Friday, 11 May 2007

Tilly is the remaining member of a group of nine cats who came to us towards the end of last year.

They were found living in a garden - a very long winding garden - and enquiries by the new owner of the house to which the garden belonged, revealed that the previous owner had had a long haired black and white cat who he had threatened to leave behind.

Sure enough, amongst the cats was a longhaired black and white cat.

The new owner of the house not only felt sorry for these cats, but had a cat phobia and knew that she could not cope with a colony at the bottom of her garden. Mustering her courage and a group of friends she borrowed a trap and managed over the period of about 5 days to catch all the cats and bring them to us. This was an incredibly brave thing for her to do, given her phobia.

All nine cats were terrified, dirty and hungry and would not let anyone near them at first.

Gradually we managed to work out who we had in this little group. There was the long haired black and white cat who turned out to be mother to all the others. The others comprised two litters, one litter of three cats aged about 5 months who were completely feral, and a second litter of five kittens aged about 6 weeks, who were very very nervous but able to be handled.

Mum, Mitsi, was also tame once she had calmed down and reassured herself that she and her family were safe. We gradually began to handle the cats to assess them, and once the kittens were old enough to leave their mum, we put them in short term foster homes to get them used to being inside and being handled. All five were neutered and rehomed just after Christmas.

Of the older litter, one tamed up and again he was neutered and rehomed, and Mitsi too was neutered and rehomed and is settling in well.

That left two of the older kittens, Shadow and Tilly. We were able to find an outdoor home for Shadow, but Tilly is still with us, still hoping for a home. She loves to play and she loves to chase insects. She is incredibly curious and she will sometimes let us stroke her. She loves having the end of her tail held - she walks up and stands facing away from us with her tail in the air, and we just have to hold the end of it. But she does bite, a curious not aggressive bite, but a bite nevertheless. We hope to find a good outdoor home for Tilly, maybe with another semi-feral cat we are caring for - a stables or a farm or a similar environment, where she can take her time to get used to people. We think it unlikely that she will settle in a house.

Whilst we celebrate the lives of Tilly (who is pictured above) and her siblings and half-siblings, we fail to understand the mentality of anyone who when moving house would leave their cats behind. And worse, leave their un-neutered female cat behind. It is a population explosion waiting to happen.

Sadly, we hear more and more cases of cats left behind when their owners move. Perhaps some responsibility could be shared by landlords - maybe allow your tenants to have pets, particularly if they pay an extra bond to cover damage. Or like Persimmon Homes, who had an article in this week's Wakefield local paper, offer suggestions to help people move house with their pets.

Perhaps if owners realised that it is illegal to abandon an animal, and that they could be prosecuted for doing so, fewer people would resort to this type of behaviour, and fewer cats would be left at the mercy of their surroundings in situations where they may not cope and may not, therefore, survive.

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