Blogging about my involvement in Animal Krackers, the Sunderland animal rescue charity of which I am a founder member, with an emphasis on cat rescue. This blog concerns itself only with the experiences of one among many cat rescuers in Sunderland who are invited to submit a guest post. Views expressed are mine alone and not representative of the charity. For reviews and comment on popular culture and more, see my other blog: http://freethinkingajournalofpopularculture.blogspot.com/
I should add that I only regard three of the adult cats as actually being mine. I've now had Ziggy (see previous post), a nervous black and white cat for three weeks who was supposed to receive her second vaccination and be transported to the re-homing centre yesterday but I didn't fancy my chances of getting her into the carrier. After three weeks she still runs away from me though I can stroke her briefly when I've put food down for her. She spends almost all her time in my bedroom, mostly under the armchair.
In complete contrast is Daisy, the cat I took in to foster on Wednesday, which has investigated every nook and cranny. Though assured she was a lovely friendly little thing, several bleeding wounds suggested to me that this might not be the case. She is now starting to let me stroke her but I have to be very careful and observant as she can turn in a millisecond.
Yesterday afternoon I was having a well-earned nap -circumstances permitting, I have a well-earned nap every afternoon- when I was woken by Susan Hardy banging loudly on the door and telling me there was an emergency. The emergency consisted of Animal Krackers having to take in three mother cats which had taken up residence in a shed -where they were fed by the kind cat-loving home owners- and had given birth to 16 or so baby kittens. As two of the mothers were feral, this was being organised by an associate of ours who has lots of experience in dealing with ferals, mine is almost zero.
I do know from my own experience that cats with new kittens will happily feed kittens from another litter. Carole will often put several kits from different litters in with one mother should the need arise. It had been decided that I would take the mother that wasn't feral and a guess was taken as to which of the kittens were hers. I can tell you now that they are from at least two different litters. There are two pairs of black and grey, one set being 1-2 weeks younger than the others. I was ordered to put them in a cage in my small conservatory and I duly did as I was told. Not that I minded as looking after baby kittens is a new experience for me.
The mother is very friendly and has to be someone's lost pet. She probably looked for somewhere to give birth and found the two ferals and their safe haven. Now I've got her. she is very friendly and will stop nursing the kittens if I turn up wanting me to make a fuss of her. Today I let the cage door open and she's currently asleep on a chair in the conservatory with all the kittens snuggled up against her. She is a good mother and nurses them properly but just to make sure they were getting enough nourishment I got some Royal Canin Babycat Milk which I made up and fed to them. I gave them two half syringes each which they all swallowed without regurgitating.
If anyone is interested, they'll be available for homing directly from me in about 5-6 weeks time. Expect updates and photos of growing kittens over the next few weeks.
The two ferals and their kittens are temporarily being kept upstairs in a cage in our shop until our feral expert can find somewhere more suitable.
I'm not used to nervous cats. Most of the cats I've had have settled in quickly and confidently. Not so my two newest arrivals, both of whom have taken a while to adjust. Thankfully that period is about over.
Fifi the black and white female has mostly restricted her territory to the living room and book room but recently has begun to venture into the bedroom and kitchen. She regularly sits on my knee as long as I don't move other than to stroke her.
Aelfric, which is the final name for the cat previously known as Handsome Boy aka Hansen, came by his name when I only noticed it on his microchip certificate yesterday and liked it. About a thousand years ago there was an Anglo-Saxon abbot who wrote histories and other stuff. This was before those vile foreigners the Normans came and polluted our gene pool. (I know, I know, I keep getting told off for making jokes in this blog.) Anyway, Aelfric, who used to run at the sight of me, will now come up to me on my bed and proceed to lick and gently nibble on my fingers and stay within stroking distance.
There's also Ziggy who will only be staying until her second vaccination in a couple of weeks time. She stays in my bedroom, mostly under a chair, and is absolutely terrified of me, though she doesn't mind Aelfric who sometimes joins her there.
Here are some recently (as in about 15 minutes ago) taken photos.
First, Aelfric who has the cutest face of any cat I've ever had.
Then Fifi who just melts my heart.
Thirdly, feline friends, i.e. they can sit next to each other without hissing.
1.The government's recent tax on council house spare rooms is in the process of causing people who can't afford the increase to downsize.
Inevitably this means they have to go to private landlords and most of those won't have cats or dogs living in their property. Result: more cats and dogs needing new homes. I had my first call about a cat needing a new home for this reason this week. It's first but I'm damn sure it won't be the last.
Luckily one of our very few fosterers could take it in. One of the problems we have is that we can't take cats into the re-homing centre until they have had their flu jab which involves two vaccinations separated bya period of three weeks, so we can never take a cat into the centre immediately and it's a matter of luck if we have a fosterer available.
As it happens, I took in a three year old black and white female yesterday and took her for her first jab today and her one and only neutering. She's currently cowering underna armchair in my bedroom with a bowl of tuna should she want it.
2. Cats climbing the walls.
I went to pick up three cats from the same house this morning for their second flu jab prior to transporting them to the re-homing centre. One went in the box with relatively little difficulty. The other two...
Were in a cage and huddled up together, one black and one white and tabby, both female. When I tried to get them they got out and into a room with the door closed. (Hooray!) But it was also piled up with stuff of the previous owner's leaving numerous nooks and crannies for the cats to hide under. (Boo!) And when they were startled out from their hiding places they started climbing the walls. They'd climb up cupboards, they'd climb up fireplaces, they'd climb up curtains, they'd climb up wallpaper, they'd climb up mirrors. And all in a frenzy as the poor things tried to get away from me and the lady who was moving in.
Eventually I got them. Took them to the vets. Took them to the re-homing centre. The black one I placed in a basked and she stayed there without moving. I tried the same with the other one. Guess what she did? That's right. She climbed the walls and she climbed across the wire mesh ceiling. When I left she was still holding on to a wire mesh door.
3. Two cats re-homed in a week.
Actually it's three, but I'll tell that story in a moment.
The first one to go went yesterday. This was Bella, a thick furred black four year old who'd only been with us for a week. She went to an elderly couple.
The second went today. This was Taylor who, with his cage-mate April, has been with us since not long after we opened last December. This went to a family with two children aged four and nine. They just fell for Taylor who is on the right with the white tip of a tail (hence his name).
4. In which your humble blogger makes a great sacrifice.
I'll be honest, I can't foster a cat without wanting to keep it. The first cat I fostered when I moved in to my new place I eventually called Fifi. I just fell for her. She is nervous, particularly of other people, but is now happily ensconced and she's staying.
Jack-Jack is on top, Fifi just above.
Then along came Jack-Jack (see previous posts) the cat so nice I named him twice. Now 8 months old, he's the perfect little cat -friendly, affectionate, fine with other cats, not nervous. I didn't fall for him the way I did Fifi but he gradually wormed his way into my affections.
Susan wasn't happy. She kept saying he'd make a lovely pet for a family which was true but, as far as I was concerned, irrelevant. But, Susan being Susan, she kept harping on and when she rang yesterday to say she had a lovely young couple in the shop who'd be ideal for him I wearily said, "Send them up."
So they came and, yes, they were a lovely young couple and they really liked Jack-Jack. However they still wanted to visit the re-homing centre which they did. After a good look and meeting the cats, he decided he like April, Taylor's bossy cellmate. She, however, wanted Jack-Jack. I tried to make it easy for them to take April then and there ("Here, have a spare cat carrier. No money for the donation fee, drop it off at my house any time.") They went home to talk it over.
The phone rang earlier this afternoon and they're picking up Jack-Jack tomorrow.
5. The curious case of the cautious cat.
He's not cautious, he's just nervous as hell but I just can't resist alliteration.
I'm talking about the pedigree British short-hair that was handed in at the shop, which I then took home to foster, and later paid a ludicrous amount of money for him to the treasurer so no-one (Susan) could have any grounds for getting me to re-home him. It wouldn't work anyway because he's a scared little so and so.
First night he hid behind the fridge. Second night he hid in a cupboard. Third night he hid behind shelves. He stayed there for quite a while until he managed to pull all the towels and rags from the pipes in the bathroom, which had been put there to stop Fifi getting under them and thence under the bath, and got under the bath. I got him, and Fifi who'd joined in the fun, out but to the extent of damaging the bath panel so I now need a new bath. I gave up putting the single panel back and just left it open for anyone who wanted to go there.
Anyway, the little monster saw me and ran. and hid. Then, when I caught him in the bathroom, he not only let me stroke him, he purred loudly. Then he started sleeping my bed. As long as I didn't try to touch him. He began to let me make a fuss of him when I collared him in the kitchen where the cat bowls are.
Little slow baby steps. After three weeks he still runs away from me. But the areas where I'm allowed to stroke him have grown in number. And even when he does run away from me, his tail is often in the air as if to say, "I'm not scared at all really, I'm just having fun with you."
Maybe one day he'll actually sit on my knee.
(Side Note: As always, I'm absolute rubbish when it comes to naming cats and I just could not think of a suitable for this one. I noticed, however, that I kept calling him Handsome Boy so I decided, what the hell, that's his name. For practical (i.e. vet's) purposes though his name is corrupted down to Hansen -say it aloud.)
Friday was a bad day for several reasons, but I'm only going to tell you about one of them. Okay, maybe a couple of others, we'll see.
It started around 5.00pm on Thursday, though I didn't realise it until nearly bedtime. Unknown to me, when I was carrying two large cardboard boxes through the front door, little Jack-Jack (a cat so nice I had to name him twice) was sneaking out, my view of him obscured by said boxes. Some time around ten I sussed that I hadn't seen him for a while and after a quick look round the house and not finding him came to the obvious conclusion. I called his name at the front door several times before I went to bed and got up at four and did the same.
Early next morning I was out distributing small notices around nearby houses giving brief details and including this photo-
I quickly got a call from a lady six doors up who thought he might be in her garden. It was a black cat with a small white patch with a very strong resemblance to Jack-Jack but it wasn't him.
Then I had to go out and about. First off to see Susan who was in bed (and still is at the time of writing) with what now looks like gastro-enteritis. I fed the cats, did some washing up, and loaded big friendly ginger Leo into a carrying case to take him into the vets. This was his second trip recently. Last time Wendy suspected he had fluid on the lungs and an overactive thyroid. This time she kept him in to give him an x-ray. When I called to pick him up late that afternoon, he'd been confirmed as having fluid on the lungs, an enlarged heart and an overactive thyroid and would be on three different kinds of pills twice a day for the rest of his life. What Wendy couldn't understand is how, given what was wrong with him, he appeared healthy and in good condition.
In between those two visits, the following happened-
Around twelve I had to go pick up two kittens (for one of the several reasons I'm omitting) and keep them until the next morning when Lynn, a fosterer, could take them. I confess they proved to be an absolute delight so I'm glad Lynn agreed to take them. A brother and sister (who don't get on) and just under six months old -when I rescued them I took them straight to Wendy's to be neutered and vaccinated- and both really pretty. Jake is the tabby, Jacqui is the white one with a thick black tail you can't see.
Both have silky soft fur, are inquisitive, friendly, lively, destructive, and delightful. I was having a bath this morning and at one point both were perched on the edge. They'll be a joy for whoever gets them and Lynn thinks she might have a home already for one of them.
Not long after I got a call from a lady who'd been visiting her sister a couple of doors up at teatime yesterday and had entertained this friendly little black cat who obviously had a home and was, they not unreasonably assumed, was just having a little wander. She'd put the details of Jack-Jack on Facebook. Mid-afternoon she rang again to say she'd been contacted by a friend of hers who lived a mile away and had found a friendly little black cat in their garden. They'd taken it to the PDSA where it was found to be microchipped and took it home while the PDSA contacted the chipping organisation to locate its owner. I went round just before going to collect Leo but not expecting it to be Jack-Jack. How the hell would a cat that had never been out (at least not where I live) end up a mile away?
And I'm still wondering that because it was Jack-Jack. After tormenting myself and fearing the worst since ten the previous evening, I was overwhelmed with relief and with gratitude to the lovely young couple who'd looked after him and made an immediate effort to find his owner, and the lady (young woman?) who put him on Facebook where the couple had seen him and put two and two together. I'm not used to being shown kindness by other people, usually it's the other way around (not a boast, that's just what I do, I help animals and people who own them or want them).
Jack-Jack is now settled back in his own home, though he still tried to sneak out again this morning but just stood still outside while I picked him up. He also seemed a bit disconcerted by the two strange kittens who'd appeared in his absence but they're gone now so that's okay and he's currently sleeping on the settee a few feet away.
As for the other two cats I'm supposedly fostering but actually keeping, well...
Fifi, the first, was always friendly but a little nervous about other cats and sleeps/sits on a cushion in the living room or in the window of my bookroom. She's recently taken to actually coming and sitting on my knee for a while.
And then there's (Namestilltobedecided) the two year old neutered pedigree British shorthair who is now legally mine as I gave the treasurer of Animal Krackers a cheque for a three figure sum (and I'm not including pennies) for him. After a week he still runs away from me but this is a tease. If I catch him in the bathroom (he follows me in) and shut the door, he rolls over and purrs loudly as I stroke him and give him cuddles. Only a few minutes ago, on the tiled part of the kitchen, he did the same. (I wonder if it's the tiles?) He spends a lot of time in the book room with Fifi whom he seems comfortable with.
So, cats okay, Susan not. Got to go get something for her from the chemist now.
Susan asked me to keep a diary for a week of what I did just to give people an idea of how busy I am (or not) for Animal Krackers.So here it is, with photos.
Emily’s Nursery to buy cat
litter (4*30 litre sacks). Sainsbury’s to buy cat food. Carole’s at Southwick
to deliver the above. Wendy’s vets to collect Jack, a lovely long haired black
and white cat, for re-homing. Ferryfarm Kennels to drop off Jack and talk to
new volunteer cat cuddlers.
and Morrisons to empty their pet food bins.
Sainsburys to empty the pet food bins and then to Susan’s to deliver the dog
food. (Note: since Susan and I split up, I now keep the cat food at my house).
Ferryfarm to photograph all the cats. (See previous post.). Write a blog entry to include the new
photos. Notify Phil so he can put them on the website.
photos to StrayAid for their website. Take donated cat food to Carole.
day when I have no Animal Krackers jobs to do. The next day makes up for it.
to buy cat food which is on special offer and then to Emily’s for litter. After
delivering both to Carole’s I take two cats to Wendy’s for vaccinations and
she tells me her plans for re-organising Carol’s setup. To Susan to tell her
what Wendy said.
In the afternoon I got
to Ferryfarm to meet two people who want to adopt a cat. Only one turns up (because the other wasn't due till Friday and I got the day wrong) but
she takes Jack, a lovely long haired black and white (see above).
To Sainsbury’s to empty
the food bin.
To a garage to have a new passenger side wing mirror fitted.
there, Susan calls me to call in at the shop where a pedigree British short
hair has just been dumped. I end up taking it home where it spends the night
hiding behind the fridge.
This is not the back of my fridge.
is now hiding underneath the settee in my living room. Susan has just called so
I’m now on my way out…
Post Script 1.
Tuppence, called that because he cost £300 (I've seen the web page), is a scaredy cat who runs away from me. when I corner him, however, he purrs as I stroke him. He's also more adventurous as the next photo is of him sharing a settee with me. Given time, I think he'll be as nice as he is pretty.
Post Script 2. Thursday 4th April.
I've just been informed that one of my readers has taken offence at the last couple of sentences -which I've deleted- in which I jokingly stated that I'll be keeping the cat. This is true but what I should have indicated was that I'll happily pay whatever is agreed to be a fair price for him as indeed I would have been asking for more than the regular donation anyway. He's a funny little character and I've grown very fond of him in only a few days.
Post Script 3.
Note to self: stop making jokes in this blog, it's not worth it.
This morning I went up to Ferry Farm to take photographs of all the cats currently waiting to be re-homed from our re-homing centre there. They are in order of closest to the entrance.
Except the first one. This an eight week old kitten staying at Kings Road Practice Vets. He suffered particularly virulent diarrhea when younger and still may have the bug in his system so he can't be re-homed with any other cats. He's bright, lively, and friendly -contact number 0191 5493535 if you're interested.
The two cats are best friends who have to be re-homed together and have been with us for a while. Don't know why as they are really friendly. As is Jack who is is just a big fluffy softy who arrived last week. The other black and white below is Phoebe, another softy.
These are Amy and Annabelle, mother and daughter, and with us since the beginning. I really don't know why as they are beautiful and friendly. Annabelle the long haired daughter needs regular grooming or her fur quickly develops tats. We had her shorn recently.
Precious the tabby and white would make an ideal house cat, she's lovely. But then so are the two close friends below her whose names escape me because I didn't write them down and I've a rotten memory.
Another black and white cutie whose name I've forgotten.
This is Tigger. His fosterer said he was a lovely friendly cat but he's having a hard time adapting to being in the centre and he cries and growls constantly. He can be stroked and even picked up but it always feels as if he's going to attack you any second. I keep telling him he's not giving a good impression if he wants a new home. But will he listen?
Mother and daughter. Mother is very friendly. Daughter is very scared; she's not aggressive at all and can easily be stroked but feels stressed while it's happening. They need a quiet home and an owner with a lot of patience.
Our last two. Both nice friendly cats wanting a good home. That's it.
Oh, and just a quick word of thanks to our new three volunteer cat cuddlers who are doing so much to relax the cats and keep them socialised.
One of two cats which came with me when I moved, Lotus was both our oldest and newest cat. She'd been owned by the son of a friend of Susan's late father. He booked her into Westhall Kennels and then himself into a hospice. Susan only found out about Lotus after his death, we went to the kennels and brought her home where she quickly settled in. It soon became obvious that she preferred me -Susan thinks it's because I approximately physically resemble her late owner- so it became natural for her to come with me.
Lotus has had arthritis since we got her and I believed it had been getting much worse of late and verified by Louise the vet who gave her a steroid injection. I suspected she wouldn't last out the year.
Yesterday evening she was sitting next to me on the settee when she began to cough, throw back her head and cry out before slumping down. Her breathing increased rapidly then slowed down again. This went on for a couple of hours during which she soiled herself. I stroked and comforted her the whole time. Her pupils had dilated to fill her eyes. I thought at one point that she'd gone blind, though I was wrong about that. I was also convinced that she was having a stroke as had Lucy, the first cat Susan and adopted together.
To say it was distressing to watch is an understatement and I kept whispering to her to go to sleep (and not wake up). After some internal debate, I rang Susan to tell her because I knew that, alive or dead, she want to come with me to the vets next morning.
Eventually and to my surprise, Lotus began to calm down. She slid off the settee so I put a blanket on the floor and made her as comfortable as I could. I also gave her a couple of syringes of water.
I woke up at four, went downstairs and found Lotus actually standing up, albeit very wobbly. She managed to make her way to the water dish, falling over a couple of times in the process. Then I picked her up and nursed her for over half an hour, with her purring the whole time, before I went back to bed. When I got up again a couple of hours later, Lotus had recovered enough strength to go into the kitchen and eat food I put down for her. she'd been sick during the night but not much had come up. Eventually the time came round to put her in the car, collect Susan and go and see Wendy the vet.
I was wrong about the stroke. Wendy believed it was a blood clot which was affecting the nerves in her back end. She cried whenever her hind legs were moved. Lotus was not going to get better and to take her home would just be cruel. Her head slumped down even before the full amount of fluid in the needle got into her system.
Lotus was around sixteen and she'd been with us for the last two years of her life. We think they'd been happy ones for her.