Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Cat Men Do confessions: Cute things cat dads do for their moggies

As our recent Cat Men Do campaign proved, there are thousands of proud cat dads out there who are happy to shout about how much they love their moggies.

Even though we’ve received lots of adorable messages and photos from these moggy-loving men, we’re sure there are many more that are yet to open up about their feline affections.

To encourage more cat dads to come clean about their feelings, we’ve asked some cat-loving men to share their cute confessions about being crazy for cats…

Going through the cat calendar

man showing black and white kitten the calendar
Moose the kitten being shown his upcoming appointments
“My six-month-old kittens Moose and Dottie are the most affectionate cats I’ve ever owned and now I’ve got a constant craving for kitten cuddles. So much so, that when I am away from home for more than a day, I worry they’ll forget me and not want to curl up next to me when I get back. Luckily, I’ve devised a strategy of talking them through our calendar each week so they know what’s coming up. They get updates on when their vet appointments are, when they’re going to have to endure their flea medication and when mummy and daddy will be away for the weekend, so grandma will be popping in to feed them. I’m sure deep down, they appreciate the forewarning…”

Constructing cat houses 

cardboard box turned into a cat house
A lovingly constructed cat house complete with cosy blankets
“I won’t throw away a delivery box if one of our cats takes a shine to it! I always feel sorry for them that they don’t have their own cat bed – even though we’ve bought them loads of beds over the years that they have roundly ignored. It drives my wife mad that we have massive Amazon boxes just sitting around. My latest creation is a cat house. The boxes eventually go in the recycling once the cats get bored of them.”

Story-time friends 

man reading book to baby while ginger and white cat sleeps on his leg
Daisy enjoying story-time (and a snooze!)
“My 16-year-old ginger tom Daisy (long story) has been joining in with father/son story time with my two-year-old since he was born. It’s super cute, especially when Daisy rubs his face on the book corners, only for my son to berate him with an exasperated “No Daisy!””

Serving up a special dinner 

bowl of cat food
Lily's 'Biscuit Island' treat
“At the weekend I like to make our cat Lily a special dinner called ‘Biscuit Island’. It’s a cat-friendly concoction consisting of an ‘island’ of biscuits and cat soup in the middle. I then add her favourite treats as a tasty topping and even let her choose her favourite flavour (she head bumps the sachet to let me know!).”

Building a cat igloo 

black and white cat in a homemade igloo
An icy lookout spot for Felix
“Here is a picture of my cat Felix a few years ago. He loved playing in the snow so I built him an igloo which he used as a sentry box until it melted. As you can see when he was not on sentry duty he liked to relax on my bed or on me.”

black and white cat sleeping on a man's chest
Felix taking a well-earned break
Do you have a Cat Men Do confession? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter! To find out more about what Cat Men Do, visit www.cats.org.uk/cat-men-do

Monday, 11 November 2019

A day in the life of hand-rearing orphaned kittens

At Cats Protection we care for cats of all ages and from all backgrounds, with some needing a bit more care than others.

Sometimes we have kittens in our care who, for whatever reason, do not have a mum to look after them. These litters need to be hand-reared by our dedicated volunteers and staff to ensure they grow big and strong, and it’s a very demanding job.

The kittens need to be fed every few hours throughout the day and night, and lots of care needs to be taken to make sure they are kept safe and healthy.

three kittens cuddled up together in a cat bed
Kittens Arizona, Texas and Nevada getting cosy
Maisie Buckley, a volunteer at our National Cat Adoption Centre, recently helped to look after one of these litters of orphaned kittens and explains how she handled their round-the-clock care…

Why did you decide to become a Cats Protection volunteer? 

I can’t have pets in my current apartment so volunteering is a great way to look after my favourite animal! As I was only looking after the kittens temporarily and they were kept in a pen, my landlord gave me permission to care for them. It’s so rewarding to know I’m able to help these cats and kittens have a better life, especially when you can see them changing and growing more confident right in front of your eyes!

Can you tell us about the litter you recently hand-reared? 

I was looking after three, three-week-old kittens, one brother and two sisters named Arizona, Texas and Nevada. Unfortunately, their mother was a feral cat who was unwell and had to be put to sleep, leaving them needing round-the-clock care.

black and white kitten lying down and holding her back leg
Nevada having a chew on her paw
How did you prepare for hand-rearing the kittens?

I was provided with all the personal protective equipment (PPE) I needed by the centre, like gloves and aprons. As the kittens were not vaccinated yet, wearing these items helped to ensure I didn't pass anythign on to them that could make them ill. Then all I had to do was make sure I had a spot ready for their pen and a space which they could be fed and socialised in.

What other help and advice did you get from the Cats Protection centre? 

The staff at the centre were really helpful and reassuring, giving me plenty of advice and tips! Before taking the kittens home I did some training with them on how to feed and toilet the kittens so I was confident that I could look after them well.

What was a typical day (and night) with the kittens like? 

Although a few hours between feeds sounds like a long time, it’s pretty much non-stop when there are three or more kittens! For each feed I had to carefully sterilise all the equipment, mix the milk and measure it into bottles for them and prepare the litter tray for toileting. Then I would toilet each kitten and bottle feed them. Sometimes it can take some time to get them to latch on, some kittens require some encouragement and patience is needed to give them time to drink what they need. Then we check if they need to go to the toilet again before they will go back in their pen. I would also provide them with some finely mashed up kitten food to try and wean them onto solid food.

tabby and white kitten asleep on a towel
Arizona enjoying his nap
After everyone has been fed and toileted I then had to carefully document the details of each kitten’s eating and toileting habits so that we can keep track of their progress and make sure there aren’t any problems. Between all the sterilising and getting them all fed and toileted it took up to an hour each time. Be warned it can also get quite messy so there’s some clean up time to be factored in too!

Between feeds they often wanted to play so I found it helped to get them out for some supervised playtime and socialising. It’s important to introduce kittens to new experiences they’ll encounter in later life, such as household noises and being handled by people, during their ‘socialisation period’ which is between the ages of two to eight weeks. We follow a structured socialisation programme to help us do this which you can find out more about at www.cats.org.uk/kitten-socialisation

When the kittens are out of the pen it’s important to make sure you’re wearing PPE and keep them on clean towels and blankets so they don’t come into contact with any unsterile surfaces. As you can imagine there are some escape attempts so you need to keep a very close eye for little feet scampering away! The most difficult part was trying to convince them it was bed time after the night-time feeds as they were wide awake and wanted to come out and play!

What was the most challenging part of hand-rearing? 

tabby and white kitten
Arizona ready for playtime
Luckily my three were all happy and healthy but they’re totally reliant on you, so it’s a big responsibility to make sure they’re all eating and toileting correctly. It can be very worrying if one of them doesn’t want to eat or is unwell. You don’t get a lot of sleep either which starts to catch up with you after a few days, but it’s more than worth it in my opinion!

What did you enjoy most about caring for the kittens? 

It was a really lovely experience bottle-feeding them, they’re so cute and it’s so rewarding to know they are happy and healthy because of us. Socialising is also very fun as you get to see some of their personality come out at playtime.

How did you feel when it was time for them to be rehomed? 

It was very hard to say goodbye because you do form a bond, but I’m so happy to know they’re going to good homes and they will have wonderful lives.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Cats Protection volunteer? 

I would say, go for it, you can really make a difference to the lives of these cats! I’m so glad I decided to join up, the time I spend with the kittens always makes my day and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

If you think you would be up for the challenge of caring for orphaned kittens, find out how you can join our team of incredible volunteers at www.cats.org.uk/volunteering

Friday, 8 November 2019

6 amazing Guinness World Record-breaking cats

All cats are special in their own lap-warming, toy-chasing, head-bumping ways, but there are a few cats that have gone above and beyond to show how truly unique they are.

white cat

Guinness World Records have been awarded to those select few moggies who have achieved amazing feats or were simply born a little bit different.

Here are few from the record-breaking moggy hall of fame…

Cat with the loudest purr 

Rescue kitty Merlin, from Torquay in Devon, has a purr measuring an incredible 67.8 decibels – that’s nearly as loud as a dishwasher!

To find out why cats purr, read our blog.

Most toes on a cat 

Canadian cat Jake was born with seven toes on each paw, adding up to 28 toes in total! Most cats have 18 toes, with five on the front two paws and four on the back two.

Longest cat

Ludo the Maine Coon from Wakefield is a whopping 118.33cm long, around two and a half times the size of the average domestic moggy!

Oldest cat ever 

Creme Puff from Texas in the USA lived for an incredible 38 years and three days before he sadly passed away in 2005. The average lifespan for a cat is around 14 years.

Most tricks performed by a cat in one minute 

Australian moggy Didga is one clever kitty as she can perform 24 different tricks in just 60 seconds, including rolling over and jumping while on a skateboard!

To find out how you can train your cat to do tricks, take a look at our blog series.

Longest cat whiskers 

Missi the Maine Coon from Finland has whiskers measuring 19cm long, nearly three times the length of an average cat whisker!

Do you think your cat deserves a world record? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Kittens born with extra toes and impressive moustaches

Two kittens born with a rare genetic condition causing them to have extra toes on their paws are being cared for at Cats Protection’s North London Adoption Centre.

Eleven-week-old sisters Boots and Mittens have more than the usual 18 toes, thanks to the inherited condition known as polydactyl.

black and white polydactyl kitten laying on its back with paws in the air
Boots has an extra toe on each of her four paws
Boots has 24 digits, with an extra toe on each paw, and Mittens has 22 digits, with an extra toe on each of her front paws.

black and white kitten with moustache marking
Mittens has an extra toe on each of her front paws
The kittens were handed in to the centre with their three other black-and-white siblings, Scout, Tux and Kisses, and there is some impressive facial hair among the litter. Mittens, Kisses and Tux in particular have some rather dashing moustache markings!

five black and white kittens sitting on a white blanket
Boots, Mittens, Kisses, Scout and Tux arrived with their mum Mira
“Although Boots and Mittens may look a little unusual, the extra toes do not affect their health in any way,” said Jen Harris, Manager at Cats Protection’s North London Adoption Centre.

black and white kitten with moustache marking
Kisses has a very stylish moustache 
“There is a legend among sailors that polydactyl cats used to be ship’s cats and the extra toes helped them climb the rigging.

“It’s a nice story, but these cats do not have a greater climbing ability. It’s neither an advantage nor a disadvantage – just an unusual quirk of nature.”

black and white kitten with moustache marking
The dashing Tux with fine facial hair 
Although not common, polydactyl cats and kittens can be found across the UK. It is a genetic condition that, in the majority of cases, causes no harm to the cat whatsoever. Some polydactyl cats have just one extra toe on each paw but some can have two or even three extra on each foot. If a polydactyl cat has kittens, there is a good chance some of her kittens will also have the condition.

black and white kitten
Little Scout has found a new home
Scout, Tux, Kisses, Mittens, Boots and their mum Mira have already found new loving homes, but if you would like to donate towards the cost of their care, you can do so by texting NLDN to 70577 to donate £5. To make a smaller or larger donation, please visit our website.

To find cats looking for homes in your area, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Friday, 1 November 2019

The cat owner’s guide to keeping a clean home

There are many tell-tale signs of a home with a cat; cat toys strewn across the floor, cosy boxes and beds in every room and of course a sprinkling of cat fur on the soft furnishings.

ginger cat asleep

While they more than make up for this mess with their purrs and affection, it’s still up to the human residents of the household to clean up after them.

There are several ways you can make these chores easier for yourself, meaning you’ll have more time for head bumps and chin rubs with your feline housemate.

To help you keep your home clean and cat-friendly, here are some handy tips…

1. Pick the perfect litter tray location 

Providing your cat with their own indoor toilet is a must, but they do sometimes have a habit of making a mess outside the tray. This is because cats like to bury their poo, which involves flicking the litter around and occasionally onto the floor.

ginger and white long-haired cat

To make the clearing up easier, place the litter tray somewhere with hard flooring that is easy to sweep, or put the tray on a protective mat that can be easily wiped clean.

Of course it’s also important that the location suits your cat too, so choose somewhere quiet and private for them to do their business that’s away from where they eat, drink and sleep.

For more information about where to put all of your cat’s things, take a look at our blog.

2. Buy some cat blankets 

One of the main areas your cat will leave behind some furry evidence is where they snooze.

tabby cat lying upside down on blanket

To make the fluff easier to clean up, get your cat some cosy, washable blankets to sleep on. Try placing them in warm, quiet spots around the house or even inside cardboard boxes where they can snooze in peace.

Cats like to switch between sleeping spots regularly so give them a few options and then when they move on to a new bed, wash the blanket that’s not in use. This will ensure there’s always at least one blanket that they can recognise their own scent on, helping them to feel safe and happy.

For more facts about cats and sleep, read our blog.

3. Make brushing a daily ritual

To reduce the amount of hair your kitty leaves around the house, try getting into the habit of brushing them regularly.

ginger cat being brushed by woman

While most cats are pretty good at grooming themselves using their rough tongues, giving them a helping hand will give you the chance to catch the hair before it settles on the carpets and sofas.

Brushing your moggy can also be a great bonding experience and will help to keep their coat healthy and glossy.

For lots of tips on how to groom your cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/grooming

4. Get a powerful vacuum cleaner 

To make cleaning up any leftover cat hair quick and easy, get a vacuum cleaner purposefully designed for pet owners.

woman hoovering stairs with Shark vacuum cleaner

Shark’s TruePet vacuum cleaners feature innovative Lift-Away technology for removing embedded pet hair from floors and furnishings.

What’s more, buying one will also benefit unwanted cats and kittens across the UK. For every UK sale of a TruePet vacuum cleaner through Shark’s website, 25p per charity will be donated to Cats Protection and Dogs Trust*, with Shark committing to raising at least £33,500 for each charity during a one-year period!

To find out more about this exciting partnership, click here

*Dogs Trust Registered Charity Nos: 227523 & SC037843

Sunday, 27 October 2019

National Black Cat Day: 5 ways to turn your cat into a black cat

Every year on 27 October, we celebrate the black and black-and-white cats who are so often overlooked for adoption, just because of their colour.

National Black Cat Day brings monochrome moggies into the spotlight, showing that they have just as many head bumps and purrs to give as their colourful counterparts.

black cat sat on floor in front of cushions

In 2019, we’re encouraging those who own these lovely kitties to join #TeamBlackCat or #TeamBlackAndWhiteCat so we can see which team shouts the loudest!

Pick a side and share your photos and videos with the team hashtag, as well as #BlackCatDay.

We don’t want the cats of other colours to feel left out though, so we’ve put together this handy guide to show you how you can turn your cat into a black cat for the day.

Add a filter 

photo of tabby and white cat with black and white filter

Among the many filters available on apps such as Instagram, you’ll find some particularly stylish black and white ones. Take a snap of your cat and then add one of these effects to instantly turn them into a monochrome moggy! Don’t forget to share the shot with us using #BlackCatDay!

Shoot them in silhouette 

photo of a cat in silhouette

Another fantastic photography trick you can try is backlighting your kitty so they appear in silhouette. Place a bright lamp behind them and then take a photo to just capture their shadowy outline. Now share it online to join the fun!

Wear sunglasses 

photo of a tortoiseshell cat with black and white filter

While the first two tips will only turn your cat black in photos, this one will have a live effect. Find some glasses with a black and white filter effect and put them on whenever you look at your kitty. Not only will you be joining a black cat team, you’ll also look super cool in the process!

Turn off the lights 

low light photo of a tabby cat

With a simple flick of a switch, you can easily make your cat appear black. All cats look black in the dark, and with their excellent low light vision, they won’t mind the change in conditions. You may need to take extra precautions not to bump into things though.

Stand far away 

photo of tabby and white cat hiding in grass with black and white filter

Putting a bit of distance between you and your kitty will also help their colour fade, as they simply become a fuzzy faraway shape. They may even appreciate a bit of space, but the effect will soon wear off when they hear a cat food packet opening.

If you don’t fancy trying any of these clever tricks, then you can still show your support for National Black Cat Day by sponsoring a black cat at one of our centres! For as little as 19p a day you’ll ensure we can provide them with everything they need until we find them a loving new home, no matter how long it takes. Visit www.cats.org.uk/sponsor to find out more. 

For lots more Black Cat Day fun, and to find out whether #TeamBlackCat or #TeamBlackAndWhiteCat is winning, visit www.cats.org.uk/black-cats

More Than Just a Black Cat logo

Friday, 25 October 2019

More Than Just a Black Cat: Charismatic Lucy helps owner Phil with his mental health

In 2018, black-and-white cat Tasha was finally offered a forever home after spending a year in the care of Cats Protection’s Gateshead & Newcastle Branch.

In return, the three-year-old moggy has enriched the life of her new owner Phil Sherry, by helping him with his mental health struggles.

man wearing glasses with black and white cat sat in a basket behind him

Phil, a 48-year-old web developer from Gosforth in Newcastle upon Tyne said: “I’ve always been a cat fan, but hadn’t been able to live with any for the last five years, due to landlord restrictions.

“Coincidentally, my mental health had gone downhill a lot during those five years, so I decided I had to tackle the problem.

black and white cat

“I did my research and discovered Emotional Support Animals were a recognised thing, and asked my GP for help. He wrote a letter to my landlord and the landlord agreed to let me have one feline housemate. Result!”

With permission granted for Phil to welcome a cat into his life, it was in fact sheer luck that brought him and his new feline friend together.

black and cat lying on the floor with paws in the air

“I was getting a lift to an event I was speaking at and my talk had lots of cats in it as visual metaphors, so I was thinking about cats,” said Phil.

“Next thing I knew, we were driving past the Cats Protection logo on a newish looking building. I had no idea it was there, but I made a note to look it up when I got home. I read through the descriptions of each cat, saw she’d been on the bench for a year, and that was that  rescued.”

black and white cat clinging to the letterbox in the door

Tasha, who Phil has renamed Lucy Fur, a play on words from a song by one of his favourite heavy metal bands, soon settled into her new home and has made a big difference to his mental health.

Phil explained: “I’m very happy with my own company. That is, I don’t need the constant company of other humans in my life. I’m often in too much pain to even get out of bed, never mind leave the house to meet people. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely though, which is where Lucy enters the story.

black and white cat lying in basket with paws in the air

"She can sense when I’m extra ill and her behaviour changes; she’s far more present and cuddly, less zoomy and playful. Then there are the head butts. Cat head butts are power-ups, they instantly boost my energy and enhance my life.

“Lucy is more than just a cat, she’s my mental-health coach.”

Let us know what your monochrome moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustABlackCat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

If you have a cat of another colour, we don't want you to feel left out. Get involved with #MoreThanJustACat to share your story! 

More Than Just A Black Cat logo

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

More Than Just a Black Cat: Jessie’s journey through Cats Protection

Black-and-white cat Jessie was one of the first cats to arrive at Cats Protection’s newly established Richmond Branch and has left a lasting impression on the volunteers who cared for her.

“We would like to highlight the story of Jessie, a very special case and one of our firsts!” said the Richmond volunteers.

black and white cat with black nose

Jessie came from a home with multiple cats where she struggled to compete for food and resources. As a result she developed some behaviour problems and her owners decided they couldn’t cope with her and handed her over to Cats Protection.

The volunteers explained: “Because she’d had a hard time getting to her food in her previous home, she made herself sick by eating it so quickly when she finally had access to it. She also started showing some signs of aggressive behaviour and inappropriate play due to stress and her new environment.

black and white cat lying on blanket

“When Jessie came into CP care, we worked carefully with her to help her get back on track. She was still young, only four when she came into care, and we knew that with patience, time and a good schedule, she would come to see life wasn’t all bad.”

Once in the care of her fosterer Jenine, Jessie was put on a special diet and given lots of play time and access to puzzle feeders. Jenine also made sure to give her plenty of space, and soon she started to notice a change. Jessie has now become a social, happy cat and has even found her forever home.

black and white cat licking their paw

“Her new home has a garden and we knew it was the last bit missing to the puzzle of Jessie’s well-being,” said the branch. “She’s longing to go outside, play and enjoy a bit of liberty, which would help settle her even more. Now a lovely little lady, her soon to be owner fell head over heels for her.

“She will leave our care in November and it’s been quite a journey she’s been on with us. We had to give her time to settle and learn how to help her with her quirks, because her behavioral issues were so difficult to manage initially. Finding a new owner willing to take on such a sass-pot is not easy!

black and white cat having their head scratched

“She might be black and white, but she is one of our special cases. We are so happy we got to be a part of her journey and can now send her to the next adventure in her forever home. We really hope that with all the collective work of our various Cats Protection staff and volunteers, she will finally get the life she deserves.”

To find your very own black cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/black-cats to see the monochrome moggies looking for homes and discover how you can get involved in #BlackCatDay!

Friday, 18 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Hero cat Walter warns Hazel of diabetic attacks

For Hazel Parkyn, from Swadlincote in Derbyshire, her cat Walter is a lifeline, warning her when she’s about to suffer a diabetic attack.

Hazel was left with PTSD, head injury seizures and auto immune conditions, including type 1 diabetes, after she was attacked by a patient while working as a psychiatric nurse ten years ago.

blonde woman in flowery top holding black cat

Three years ago a second bleed on her brain triggered a rare form of fitting which causes her to suffer flashbacks, during which she is sometimes forced to relive her attack. Such flashbacks can leave Hazel feeling vulnerable and unsettled.

In addition to this, Hazel also suffers with potentially life-threatening diabetic attacks at night. However, whenever this happens, Walter alerts her up by patting her on the face and meowing until she wakes up.

black cat sitting on grey cushion

Although some animals can be trained as medical emergency detection pets to alert their owners, Walter has received no such training.

Walter’s life-saving actions were honoured at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019 when he beat hundreds of other entries to be selected as one of three finalists in the Hero Cat category, for cats that save the day.

As well as celebrating Walter’s heroic nature, Hazel said that being part of the awards helped her rebuild her confidence.

Hazel said: “Walter is so named as we thought he was a bit of a wally. He's always in trouble, is well known at the vets and walks like John Wayne. However he's not a wally at all, he's a little star. 

blonde woman in grey cardigan holding black cat

“Walter really is a remarkable cat and may have saved my life many times over. When my blood sugar runs low it can be very serious, especially if I’m asleep as I may not be able to wake up.

“Yet Walter can sense when this is about to happen and will repeatedly pat me on the face until I wake. He won’t stop until I’ve woken, he really is very persistent. He’ll then sit with me while I get my sugar levels back to normal.

“Walter is more than just a cat to me, he’s my lifesaver.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

More Than Just A Cat hashtag and logo

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Why do cats' eyes glow in the dark?

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to see two glowing eyes staring at you from you across the room, you might think you’ve found yourself in a horror movie. But the chances are that it’s just your cat gazing at you in the dark, not a scary monster.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that your cat has developed x-ray vision or the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes, it’s just a strange phenomenon caused by the structure of their eyeballs.

Both cats and humans have a layer of tissue at the back of their eyeballs called the retina. This is made up of light sensitive cells that turn the light we see
into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain, which decodes them to work out what we’re actually seeing.

However, because cats are most active at dawn and dusk when there isn’t as much natural light available, they need an extra tool to help improve their night-vision.

Behind the retina in a cat’s eyeballs, there’s another layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum. This acts as a mirror, picking up any light that passes through the retina and bouncing it back towards those light sensitive cells, giving it a second chance at being detected.

Not all of this light is picked up a second time around though, as some of it simply passes back through the retina again and travels out through the front of the eyeball. This is what makes it look as though your cat’s eyes are glowing.

Many other animals also have this striking feature, including fish and sheep, but their glow can appear as different colours. This is because the colour of the glow depends on what the tapetum lucidum is made from.

In cats’ eyes it’s made from molecules called riboflavin and zinc, and the amount of zinc determines how yellow, blue or green the glow appears.

So next time you see two shining eyes staring at you from out of the darkness, you can be pretty sure it’s just the ambient light reflecting back from your kitty’s eyes.

If you don’t have a cat though, then you might need to run!

For more amazing facts about your cat’s eyesight, read our blog.  

Thursday, 10 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Boots helps owner Shirley Ann cope with loneliness and grief

Shirley Ann, from Dalry in Scotland, feel less lonely following the death of her closest friend, all thanks to her cat Boots.

Shirley Ann was devastated when, in November 2013, a suicide attempt left her best friend permanently paralysed and hospitalised for 18 months.

grey and white cat with woman with red hair

After 35 years of friendship, Shirley found this a terribly stressful and lonely time as she could no longer reach her friend on the phone or go off on adventures with her.

One day Shirley decided that without any children or family, the love she needed had to come from a pet so she adopted Boots from a local rescue charity.

grey and white cat with paws crossed

Boots was in a bad way when Shirley took him. So bad in fact that when she called to enquire about him the lady in the rehoming centre told her to come right away as he was “giving up” following the death of his previous owner.

Initially very shy and withdrawn, Boots eventually came out of his shell to become a loving companion.

grey and white cat with woman with red hair

Shirley Ann said: “I gave him lots of petting which did raise a few purrs and out of the blue, one night, I felt him jump onto the bottom of my bed. I liked the feeling of his warm little body against mine and this was the start of our beautiful friendship.”

On 31 March 2015, six months after adopting Boots, Shirley Ann, who already suffered with severe fibromyalgia, was diagnosed with Addisons Disease. Then just two days later her friend, who was now in a nursing home, passed away unexpectedly.

grey and white cat sitting on the floor

These two huge blows often left Shirley Ann feeling very depressed but during these moments Boots would come and put his paw on her knee to comfort her.

She said: “I was utterly heartbroken when she died and without the love from Boots waiting for me at home I wouldn’t have survived. After her funeral I returned to my flat where Boots greeted me with head butts and such love.

“Nearly five years have now passed and, while others didn’t offer me the support I expected, I survived because Boots needed me. He won’t have anything to do with anyone but me. I look after him and he cares for me.

grey and white cat sitting on a red rug

“Boots gives me the love and companionship I so badly need. As I’m disabled, I spend most of my time at home so his company is invaluable. He’s always there to greet me when I get home, looks as though the world is ending when I leave (which makes me feel wanted), makes me laugh by leaving the room if I start singing (every one’s a critic!) and with his crazy antics.

“I want to pay tribute to Boots and the way the love of a cat can change your life. I bought a t-shirt a while ago which reads ‘In my darkest hour I reached for a hand and found a paw’. Nothing could be truer.

“Boots is more than just a cat, he is an angel with whiskers, an old soul who loves me as I do him.”

Let us know what your marvellous moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustACat and discover more heartwarming stories at www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is

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