Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Meet the lucky black cats who have brightened their owners’ lives

For the past 10 years, Cats Protection’s National Black Cat Day has been a chance to shine a light on black and black-and-white cats, who have sadly been regularly overlooked for adoption. 

Back in 2011 it typically took the black cats in our care a week longer to find new homes than cats of other fur colours, but fast-forward to 2020 and we’ve seen a promising change.

Black cats now find their forever homes 10 days quicker on average than they did 10 years ago, closing the gap between them and their more colourful counterparts. 

In fact, 44% of the cats we’ve rehomed over the last decade have been black or black-and-white, that’s 65,000 monochrome moggies in happy new homes!

For this year’s National Black Cat Day on 27 October, we’re celebrating 10 years of championing black cats and asked you, our supporters, to share your stories of your black cat companions. Here are just a few of our favourites…

Rosie and Susie 

Key worker Susie Taylor from Dorset adopted Rosie in April 2020, during a particularly difficult time in her life.  

“I was feeling very low and isolated as I had moved out of my home I lived in with my elderly mum, as I was so concerned I would catch COVID-19 from my job as a health care assistant at Bournemouth Hospital. 

blonde woman in stripy black and grey top holding black cat

“The ward I work on had become a COVID-positive-only ward for patients, and though we had PPE, staff unfortunately seem to be catching it a lot so I couldn’t put my mum at risk.

“Rosie was so scared at first and spent her first week under my bed but she loved the cat tower I’d bought her and started to spend her days on the top of it. 

“I ended up getting COVID-19 and was ill for three weeks. Just having a cat with me made me feel better and helped me not to feel so isolated. I really feel Rosie helped me get better faster and got me out of a very low place. 

“Rosie and I returned home to my mum in June and Rosie is now the most confident little cat. She loves the outside. I’ve had her neutered, chipped and insured so hopefully Rosie will now live her best life with us.”

Cherry and Josie 

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May 2019 and suffering with her mental health, Josie McGreal from East Yorkshire found an unexpected companion in Cherry. 

“My husband works full time so, in the day times when he was at work and the children were at school, I felt very lonely.

long-haired brunette woman with black cat on her lap

“I felt like I needed a cat to keep me company during the day and had my heart set on a ginger kitten. I also said I didn't want a black cat and I would prefer a boy. 

“We decided to go down the adoption route and we were asked if we wanted to go to the cattery. I initially said there was no point as I knew they didn't have any ginger kittens, but I decided why not as it would be nice to see them all. 

“When we got there my husband had seen this black cat and told me and our children to go look. She was super friendly and when I went in the pen with her it was love at first sight! 

“She really helped me get through the shock of being diabetic and we couldn't be happier. I would do the school run and then just sit and stroke her for hours on end! She is so affectionate and always wants cuddles. She even sleeps under the covers with us and comes up really close to me so we're touching. She’s such a happy cat.

“She always greets us through the door. She loves tummy rubs too! She's so good with our children and our new kitten, I just love her so much. She really helped me get over being diabetic and at the same time we helped her by giving her a forever home.”

Cleo and Jacqueline 

Adopting Cleo on impulse was Jacqueline Wilkinson from Croydon’s best decision, as she has supported her through a broken arm, divorce, house move and a global pandemic. 

“My ex-husband and I adopted Cleo in 2017 from Cats Protection’s Mitcham Adoption Centre. It was somewhat of an impulse adoption. I'd always wanted a cat but we really only called in to show our support to the new centre. Two visits and three days later, we brought her home with us. 

black-and-white photo of woman holding black cat

“Since then she has supported me through various illnesses and ailments. She never left my side when I broke my arm, as well as a divorce and moving house. 

“The last eight months have been particularly intense for the whole country and I've recently been off work with stress. Cleo has provided company, warmth and love over this time, as well as participating in my afternoon video meetings when I am working! I may well have gone mad without her.

“She is, like all cats, utterly crazy at times, jumping up walls and perching in the weirdest of places but I wouldn't change her for the world and I absolutely wouldn't be without her.”

Willis and Jenny

Little did Jenny Mitchell from North Norfolk know, but she would find a life-saving companion in Willis.

“We got Willis in 2015 from Cats Protection’s Dereham Adoption Centre. He was called Moo K5 then as his litter was found in a cowshed.

woman in blue t-shirt holding black cat over shoulder

“A couple of years after we brought him home, I went through a stage of having hypoglycaemic episodes in the middle of the night and, rather out of the blue, Willis started waking me up before I woke up myself.

“Usually he’d rub his face over mine until I eventually gave in or, if that didn’t work, he’d paw at my head until it did! I’d then go downstairs to sit in the living room and have something to eat and he’d come and sit with me, almost like he was checking I was ok.

“I’m still not sure what was causing me to have the lows and although none were ever serious enough to warrant medical assistance, Willis was probably a huge part in preventing that.

“I still have lows in the night (I’ve had diabetes for nearly 20 years so it’s a common part of my life) and he’ll always come and sit with me when I’m downstairs, he’s just not quite so good at waking me up these days (unless it’s to remind me he wants breakfast!). 

“He is very affectionate and always has been, he loves cuddles and loves to be handled, so he’s often not very far from our sides. I genuinely think that’s because of how he was looked after by Cats Protection before we adopted him – I mean how common is it for cats to like going to the vets, because Willis seems to enjoy it!?”

Shadow and Gavin 

Shadow arrived just when Gavin Harvey from Glasgow needed her most, and now she has a permanent place in his heart… and on his skin!

“Shadow came into my life when I was really down. I came across her photo on the Cats Protection Facebook page and I wanted her from that day. 

man and black cat laying in bed

“She was deemed too old and unwanted but I can tell you she isn’t either of those things. She’s the best thing to ever happen to me. 

“Shadow has been a ray of sunshine in my life. She picks me up when I’m down and she makes me happy in every way. She’s such a beautiful cat too with glossy black fur and bright yellow eyes. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. 

“I always say we saved each other. She was sad and I was sad and now we’re happy together. I’ll forever be grateful to Cats Protection for bringing her into my life. 

 “Shadow has shown me love and I always say we were destined to meet. I’m also a crazy cat daddy and I have her face and name tattooed on my hand!” 

If you’ve got a beautiful black cat, share their photo on social media with #BlackCatDay on 27 October and help us celebrate a brilliant decade for monochrome moggies! You can find more information about National Black Cat Day at www.cats.org.uk/black-cats 


Monday, 19 October 2020

Young mother cat and her disabled kitten are thriving against all odds

Maddie, the nine-month-old, heavily pregnant cat who arrived at Cats Protection’s Birmingham Adoption Centre in July, finally has a long-awaited happy ending, but her life could have turned out very differently. 

Born to young parents herself, Maddie’s owner’s landlord had threatened to remove her and her parents if arrangements weren’t made for them to be rehomed.

two black-and-white cats sitting on carpet with a bunch of cats toys nearby
Maddie and her kitten Micah (now renamed Milo)

Not only was the cats’ safety at risk but none of them had been neutered, meaning if their owner had not reached out to the centre for help, Maddie and her mother could both have had up to 18 kittens each year.

Maddie’s parents, Margot and Mason, were neutered and moved to new loving homes after being taken into the centre’s care but nine-month-old Maddie was heavily pregnant and gave birth to two male kittens, Maddox and Micah, just nine days later.    

black-and-white cat sitting inside a piece of wooden furniture
Maddie in her new home

The difficulties should have been over for Maddie after she gave birth but at five weeks old the kittens began to show signs of having cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological disorder which prevents the part of the brain that controls motor skills and movement from developing correctly in the womb. Kittens with this condition have jerky movement which affects their ability to balance and coordinate their limbs.

The kittens’ condition became increasingly evident as they grew and while Micah was not held back, his littermate Maddox became extremely poorly alongside having the condition and sadly did not survive. 

Luckily, little Micah eventually thrived and enjoys playing and creating plenty of kitten mischief despite being wobbly when he stands or moves. 

black-and-white kitten sitting on wooden floor
Micah (now renamed Milo) looking all grown up

Cerebellar hypoplasia is usually caused by the mother having feline infectious enteritis or feline panleukopenia, a disease caused by feline parvovirus, which is then passed on to the unborn kittens. The disorder can be prevented by routine vaccinations prior to pregnancy.

Cat Care Assistant Alice Batchelor-Reynolds said: “Micah grew into a gorgeous, cheeky kitten who absolutely loves life despite being unsteady on his feet. He has already started to adjust and will continue to learn to adapt to his condition over time. Eventually he won't be as wobbly. 

“Micah and Maddie are now enjoying life in a wonderful, loving new home where Micah has been renamed Milo. 

two black-and-white cats asleep on sofa
Maddie and Milo in their forever home

“However, we cannot overlook that preventative vet treatment, including timely vaccinations and neutering, would have changed the outcome for all generations of their family. 

“Micah and Maddie were very lucky because their owner realised they needed help and reached out to us but, like little Maddox, many in their situation might not have survived without intervention, especially if there had been pregnancy complications. 

“We would urge all cat owners to invest in early vaccinations and neutering for their cats, it’s the kindest option in the long-run and can prevent costly vet bills later on.” 

For details of how Cats Protection can provide financial assistance with neutering, visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering

For help and advice on caring for disabled cats, visit www.cats.org.uk/disabled-cats  


Friday, 16 October 2020

Happy ending for kitten who lost an eye after being found close to death

Kitten Rosie Rags has survived a near-death ordeal and gone on to live in a loving new home thanks to a group of cat-loving volunteers and their local vet.

Little Rosie was just over eight weeks old when she was found almost dead with a deeply infected eye, fighting for life near some outbuildings in Potterspury. 

grey long-haired kitten with one eye
Little Rosie Rags was rescued just in time

The quick-thinking member of the public who spotted her called Cats Protection’s Northampton Branch for help. 

The branch’s trap, neuter and return volunteer, Brenda, was first to respond to the plea and went to the rural area where tiny Rosie was sleeping on a rock in the sun. 

The fearful kitten initially ran away weaving beneath nearby vehicles and into ditches and undergrowth. 

Brenda noticed Rosie’s damaged eye and realised how extremely poorly the young cat was as she tried to run up a hill but collapsed in exhaustion at the top. 

grey long-haired kitten laying on beige towel
Rosie, exhausted and frail, after arriving in the branch's care

Brenda slowly approached and was able to collect the tiny, scared, blue-grey, long-haired kitten and rush her to a fosterer who would take her straight to a vet.

Fosterer Teresa Allaway was next to help frail Rosie. With over 10 years’ experience caring for foster cats she knew it was a race against time to ensure Rosie got the immediate care she needed to save her life and arranged for her to visit Spinney Veterinary Hospital. 

They kept Rosie alive out-of-hours on a Saturday night before operating to remove her eye the following morning.

Rosie was only just past the age at which kittens would usually leave their mothers and would not have survived if she hadn’t been found when she was. 

The operation was a success and with strong pain relief and antibiotics to fight infection, the young cat was nursed back to health, this time by fosterer Paula Francis who was able to provide round-the-clock care. 

grey long-haired kitten sitting in fluffy beige cat tree
Rosie recovered well from her ordeal and learned how to be a kitten again

Paula nurtured Rosie from the earliest days after her surgery when she hand-fed her chicken to build her strength and appetite, and reminded her how to be a kitten with play and socialisation once her eye had healed.   

The branch’s education volunteer Diana Johnson said: “Just over a month after she was rescued Rosie Rags, as we called her, had blossomed into a striking kitten with luxurious fur and a zest for life. She has now gone to live in a loving home and her journey really showed what a difference dedicated volunteers and first-class veterinary skills can make.  

“We know her life hung by a thread when we first collected her, so to see her playing at her fosterer’s and hear how she’s enjoying life now is both poignant and life-affirming. Our little Rosie has been a real-life phoenix rising from the ashes.” 

Susan Atkins, Veterinary Surgeon at Spinney Veterinary Hospital, added: “Rosie is an incredibly lucky kitten. She would not have survived the night if she had not been found and rushed to Spinney Vets by Teresa. 

“She required emergency treatment to stabilise her condition before she was strong enough to have the surgery to remove her badly damaged eye. We are all so thrilled that she has recovered so well and found a loving home.”

Now 13 weeks old Rosie has settled in her new home in Northampton and been renamed Tinkerbell. 

For further information about the Northampton Branch and cats in their care visit www.cats.org.uk/northampton

If you would like to volunteer with Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/volunteering to find an opportunity in your area. 


Thursday, 15 October 2020

Supporter hosts Black Cat Quiz for her monochrome moggy Flic

Cat lover Anne has raised a fantastic £100 for the Cats Protection branch she adopted her black cat Flic from.

black cat laying inside a wooden drawer

Having previously had a black cat called Liquorice, Anne wasn’t looking for another but couldn’t resist little Flic when she and her husband spotted her on the Chelmsford & District Branch website. 

“We were both looking on the website and at the same time we said ‘Flic looks cute’,” said Anne. 

black cat asleep on a brown leather sofa

“She’s been part of our family for almost five years now and I love her to bits. I work from home so most of the time, it’s just me and her. 

“She is absolutely adorable and she knows it, she gets away with everything! She has never had to wait to be fed, to be let in etc. and so she is really spoiled. 

black cat laying in a laundry basket

“I always give in to her as she puts her head on one side, looks at me with her beautiful little face and makes the strangest little eek sound. How can anyone refuse?!”

As well as raising much-needed funds for the branch, Anne’s online Black Cat Quiz was also a great opportunity for her to spend an evening with friends, including one all the way from Tasmania!

black cat playing with some plastic packaging on a tiled floor

Black Cat Day is on 27 October and we’d love for more supporters to celebrate beautiful black cats by hosting an online Black Cat Quiz. 

If you would like to enjoy a cosy night in while putting family and friends’ knowledge to the test, register for your own quiz pack now at www.cats.org.uk/BlackCatQuiz  


Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Four orphaned kittens rescued from a rabbit hole

A litter of kittens found huddling in a rabbit burrow at a holiday complex in Aviemore, Scotland has been successfully rescued thank to a team effort by staff, guests and Cats Protection. 

There had been sightings of kittens by staff and guests at High Range complex for several days but whenever anyone went to find them they had gone back into hiding. 

two tabby kittens asleep on a blue towel
Two of the rabbit hole kittens after being rescued

Receptionist Rachel Paterson said: “Our site manager had seen the kittens a day or two earlier while doing a drive-round check of the caravan park. I had gone down to the area to look for them, but hadn't had any luck at that point.

“The next day one of our resident guests had come up to reception to ask if we could do anything about the cats as they were currently in their awning. 

brunette woman stroking grey tabby cat
Receptionist Rachel with one of her cats

“I went down with the guest and we tried to catch the kittens who were under their caravan by that point, but soon discovered they were hiding in a rabbit burrow.”

Rachel called in our Strathspey Branch to help and, after being led to where they were last spotted, Branch Coordinator Peter Norgate and his wife Margaret set traps with food in the hope of tempting them out. 

Within minutes a six-week-old ginger kitten proved hungry and brave enough to venture out of the hole and into the harmless trap.

tabby kitten among some long grass
One of the kittens spotted at the holiday complex

Peter and his team left their details with the occupants of the nearest camper van and asked them to get in contact if any other kittens popped out. They were called back just minutes later when another kitten was trapped. In all it took several days to bring them all to safety.

“Life as a Cats Protection volunteer is never dull!” said Peter. “We certainly got to know the route to High Range well as we were back and forth collecting the kittens. 

“Sadly, a cat was reported killed on the road in the area in the same week as these kittens were found and we believe it was the mother, which is why they were left all alone. 

two tabby kittens eating from a grey plastic food bowl
Two of the kittens enjoying a tasty meal

“Tortie, Abbie, Ginge and Rufus are now in foster care and at the moment they are just getting used to us. We hope in the coming days to begin to socialise them so that we can then begin the process of finding them their forever homes.” 

A cat lover herself, Rachel was delighted to see all four kittens taken into care, knowing how cold the nights were and that heavy rain was on its way.

Rachel said: “It was a real case of team work as many people were involved in the whole weekend of trying to rescue all four kittens, from Peter and Margaret, to myself and other staff members checking traps, to guests who also volunteered to check on traps.

“I have had cats for as long as I can remember, many from birth, and currently have three elderly girls of my own. It has been a bit of deja vu for me as my eldest cat was a feral kitten from a colony where I worked at the time, and would have been around the same age as these kittens when I took her home 15 years ago.”

The chance meeting between Rachel and our Strathspey Branch has also resulted in her signing up to becoming a volunteer, after being invited to help run the branch’s social media pages.

The rabbit hole kittens are not yet available for rehoming, but keep an eye on the branch’s website for details of when they are ready to find new homes. 

If you would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer with Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/volunteering


Wednesday, 7 October 2020

How are our pet cats similar to wildcats?

Did you know that our cute, loveable pet cats are closely related to African wildcats, who live in the African savannah? 

Brown African wildcat in the African savannah

It might seem unlikely that the cuddly creature sitting on your lap has anything in common with a wild animal, but they’re actually pretty similar. Here are some of the quirky behaviours they share…

Similarities between pet cats and African wildcats 


They like to hide when they’re scared 

Brown African wildcat sitting in a hole  with only its head visible above ground

Both pet cats and wildcats will do everything they can to avoid a fight, so if they feel threatened by a human or another animal, they will run away and hide, preferably somewhere up high so they can watch out for other dangers. They will usually only fight back if they are trapped and unable to get away, but first they’ll typically hiss and growl to warn you to stay back. 

They mark their territory 

Brown tabby cat scratching the back of a chair with its claws

To avoid bumping into other animals on the savannah, African wildcats will mark their territory by spraying urine, rubbing their cheeks on objects to leave behind a scent or creating scratch marks with their claws. This lets others know this territory is taken and to stay away. Our pet cats do something very similar to deter other neighbourhood cats from entering their home or garden, so it’s a good idea to get them a scratch post to stop them damaging your furniture in the process! 

They sleep a lot 

Brown African wildcat sitting with its eyes closed

Wildcats need to have lots of naps throughout the day and night so they can conserve energy for hunting. While our own pet cats don’t need to hunt for their food, they still like to snooze a lot, just in case. In fact they can sleep for 12 to 18 hours a day, often in some rather strange places and positions!

They like to eat, drink and toilet separately 

Grey-and-white cat sitting behind a food bowl on a tiled floor

Nasty diseases can easily spread in the African savannah, so wildcats are very careful about keeping clean and safe. This is why they will usually eat, drink and go to the toilet in completely separate areas within their territory, to prevent any cross-contamination. Pet cats like to do the same, which is why you might find they eat and drink more if you keep their food and water bowls separate and well away from their litter tray. 

While pet cats have a lot in common with African wildcats, there are also some key differences too…

Differences between pet cats and African wildcats 


Wildcats live alone 

Brown African wildcat sitting in the savannah

Out on the savannah, wildcats survive all on their own, with no humans or other wildcats to help them find food and keep safe. Our own pet cats need a bit more looking after, so they rely on us, their owners, to make sure they’re well-fed, warm and healthy. They can even sometimes live alongside other animals too, like dogs and other cats, providing they’ve been properly and carefully introduced. 

Pet cats need to visit the vet

brunette female vet in blue t-shirt examining brown tabby cat on vet table

Wildcats have to be very careful to stay safe and healthy, as in the wild they don’t have vets who can treat them if they’re sick or injured. Pet cats are lucky enough to have access to regular veterinary check-ups and treatments, such as vaccinations, flea and worming medication and neutering, to help them live long and healthy lives. 

Wildcats have to find their own food 

Brown African wildcat leaping through the air in the African savannah

Hunting is an important skill for wildcats as they have to be good at stalking, pouncing and jumping in order to catch enough food to eat. Pet cats don’t usually have to work as hard for their food – just some urgent meowing will see it ‘magically’ appear in the bowl in front of them – but they still love to hunt. Chasing and catching objects is not only great exercise, it also releases happy hormones in their brains, so it’s important they have plenty of toys to play with.

To find out more about why cats do what they do, take our fun, interactive online course and become a cat expert! Younger cat fans can also learn lots more about our feline friends on our dedicated education website

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Scruffy stray cat has both ears removed due to sun damage

Cats Protection’s Cornwall Adoption Centre is appealing for help for a cat who had to have both ears partially removed after he was found on the streets near Penzance.

dirty ginger-and-white cat with damaged ears
Afred when he arrived at the Cornwall Adoption Centre

Eight-year-old Alfred arrived at the centre after he was discovered wandering forlornly around Sancreed. It is likely he has been a long-term stray and was visibly underweight and wary of people when he arrived. 

After his first vet check, Alfred was diagnosed with a severe skin allergy which was causing lesions and inflammation across his body. He was also found to have signs of early cancer on his ears caused by constant sun exposure during his time living rough.

The final cost of his veterinary care and finding him a new home is likely to reach at least £600 and the centre has set up an appeal to help cover the costs, with any funds left over from Alfred’s care going towards other cats at the centre.

ginger-and-white cat with stitches in his ears
Alfred after having surgery to remove the damaged parts of his ears

Gareth Williams, Deputy Manager of the centre said: “When Alfred arrived here at the centre he was in a terrible state. His skin must have been almost unbearable. He was covered in scabs and fleas, furiously itching to try and get some relief. As a result of the itching, his skin had become infected and to make matters worse, he had severe sun damage. 

“Understandably, he didn’t want anything to do with us when he first arrived. He, was growling, hissing and lashing out in pain, so we took him to his new cabin with some food and warm blankets and left him to it.

“By the next morning he was eager to come out and introduce himself to everyone, chatting and rubbing against us. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep in a warm, safe place will do. Once he realised we could be trusted, we were able to examine him properly and started him on steroids and antibiotics, getting him on the road to recovery.” 

ginger-and-white cat with ears removed sitting in blue cat bed
Alfred recovering from his ear surgery

Once Alfred’s condition was more stable, the centre scheduled his surgery for a partial pinnectomy, which sees the damaged area of the ear flaps removed. The skin on cats’ ears is very thin with hardly any protective fur. Pale coloured cats like Alfred are especially prone to skin cancer as there is very little protective pigment in their ears. 

Gareth adds: “Alfred’s doing really well since his operation. His ears are healing nicely and it won’t have any significant effect on him longer-term. He is such a friendly cat and will make a lovely companion once he’s ready for a new home. 

“Alfred’s story does show the damage that excess sun exposure can cause to cats and although we’re coming into the winter months now, the sun has still been very warm in recent weeks and cats can be vulnerable to the elements all year round. 

“Unfortunately strays like Alfred don’t always have the luxury of shelter and protection, but for owned cats the best way to keep them protected on hot, sunny days is to keep them indoors during the hottest times, which are traditionally between 10am and 3pm. If that’s not possible, providing sources of shade in your garden using cat-friendly plants and allowing access to a shed or outhouse will help protect cats’ skin. Vets will also be able to advise about a feline-friendly sunblock. 

“For the winter months we should be aware of potential frostbite to ears, nose, tail and toes, any area where the skin is thinner, and be vigilant for signs of skin discolouration, pain, swelling or blisters. It’s also sensible to check your cat’s paws when they come in and gently wipe off any road grit, salt or compacted snow.”

In addition to the ear surgery and treatment for his skin condition, like all Cats Protection cats Alfred will be neutered, up-to-date with his flea and worm treatments, microchipped and vaccinated before he is made available for adoption. 

Further details about Alfred, including the type of home that would suit him best, will be posted on www.cats.org.uk/cornwall once he’s ready for adoption.

For more advice on keeping your cat safe outside, visit www.cats.org.uk/keeping-cats-safe-outside