Vanessa Howie will be back on 28 April; and Jane Clements will be taking neutering questions on 12 May. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Caring for indoor cats

At Cats Protection when we rehome cats and kittens, we work hard to find the perfect match between pet and owner – a match that will best-suit both parties’ circumstances.

Ideally all cats would have access to outdoors to express their natural behaviours. However we also know that, like humans, cats are individuals with varying needs and preferences. Some cats love going outside, while some barely put a paw through the cat flap. It’s recommended that some cats are kept indoors for their own benefit, such as blind cats or those with a medical condition such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which have to be kept indoors and are only allowed outside in an impenetrable garden or safe run.

Cat looking out of window
Staying indoors can offer comfort, warmth and security. Photo by CameliaTWU via flickr / Creative Commons
If you are considering starting a brand new life with an indoor cat, there are a number of important factors to consider.

Preparing your cat

No matter how well a property is prepared, you can’t guarantee your cat won’t find their way outside. Therefore regardless of whether your cat lives indoors only or has access to outdoors too, it’s vital that they are microchipped, neutered, vaccinated and provided with flea and worming treatment.

Given that a house cat isn't as familiar with their neighbourhood as one that spends time outside, ensuring your cat is microchipped maximises your chances of being reunited with them if they do get lost. Neutering, meanwhile, means your cat is less likely to get serious diseases through mating and reduces the chance of males spraying. Read more about the benefits in our post: Why should I neuter my cat?

Securing your property

If you need to keep your moggy indoors, you’ll need to ensure your property is set up to accommodate them. This includes taking care when entering and exiting the building and screening open windows and doors in order to prevent escape.

Removing dangers

A household environment can pose many dangers to curious kittens and cats. It’s important to ensure there are no toxic houseplants or household products accessible to them. It’s also a good idea to keep cupboards, washing machines and tumble driers closed and toilet lids down.

Meeting their needs

The outdoor environment provides so much more for cats than simply a place to exercise and you’ll need to ensure these benefits are replicated inside. That includes providing places for them to scratch, hiding areas and high resting places where they can feel secure and interesting areas and objects for them to investigate.

It’s also important to offer sufficient resources. If you have more than one cat, offer enough resources in different locations where your cats can eat, drink, toilet, rest and hide.

Providing stimulation

Outdoor pursuits provide a great deal of stimulation for cats, keeping them happy and healthy. For those lacking outside access, this stimulation has to be found inside.

This can be achieved by upping the time you spend with your moggy and by ensuring your property provides a sufficiently interesting environment for them. You can keep your cat stimulated, and allow them to exhibit their natural hunting behaviour, through use of different toys and by hiding tasty treats around the house for them to discover.



Keeping an eye on them

If they are not allowed outdoor access, your cat may suffer from frustration if they are unable to exhibit their natural behaviour. Look out for behavioural problems such as scratching furniture, spraying, over grooming, aggression, house soiling and depression and be ready to take measures to identify and address the causes. Oversleeping can be another sign of boredom.

If your cat’s behaviour changes, it’s important to take them to the vet for a health check. If there is no medical reason causing the behaviour, you may find guidance from a qualified behaviourist useful, such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk).

By recognising and satisfying their needs, you can ensure your indoor cat enjoys a happy and fulfilling life. For more advice on how to look after indoor – as well as outdoor – cats, please read our Essential Guide: Indoor and outdoor cats.

You may also find this video helpful:


Friday, 18 March 2016

Meet the cats – LIVE!

With social media such a huge part of everyone’s day-to-day life, it’s now easier than ever to get a ‘cat fix’! Whether your channel of choice is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram you’re only ever a few clicks away from a cute cat pic or video – which is just about the best news ever for cat lovers around the world!

At Cats Protection we’re loving Twitter’s free live-streaming app, Periscope. Over recent weeks our Periscope followers have been offered an exclusive live insight into the UK’s biggest cat rehoming centre, meaning they can meet some of the cats currently in our care in real time without ever having to leave the comfort of their armchair (or bed, if they’re feeling particularly indulgent).

Our Periscope tours have gone down so well we’ve now launched a regular schedule of them, to allow people to plan time in their busy schedules to settle down with a cuppa and their mobile phone or tablet and watch some gorgeous moggies on the small screen.

Want to get your feline fix? Tune in at the following times:
  • 21 March, 10am
  • 28 March, 10am 
  • 4 April, 10am
  • 12 April, 10am 
  • 18 April, 10am
  • 25 April, 10am
  • 2 May, 10am 
  • 10 May, 1pm
  • 17 May, 10am
  • 23 May, 10am
View last week’s ‘Meet the cats’ Periscope video below.



If you don’t have Periscope yet, download it free for your iPhone or Android and follow @CatsProtection to keep up with what’s going on in the National Cat Adoption Centre.

Seen a cat you love in one of our Periscopes? Call 01825 741 330 to enquire about adopting them!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Walter’s sore wound

This post has been written by our Colwyn & District Branch

Warning: graphic photos to follow

Walter, a very handsome five-year-old tom cat, was found wandering the streets in October with his front leg caught through his collar. He was very timid and frightened and resisted all our efforts to trap him for four months. We even tried using a fox trap to no avail although we did succeed in catching a fox!

Eventually we got him into a basket and he was taken to the vet immediately.

When the collar was cut away under sedation, it revealed a very deep wound.

Cat collar wound
Walter's collar was too tight and cut into his skin
The experienced fosterer, Dorothy, decided to try to treat the wound, following the vet’s advice to use Manuka honey. We’re very pleased with the result – after six weeks of treatment the wound has becoming shallower and is healing well.

Walter's healing well
Walter's wound is healing well
Veterinary grade Manuka honey is quite expensive so the leftover money raised for another appeal will be spent on this.

While he was trapped we scanned him for a microchip and contacted his owners, but unfortunately they didn’t want him anymore. When’s he’s recovered from his ordeal we’ll try to find him a new home.
Walter looking at home with his fosterer
Walter looks quite at home in the temporary care of his volunteer fosterer
Walter’s plight highlights the danger of collars which are not quick release. If a cat strays and loses weight, the collar can become loose and it is then very easy for the cat to get a front leg through the collar when scratching.

Editorial note: If you do choose to put a collar on your cat, use a ‘quick release’ collar to allow your cat to free themselves should the collar get caught on something. Fit it carefully – two fingers should snugly fit between your cat’s neck and the collar.

We always recommend microchipping as the safest and simplest means of permanently identifying your cat.

If you'd like to support the Colwyn & District Branch in caring for Walter, you can donate here. Any funds raised over and above those needed for Walter will be used to help the other cats in the branch's care.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Behind the scenes: new stand at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

This post has been written by Cats Protection’s Shows & Exhibitions Manager, Emma Osborne

Much as I love my job I always heave a bit of a sigh of relief when the end of November rolls by each year as that’s when the CP show comes off the road for the winter. Not that winter is a quiet time – far from it! There’s a huge amount of planning needed for each year’s season which, due to the variety of indoor and outdoor events that CP attends centrally, now starts in early March.

I manage Cats Protection’s presence at a range of large consumer shows that are often held in big venues like the NEC in Birmingham. We go to these events to put the CP brand in front of a large, sometimes national audience and encourage support for our work on a big scale.

Cats Protection's new indoor shows stand
Cats Protection's new indoor shows stand
After a few years in the job I’ve developed a routine for winter, which helps to ensure that we keep on track and have everything ready to put the show on the road. This year, what with all the new and exciting activities that CP has planned for 2016, there’s a little more pressure to realise the shows’ potential as a communications medium for both internal and external audiences. But I’m seeing it as a challenge and have been enjoying meeting new and old colleagues recently to find out a bit more about their plans for 2016 and to see how the shows can help bring all the great work we do with and for cats to our stand visitors’ attention.

This year we’re looking forward to working with some of our new branch development  colleagues on the stand; their plan is to use some of the shows as one of a number of Cats Protection volunteer recruitment activities. It doesn’t matter though if staff or volunteers can’t make a show – our experienced team are happy to support the network with any useful or relevant messaging for a particular event. The shows team attends an annual training day and are briefed in advance of each event. So whether there’s a new homing centre opening in the area, a local neutering campaign, or some new educational video content to promote via our iPad or screen, we’re confident that the team will do their best to ensure that our messages get out there.

New indoor Cats Protection stand
Cats Protection's stand information corner
We always enjoy meeting a good number of well-wishers at all the shows; sometimes our supporters and members, and at other times those who have been helped out with a cat-related issue by our network. It’s gratifying to know that in the vast majority of cases the charity – and the cats of course – are respected and valued. People seem to like meeting us at events, even if they’re initially surprised that we’re at a food or knitting show! We’re rarely short of stand visitors or cat stories!

In keeping with our strategic objective of raising awareness of the charity and its work, we’re expanding the shows programme this year and plan to attend around 20 events. As well as the perennially popular Knitting & Stitching and BBC Good Food Shows, we’ll be making an appearance at several ‘new to CP’ events including Gardening Scotland, RHS Malvern and the Norfolk and Cheshire county shows. Wherever we go the shows’ aims remain the same: to support the work done by volunteers and staff in the area or region, and to strengthen awareness of the charity.

Products for sale at Cats Protection's show stand
Welcome to the Cats Protection stand!
So it’s gearing up to be an exciting year! Key to our impact at the shows is ‘the look’ of our stand which, along with our merchandise range, I need to keep fresh, innovative and in keeping with the show in order to attract people to the stand to talk to us. We’re thrilled that over winter, our events contractor has been busy making us two new stands – one for use at indoor shows and the other for outdoor events. The photographs show the new indoor stand making its debut at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show recently at Olympia where, as always, we were very well received. We’re so looking forward to showcasing it again at the inaugural Edinburgh Knitting & Stitching Show next month – ditto with the outdoor stand at RHS Malvern in May.

I’m looking forward to bringing you regular updates about the shows as the year progresses and hope to meet lots of you at the various venues we’ll be visiting.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

A second chance for Susie

As fellow cat lovers, we know how much your cat means to you. Should something happen to you, you will naturally want to make sure that someone is there to care for the cat or cats you love.

Susie is just one of those cats who found a new home through our Cat Guardians service.

Susie in her pen at the National Cat Adoption Centre
Susie at our National Cat Adoption Centre
Susie’s elderly owner signed up to the service in 2013, so she knew that in the event of her death, we would look after her cat and find a new home matching her needs.

When her owner sadly passed away, Susie was taken in by our National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex. After just a couple of months in care, she was adopted by Linda Whitear and her daughter, who renamed the cat Bluebell.

“Bluebell is such an adorable cat, she settled in straight away and we were surprised how relaxed she seemed,” says Linda.

Fluffy Bluebell relaxing at home
Bluebell enjoying her new home
Gorgeous grey-and-white cat Bluebell
Gorgeous girl Bluebell
“There were a couple of times, naturally, that she hid behind one of our sofas or under my bed but she quickly learnt that the sound of myself or daughter blowing gentle kisses to her and holding our hand out was us offering our affection and that it was safe to come out from hiding.”

Linda adds: “I am thrilled as I was recently asked by an adoption centre receptionist if I would be happy to receive contact from Bluebell's late owner’s daughter. Since agreeing to it we have exchanged email addresses and I have sent several photos of Bluebell to her.”

Bluebell enjoying relaxing at her new home
Peek-a-boo!
Through our Cat Guardians service, individuals can make arrangements with us so that in the event of their death, we will take care of their cats, giving them the love they need until we can find them the new home they deserve. You can read more about Cat Guardians at www.cats.org.uk/catguardians

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

‘Why is my cat scared of visitors?’ and other feline behaviour FAQs

Have you ever wondered why your cat does certain things or acts in a particular way? Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow is here to help.

In our recent live Q&A on cat behaviour, Nicky answered the following questions:

Question: Why does our cat run when anybody comes to visit or rings the doorbell? He hides in the bed.

Answer: This is quite common and can be for a variety of reasons. For example, some cats are naturally more shy or nervous if they weren't well socialised to people during the socialisation period of two to seven weeks of age. The trait for boldness or friendliness comes from the father, so if your cat had a timid father, this could affect their behaviour. Or if this has been a more recent change, then it is important to rule out medical reasons that could affect their behaviour. There are ways to very gradually get cats used to things they find scary and a qualified behaviourist would be best placed to talk you through it. You can find one via www.apbc.org.uk


Cat hiding under bedsheets
Photo by Jessica Fiess-Hill via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my six-month-old cat keep eating plastic bags?!

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat is eating plastic bags, that's quite unusual! I'd recommend that you firstly take your cat to the vets to rule out medical reasons for this behaviour and then get a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (see link in the previous answer). In the meantime, try to keep all plastic bags out of your cat's reach. Maybe try introducing your cat to feeding enrichment, such as putting part of your cat's biscuits (if on dry food) into an empty cardboard egg box to keep them occupied. This article from The Cat magazine about creative ways to feed cats will help you. All the best.

Question: Why does my female cat stand and howl by her litter tray? She does it every day around about the same time, only for a few seconds.

Answer: First I’d advise that you take your cat to the vets to rule out medical reasons in case she is in pain or has a urinary problem, just as examples (there's lots of possible medical reasons to rule out). If the vet feels that it is behavioural, then read our blog post on litter trays including the check list. To get to the underlying cause of this behaviour, it would be best to get a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).

Question: Why does my cat roll over to be fussed then bite me immediately!

Answer: Are you tempted to touch your cat's tummy by any chance? When cats roll over to show their tummies, it's a sign that they trust you and generally not an invitation to touch such a vulnerable area. There are a few cats that seem to like it, a few more that tolerate this interaction, but the vast majority would prefer we didn't go in for a tickle! Try talking to your cat instead and stroking their head.

Cat showing its belly
Photo by Alan Huett via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my male cat come back in from being outside to use his litter tray then go back out again?

Answer: Many cats do this, but at this time of year, I don't blame them as it's so cold and wet outside! In winter the ground is more difficult to dig too. For cats that prefer a litter tray indoors regardless of the weather, it is likely that they feel safer indoors and may worry about being in such a vulnerable position outside in the garden with the potential for other neighbourhood cats to come along. It's great that you've provided your cat with a litter tray that he's obviously happy with!

Question: My cat has prawns every night and goes mad if she doesn't have any. She’ll sulk and starve herself for days. Why does she do this?

Answer: I think many owners will identify with this. While some cats certainly seem fussier than others, we need to be mindful to not keep offering lots of different, even more tempting foods. If we do this our cats can quickly learn that if they just hold out for a little longer, something more tasty will come their way. It's then quite difficult when owners find themselves with all kinds of routines and often human treats on offer. Start by gradually reducing the number of prawns she has and try introducing feeding enrichment so that she is given food in a more stimulating way. Begin with something simple like an egg box – you’ll find instructions in our blog post about feeding enrichment puzzles.


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: Vet Vanessa Howie will be taking questions on 17 March; Nicky Trevorrow will be back answering behaviour questions on 14 April; while Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be hosting the Q&A on 12 May. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Monday, 7 March 2016

A brilliant team effort from our volunteers

Cats Protection’s Glasgow Branch recently received a call from a woman explaining her mother had passed away and that she wasn’t sure what to do with all her cats – could the branch help?

When the Branch Co-ordinator and Foster Liaison Officer visited they were taken aback when they discovered that there were actually 49 cats in the home. To further complicate matters none of the cats were neutered, quite a number looked unwell and some appeared very elderly.

The branch knew that it was a very challenging situation but that they had to try and help. The co-ordinator contacted the vets and a plan was agreed to bring in half of the cats that very evening so that they could be assessed, treatment provided and neutering organised. The following week it was planned that the rest of the cats would be brought in.

Black-and-white cat Mannie
Handsome Mannie
The volunteers at the branch then really ‘swung into action’! They knew that they only had days to think about how to accommodate all the cats and the branch was already full. An urgent appeal for foster spaces was circulated. Not only did Glasgow Branch’s volunteers offer to help but the Deeside Branch and Giffnock Branch also offered to foster and home 12 of the cats. The Glasgow Branch was absolutely delighted with the response as it made all the difference knowing that they were not dealing with the situation on their own.

The fostering of the cats was ultimately quite a commitment. Most of the cats were very timid and needed time to become more confident around humans. Many were also under-nourished and needed a lot of care and attention. This meant that the cats stayed in foster care for much longer and fosterers had to work extra hard to prepare them for their new forever homes. The homing officer and home visitor team worked flat out to find special homes and are pleased to report that all 49 cats have now been rehomed.

Pictured above is the gorgeous Mannie – he was the last cat to be rehomed mainly because he had a lot of health issues to deal with. When he came into CP care he was showing symptomatic signs of flu and needed teeth removing after having gum disease. Nine-year-old Mannie also had issues with his breathing caused by condition which meant he had an abnormal narrowing of his throat. His treatment has helped with his breathing but he may need additional treatment in the future – he’ll continue to be monitored.

He is thriving in his new home, which is the ‘cherry on top’ for all the volunteers involved in this challenging work. The help offered to Mannie wasn't just a brilliant team effort, but the help and support of the neighbouring branches also demonstrates partnership working in Cats Protection at its best.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Cat Guardians service finds Elsa a new home

Elsa was four years old when her owner signed up to Cats Protection’s Cat Guardians service in September 2015. The free service promises that in the event of an owner’s death, we will find their cat a loving new home, no matter how long it takes.

Unfortunately, just a few weeks after making arrangements for Elsa, her owner passed away. Elsa was taken in by our North London Adoption Centre and cared for by volunteers and staff. The information her owner had provided on her Cat Guardians form, such as the type of food Elsa likes to eat, helped them care for her in the best possible way until a more permanent home could be found for her.

Elsa finds a home thanks to the Cat Guardians service
Elsa in the care of our Mitcham Homing Centre
She was a little nervous in the centre at first, because she’d never ventured outside or even met another cat. But with a little time and patience, Elsa finally started to trust her carers and was moved to our Mitcham Homing Centre in the hope that she would find a new home.

Just one week later, Elsa was adopted by a new family.

Elsa’s new owner says: “Elsa has been doing very well! From day one she has been very happy to be here with us, a little bit timid in the beginning, but not anymore.

“She is active and loves playing with us, she eats well and is very affectionate with us. She loves waking us in the morning for food and attention and, like the cat she is, she wants to be left alone every now and then.

Tabby Elsa relaxing
Elsa relaxing in her new home
“We are very happy with her and I believe she is happy with us – her frequent purring is my main hint! Thank you very much for helping us bring her in our lives.”

Find out more about our Cat Guardians service and how to register at www.cats.org.uk/catguardians

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Are you ready for spring?

Although some of the plant life in our gardens may have been confused by the UK’s warmest December on record, spring is only now on the horizon. Many of us will be looking forward to the longer, warmer days and those who enjoy getting their hands dirty in the garden will have already made plans for the year ahead.

But with plants and wildlife slowly nosing their way out of their winter shelters, how can cat owners – especially those with gardens – ensure they are fully prepared for the new season? Here are some tips to ensure your spring goes swimmingly.

Cat lying in flowers
Like humans, cats enjoy the warmer weather. Photo by G-Tinnetje via flickr / Creative Commons

Looking after your cat

  • Ensure your cat is neutered and microchipped. Springtime represents the start of kitten season and, with a single female capable of being responsible for 20,000 descendents in a five-year period, it can quickly lead to many unwanted cats and kittens. It’s worth remembering that neutering can also reduce the spread of disease and discourage potentially dangerous fighting and roaming behaviours
  • Humans and felines aren’t the only species that enjoy warmer weather, so remember to keep your cat’s flea treatments up-to-date – as well as worming treatments and vaccinations
  • Like us, cats can suffer from seasonal allergies. Look out for signs such as excessive scratching, paw licking, hair loss and skin rashes – if you notice any change in your cat take them to a vet for a check-up
  • Cats will always have the inherent desire to exhibit hunting behaviours and are more likely to hunt at dawn and dusk. Keep them indoors at night, ideally from an hour before sunset to an hour after sunrise when birds and small mammals are at their most vulnerable. If your cat isn’t able to play outside, you can provide them with toys and activities like fishing rod toys with feathers on a string to mimic their prey
  • Cats with access to the outdoors tend to shed their coats more heavily in spring and autumn, so establishing a regular brushing routine could help reduce the amount of hair they swallow during washing and, therefore, the number of hairballs they produce 

Protecting cats and wildlife in the garden
Ensure birds can easily reach their nesting box entrances. Photo by Billtacular via flickr / Creative Commons

Preparing your garden

  • Be aware that some plants and flowers can be highly toxic to cats. Even brushing past poisonous plants such as lilies can pose severe dangers – read International Cat Care’s list of toxic plants
  • Avoid pest control products which can also be highly toxic to them
  • If you enjoy welcoming birds to your garden, ensure you feed them from a high table, away from surfaces from which a cat could pounce. You can make bird table posts difficult to climb by covering them with a length of drainpipe or a stack of sliced plastic water bottles (just ensure there are no sharp edges!)
  • Locating nesting boxes away from areas where cats can settle helps to reduce stress levels for their occupants and ensures easy access. Boxes in trees should be away from branches on which cats can sit, while those sited on fences can be made safer by attaching plastic, spiked strips to the adjacent lengths of fence top
  • A number of natural and deterrents can be used to discourage cats from entering certain areas of your garden. Prickly plants such as berberis, hawthorn and pyracantha will ensure cats can’t settle in designated areas. Certain odours (eg citrusy smells, aromas from plants such as Coleus canina and Helichrysum italicum and the pong of lion and chicken dung pellets) may also discourage cats from sticking around
  • Rather than stopping your cat entering one part of your garden (e.g. feeding and nesting areas), it can be equally effective to encourage them into another part. You can do this by including within it cat-friendly plants (e.g. catnip and cat thyme), a patch of long grass to act as a comfy bed and to provide roughage, tall, non-thorny plants to offer shade and logs for scratching. You can also scatter dry food in safe areas and introduce toys such as fishing rods to satisfy those hunting instincts

Springtime is a wonderful time of the year to be outdoors in the UK and a few simple, practical steps will ensure your cat and garden are ready for the season ahead.