Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween tricks and treats for felines

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


Clever mogs!


This smart kitty completes an amazing task



While this cat has learnt how to high five!



This cat does a whole range of tricks for treats



And now for some treats...


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



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


Happy Halloween!


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

Saturday, 29 October 2016

National Cat Day – celebrating our work with cats

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

Arthur and Charlie

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

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

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

Tommy

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

Unfortunately, the owner’s details were out of date so the centre couldn’t get in touch with them.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

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

Bluebell

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

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

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

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

George

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

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

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

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

Barney

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

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

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

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

Florence, Betty, Leia and Solo

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more about Cats Protection’s work, visit www.cats.org.uk 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

17 reasons why black cats rule

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

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

1. They make excellent companions

2. They can be surprising




3. They've got plenty of attitude



4. Some are chatty

5. They like to test the laws of gravity




6. They're curious

7. Sometimes overenthusiastic



8. Some are lazy

9. Others are inventive

10. They're often observant

11. They can be keen on their food

12. While others are happier with water

13. Some black cats love the limelight

14. While others prefer to be able to hide

15. Some are playful

16. While others prefer to rest


17. After all, being a cat is tiring work

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

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

Caspar shows beauty is more than fur deep

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

Caspar - the face of National Black Cat Day 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

National Black Cat Day 2016 runners up

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

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

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


If you’d like to give a black cat a home, visit www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat to meet needy felines in your area.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Black cats with big personalities

While some might be misled to think that all felines are the same, any cat owner knows that their pet has it's own character - from their mischievous habits, to the way in which they communicate.

To mark Cats Protection's National Black Cat Day 2016, we're taking a look at well-known cats with big personalities in order to celebrate what makes them unique, proving that while our monochrome moggies might look the same, they each have their own appeal just like any other colour cat.

Jess from Postman Pat


Jess might be a fictional feline but she's well-loved for her unique character and for being Postman Pat's trusty companion. No matter what mishaps he finds himself in, Jess is there beside him. She can often be found climbing into narrow spaces when she's not joining Pat on his post rounds.

Sam, the cat that has eyebrows


With his unusual markings, Sam appears as permanently worried. This former stray cat from New York is famed on the internet for his 'eyebrows', but it is important to remember that cats don't usually show worry in this way. Instead, look out for flat ears, eyes open with wide pupils and whiskers pointed forward for signs of stress. 

Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch


Salem, the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, is famous for his witty one-liners and plots of world domination. It's worth pointing out that real cats don't feel jealousy or revenge - so you can stop worrying about your feline friend!

Cole of Cole and Marmalade

Credit: @coleandmarmalade
Cole is one of the internet's most famous black cats, known for his online antics with Marmalade. Like many cats, Cole loves curling up in a cardboard box - it's the ideal place to hide, especially if they're feeling anxious. 

Figaro from Pinocchio


This mischievous moggy appeared in Disney film Pinocchio and can be seen trying different methods to get Cleo, the goldfish, for his supper. If you're trying to deter your cat from hunting, keep them mentally stimulated with interactive toys and games.

Has your cat got a quirky character or big personality? Tweet us at @CatsProtection and let us know.

For more information on cat behaviour, head to our behaviour hub on the website.




Monday, 24 October 2016

Meet the black cats in our sponsor pens

National Black Cat Day 2016 is just a few days away. While our annual celebration of brilliant black cats gets underway, it's an ideal opportunity to introduce you to one of the black cats in our sponsor pens.


Izzy is currently being looked after at Ferndown Homing Centre after a traumatic time. She was admitted to Cats Protection after being found dumped in a cardboard box at just five months old. Despite being just a kitten herself, she was also heavily pregnant and went into labour shortly after reaching the centre.

Izzy went on to have four kittens, named Malcolm, Libby, Harriet and Olivia and has since been well looked after at the centre. Despite her age, she has taken to motherhood brilliantly and enjoys showing off her kittens. An incredibly affectionate cat, she loves fuss and human company. Once her kittens have been weaned, Izzy will be looking for a new home where she can play and enjoy being a normal kitten.



Black and black-and-white cats like Izzy typically wait 22% longer to find a new owner than other cats, and are even considered by potential adopters to be less friendly, playful, vocal and attention-seeking than gingers or tabbies.

While it can be a real struggle to find homes for the black and black-and-white cats in Cats Protections care, it's important to remember that black cats are just as fun-loving, mischievous and playful as any other cat and have so much to offer in terms of companionship.

Sponsoring one of our cat pens is one of the best ways you can help cats in our care and you can do so for as little as 19p a day. Find out more about sponsoring a cat pen and make a difference today.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A lucky escape for Peanut

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

In autumn 2015 a sorry little tabby-and-white-cat was handed into our local vets by a concerned cat lover. It was a young, neglected male kitten who had been found in a gutter in Shepton Mallet with his leg trapped in a drain.

The nurses cleaned him up, fed him and gave him the TLC they are so good at then phoned Cats Protection for help, which of course we were keen to give.

Kitten Peanut's lucky escape

The little chap was named Peanut because the nurses found traces of peanuts in his poo in the litter tray. Clearly he was so hungry he had been scavenging for food under bird tables.

An X-ray revealed that Peanut had a badly fractured back leg. The vet in charge of his case was keen to repair the leg rather than opt for an amputation. After all Peanut hopefully had a long life ahead of him so losing a leg so early in life wasn't ideal. It was a fiddly and challenging operation. There wasn't a pin made small enough to use on such young and fragile bones so the vet had to improvise.

Peanut was lucky that one of the veterinary nurses volunteered to nurse him through what was going to be a long and initially painful recovery period. During the first week she made sure that he had his four-hourly dose of painkillers day and night and with such a dedicated person on his side he gradually became more comfortable and mobile.

In December we were able to move him to one of our foster pens for rehoming and are happy to report that soon after Christmas he found his forever home in the country.

Peanut at his new home

Cat Peanut's second chance

Six months on Peanut is a happy, healthy cat living life to the full, although he still doesn't like having his back leg touched but this is to be expected after all he went through.

The above pictures show Peanut now, a normal active cat who gets out and about and enjoys his life.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ain’t misbehaving – tummy tickling

Welcome to the fourth and final animation in our ‘Ain’t misbehaving’ series, where we’re busting cat behaviour myths. This instalment looks at tummy tickling.

Myth: If a cat shows you their tummy, they’re asking for you to rub it…



Cats that roll onto their side or back and expose their belly are communicating that they feel relaxed enough in your presence to expose such a vulnerable area. It doesn’t mean that they’re asking you to stroke or tickle their tummy.

In fact, if you do try to tickle their tummy, you might get a bite or a scratch. Don’t tell them off, they’re not being ‘naughty’.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow says: “This is a common misconception and most cats would prefer to be greeted by stroking their head or cheeks instead.”

If your cat starts to show aggressive behaviour, take them to the vet for a health-check to rule out medical reasons. Cats are very subtle when it comes to showing pain and they will do their best to hide it so they could be in discomfort. If your vet gives your cat a clean bill of health, they may refer you to an APBC registered behaviourist to help identify the causes.

You may also find it useful to read our Behaviour focus blog post: when cats attack.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

‘Does my cat have separation anxiety?’ and other behavioural FAQs

In our latest live Facebook FAQ event, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow took control of our national Facebook page to answer feline behavioural questions from cat owners.
Here are just some of the topics discussed:

Question: My cat goes nuts every time I get home, he calls from the other side of the door and when he finally gets to sit on me, he gets very in my face and demands things by rubbing round my glasses and face. He was picked up as an 18-week-old kitten and I wonder if he either has separation anxiety, or he has genuinely picked me as his own personal slave, sorry, human...?

Answer: It’s nice that your cat gives you such a greeting when you come home. To find out if it could be separation anxiety, I would suggest setting up several cameras around the home to see what your cat does when you go out. If he is very restless or looking out of the windows for you for ages, or crying then it's possible. If you're concerned, contact your vet for a health check for your cat and then ask for a referral to a qualified behaviourist (www.apbc.org.uk). You could also try introducing your cat to feeding enrichment so that he spends his time 'hunting' for his food. Start off with something simple, like an egg box. All the best.

Question: I have noticed one of my cats licks her lips when there is another cat in the room that she doesn't like. Dogs lick their lips when anxious – is this the same for cats? Has anyone done a study on this? Many thanks in advance.

Answer: Great question! Yes it is a sign of anxiety in cats like it is in dogs. Well observed! It's a subtle behaviour that most people miss. For more information, check out the ISFM Guide to Feline Stress and Health edited by Sarah Ellis and Andy Sparkes.

Question: I've recently introduced a kitten to my cat and although there's no fighting and there doesn't seem to be any upset (both are sleeping, eating, grooming etc normally), I feel like my existing cat has gone off me. She doesn't want to spend time with me like she used to. It's only been less than a week and she's been brilliant in accepting the kitten (at first when they were separate she growled etc)... do you think she will return to normal? I'm scared I've ruined our friendship forever giving this little cat a home.

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has changed her behaviour lately. This is quite common with the introduction of another cat or kitten. I'd advise that you carefully monitor both the kitten's behaviour and the cat's behaviour for subtle signs that they are not getting along. Fighting is generally a last resort so it's unlikely that you'd see fighting but we assume that everything is alright. Check out an article I wrote for The Cat magazine about understanding the language of cats and our video ‘Are your cats friends or foes?’:


Make sure you continue to spend quality time with your cat alone, away from the kitten, (and vice versa for the kitten) and make sure both have enough resources like food, water and litter trays spaced out over the house.

Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

You’ll find more information about cat care and behaviour at www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub

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 vet Sarah Elliott on 12 October; and Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 10 November. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Ain’t misbehaving – scratching

Welcome to the third animation in our ‘Ain’t misbehaving’ series, where we’re busting cat behaviour myths. This week, we’re chatting about scratching.

Myth: A cat who scratches the furniture is being deliberately destructive or vengeful…



Cats scratch to leave their mark and scent as a signal; and to keep their claws in good condition.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow says: “Scratching is a normal behaviour so they need a decent scratch post to express this natural cat need.”

If a cat starts scratching indoors, it doesn’t mean that they’re being naughty. Don’t tell them off as it could make the behaviour worse.

Take your cat to the vet for a health-check to rule out any medical reasons for the scratching. Your vet may refer you to a qualified behaviourist to help identify the causes.

Give your cat a tall, sturdy scratching post and put it next to the area where they scratch. It should be tall enough to allow your cat to scratch at full stretch – ensure it has a vertical weave to let them drag their claws downwards.

Cover the furniture in an unappealing material such as plastic or foil until the cat is using the post regularly.

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

Cute gifts for black cat lovers

With National Black Cat Day on the horizon we had some merchandise designed to mark the occasion. Our Funky Felines mug, list pad and pen feature a quirky cat design by Cats Protection designer and published author Rus Hudda.

We caught up with Rus to find out what goes in to creating a new design.

So Rus, where do you get your inspiration?

I grew up around cats, so they are a big part of my life and I get a lot of inspiration from watching and playing with them. My own cat, Tali, is a daily reminder of why they are such fascinating subjects. Whether destroying toys or taking over my bed she’s always doing something that makes me want to pick up my pen.

The way other artists create their work great source of inspiration too. The advent of video sharing sites means I can also brush up on techniques online – there is always something new to learn.

How do you go about creating your design?

I start by scribbling my ideas in a sketchbook in a very rough form. These can be literal doodles sometimes. Then I move to an iPad Pro to give me a bit more flexibility. I usually sketch a rough layer first, which might include individual cats as well as shapes to show where other cats could go. I plan the layout and build up detail from there.

Technology is a big help at this stage as it means I can try things out and make mistakes. It also means I can develop my design easily, scaling and adjusting different elements to get what I need.

Once I am happy with the design I print it out. I then draw over the top with a Rotring Tikky Graphic pen and add colour either with watercolour directly onto the paper or by scanning the hand-drawn design back into my computer and adding colour digitally. You can see some of these stages below:

The stages of design of National Black Cat Day products
See illustrator Rus Hudda's work come to life!
When the artwork is finished, the design is sent to our supplier who makes it up into a mock up. This is an exciting step as it is the first time we see how the design will look on the finished products. We might make further changes at this stage to get everything how we want it. Once we are happy, we send our approval and production gets underway.

Which is your favourite product in the range?

The mug is my favourite. It’s fun to see my flat design turned into a three dimensional product.

Tea, coffee or something else while you work?

Water please in my brand new Funky Felines mug!

National Black Cat Day list pad
National Black Cat Day list pad
National Black Cat Day mug
National Black Cat Day mug
You can find our exclusive National Black Cat Day range in our online shop at www.catsprotectionshop.co.uk

National Black Cat Day celebrates monochrome moggies on 27 October - join the conversation with the hashtag #BlackCatDay

Monday, 3 October 2016

Could your cat be the face of this year’s National Black Cat Day?

We’re on the lookout for a black or black-and-white cat with a winning personality to become the face of our National Black Cat Day 2016.

This will be our sixth celebration of monochrome moggies; National Black Cat Day takes place once a year to help us to find homes for thousands of unwanted two-tone cats in our care.

Become the face of National Black Cat Day

We’re running a competition for the chance for one monochrome moggy to be crowned the face of National Black Cat Day on Thursday 27 October. The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘beauty is more than fur deep’ so we’re reminding people of the many wondrous qualities that black and black-and-white cats have to offer, despite some people considering them a little mundane due to their appearance.

“Black and black-and-white cats make up almost half of the more than 5,000 unwanted cats in our care, and they take around a week longer to find a home compared to cats of other colours,” says Jackie May, Cats Protection’s Digital Manager.

“When people visit any of our volunteer-run branches or centres to adopt a cat, they can be faced with a large number of black or black-and-white cats and so their eyes can wander over to the brighter-coloured tabbies, torties and gingers who are in the minority and may look more exciting to adopt.

“While we are very pleased to see each unwanted cat find a new home, monochrome cats can get held back which is why we wanted to remind people of the love, warmth and varied characters that they bring to a home. We hope that as many people support us as possible on our social media sites during October so that we can prompt more people to offer them a home.”

If you’d like to enter the competition, which launches today, head over to our national social media channels at www.facebook.com/catsprotection or @CatsProtection on Twitter.

To see black and black-and-white cats in need of homes in your area go to www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat