Friday, 28 November 2008

A Christmas Cracker

We don't normally use The Moggie Blog to advertise for homes for the cats at our centre, but we're making an exception for Tallulah.

This pretty girl came to us in March 2008 after she wandered exhausted into a hairdressing salon in Bradford. Despite extenisve enquiries we were unable to trace her owners.

Tallulah is "an older lady" with a sassy personality - if she were human she would be waving her walking stick at buses as she crossed the road in front of them!

She has been diagnosed with a hyper-thyroid, but is stabilised on medication which she takes surprisingly well.

Normally, when we get in older cats that we are unable to rehome, they end up being permanently looked after by one or other of our regular volunteers or supporters.

The trouble with Tallulah is that she doesn't like other cats, and of course the people most likely to offer her a home already have cats, and Tallulah turns into a real harridan when in the presence of other cats!

Tallulah is generally speaking happy to be around people but may swipe if she is annoyed. She is incredibly nosey and likes to know what is going on. She eats well, and of course is litter trained. Haworth Cat Rescue will pay for any age-related medical conditions for Tallulah, including of course the medication for her hyper-thyroid.

We would love to hear from any experienced cat owner who has no other cats (or dogs!) and who feels that they could offer Tallulah a loving home for the autumn of her life.

Please don't let Tallulah spend Christmas behind bars - please contact us if you would like to meet Tallulah -

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Nervous Nellies? No, not us

Running a rehoming centre such as ours, we get all sorts of personalities of cats. Some are rampant extroverts. Others are naturally reserved or shy. Yet more have had some trauma and their personalities have become withdrawn as a result - these are often the most rewarding cats for us - as once they start to feel more settled, their confidence increases and their personalities start to show.

Take our lovely Betty Fluff. We know nothing of her background. She turned up in the grounds of a sheltered housing complex where pets were not allowed. She was in a bad way with tangles and knots in her lovely fur, and she was starving hungry,

She was taken to a local vets who de-matted her and kindly cleaned her teeth. And then she came to our centre.

On arrival she was very depressed, hissed if anyone went near her and would never eat in the presence of people. Gradually, as she realised that she was safe, she began to relax. She is now able to respond well to strokes and grooming. She will eat and wash herself whilst people are in her pen, and whilst she is still not comfortable being picked up, we think this is just a matter of time. We are really looking forward to the day we rehome her - and we'll ask her new owners to send us photos. We bet the first one will be of her curled up and happy on the bed or in front of the fire.
Another cat who came into our care recently was Lulu. She had been placed in a commercial cattery by Social Services, after her previous owner died or went into residential care. She had been virtually ignored there for about six months - she'd been fed and cleaned out, but very little interaction. She became totally depressed, spent all day hidden under her blanket and did not respond to anyone.

She came to the attention of one of our supporters who spent some time with her and saw her start to respond. With the permission of the cattery and the SS she came to our centre where she reverted to her former shy self. We gave her a few days to settle then gradually encouraged her to come out from under her blanket, and she began to respond to our attention.

To our delight, she was spotted on our website and a lovely new owner came and offered her a home at the weekend. He knows she will be very unsettled at first, but he is prepared to give her the time and patience she requires. We are sure that before too long we will be getting reports about how well she is settled.

The moral of this story is that even the shyest, most afraid cats have a good hope of becoming settled and ready to be petted and handled. If you come across such a shy cat, ask yourself why, and see if there is something that can be done to improve his or her confidence and life.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Drowning in the rain

We had torrential rain here on Saturday. During the course of the day, a lady in our town looked out of her window and noticed a bucket in the middle of the garden next door.

Some time later the bucket caught her eye again, but this time she noticed some movement in it. Thinking that perhaps a bird or mouse had fallen in, she went to have a look and rescue it.

Instead of wildlife, imagine her horror when she found 8 tiny kittens in there. The bucket was rapidly filling with water, and two of the kittens had already drowned.

She was able to remove the remaining six, but one had become too cold and despite all attempts to save her, she too died shortly afterwards.

The five surviving kittens, who are about 5 weeks old, are friendly and used to being handled, so there is very little likelihood that the kittens were the offspring of a feral cat and put in the bucket by their mum. It seems to us that they were deliberately put in the bucket in the hope that they would drown.

This is such an act of unspeakable cruelty that it has left us almost speechless.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Double Trouble

Despite the current economic crisis, the credit crunch and the downturn in the economy, there are an increasing number of people who think that they can make a fast buck by getting a pedigree cat and breeding from her.

Nothing could be further from the truth. To a breeder, the money earned from this will rarely cover the costs incurred.

Let's look at some of the expenses:

  • the cost of the cat - this could be anything from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand, depending on the breed
  • medical costs - most owners of stud cats will not allow their cats to mate with other cats who do not have a clean bill of health, verified by a vet.
  • stud fees - again these will depend on the breed and on the pedigree ancestry
  • light, heat and food for the cats and her kittens
  • vaccinations for the kittens
  • advertising costs
  • registration costs with the GCCF (to get their pedigree paperwork)
  • emergency vet bills - few litters get to a rehomeable age without having needed veterinary care, and they should be medically checked too
  • costs of keeping the queen in between litters - she should not be allowed to breed every year, and she should be kept indoors, or in an enclosed run, so that she doesn't pick up any viruses etc from other cats or worse, become pregnant by a passing tomcat!

And what if she only has two kittens in her litter? Or maybe only one, or she miscarries, or doesn't conceive? The income you might get for this situation is very low, or nil!

And of course, as people tighten their belts in the current crisis, there are going to be fewer willing to pay large sums of money for a pet that might cost them a lot of money.

Bianca and Carly, pictured above, are the result of someone getting a siamese cat to breed from. Instead of taking the necessary precautions to ensure that she could not get out, they allowed her free range and of course when she came into season she mated with a stray tom.

To add to the list of errors, her owner then left her and the kits in a quiet bedroom, well fed no doubt, but not handled, so that the kittens became wary of being handled and are now very timid.

When unable to sell them for £50 each, they were passed to us for rehoming. Sadly he has not heeded our advice to have her spayed and will no doubt let her breed again, although we very much doubt that he will find anyone willing to allow their stud cat to mate with her.

Carly and Bianca have both been rehomed. Luckly, Bianca wasn't too scared and once she'd gone Carly realised that she actually quite liked being stroked and gained confidence quickly, but this amateurish and irresponsible approach to breeding is one of the reasons that there are so many unwanted cats - even pedigrees and part-pedigrees - out there.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tinkle tinkle

We are often asked to take in cats because they are urinating or defecating away from their litter tray. Ginger is a typical example. She has been messing where she shouldn't and her owner can cope with it no longer.

Cats usually do this for one of three reasons;

1. They are unwell.
2. There has been a change in the household/environment which is causing them ongoing stress.
3. There was a circumstance in the (recent) past which caused them stress, and although the circumstance may have gone or changed, the cat has got into the habit of marking or messing.

To resolve this, we suggest:

1. First of all, have the cat checked over by a vet. Some cats display anti-social behaviour, including inappropriate marking, when they are feeling unwell, even though the cause of the illness may have nothing to do with the behaviour. Your vet should be able to give the cat a full health check, and if s/he rules out any illness, we suggest you follow the suggestions below.

2 & 3. The first thing to do is to establish (if possible) the reason that the cat has felt the need to mark. Have there been any changes in the house? It could be something as significant as the arrival of a new baby or new pet, or something as apparently insignificant as a new suite. If you cannot establish any changes, it could be an external change - such as a new or stray cat in the area, a new dog nearby, building works on a neighbouring property.

Most spraying habits can be broken. We suggest the following course of action, together with the list of other ideas below:

If the behaviour is due to another cat or even a dog,
1. we suggest you completely separate them, one in one room and the other in another room. Give them specific bedding and swap the bedding every day so that they get the sense of each other's odour.
2. after a few days allow them to meet on neutral territory. If it is two cats, allow them to hiss at each other and even to engage in gentle fight - only separate them if they are really tearing into each other. It is normal for them to yowl and hiss and to fluff up and display aggressive behaviour. Try not to intervene as they are beginning to establish a hierarchy. Once they separate, put them back in their separate rooms. If it is a cat/dog situation, allow the cat to jump away from the dog, and if the cat hisses or swipes at the dog try not to intervene - the cat is just establishing boundaries.
3. Continue this pattern and gradually increase the amount of time and the places they spend together. Allow them back to their safe rooms and their own litter trays.
4. Once the animals are less stressed with each other, start to feed them in the neutral room, on separate plates at some distance from each other but on the same level if cats. You might consider feeding a cat high up if the other animal is a dog. Don't give them full meals, just give them treats or small snacks.
Gradually the animals may tolerate each other and the marking should stop. Do not let the animals into each other's safe place. Don't rush it!

If the behaviour is a habit, the best way to break the habit is to crate the cat.
1. Put the cat in a large cage with room for a bed and litter tray, and food if possible.
2. Regularly take the cat out, and cuddle or play with him, but don't let him free-roam. Put him back in after playtime/cuddle time.
3. If/when he uses the litter tray, give him a small treat, if possible as soon as he has used it.
5. After a few days, extend his territory, but don't remove the crate if possible, and certainly don't move the litter tray. Extend the territory by only one room at a time.
6. If he regresses and spray, start again. Don't rush it.

The following may also be helpful:

1. try using Feliway - a plug-in which you can get online or from vets and some petshops. This releases pheromones into the atmosphere which in many cases calm the cat(s) and reduce the stress they are feeling.
2. Try using Bach Flower remedies - available from a health store - they too may reduce the amount of stress the cat is feeling (Bach Flower Practitioners at the Health shop will advise which is the best to buy).
3. Make sure you clean up any messes with mild products which DO NOT CONTAIN AMMONIA. If you use an ammonia based product, the cat will believe that another cat has been there and will mark the place to reassert his/her own scent. If the mess is cleaned up quite soon after the cat has left it, you are unlikely to catch anything and you don't need strong disinfectant for reassurance. Bleach and Dettol are commonly used, but not only are they likely to cause the cat to re-spray, they are also poisonous.
4. Any odour can be masked by burning oil such as rose flavoured oil. Try not to use anything "chemical" as the cat may respond to the chemical odours by spraying again.
5. If the cat is regularly using a particular place to mess, try putting fresh citrus there - orange or lemon peel. Cats do not like this odour. Another suggestion is to put the litter tray in the place where the cat is messing. It may remove the habit in a different way.
6. Water spray - keep a water spray to hand (the sort you use to mist plants). As soon as you see the cat messing/spraying, squirt it full face once with the water and walk away, no eye contact, no verbal. It is imperative that this is done whilst the cat is misbehaving. S/he will soon associate the behaviour with the water and it may well break the habit.

As for Ginger, not a drop out of place since she came to our shelter. Her previous owners thought it was due to the stress of another cat, and we have to agree!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Whoops a daisy

Most of the cats who come into our small shelter follow a routine pattern of neuter, microchip and then rehome.

Sometimes, however, we get a case that is slightly unusual. Such is the case with Smudge.

The lady who brought her in had originally found her as a pregnant stray, had then taken her in and found homes for the kittens when they were old enough to go and very responsibly had her spayed.

Shortly after her operation, her owner noticed that she was very unsteady on her legs and fell over if she tried to jump. Smudge continued to be her usual friendly happy self, but just couldn't balance.

Her owner felt that she could no longer cope with Smudge's disability and asked us to rehome her. The first thing we did when she came into our care was to have her checked over by the vets. Blood samples were taken, tests were run and we watched her carefully to monitor any improvement or deterioration.

All came back clear! Her condition - whatever caused it - is stable and all the tests showed that she had no diseases or medical conditions such as epilepsy.

So she is a mystery! The vets suggested that it might be a case of poisoning or an allergic reaction to something, or that she'd had a mild stroke, but feel that she is unlikely to get any worse.

She has very poor balance and often falls over when squatting on the litter tray. We've pretty much solved that by giving her a covered litter tray so that there is less mess if she does fall over, and she sometimes needs to have her back legs and bottom cleaned after she's been to the loo. On the bright side, she is not going to wander far and because she can't jump she won't go over a garden wall and won't jump onto kitchen work tops.

We feel that Smudge, a young friendly cat, deserves a home despite her disability, and we hope that a caring new owner will come along soon, fall in love with her and live happily ever after!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Spending my Nine Lives far too fast....

Hello Bloggers,

My name is Charlie, and I'm a right Charlie. I came into Haworth Cat Rescue about 10 days ago after I was found wandering along the side of the road in a quiet village. The people who found me made enquiries and discovered that several other kittens had been found in and around the same area in the preceding days. But no-one knows where we all came from. So that was one life gone!

When I arrived at Haworth Cat Rescue I had terrible diarrhoea and my bottom and back legs were very very dirty. Whilst I was being bathed, it was discovered that I had a swelling on my lower abdomen which was very very bruised, but the folks at the rescue didn't know what it was. They took me to the vets who decided to deal with the diarrhoea first and gave me lots of different medicines to take.

But after a few days, the lump under my tummy began to swell and I was taken back to the vets for a check-up. They decided to operate on my lump and the next day I had a major operation. All my insides had been moved around and were in the wrong place, probably due to a trauma! Another life gone!

I was allowed to come home the next day and I did really well for a few days, then my lump started to swell again, so back to the vets I went, for another op! Another life gone! This time it was a simple repair and I was back home again the next day.

We've no idea why I had such traumatic injuries - the folks at HCR think I might have been thrown from a vehicle, or maybe kicked, but because I'm very friendly they think that I must have had a home at some time in the past.

If you have kittens you don't want, dumping them in a remote village isn't the answer - try and find them good responsible homes. Better still, get your girl-cats neutered so that they don't have unwanted litters in the first place.

As for me, I'm doing my best to hang on to the lives I still haven't spent. You never know, I might need them in the future.

Love Charlie Kitten

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Let Nature Take its Course

Although The Moggie Blog was created to tell you about some of the cats who pass through our shelter, we were told about Gus by another organisation and felt that his story should not go unnoticed. Our friends, another charity operating in a town near us, were notified about Gus, who was living as a stray on premises privately owned but open to the public, at some distance from their base. No charities nearer the premises were prepared to help. Advice given to the finder by the nearest organisation was to "let nature take its course". Our friends were told about Gus about 4 weeks after it had been noticed that he had sustained an injury to his neck. Employees of the premises were told not to feed Gus and the other cats living on the site in the hope that they would go away. Our friends took a trap and tried to catch Gus on several occassions. They were unsuccessful, but managed to catch and neuter two female cats and to remove their kittens for rehoming, and to catch and neuter a further three toms. All the adults were returned to the site. Gus proved to be more elusive and showed his contempt for the way humans had treated him by repeatedly spraying on the trap and walking away. Eventually our friends located an employee who - contrary to his instructions - had fed Gus and the other cats. He was able to simply pick Gus up and put him in a cat basket. Now neutered, Gus has had lots of dead skin removed from around the wound site, the wound has been cleaned, and is healing, but he is still very wary of humans and will try to bite when his wound is dressed.

The story of Gus raises several points. Firstly, and most obviously, it is nothing but cruelty to leave an animal, any animal, with such a dreadful wound. At best the wound might heal badly, but more likely, at worst, the wound would become infected and could cause the animal to suffer a long period of pain and distress, culminating in a painful and protracted death. At this time of year, open wounds such as this would attract flies, and maybe larger vermin.

Secondly, not feeding the cats won't cause them to simply go away. They will look for food sources and safe places to nest, and set about the business of starting a colony. A single un-neutered female cat can multiply very quickly and it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for there to be 20 cats a year or so later.

The best approach is to work with local rescue centres, to try and neuter the cats. If there are too many for the rescue centre to handle, maybe you could assist by allowing several of the older cats to return once they've been neutered. Given a safe place to eat and a regular supply of food, they will provide an effective and safe rodent control. If you are the manager or owner of a location or site which has a fledgling colony, encourage your employees to start a food rota, the cats can be fed daily in a safe place and it is unlikely they will be seen much around your premises during the day. They will come out at night and earn their keep by ratting etc. Most charities will take any kittens as they are easier to tame, and there may even be some tame adult strays in the colony who can be rehomed. If you act quickly, there shouldn't be too many feral cats who are unable to be tamed.

The worst thing you can do is to "let nature take its course". Apart from the suffering that the injured and sick cats will endure, they will breed and nature taking its course will result in many many more unwanted cats.

Such locations, including farms and factories inevitably end up 'supplying' small kittens to employees or nearby houses and distant relatives - many of whom take on the kitten without considering the long term. By doing this they add to the cat population. This means we struggle to find homes for our cats and thus cannot admit needy animals. Sadly many of the kittens 'handed out' to the community are never blood tested nor neutered. That spreads, further afield, diseases and breeding cats. At the end of the chain somewhere another litter is denied admission by hard-pressed rescues or put to sleep, drowned or dumped. Last year, the charity who took Gus, a small local charity, neutered over 1200 cats, many located a long way from their "patch". And still the excess of unwanted cats continues.

As for Gus, he is on the path to a happier future. His wound will take some time to heal, but whilst his physical wounds are recovering, his carers will begin work on his psychological wounds. They will start the long process of teaching him that humans can be trusted. That he can learn to live alongside people, relying on them for food and warmth, and maybe one day he will be confident enough to be rehomed as a domestic pet. If not, we believe our friends will try and find a home for him on a stables or farm, or maybe return him to the original site. Had they let nature take its course, he would by now be dead or dying, alone, unloved and unwanted.

Is this really what Mother Nature intended for her purry furry little guests?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Stand down Red Alert

You may remember our recent blog about Tia, our little nervous chintz lady.

Shortly after we told you about her, we began working with a pet behaviourist to see if we could improve her confidence.

We started off by making Tia's pen completely "safe". We put towels around the lower half, like curtains, so that she could sit on the floor and not be seen by anyone or any other cats. We placed a table in one corner of her run so that if she chose she could sit on it and watch what was going on, or she could hide underneath it on a soft bed. We also provided several cardboard boxes for her to sit/hide/play in, and we kept her door shut, so people couldn't peer into her shelter, though she could access the outside run by her cat flap should she choose to do so.

All volunteers were instructed not to approach her or look at her and not to talk to her. One volunteer only attended her needs, feeding, cleaning etc, and spent a few minutes each day sitting with her (reading usually) but not talking to her or looking at her.

It was incredibly hard for our volunteers, and many felt that they were abandoning her, and that
Tia would think she had done something wrong if we didn't talk to her.

In fact, the reverse occurred. Tia started off being a constantly alert cat, we never saw her sleep, eat, groom herself or play and we never heard her miouw or purr. We rarely saw her move. The behaviourist described it as a "frozen watching stance".

Within a few days of our new regime Tia was relaxed enough to eat when our volunteer was in her pen reading, and shortly after that she began grooming herself and moving around her pen.

A great breakthrough came after a week or so when Tia sat with her back to our volunteer looking out of her window, and later dozed off when our volunteer was there.

She also began to take an interest in what was happening outside her pen. She often sat on her table looking over the "curtains" particularly at meal times, and quite often she "shouted" at the volunteers when they walked past her with other cats' food.

After a couple of months we decided to allow the other volunteers to go into her pen, and all volunteers were instructed to talk, not at her, but around her. Gradually we allowed some of the more regular volunteers to stroke her if she seemed comfortable, and Tia seemed to enjoy this and occasionally started to purr.

Ten weeks after the behaviourist's first visit, Tia followed one of our volunteers out into the safety run whilst her pen was being cleaned out. That night, we left the door of her pen open so that she had access to the safety passage thinking that Tia would probably be intimidated by it, but to our delight she explored the run completely and settled down to relax in a sunny position.

Now our objective is to find a home for Tia. She has, in just over three months, come on in leaps and bounds and has gone from being a cat constantly on watch, to a cat who although still lacking some confidence, has started to take an interest in what is going on around her. We used to call her stance "Red Alert" - now it is only a pale pink alert.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Bursting at the seams

In nearly twenty years of cat rescue we have never known a year like it. We expect to have a fair few number of kittens at this time of year, but we have nearly 40 currently in foster homes or ready to be rehomed this weekend.

Amongst those are a total of seven orphan kittens.

The first bunch, known as "the Netto Kittens" were found by a young lady when she was jogging through a supermarket carpark on her way home. They were near a carrier bag and as far as she was able to tell, they had crawled out of the bag. There was no sign of their mum and it is unlikely that they had been born in that location.

The kittens were only 3 weeks old when they were found and would probably not have survived more than a day or so - and even less if they had been found by a predator. Two weeks later, they are thriving, but require a feed every 2-3 hours.

Next we were asked to take in a couple of kittens which had been found in a shed. The shed had been unopened for over two years, but had a hole at the top of the door. Sadly near to Merlin and Gandalf were the remains of other kittens, at least one from a previous litter. We suspect that the mother cat had raised previous litters there but had stopped bringing food for them when subsequent litters had been born, and because of the location of the hole (at the top of the door) the kittens had been trapped and starved to death.

Last but certainly not least, we were asked to take Tom who was found all alone in a stables. The finders very sensibly observed from a distance for many hours to see if his mother was around, but were unable to find her, or any other kittens, and so asked us to take him. He was only about 10 days old when he came in, and he needs intensive feeding and care. The younger they are the less their chances of survival. Tom is coming along fine, but we are taking it a day at a time at the moment.

In addition to the orphans we have eight mother cats with a total of 31 kittens. Our foster homes are bulging at the seams and we are just glad that six of the kittens will be ready to go to new homes this weekend.

There are things you can do to reduce the number of cats. The most obvious is to have your female cat spayed and your tom cat castrated (it takes two!). If your cat does have kittens before you can get her spayed, then please make sure her kittens go to homes where their new owners will ensure that they are neutered before they get chance to breed.

Check all your outbuildings regularly - especially if you have buildings that are rarely used. If you do find a litter of kittens, keep handling them and feeding the mother cat. Ask your local cat rescue to help you trap and neuter the cat if she is feral (domestic cat gone wild) and again try and find homes for the kittens where the new owners will neuter. Even if you release the cat in the area where she had the kittens, she will have a better chance of survival if she is spayed. If you ignore it, the cat will regard the shed as a safe place and may have future litters there, as may her daughters and grand-daughters.

Cats are lovely, and we all adore cute little kitten faces, but sadly there are far far too many cats. Neutering is a safe and sensible way to try and reduce the population.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Feisty Feral? - we don't think so!

Some of the saddest cases we have to deal with are the cats who have missed human contact at an early age and become feral.

Feral is a term that is often misused, it simply means "domestic gone wild" but people often imply that a domesticated but aggressive cat is feral. This is not the case. Feral cats are hardly ever aggressive, they are simply shy and will avoid most human contact as much as possible. A domestic cat with aggressive tendencies may however strike out.

The picture shows Brucie, a young male cat who turned up in the garden of one of our volunteers. She was unable to find any owners, and we suspect that he may have been born on a farm or in a garden and not had any (or much) human contact when he was a kitten. In the picture Brucie is meowing, not hissing!

We hope you will find the information about feral cats useful and interesting. Remember they are just as much a cat as are the little fluffy cute ball of fluff who sleeps on your toes and kisses your nose. They just didn't get as easy a start in life.

The Nature of the Feral cat: Cats are not genetically feral. They are not wild-cats, they are domestic cats gone wild. Cats normally become feral if they miss out on essential early handling, and if they are not extensively handled by the age of about 8 weeks they can remain feral cats for life. It is possible for a tame cat to have kittens which become feral and for a feral cat to have kittens which become tame. It is as easy for a litter of kittens to become feral when born in a house and ignored, as it is for them to become feral when born totally away from human contact.

Behaviour of a feral cat: The first thing a feral cat will try and do when approached is to flee. The instinct is to run, not attack. A feral cat will only attack if it is cornered and can see no way of escape. Once a way of escape becomes clear, the attack will cease and the cat will flee. The only exception to this is a mother cat who may attack to protect her tiny kittens if she feels that they are threatened.

Offering a home to a feral cat: At Haworth Cat Rescue we normally rehome cats in pairs, as they have less of a tendency to wander if they are situated with a cat of their acquaintance. As circumstances dictate, however, we may also home singly or in groups of three. The first thing that the new owner must do is to ensure that there is an enclosed room on the farm/stables/factory where the cat(s) can spend the first few days. The room must be escape-proof and cleared of any poison put down to discourage vermin (the cat will take care of the vermin!). The cat should be fed twice a day at roughly the same times each day, and a litter tray, water and bed (straw would be fine) should be provided. It also helps if there is a place where the cat can hide (again a couple of bales of straw are fine). After a few days, the door should be left slightly ajar, or a window open, but always allowing the cat easy access and exit. It is best if this is done at a quiet time of day, or even at night, so that unexpected noises do not scare the cat. Food should be put out for the cat when the door is first opened. The cat should not be approached initially, especially when it is first allowed out, as its instinct is to flee, and it may unintentionally get lost. Try not to "eyeball" the cat as cats see this as a threat and will probably flee. In time, the cat should become used to the routine and will expect food at the same time each day. Even if the cat is a prolific hunter, food should always be offered, and water should be available.

The cat should eventually totally ignore humans unless it is approached, but in some cases it may take an interest in the activities of humans and allow itself to be stroked or rubbed. Some cats will become totally tame, but this is the exception.

If you have a stables or a farm and you feel that you could offer a home to a feral cat, or a pair of feral cats, please contact us. They will pay for their keep by keeping your rodent population down, and they will lead a happy and contented life if they have shelter and food.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

I'm NOT in love!

Cindy is a delightful little cat who came to us as an unwanted pet a couple of weeks ago. The person bringing her wasn't too sure of her age, nor whether she had been spayed or not. We estimate her age to be around a year.

At the weekend we noticed that Cindy (who up to then had been rather aggressive, due to the stress of being in our centre), had suddenly become very friendly.

Some of the younger and less experienced volunteers felt that it was due to her starting to settle, but the "old hands" had a feeling that other factors were at work. Sure enough as the weekend progressed, Cindy began rolling and shouting. Her vocal range went from low deep throaty miaows to high pitched ear-splitting shrieks, all accompanied by trills and carrols! Yes, Cindy had come into season.

It is very obvious when cats come into season - their behaviour changes quite dramatically, they display what can only be described as provocative behaviour and their vocal range changes too.

The cats spend a lot of time with their stomachs lowered, often with their tail up in the air or moved to one side, they roll a lot and often rub their faces against furniture etc. Another indicator is the number of unknown cats - toms - who often appear as if by magic and hang around looking hopeful. Quite often they will fight each other too.

Female cats - or queens - can come into season as early as 5 months, but a great number of vets still won't neuter until the cat is aged 6 months plus. So it is possible that the cat could be mated before the age of 6 months, even when owned by the most responsible owner. Owners of female cats should therefore make sure that they are aware of the indicators of a cat coming into season, and take precautions to keep her indoors for the duration. Owners of tom cats should also be encouraged to neuter their cats, and although again many vets won't perform this operation before the cat reaches six months, tom cats usually don't reach maturity until they are a little big older.

Most of the pregnant females who come into our care are aged less than a year, and this is very young for them to carry a litter. They are still only babies themselves, barely out of kittenhood, and their bodies still aren't fully grown.

And as for the title of this blog entry, there is no even love involved. Mating is a hormone-driven behaviour, and is painful for the female cat too. Please be aware of the signs of calling and take steps to protect your cat if you can't have her spayed before six months.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Tia's tale

Tia came to us towards the end of last year. Her previous owners were unable to keep her as they were moving house and she could not go with them. Tia came in with another cat, Maria, who we believe was either her sister or her long term companion.

It was obvious from the start that Tia was more than usually nervous. Despite the fact that she had lived all her life in a family, Tia was absolutely petrified of everyone and everything. She was so frightened that she spent the first month with us hiding behind her bed.
Eventually we removed the bed and put lots of blankets on her shelf, and Tia began to be a little less nervous.

Just after
Christmas we rehomed Maria, as we felt that Tia might make better progress if she didn't have Maria to hide behind, and we moved Tia to a different pen in our cattery, one where there was slightly more activity and where she could see what was going on but still have some security. We were delighted when we put her bed back to see that Tia slept in it, not behind it!

Tia has now been on her own for just over a month and is gradually coming out of her shell. She takes an interest in what goes on around her and sometimes even miaows when it is meal times.

She will sometimes rub her nose along gentle fingers or hands, but she doesn't duck her head for strokes and she won't purr. She only seems to feel safe when she is in her bed on her shelf, if anyone goes into her pen whilst she is on the floor or out of her bed, she panics.

Tia is gradually learning that she can trust people, but she will never be a confident cat. We don't know what caused her to be so frightened and so traumatised. Her behaviour is odd in that she doesn't flinch, she just maintains a frozen immobility. We hope that with time and patience, Tia will become more used to people and that a caring, patient and understanding person will soon offer her a home.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Finding my Feet

Hello, my name's Buster and this is my story.

I came to Haworth Cat Rescue at the end of last year after I had been living in someone's garden for a year. They couldn't keep me as they had a budgie who flew around the house and they though (quite rightly) that I'd probably catch and eat him, so they asked Haworth Cat Rescue to take me.

I can't remember if I had an owner when I was little, but I'm not frightened of people, so I probably did. But because I wasn't neutered my hormones kicked in and I went off looking for girl cats. In fact I fathered quite a few kittens and if you look earlier in this blog you will see some of my babies with their mum, Marnie (all now safely rehomed by Haworth Cat Rescue).

Anyway, when I came to Haworth Cat Rescue I found it very strange to be in a smallish space, just my own bedroom and outside run. There were compensations though, lovely meals twice a day, a heater at night and those wretched earmites that were driving me mad were given a short sharp shock and vamooshed. I was also neutered. I have to say I wasn't sure about this - I thought it might spoil my fun.

When I came to Haworth Cat Rescue I pretty much ignored all the people there. I let them feed me and I tolerated it when they stroked me, but I just wasn't interested in them. I stayed in my bed and ignored them, and in fact they used to wonder if I actually had legs!

Recently though, I've realised that I quite like getting stroked, and if I put my head towards the people they will stroke me a bit more. It's great. I've also discovered that if I rub around their legs they bend down and stroke me and pick me up and give me a cuddle. I love that!

One of them said it was because I had been neutered, and do you know, I think they're right. I no longer feel the need to run around the countryside looking for girl cats, I am quite happy to be cuddled and stroked. I am even trying to find my purr, I'm sure it's in there. It's much more fun being stroked and looking for my purr than it is looking for girl cats in a dark cold world, risking getting run over, getting into fights and picking up horrible diseases.

So, now I'm ready for a home. I didn't really care before because I had other things on my mind, but now I've proved I'm a soft old cat (with legs!!!) I think the least they could do is find me a home!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

How the Mite-y are fallen!

Many people are aware of the usual creepy-crawlies that infest our furry friends - fleas, worms, ticks and lice. But there is another common visitor who rarely gets a mention.

Ear mites! These are invisible to the human eye, but cause huge discomfort to the poor cat who has been invaded by them.

Take black and white Buster and tabby George (photos above). When George came into our care recently, we noticed almost straight away that he was scratching at his ears with his back feet. He'd even caused a little bit of bleeding around the edges of one ear. Closer examination showed crusty black deposits around the top of his ear canals, a typical symptom. Buster on the other hand, did not display any scratching symptoms, but every time his head was stroked or touched he shook his head violently, and often fell over or lost his balance as a consequence. Closer examination of his ears showed no signs of the crusty black deposits.

Both cats were taken to our vets at the first opportunity. Examination is quick and diagnosis can take place immediately. Our vet looked into each cat's ears with an auroscope and immediately saw a hive of activity as tens of little tiny mites scurried round the ear canals. The vet checked to make sure there was no infection and to make sure that the ear drum was not perforated, and then dispensed a bottle of drops for each lad.

The drops are to be administered daily for a week which kills off all the adult mites. Then there is the option of a week's break, and then the drops are administered for a second time, again for a week. This second dose kills off all the mites that were still in eggs during the first dosage. In most cases this three week course (a week on, a week off, another week on) will be enough to eradicate the pests, but of course once their courses of treatment are finished, we will keep an eye on George and Buster to make sure that none of the original symptoms recommence. If they do, we will once again ask the vet to check their ears.

Ear mites are easily passed from one cat to another and are a lot more common than people think, but they are easy and relatively cheap to treat. Left unattended the cat will scratch and shake his head in increasing amounts of pain. Years ago whilst collecting some cats from the vets we noticed a gorgeous ginger lad recovering from an operation. The vets told us that he had all but scratched his ears off due to the mites, and had had to have them re-stitched back on. The poor lad. All for a bottle of drops!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Tubby or not Tubby

Just before Christmas we were asked to take four cats who had belonged to someone who had died. Penny, aged 8, her daughter Tuppence and sons Lucky and Joey all aged 6, came into our shelter care of a friend of their deceased owner.

All four cats were rather on the large size, with Penny being the fattest by far.

The person who brought them in apologised for their size, and made the comment that someone had thrown something sticky at Penny as she had "things" on her back that were stuck to her fur.

Upon closer examination of Penny, the "things" turned out to be matted fur which had clumped and tufted causing tangles. There were two or three larger clumps and a few smaller ones, all located in the region of her spine.

We were able to cut them off quite easily, although it did leave her with a couple of patches of thin fur.

The tangles weren't caused by something being thrown at Penny. They were caused because she is so fat she cannot turn herself properly to groom her back, and as the loose fur fell away when she moulted, it remained entwined with growing fur and gradually became knotted.

We see probably half a dozen cats each year with this this problem. The majority we can cut off, some have to be "razored" off by our vets and a minority have to undergo a general anaesthetic so that the vet can completely shave the cat.

It is so unnecessary. The cat shouldn't have been allowed to get so fat in the first place but at the first sign of a knot it should have been groomed.

Obesity in cats can cause other problems. The excess weight can put strain on their joints leading to less mobility and that in turn can result in them becoming fatter. In addition to mobility problems, excess weight can cause problems with the cat's organs, including of course the heart.

If a cat does become overweight, it is important to take proper advice with regard to reducing the cat's weight. Just cutting down the amount of food you give may not be the best step forward, as it may result in liver failure as the cat's metabolic rate changes due to fasting or eating a lower amount of food. Please take veterinary advice if your cat is overweight. You can read more about obesity in cats here.

Treat your cat from time to time if you must, but make it a treat that is designed for cats, or which suits the cat, rather than something that is designed for humans. And if you treat the cat to a luxury catfood meal, give it in lieu of his or her regular meal, not in addition!

We're sure Penny's owner wanted her to have treats and gave her far too much food out of kindness, but poor Penny will have to watch what she eats for a long time now, until she reduces to an acceptable size.

Don't kill your cat with kindness.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Season's Greetings

Hello to all our friends.

Just a quick line to wish our readers the all best for 2008. Our hopes that this will be a great year for you and yours and for all the furry purries out there.

We also wanted to share one of our Christmas cards with you. It said "Minerva has settled in well with my mum. They love each other; it has made so much difference to mum's life, she has a focus - Minerva - and Minerva loves her. Two elderly ladies together." You can read about Minerva here

Happy New Year to you all.