Thursday, 25 May 2017

‘Why does my cat fight with neighbourhood cats?’ and other behaviour FAQs

Don’t understand why your cat behaves the way they do? Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow took to our national Facebook page to answer live questions from curious cat owners.

Note: If your cat starts to display any behaviours that are unusual or they develop a change in personality or demeanour, the first port of call must always be your vet. Many changes in behaviour are due to illness or pain and so you should arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Other seemingly ‘odd’ behaviours that do not have roots in a medical condition can be explained by understanding the natural behaviour that makes a cat a cat. For these types of behaviour issues we would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).


Question: My cat is nine years old but over the last year has become a bit of a fighter with neighbourhood cats, especially if those cats are strays or newcomers to the area. He's coming home with scratches and scars and has cost us a few vets’ bills to treat infections and abscesses. Can you help answer why he's developed this territorial attitude and ways we can help him feel calmer when dealing with cats outdoors?

Answer: You are not alone with this problem! This is a very common situation as cats are a solitary species and often become territorial when other cats move into the neighbourhood and start to occupy the area that was once exclusively theirs. Sharing territory is a stressful situation for many cats. Generally speaking cats will only fight as a last resort and would rather avoid confrontation. To help avoid confrontation ensure he has plenty of opportunities to avoid others and deal with stress in the ways that cats like best: provide him with lots of places to hide and places to climb up high, both indoors and in your garden. Hopefully these measures should help to reduce his stress levels and reduce the number of scuffles in the process!

It is worth noting that a cat who is ill or in pain is less able to cope with stress – often a contributing factor when a cat appears to be behaving aggressively – do get him vet checked to make sure there are no medical reasons behind the behaviour.

Grey cat looking out window
Cats that are feeling threatened by other cats may spend time being vigilant at windows and cat flaps. Credit: istock.com/sjingel

Question: My cat constantly meows at night times. He is also scared of me and attacks people quite a lot. Please help, it's like he has cat ADHD.

Answer: Thanks for your question and I am sorry to hear about your cat. It sounds like there's a lot going on there.

There are many different medical reasons for these types of behaviours and so I would recommend a trip to the vets as soon as you can.

In the meantime, make sure that all members of the household wear sufficient protective clothing and get medical attention for any bites or scratches.

Give your cat lots of places to hide, get up high and escape routes to help them feel safer and also have a read of this leaflet: Managing your cat’s behaviour.


Question: Is there any way to get mats out of fur? My cat is 19 and grumpy when I try and brush her.

Answer: Sorry to hear this, it's really common! If her mats are quite severe, then I would suggest taking her to the vets in order for them to remove them safely. Mats which have become large or are close to the skin are very difficult to remove yourself without damaging the skin underneath.

Your vet will also want to give your cat a thorough check up as many elderly cats are unable to groom themselves properly due to the pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis. Once any issues have been addressed medically and the initial mats have been removed, you will be able to start your maintenance programme which will help any further mats from accumulating.

Build up really gradually. Start with a very soft baby brush and just give her treats (as long as there's no medical reason why she can't have treats – discuss with your vet) for approaching and sniffing the baby brush. Don't attempt grooming for the time being unless absolutely necessary. You may wish to get a qualified behaviourist in to help you through a gradual process of getting her used to brushes again as they can tailor a programme especially for her – see the link above for the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors.

Brushing a ginger cat
If you are struggling to groom your cat, ask your vet for advice. Credit: istock.com/Aksenovko

Question: My cat shuffles her bottom on the carpet. She is regularly wormed and has no signs of infection. Is this normal?

Answer: I’m afraid this isn't normal. There are a few medical issues such as impacted anal glands or bite abscesses which can cause discomfort around the rear end so a trip to the vets is advised. 

Hope it gets sorted out soon.


Question: Is there a particular reason my cat is shoving her face in mine when we snuggle? She doesn’t give me face rubs, but sleeps with her face pressed against mine. Or is she just being generally sweet and loving?

Answer: If there is no medical reason for your cat to be head-pressing, then I think it is safe to say that your cat expressing how well bonded the two of you are! It is incredibly cute and one of the many reasons why cats are so awesome!

Woman cuddling black-and-white cat
Cats can become very bonded with their owner. Credit: istock.com/Olezzo

Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For more behaviour advice, please visit www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub where you’ll also find The Behaviour Guide which discusses a variety of topics on cat behaviour.

Consult your vet if you have a specific concern about your cat.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: vet Dr Sarah Elliott will be taking questions on 1 June; you can get support with pet-related grief on 13 June; or speak to Behaviour Manager Nicky again on 29 June. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Have you found a stray cat or a feral cat?

One of the top questions that we receive on our social media pages and via our National Information Line is what to do if you have found a feral cat or a stray cat. But what’s the difference between the two and how can you tell which is which?

A stray cat is a socialised domestic cat who doesn’t (or doesn’t appear to) have an owner. Although they may look a little disorientated they may be friendly and will likely be alone. If you have found a stray cat and need advice on what to do, visit www.cats.org.uk/straycat

A feral cat is the same species of cat as our pet cats but is not socialised to people or the domestic environment. This means they will be fearful of humans and behave like a wild animal. A feral lives alone – or in a group called a colony – and will be found in towns, cities and rural areas. If you’ve found a feral cat, find out what to do at www.cats.org.uk/feralcat

The following visual guide will help you quickly spot the difference between a stray and a feral.

To enlarge, click on the image
If you have found an injured cat, the quickest course of action is to take the cat to a vet for any emergency treatment necessary. Carefully cover them in a blanket before picking them up. This keeps the cat safe as well as shielding you from claws!

The RSPCA has an agreement with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to provide initial emergency assessment and care of sick and injured animals. To allow funds to be released from the RSPCA for emergency care, you must phone the RSCPA before you arrive at the vets with the cat.

If taking the cat to a vet surgery this isn't possible, contain the cat if you can and contact the RSPCA (England & Wales) on 0300 1234 999, SSPCA (Scotland) on 03000 999 999 or USPCA (Northern Ireland) – find contact details at http://uspca.co.uk

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Fresh start for senior Dotty

This post has been written by our Gosport Town Branch

Sixteen-year-old Dotty came into the care of the branch in November 2016 having lived with one owner since a kitten and kept as an indoor cat. New rules by the landlord meant that Dotty wasn't allowed to stay in her home and she was reluctantly handed over to Cats Protection.

Sadly Dotty's health wasn't the best, she hadn't seen a vet since she'd been spayed as a young cat, and once in Cats Protection’s care had numerous trips to the vet including extensive dental surgery and a geriatric profile which revealed early stage kidney failure for which a renal diet was recommended.

Despite the branch's best efforts Dotty was a hard-to-home cat and potential adopters were put off on hearing all her problems. A different tack was taken in presenting a letter as a plea for Dotty on her adoption blurb and being upfront that she needed a special diet but had a lot to offer.  

Dotty enjoying her new garden

Happily Dotty was adopted in March 2017 and we've received an enthusiastic update a few days ago from Tricia, her new owner.

Such a positive outcome for a 'harder-to-home' cat seems too good not to share.

Dotty lounging in her new garden

It seems it didn't take Dotty long at all to get settled with Tricia who sent this heart-warming update in May 2017.

"Just a quick note to let you know that Dotty has settled in well, in fact she was settled in within the first 10 minutes of arriving at my house! I've never had a cat make themselves at home so quick. She has slept on my bed since the first night.

“I'm sure somewhere in her history she has had access to a garden and a cat flap, she didn't need any training to use mine and was not nervous at all on her first venture into the big open world. She loves the garden and often supervises me when I'm working out there.

Dotty basking in the sunshine

“She is very good company, loves to play and enjoys a fuss. You wouldn't believe she is 16! She is a very special cat and everyone adores her. Thank you so much for introducing me to her."

Everyone at the Gosport Town Branch is thrilled that Dotty has the perfect home and that Tricia saw beyond the number of birthdays that Dotty has had.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Cats through the ages: Ancestry

Ever wondered where the humble domestic moggy comes from?

Dr John Bradshaw, Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, explains feline history in our new video series on the brief history of the cat.

Cats through the ages: Ancestry

Travel with us from evolution and domestication to their role in Egyptian and Roman civilisations through to the modern day.



Subscribe so you don’t miss the next video in the series by clicking here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Coping with pet-related grief FAQs

Cats Protection understands just how much your cat means to you and what you may be going through if your pet is missing, had to be rehomed, is nearing the end of their life or has recently passed away.

To support cat owners at this difficult time, Counsellor and Pet Loss Specialist Julia Dando took to our Facebook page to talk to them about their grief.

Coping with the loss of your cat

Here are just some of the queries she helped with:

Question: My cat was put to sleep on Saturday due to lymphoma of the gut at almost 12 years old. I’m struggling in general with grief and don't know what to do. I have to be at work this week, but need time to get over him. My other cat doesn't seem to be missing her son, but how do I tell?

Answer: I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss. It can be a really difficult thing to deal with, especially when the world expects you to ‘just get on with things’. It's sad that we most often don't get the same consideration when our pet dies than when another family member dies. It can be difficult to focus on work at a time when you are grieving such a loss.

With regards to your other cat and whether she is missing him too – it can be difficult to tell, especially with cats. Sometimes you'll see a change in behaviour, sometimes you won't. Most often cats do adjust quickly to changes like this and sometimes surviving cats in a household might even become less inhibited and more affection-seeking from you without their companion around. Keeping an eye on her and noting any great changes in her behaviour will help you to determine how she is doing generally. We have a leaflet about this topic, which you may find useful: Grief in surviving pets.


Question: As a result of kidney disease we had to say goodbye to our boy just before Christmas my husband sobbed... he and the cat had a lovely bond. We were talking about him the other day and my hubby started to cry. He's really cut up over his buddy, he thinks he's soft but I've told him that it's OK to cry.

Answer: So sorry to hear about your cat. It does sound like your husband had a very special bond with him. Crying and sadness is a very common response to grief and certainly men can find it harder to feel like it’s OK to show their emotions – it’s a societal thing. It sounds like you're being really supportive and being a great listener for your husband.


Question: My little one went eight weeks ago to cardiac arrest. He was being looked after at a pet hospital at the time and was 'comfortable and happy' so it was really sudden. Now I am really struggling and feel so guilty – I wasn't with him when he went and wasn't offered the chance to say goodbye. I feel part of me has gone. My daughter reckons it's time to get over him but I don't know how to. He was only four. It's just so unfair.

Answer: Such a sudden and unexpected loss – I'm sorry for your loss. Circumstances such as these can have a really significant effect on how you grieve the loss of your little one. Not being there can leave you with feelings of guilt and overwhelming sadness that can last for a significant time. Grief has no time limit – it is unique to everyone and it can be really hard when the people around you are experiencing the grief in the same way that you are. Give yourself time. You know, these little cats are our family, there’s such a strong bond between you and that means their loss with be significant too. Loss hurts – it’s meant to – it's how you know he was special to you. Not being able to say goodbye can leave you stuck in your grief so maybe find a way to say goodbye to him – in his favourite place or with his favourite toy. Do consider phoning the Paws to Listen Grief Support Line on 0800 024 9494 and speak with one of our trained listeners. The line is open from 9am-5pm Mon-Fri.

Paws to listen logo

Whether you are facing the heartbreak of your cat passing away, want help with difficult issues like euthanasia, a cat who has gone missing or need someone to talk to about your loss: we are here for you.

The Paws to Listen service is a free and confidential phone line, that you can call to talk to one of our trained volunteer listeners. While we are unable to offer counselling, we can provide you with a sympathetic ear at this difficult time. Call us on 0800 024 94 94. The line is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

As well as the phone line, there are a number of free online guides and leaflets to help owners deal with grief-related issues: www.cats.org.uk/grief

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ninety years of dedication to cats

Today, 16 May 2017, is Cats Protection’s 90th anniversary.

Starting life as the Cats Protection League in 1927, our charity arose from very humble beginnings. During the 1920s cats were not seen as the companion animals they are today. Rather than pets most were thought of as nothing more than pests. Concern was expressed at the general ignorance of many people regarding the needs of the domestic cat, so much so that on 16 May 1927 a group of like-minded people gathered at Caxton Hall in London to form the Cats Protection League, an educational society to raise the status of cats.

Cats Protection young volunteer in 1960s

Cats Protection historic ambulance

The charity’s founder was Miss Jessey Wade, a tireless campaigner for animal welfare and a founder or original member of other societies among others such as The Humanitarian League, The Pit Ponies’ Protection Society, The Performing and Captive Animals’ Defence League, The League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports (now League against Cruel Sports). She was also friends with renowned Suffragists, Eve Gore Booth and Esther Roper. She would go on to be the charity’s Chairman, Vice President and editor of The Cat magazine. She formed the charity when she was 60 and eventually retired at the age of 80, but still being involved until her death in 1952 aged 92.

Cats Protection outdoor pens in 1960s

Cats Protection vintage 1960s advice leaflets

Cats Protection vintage fundraising stall

In 90 years Cats Protection has:

  • rehomed over 1.5m cats and kittens*
  • neutered nearly 3m cats*
  • helped over 3m cats*
  • championed the rights of cats 
  • helped people of all ages to understand cats and their needs

The dedication and commitment of our volunteers and staff has never waned; it has survived war and recession; defying the odds and helping as many cats as possible. Our aim remains the same as it did in 1927, no matter what the challenges we will provide better and brighter futures for the thousands of cats that come through Cats Protection’s care.   

What an achievement this is, for us all – our volunteers, staff and all of our supporters – without whom we wouldn’t be here today. Here’s to the next 90 years!

Find out more about our recent work by watching our video of 2016 achievements here.

*conservative estimates, taken from the figures listed in available Annual Reports since 1927 
Cats Protection 90th anniversary logo

Monday, 15 May 2017

What Cats Protection achieved in 2016

2016 was another fantastic year for Cats Protection: our volunteers, our supporters and our staff have achieved some amazing things.


Our vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.

To achieve that vision we’re continuing to work towards changing people’s attitudes towards cats and helping them to better understand cats’ needs. We focused on growing our profile throughout the UK while promoting awareness of cat welfare. Our national campaigns and collaborations with other charities and high profile organisations are helping to bring about change, making the world a better place for cats.

We help to reduce overpopulation of cats and in 2016 our community neutering team played a key role in developing relationships in targeted areas and educating people about the benefits of neutering – for cats and their owners.

Finding new homes for cats in need is a key part of our work too and in 2016 we improved and developed our adoption centres and grew our volunteer-run branch network so that we can rehome even more cats in the future.



Here are some of our key achievements

  • We helped nearly 190,000 cats and kittens – that’s around 500 cats every single day!
  • We found loving new homes for 43,000 cats and kittens 
  • We reunited 3,000 cats and kittens with their relieved owners 
  • We neutered 152,000 cats and kittens, to prevent unwanted litters
  • We reached an audience of over 41,700 adults and children with talks helping them to better understand cats
  • Our thousands of volunteers dedicated a whopping 5 million hours to the charity 

You can read our full Annual Review 2016 at www.cats.org.uk/annual-review16

Everything we’ve achieved – and every single cat we’ve helped in 2016 – is thanks to our devoted supporters, volunteers and staff. Thank you to each and every one of you for your commitment to cats and to the charity!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Adopting a kitten

To accompany the Simon’s Cat Logic YouTube series, where creator Simon Tofield and Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow team up to talk about cat behaviour, we’re happy to launch a new Simon’s Cat series called ‘Simon’s Cat Care with Nicky', which focuses on welfare issues and gives practical tips on how best to care for cats.

Simon's Cat Care with Nicky Trevorrow

The first video is called ‘Adopting Kittens’ and Nicky explains some of the things to consider before getting a kitten.

“If you’re thinking of adopting a kitten, an animal shelter should be your first port of call,” she says. “They have lots of kittens and cats all looking for loving homes.”

“By adopting a kitten from an animal shelter, you can help alleviate the pressure on animal shelters and also give a kitten a second chance of a good life.”

Kittens require a lot of attention and play. Find out just what is involved in looking after a kitten by watching the video:



Get involved in the conversation online by sharing your kitten and adoption stories using hashtag #SimonsCatCare

You can learn more about kitten care by reading our post on how to look after a kitten.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Low maintenance gardening for cat lovers

This guest post has been written by gardener Graham Clarke

For many of us the thought of taking it a bit easier in the garden is, perhaps, just what the doctor ordered. This is more likely to apply if you’re elderly or unwell but, equally, time-poor professionals or those with young families – or demanding cats – to look after, need also to look at ways of reducing both the time spent and the hard graft in the garden.

So, how do you go about creating a low-maintenance garden? Here are my top 10 of things to do to make your gardening just a bit easier – and your cat will appreciate some of them, too.

1. Keep it informal 

Go for an ‘informal’ look where beds and borders are filled with a mixture of plants. Formal gardens, where there are straight lines to the lawn edges, rows of bedding plants in summer and not a weed in sight, are great – but these types of ‘perfect’ gardens are incredibly time consuming.

Informal gardens are where shrubs and border plants flow into each other. There are curvy lines that do not need to be tended quite so often. And your cat will appreciate the better cover that these sorts of borders offer.

Informal planting
Informal planting and hard landscaping (no lawn). Photo by Graham Clarke

2. Hard landscaping 

Now, I’m not advocating that you concrete the garden over… heaven forbid. But where it is appropriate to do so and where it will make life easier for you, it is alright to put in some hard landscaping such as stone for patios, paths and driveways, low brick or stone walls, containers, and water – as in ponds, streams, fountains, and so on. These can all be chosen for their decorative as well as functional qualities, so the garden need never become a concrete desert.

3. Raised beds and low walls 

These give a garden interest and a new dimension. They can also make gardening a little easier because you do not have to stoop or bend down to weed, plant, deadhead or prune.

In my experience, cats love low retaining walls. It gives them a little height from where they can survey the scene and in a sunny spot they definitely prefer basking on a raised bed than on the garden floor.

Raised garden beds
Planting scheme with raised beds. Photo by Graham Clarke

4. Choose easy plants

Annual bedding is time-consuming to plant, water, feed and maintain generally, so go instead for evergreen trees and shrubs which have a good, trouble-free reputation. Between them plant a selection of cat-safe bulbs and hardy perennials. These plants look after themselves and only need the old leaves and stems removed at the end of the year, and maybe thinning out every three or four years.

Choose shrubs that do not need cutting back every year; try, for example, winter-flowering witch-hazels and mahonias, the catkin-bearing garrya, summer-flowering hebes and the palm-like New Zealand flax (phormium).

5. Roses all the way

Roses have a reputation for being high-maintenance, but if you opt for the disease-resistant types, all you’ll need to do with them is prune once a year and give them a couple of feeds during the season. There are dozens of varieties that are sold as being resistant to blackspot, mildew and rust, or that are tolerant of bad weather.

6. Container sense

Pots, tubs, window boxes, hanging baskets… they are all a feature of our gardens – especially in summer when they can make a stunning sight. But they are time-consuming to look after.

So in a low-maintenance garden we need to limit the number of containers we tend and possibly to grow the plants that need less care: drought-tolerant plants such as pelargoniums and succulents, for example.

7. Lawn alternatives

For those who want a green pathway in their garden, but grass is considered to be too protracted, why not plant chamomile? It may be found under either of its accepted Latin names: Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile. A lush, pale green creeping herb, it is aromatic, releasing a pleasant fragrance when crushed underfoot.

The non-flowering ‘Treneague’ is preferable as a grass substitute – as the flowers tend to spoil the close carpeted effect. Just use shears to clip back the straggly stems from time to time.

8. Hedges or fences? 

The one thing all gardens have is a boundary – the bit that separates it from a neighbour’s garden, public road or right of way. The most maintenance-free boundary is a brick or stone wall. Once it’s up you don’t have to do anything to it – if it is rendered or painted, of course, you will probably have to maintain in some way every few years.

A wooden fence is reasonably low-maintenance, but it will need replacing after several years. You may need to paint or treat the wood.

Cat enjoying a garden
Cats will appreciate some of these gardening ideas. Photo by istock.com/AZFotoNL

9. Wise watering

Install an automatic watering system, available in kits from the garden centre. They can be directed to the plants that need watering most, such as container plants and vegetables like tomatoes, celery and runner beans.

10. Ground cover

Plants which spread over the ground can look very appealing when in flower or even just when in leaf. But, more importantly, they deny weeds light, moisture and the important soil nutrients. This means that, with careful choice of cat-safe plants, you’ll have nice foliage to look at rather than weeds to remove. Five of the best are:

  • Bergenia – elephant’s ears: reaching some 12in (30cm) high, the leaves are thick, leathery, shiny and evergreen. ‘Abendglut’ is one of the best
  • Erica and Calluna (heather): they mostly need an acid soil. Go for ‘King George’ – deep rose-pink flowers – ‘Springwood White’ – white flowers – and ‘Vivelli’ – almost blood-red flowers, with dark green foliage that becomes bronzy in winter
  • Geranium – cranesbill: the ‘true’ geraniums – not the summer bedding pelargoniums – are excellent for dry soils, and for edging pathways and growing on slopes
  • Lamium – dead nettle: there are many different shades, and some with vibrant gold tints. Look for ‘Beedham’s White’, with bright yellow leaves and white flowers
  • Osteospermum – this daisy plant from South Africa must have a sunny spot. It will grow in practically any soil, doesn’t mind being dry, and rewards with fabulous flowers for most of the summer

Adopt even one of the above measures and you’ll save time in the garden. Adopt all 10, and you can go away for long holidays without worrying about the garden at all. Then it’ll just be your cat you need to worry about!

This post originally appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of The Cat magazine.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Learning to love

This post has been written by our Taunton & Wellington Branch

We have written before about the need for children to learn that cats and kittens deserve respect and understanding and there is no doubt that this is a two-way matter!

Adopters with young family members have told us that the introduction of a cat or kitten into the family home has often resulted in a child who was previously unsure or nervous around animals soon gaining the confidence to trust and understand the new arrival as well as becoming confident with other animals as well. With adult supervision, young children can learn how to approach and handle cats correctly in a safe and feline-friendly manner and this can be a positive experience for both parties.

Ginger kitten Bear

Little kitten Bear was found dumped outside a house looking very scared and hungry. The householders could not take him in as they have an indoor FIV+ cat (adopted from us) so he came into the care of the branch. We estimated that he was about seven weeks old. From the outset he was an extremely friendly little chap who had obviously been in a home, but we never had any reports of a lost kitten of his description. We were delighted that he went to a home with a child as he was ideally suited.

These photos of Bear with his new chum Belle says it all. Hopefully both will go on to enjoy and share life’s experiences in a positive way.

Belle and Bear in the garden

Bear’s new owner Colleen says: “Bear has settled in so well, he is a lovely addition to our family and we love having him. He is brilliant with Belle and she has learned what he likes!

"Belle feeds Bear every day and they love to play in the garden together!

Belle feeding cat Bear

“They continue to be best friends and it is heart-warming to see them grow together. Bear really has completed our family.”

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

‘Is it ok to give my cat milk?’ and other veterinary FAQs

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

Question: Is it ok to give my cats ordinary milk? They prefer it to water.

Answer: Many cats are lactose-intolerant and while a little milk may not hurt, it may cause diarrhoea. Also milk contains a few extra calories which they may not need. It is better to feed a complete balanced diet and offer water, to avoid extra weight gain or any diarrhoea.

Cat drinking from bowl of water
Cats should be given fresh water. Photo by macinate via flick.com / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my cat keep losing the fur on his back legs? It’s not fleas or mange.

Answer: Stress may play a factor, but it is far more common for cats to loss hair because of over-grooming due to an itch. They often itch and over-groom in secret which can make it seem like the hair is just falling out on its own. Fleas are by far the most common cause of itching and many cats have an allergy to fleas which makes things even worse, and in these cases you may never actually see the fleas that set off the itching. It's important to get your cat on regular monthly flea treatment and your vet can advise on an effective eradication plan.

Sometimes, other allergies may be underlying the hair loss and food trials to rule out a food allergy may be recommended by your vet. Treatment is usually about managing the condition rather than curing it. Adding an omega 3 and 6 supplement may help to improve the skin. And always remember to make flea control your first priority! Our Itchy cats and skin disorders leaflet may be of help.


Question: How can a find a good cattery in my area please?

Answer: International Cat Care used to inspect catteries, back when they were known as the Feline Advisory Bureau. Unfortunately they no longer carry out inspections but they do keep a list of catteries, which can be found here.


Question: My cat was being sick so we've changed her diet, however now she has really bad dandruff. Is dandruff on cats a bad sign?

Answer: Adding an omega 3 and 6 supplement may help to improve the skin – chat to your vet about what is available, as you will want one that is compatible with her new diet. She might need a bit of help with grooming, so brushing daily will help in shifting dead hair and skin. Most cats have a degree of dandruff – but when they are grooming themselves regularly we might not always notice it.


Question: At what age should I get my kitten spayed? And when is it ok to use Frontline flea treatment?

Answer: Cats should be spayed (uterus and ovaries removed) before they are four months old, to prevent any unwanted litters. You can find vets who are signed up to the Kitten Neutering Database here: www.kind.cats.org.uk

Frontline spray can be used on kittens from as young as two days old, and I'd recommend getting this from your vet when using it in a kitten younger that’s seven to eight weeks old, as the dosing instructions are different to using it on an adult cat. Kittens over seven weeks old can have other types of spot on flea treatment, some of which include a wormer. We'd normally start worming kittens from seven weeks old. Have a read of our leaflet, Fleas and other parasites.

White kitten
Kittens should be neutered by four months of age
Question: My cat has a skin tag on the back of her neck. It has grown a lot in the past two weeks. Should I be worried about it?

Answer: It may be best to have the lump investigated by your vet, as waiting until the lump gets bigger may mean it starts to cause discomfort. If the lump does turn out to require removal, it will become more difficult to do so the bigger it becomes. Your vet may suggest taking a small sample from the lump to send away for analysis before deciding whether it is benign and safe to leave or malignant and should be removed. This is usually a relatively painless procedure for the cat and involves putting a needle into the lump to obtain a sample of cells. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing to worry about.


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For more advice, please visit www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/care-leaflets

Consult your vet if you have a specific concern about your cat.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: chat with Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow on 18 May; or vet Dr Sarah Elliott on 1 June. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2pm. See you there!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Meet the cats in our sponsor pens: Tinker

Every day hundreds of unwanted cats are signed over into Cats Protection’s care, for all manner of reasons.

Cats Protection's sponsor cat Tinker

Five-year-old girl Tinker wasn’t in a very good condition when she was admitted into the care of our National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex. After lots of love and care, she’s doing much better now.

Tinker loves playing with her fishing rod toy, as you can see from the below video!



You can sponsor a cat pen from just 19p a day, providing cats like Tinker with shelter, warmth, food, medical care and the love they need. It's easy to become a sponsor right now, for as little as 19p a day. To find out more, visit www.cats.org.uk/sponsor

Thursday, 27 April 2017

‘Why have my cats started to spray in the house?’ and other behaviour FAQs

Not sure why your cat does a certain thing? There may be a simple explanation.

Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow took to our national Facebook page recently to answer live questions from curious cat owners. Here are just some of the topics discussed:

Question: Why have my two female cats started to spray in the house? Both are two years old and there have been no changes in the household. I have two very large litter boxes for my five cats that are cleaned twice a day.

Answer: Cats can start to spray for various of reasons. The first thing to do would be get both cats health-checked, including urine samples. Have you seen both of them doing it? If not, you could set up cameras to identify which cats are involved. Behaviourally, there are a number of causes, the most common being something that causes them stress. The best way to find out the underlying cause is to get a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC).

It's great that you've got two large litter trays already, but the cats would probably benefit from having a litter tray each if you can. Ideally these would be split out all over the house so that they can be easily accessed without going into one another's territories. If your current two trays are placed together, I'd suggest splitting them up as cats view trays in a row as simply one large litter tray! Wishing you all the best and I hope it gets resolved soon.

Cat snuggled on a blanket

Question: Why does my cat rush over to me and miaow when I start whistling?

Answer: I'm guessing that this could be a learned behaviour. Is there anything in particular you've done in the past? For example, have you whistled and then giving your cat fuss or food? Cats are very clever and can easily learn associations with something that predicts a reward or positive outcome.


Question: I had my female cat spayed around five weeks ago. I kept her in for nearly two weeks. Now ever since being spayed she is a changed cat and not for the best. She hates staying indoors and barely comes home now. She shows up every now and then but she's very grumpy and doesn't want to know us. She's always been a very affectionate cat, coming on your lap and on the bed and having a fuss made of her. I feel like I've lost my cat. Nothing has changed except for the op and just don't understand why she's gone like it. Thank you.

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has been behaving differently since the spay. This isn't usual as spaying doesn't change their personality. I would suggest chatting to your vet to look for possible underlying medical causes for this change, for example whether she's in any pain. Continue to keep your routines the same as cats need consistency in their lives. If the vet rules out medical reasons, I'd suggest getting a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). I hope she returns to her normal self soon.

Cat claw
Photo by istock.com/epantha
Question: I have four cats and one of them has started taking his claws down the wall when he comes out the litter box. Why does he do this?

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has started scratching the walls. Get the vet to give him a check over to make sure he's healthy and has no problems with his claws or paws.

If he is scratching the walls with his claws, it can help to understand why cats scratch in the first place. Scratching is a normal behaviour for cats for claw maintenance, to stretch their muscles and ligaments as well as usually the scent glands in between their toes to mark their territory (plus as a visual marker from vertical scratch marks). Some cats start scratching more as territory marker and may do so in response to something stressful (whereby the list is endless!). Getting a qualified behaviourist to go through all the history with you will help to identify the underlying cause.

In the meantime, ensure that your cats all have plenty of scratching facilities, spread out around the house. Ideally scratch posts should be tall enough (at least 60cm) and sturdy enough for the cat to put their weight against and have vertical thread (as opposed to horizontal rope), but these are hard to find. Go here for more advice.


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For more behaviour advice, please visit www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub where you’ll also find The Behaviour Guide which discusses a variety of topics on cat behaviour.

Consult your vet if you have a specific concern about your cat.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: get support with pet-related grief on 2 May; chat with Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow on 18 May; or vet Dr Sarah Elliott on 1 June. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2pm. See you there!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Meet the cats in our sponsor pens: Chamomile

Every day hundreds of unwanted cats are passed into the care of Cats Protection.

Sponsor cat Chamomile

Beautiful Chamomile is currently living at our Warrington Adoption Centre until she finds her forever home.

The five-year-old girl has had a few problems with her skin but they now seem to be under control.
She likes the outdoors and wildlife so would enjoy a home with a garden. If you think you can offer her a home, get in touch with the centre directly on 03000 12 06 12.



Sponsoring one of our cat pens is one of the best ways you can help cats like Chamomile, providing them with shelter, warmth, food, medical care and the love they need. It's easy to become a sponsor right now, for as little as 19p a day. Visit www.cats.org.uk/sponsor

Friday, 21 April 2017

Host your own Paw-some Afternoon Tea!

As today, 21 April, is National Tea Day we think it’s the perfect time to tell you about an exciting new event we’re launching that we’re inviting cat lovers – and cake lovers – to take part in.

Join us on Friday 26 May for a Paw-some Afternoon Tea. Bake or buy some tasty treats, pour some friends and family a cuppa and have a fun-filled afternoon in aid of Cats Protection.

Girl and gran baking cakes for Cats Protection

If you love cats, love a get-together or just love cake, we are asking you to hold your own Paw-some Afternoon Tea and help us help more cats and kittens in need. What better way to give unwanted cats a second chance?

Whether you’ll be at home, in work or at school, invite your friends, family, colleagues and schoolmates to join you for an afternoon of tea, coffee, cakes, scones, sandwiches and anything else you fancy. Indulge in a little luxury to give cats and kittens across the country a chance of health and happiness.

A platter for a Paw-some Afternoon Tea

Sign up to receive your free pack at www.pawsometea.org and we’ll send you everything you need to make your event the cat’s whiskers. We’ve got bunting, cake flags, games, recipes and much more.

Need some inspiration now?

Cat face balloon instructions

Here’s how to make a cat-face balloon for your afternoon tea:

What you will need

  • balloons (helium-filled balloons work best)
  • card or paper
  • pen
  • scissors
  • tape

Steps

  1. Fold over the short edge of your card/paper up to about 9cm
  2. Draw a triangle and cut it out
  3. Unfold your shape and cut in half down the fold
  4. Fold a tab around 1cm wide at the bottom of each ear
  5. Using tape, stick the ears on either side of the top of the balloon and the whiskers in the middle as shown
  6. Draw and cut out a nose and whiskers
  7. Using tape, stick the whiskers on to your balloon
  8. Try adding more detail to the balloon using a marker pen

For even more Paw-some Afternoon Tea ideas, check out our Pinterest board.

Follow Cats Protection's board Paw-some Afternoon Tea Inspiration on Pinterest.

So put the kettle on and start planning your Paw-some Afternoon Tea!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Meet the cats in our sponsor pens: Gabrielle

Every day hundreds of unwanted cats, like Gabrielle, are handed over to Cats Protection.

Meet the cats in our sponsor pens - Gabrielle

Six-year-old Gabrielle was brought into our Belfast Adoption Centre after a kind member of the public found her as a stray, along with her two kittens.


Her kittens thankfully found their forever homes a while ago but Gabrielle is still searching. She has feline asthma and takes a couple of inhalers throughout the day to manage her condition.

Sponsoring one of our cat pens is one of the best ways you can help cats like Gabrielle, providing them with shelter, warmth, food, medical care and the love they need. It's easy to become a sponsor right now, for as little as 19p a day.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Preparing your cat for Easter

For many people, Easter means spending time with friends and family or going away for a long weekend break. Combine this with hot cross buns and chocolates galore and it’s easy to see how it can be a stressful and risky time for our cats.

Fret not, follow the following tips!

Going away

If you’re planning to use the bank holidays for an extended weekend break, we wouldn’t recommend taking your cat with you. Cats are generally very stressed by travelling and without the familiar smells of their home territory, can become disorientated in a new environment. This also means they are more likely to get lost.

So instead, ensure you’ve made arrangements for your cat while you’re away; don’t let them fend for themselves. You could arrange for a trusted friend or cat sitter, preferably that your cat is familiar with, to feed, groom and play with your cat while you’re on holiday.

Alternatively you could book your cat to stay in a boarding cattery. Ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date and the cattery knows of any special dietary requirements or medications that may need administering while your cat is in their care.

Cat with Easter basket
Photo: istock.com/kozorog

Welcoming visitors

Unfamiliar people and noisy children visiting the home can be very stressful for cats. Try to stick to your cat’s normal routine as much as you can.

Provide your cat with a quiet place to retreat to where they will not be disturbed. Ensure it contains their resources, such as a litter tray, an area for food and a separate area for water, a scratch post, toys and somewhere to sleep or hide. Cats like elevated places to hide, such as shelving or on top of a wardrobe, to make them feel safe and secure. Ensure they can access these, for example by placing a chair nearby.

Easter treats

A number of foods that we typically find in the home at Easter, such as chocolate eggs and raisins in hot cross buns are toxic to cats, so keep them out of reach, stored in sealed containers or closed cupboards. Keep Easter egg or basket packaging and wrapping out of the way as ingesting can be dangerous.

The signs of poisoning aren’t always obvious but can include vomiting, difficulty breathing and drooling.

If you think your cat may have ingested something harmful, seek veterinary advice immediately. Tell them where, when and how the poisoning occurred, if known and take packaging or samples of the substance with you.

Find out more about toxic substances and recognising the symptoms of poisoning here.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Help us call for air guns to be licensed in England and Wales

Cats are being targeted in horrifying air gun attacks.

To you a cat like Billy is a beautiful animal. But to the person who coldly pulled the trigger, Billy was nothing but a target.

Billy was shot by an air gun
Poor Billy has been left blind in one eye
When our vets at the National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex first saw Billy, he had so many puncture wounds they thought he’d been attacked by a wild animal. But as the treating Veterinary Officer recalls: “When we looked at his X-rays we could see his whole body and head were literally peppered with air gun pellets.”

Two pellets were removed from Billy’s neck but the rest, particularly the four lodged in his head, were just too deep. The Veterinary Officer said it was a “miracle” Billy had survived at all. Billy has been left totally blind in one eye and may only be able to see shadows with the other.



On average nearly four cats a week are being shot with an air gun in the UK.

Chaos was a victim of an air gun too. She was shot between her eyes in September 2016 in Neath, South Wales. The pellet miraculously missed her brain and lodged in the muscle between her spine and gullet, where it remains.

A cat's X-ray showing a pellet
Chaos's X-ray reveals an air gun pellet
The pellet did, however, shatter the bones in her nose making her unable to breathe except through her mouth which, of course, prevented her from eating or drinking.

She was fitted with a feeding tube which has now been removed and she is able to eat and drink again. She has only been outside once since her recovery and was frightened by the lights outside the house which tends to support the vet’s theory that a light was shone in her face to temporarily blind her before being shot.

Chaos was shot by an air gun
Chaos after the shooting
These poor cats are being maimed, blinded and even killed. That’s why we’re asking you to take a very important action today.

Please sign and share our petition calling for air guns to be licensed in England and Wales.

Currently, every air gun in England and Wales is unlicensed. It’s all too easy for people intent on cruelty to legally get their hands on these lethal weapons. By signing our petition, you will help us pressure the government to make it illegal to own an air gun without a license. Sign our petition here: www.cats.org.uk/airgunspetition

Your support will make a real difference. Thank you.

Monday, 10 April 2017

London Marathon: where champions are made

The Virgin Money London Marathon is in its 36th year with more than three quarters of competitors running for a good cause. Since its creation in 1981, more than £830m had been raised for charity by London Marathon competitors.

We’ve very pleased to say that we have 14 cat lovers running the London Marathon 2017 to raise funds for Cats Protection. One of our dedicated supporters, Debbie Hunt is taking part on behalf of the newly-formed North Bristol Branch.

“I have four beautiful cats and love all animals,” says Debbie. “My cats are my furry inspirations to run for Cats Protection and are very lucky to have their forever home and be very loved. I want all cats and animals to have a home and feel safe and loved, so being able to help local kitties in Bristol is perfect.”

Debbie's beloved cat, Bob
Debbie's cat Bob. Photo: Carly Wong at The Pet Collective www.thepetcollective.co.uk
Debbie is a seasoned marathon runner, having run four in the past, two of which were for animal charities, so knows how much preparation is involved. She’s running around four times a week and also doing classes, free weights and cardio at the gym.

“[The hardest bit will be] getting through mile 18-20, tiredness and any pain. I need to break the race down into chunks and use visualisation to get through. Not forgetting to enjoy the race!”

Debbie's an experienced marathon runner
To anyone else who is considering a challenge event on behalf of Cats Protection, she says: “Go for it, no hesitation. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, so grab it with both hands!”

Debbie’s aiming to raise £1,750 for her local branch – you can show your support by donating here.

Another plucky supporter who will be running the marathon for Cats Protection is Jessica Webb, who is hoping to raise £1,500 for our Canterbury & District Branch.

“The London Marathon is a challenge I've always wanted to have a go at,” Jessica explains. “My two cats are my first ever pets and I absolutely adore them! Seeing how much animal abuse there is nowadays I feel passionately about helping abused and neglected kitties and cats.”

Jessica and her cat, Tiger
Jessica and cat, Tiger
Jessica’s job is very active so she’s integrating exercise into a lot of her fundraising. “I’m a dance teacher at several local schools so cake sales galore have proven the best fundraiser with the children. I am looking to do a raffle and a friend wants to do a Zumbathon for me after the marathon, so the fundraising will continue into July.”

Jessica's training to run the London Marathon
Jessica's looking forward to running the London Marathon!
Despite being nervous about completing her first ever marathon, Jessica is looking forward to celebrating afterwards.

“The sense of pride when I finally get to race day surely will be one of the best feelings ever!”

If you’d like to support Jessica, you can donate here.

Both ladies have fundraising pages on Virgin Money Giving, which will claim gift aid on Cats Protection’s behalf where the donor is eligible.

Join the team in 2018

Want to be part of the #CatChampions team in 2018? We have nine gold bond places for Cats Protection supporters to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of the charity to raise vital funds to help the cats and kittens in our care. You can of course nominate a local branch or centre to support. Find out more at www.cats.org.uk/vlm18

We also welcome runners taking part in any local or national event and at any distance. If you have your own place in a run and would like to support Cats Protection please get in touch events@cats.org.uk

Friday, 7 April 2017

How funds raised by challenges help local branches

This week at Cats Protection is Big Cat Week where we’re celebrating our five-day Himalayan trek and three-day tiger conservation project in India.

Our intrepid Himalayan challengers can choose to support their local Cats Protection, meaning that all funds they raise go directly to that branch or centre.

Branches are run entirely by volunteers and the wonderful things that they do are only made possible by their dedication and the funds raised by them and their supporters.

Stephanie and Helena
Stephanie Peel and Helena Peck are raising funds for their local branch
Stephanie Peel and Helena Peck, who are undertaking the Indian challenge, have been raising thousands of pounds for the St Albans & District Branch. Find out what they’ve been doing here.

The funds raised by supporters like Stephanie and Helena enable the branch to continue their important work with cats – finding forever homes for abandoned cats, neutering to prevent unwanted litters from being born, and helping people to better understand cats.

Charlie and Kit are just one example of cats that are currently being helped by the branch.

Charlie and Kit
Charlie and Kit
Charlie’s owners were unable to take him and his nephew, Kit, with them when they moved, so they signed them over to the care of the St Albans & District Branch.

Although shy at first, Charlie seems much more confident and affectionate when he becomes familiar with people. He thoroughly enjoys having a good brush too!

Wonderful, sweet Kit is very timid and easily frightened, preferring to observe at first. However, his playful, friendly and vocal nature begin to show as he becomes more comfortable and interactive with you. His love of feather toys brings him to life, springing into action as he chases them around.

Charlie and Kit are very attached to each other. They play well together and groom each other and curl up together.

Thanks to care from the branch, Charlie and Kit will hopefully find a new home very soon.


If you’re interested in adopting Charlie and Kit, please get in contact with the St Albans & District Branch directly on 0345 371 2064 or stalbanscp@hotmail.co.uk 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Challenge events: putting the fun into fundraising

For many people taking on a once in a lifetime challenge like our Himalayan Trek and Tiger conservation project is a dream come true. To top that, the challenge raises vital funds to help us continue to care for cats and kittens throughout the UK.

For some, the reality of pledging to raise a minimum of £4,000 sets in and it can put them off from signing up at all.

Fear not, raising £4,000 is completely possible – not only that, but we think you will have fun along the way as well as you can see form some of our fab fundraisers below.

We’ll provide you with full support, ideas, a fundraising pack of branded resources and polo shirt to ensure you feel completely comfortable fundraising towards your pledge.

Stephanie Peel and Helena Peck

Helena Peck and Stephanie Peel are cat have pledged to raise funds for the St Albans & District Branch.

Helena is a self-confessed ‘crazy cat lady’ and has been a volunteer at the St Albans & District Branch for a couple of years. She sees first-hand the amazing cat work they carry out and just how much the work costs. Motivated by the opportunity to take part in a once in a lifetime challenge and to raise funds for the branch she decided to take on, not one, but two challenges on their behalf. In 2016 Helena completed the Zambezi River challenge and this year she’ll be trekking the Lesser Himalayas and volunteering to help tigers in India – all to raise funds for her local branch.

Stephanie Peel and Helena Peck
Stephanie and Helena dressed as tigers and raised £150 for their local branch
Helena’s fellow volunteer and friend Stephanie Peel was also motivated to sign up for the challenge to help raise funds. Since signing up they have been having lots of fun baking, knitting and getting dressed up for collections.

Cat cupcakes
Cupcakes Stephanie made for a Pets At Home fundraising weekend
Knitted catnip mice
Helena knits catnip mice and blankets

Yasmin Fisher

Vet nurse Yasmin (Yaz) Fisher signed up to the challenge after one of her clients mentioned it to her. “I currently work as a qualified vet nurse and am always looking for adventure travel,” she says. “I have also volunteered with big cats in the past so I can't think of anything better than the opportunity to see them in the wild and raise funds!”

Seeing the wonderful and dedicated care that Cats Protection volunteers and staff give to the cats in their care, Yaz wanted to give something back to our Nottingham Adoption Centre as well as take part in the challenge of a lifetime.

Yaz’s six months of fundraising has gone off with a bang. Using Christmas as a perfect crafty fundraiser, Yaz created little Christmas Eve boxes of goodies in return for donations.

Christmas Eve gift boxes
A Christmas gift box made by Yaz
Not one to miss out on the opportunity to dress up, Yaz recently took up one of the many charity slots that Cats Protection is given by Tesco and collected £50 in three hours.

Her next planned fundraiser is a pet photo competition and she has some fab prizes up for grabs!

Pet competition
Prizes for Yaz's pet competition
You can read more about all the fundraisers taking part in the Himalayan Trek and Tiger conservation project here.

What could 12 months of fundraising look like?

Challenge event participants have plenty of time to raise the funds needed – we put together a very robust pack of resources to help and all fundraisers you will receive dedicated support and guidance from our Events team.

Here are just a few examples of fundraising ideas to help raise £4,000

  • Order some collection boxes and get out and about in your local area asking shops, businesses and organisations to have one for you along with a personalised ‘sponsor me’ poster
  • Organise a car wash
  • Offer a skill in return for donations perhaps you can hold a ‘freebie’ day one day a month eg massaging, babysitting, hairdressing, lawn mowing etc
  • Dress up as a cat and hold a street collection
  • Hold a car boot sale
  • Bake some healthy, cat-shaped cookies to sell

For even more ideas, visit the challenge page (www.cats.org.uk/ind18) and scroll down to the ‘Support documents’ tab.

Feel inspired?
Sign up to your own challenge and have some fun! You can see all of our fundraising challenges here.