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

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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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Monday, 7 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: My cats have helped me through my darkest days

Blogger Aimee Wilson explains how cats are more than just pets, they’ve helped her cope through mental health struggles and a hospital stay. 

Growing up, I always had pets; gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, fish… then, when I was about twelve, my dream came true and my mum finally agreed that we could get a cat! Saffy was like a little companion or friend for the evenings after school when my mum would still be at work. And when I went through a trauma at the age of 15, she could be there for me in ways that no human ever could. When I’d have flashbacks and find myself reliving the trauma, stroking Saffy’s fur helped soothe me and ground me back to reality so that I recognised that I was safe now.

a black cat with red collar sitting on a pink blanket
Saffy helped Aimee through her trauma 

After my mental health dramatically deteriorated as a result of the trauma, I was admitted to a specialist psychiatric hospital in 2012 that was over 100 miles from home. Of course, I missed my friends and family, but I also missed Saffy. My mum would send me photos and cute videos of her on social media so that I could still see her and that hugely helped to serve as a reminder that she – and many others – had been supportive through my darkest days. I owed it to them – and myself – to put all the effort that I had into working towards my recovery and discharge from hospital.

When, after about a year, I finally started to notice improvements in my mental health, my mum came up with the brilliant idea of buying a cat collar to remind me of my ultimate recovery goal of having my own home with my own cat. That collar hung from a photo frame in my hospital room for a further 18 months before I was finally discharged, and it ended up around my kitten’s neck.

woman holding a tabby kitten
Kitten Dolly made Aimee's new house a home 

Getting my own kitten, Dolly, was both an easy and hard decision; on the one hand, I knew that I needed company in moving from having people around me 24/7 to being in my own home, and on the other hand; I didn’t want it to look as though I was trying to replace Saffy. This thought became even harder when, one Christmas, Saffy began struggling to breathe and had to be put to sleep. I think that being in my own home and having Dolly made losing Saffy a little less painful because I still had a cat around. It was a lot harder on my mum though, whose only company for the years I’d been in hospital was Saffy, so she got another cat; Millie.

tabby cat sitting on Christmas presents under a Christmas tree
Dolly was a lively companion through Aimee's recovery

Dolly was a completely different cat to Saffy though! She was much more lively and friendly and having her by my side through my mental health recovery meant the world to me. When, in October 2018, her organs began to fail, I was in pieces; I still had my bunny, Pixie, but my house wasn’t a home without a cat in it! So, it took less than a week for me to adopt Emmy, my little calico.

young woman holding a calico cat
Aimee now shares her home with the lovely Emmy 

It was so much more rewarding to adopt rather than ‘shop’ for a cat because it felt as though I was doing a good deed and that thought helped me whenever I missed Dolly. It’s also nice to be able to give Emmy a good life full of everything she could ever want after her rough start of being found wandering the streets, alone, at only a few weeks old. All cats deserve love but to have Emmy come from a such a horrible beginning into a home that is full to the brim with kindness, care and love is really special.

calico cat stretched out in its back and yawning
Emmy is settled after having a tough start to life

It’s an absolute honour to be asked by the Cats Protection team to share my story on how cats have benefited my life and I hope that if readers can get just one thing from this piece, then I’d like it to be the knowledge that your cat is more than ‘just a cat’.

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

Friday, 4 October 2019

More Than Just a Cat: Lianne honours her much-missed companion Skittles

Skittles stuck by her owner Lianne Loveridge through the toughest of times, so when she passed away at 11 years old, a big hole was left in her home and heart.

young woman wearing Christmas jumper and holding white cat

“Skittles had helped me through so much, from suffering with severe depression in my early to mid-20s to getting back on my feet and settling down to get married,” said Lianne from Warwick. “She was there for the good times and the bad, and we had a very close bond.”

Sadly Skittles was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2019, and just eight weeks later she passed away.

white cat lying on purple checked blanket

“Losing her really knocked me – suddenly my constant companion was gone,” said Lianne. “Friends and family tried to say comforting things, but it didn’t help me get over the feelings of loss. I also felt guilty, as it was up to me to take that final decision for her to be put to sleep.”

Struggling with the loss of Skittles, Lianne decided to call Cats Protection’s grief support service, Paws to Listen, to speak to one of our volunteer listeners.

“Speaking to someone at Paws to Listen helped me enormously – the volunteer helped me understand that I had done the right thing and that my feelings were perfectly normal.

close up of white cat looking at camera

“I still have ups and downs, but the support has helped me to focus on the good memories and to deal with my feelings of loss.”

Lianne recently got married and, while the thought of going through such an important life change without Skittles around was upsetting, she found that the emotional support she received really helped her to cope so she could enjoy her big day.

Although the Paws to Listen service is confidential, Lianne said she wanted to speak publicly to help other people in need of support following the loss of a cat.

young woman cuddling white cat

“Skittles loved to be the centre of attention so what better way to honour her memory than for people to know about the happiness she brought me.”

“Skittles was more than just a cat. She was my constant companion and supportive best friend.”

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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Thursday, 3 October 2019

5 reasons why your cat is better than your boyfriend

When it comes to helping you find your perfect match, here at Cats Protection we really do our research.

We’ll assess your personal preferences, your living situation and your daily routine to find you the ideal companion to share your time with, and you can be sure that they’ll be in tip top condition and ready to settle down.

Even better, you won’t have to do any swiping left or right, or get dressed up for any tedious dates – we do all the hard work for you. All you need is an open heart, a little bit of patience…and a suitable carrier to take them home in.

That’s right, we’re talking cats not boyfriends! Any cat lover knows that felines are much less complicated than fellas and here are some of the top reasons why…

They take up less room in the bed 


Although your kitty may still like a snuggle at night-time, they’re at least a little more respectful of your personal space. They don’t ‘starfish’, they don’t hog the duvet and they don’t snore – instead you may be treated to a relaxing purr to help you drift off to sleep.

They don’t leave pants and socks on floor 



Tired of tripping over underwear on your way to bed? Your cat doesn’t have any dirty laundry to leave on the floor, and may even be willing to help keep your clean laundry safe – it’s a great place to snooze after all!

They don’t care what you look like 


If you can’t be bothered to change out of your pyjamas and do your hair or want to spend all day sat on the sofa covered in biscuit crumbs, there’ll be no judgement from your moggy. As long as they get a chin rub and some dinner, they’ll be just be happy with your unkempt company.

They don’t hog the TV remote 


No matter what boxset you want to binge or videogame you want to play, your feline friend won’t moan and try to change the channel. They may even be happy to keep your lap warm while you’re on the sofa – better than any blanket or onesie!

They don’t argue back 



Whether it’s a squabble over the washing up or a tiff about not texting back, human relationships can have their challenges, but your cat has no interest in confrontation. If they’re not interested in the topic of discussion then they’ll just slink off to their favourite snoozing spot until they hear the food cupboard open.

To find your perfect match, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat