Friday, 30 October 2009


Poppy died early this morning.

Unusually for me, I had a lie-in  probably because I was woken by cats fighting about 5 and got up and let them out. So I didn't get up until 7.40 when I let the cats back  in and fed them. Then I went outside into the garden and looked through the french windows of the room where she stayed overnight in her cage which is something I never normally do.

Poppy was stretched out on her blanket and it was obvious she was dead. I went back in and checked her. She was cool but not yet in rigor mortis -that came a little later. Her eyes were open.

I took Susan a cup of tea, woke her up and told her. Unsurprisingly she's very upset. So am I, I just don't visibly show it. Instead I write this at 8.10am.

In a little while I'll take her to the vets, Susan wants us to treat her the same as we've treated our other cats which have died, and ask for them to arrange for her to be cremated and the ashes returned to us. Poppy will then join Lucy, BB, and Tiger in our garden.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


It may be because it's late in the evening. It may be because I'm tired and Susan has flu and I've been doing what I can to look after her. It may be because I feel I've got a cold coming on. Or it may be just because I've had a large glass of red wine.

But I don't think Poppy has got much longer. She's kept in the cage over night and when I'd checked it this morning she'd done two motions of a pate-like consistency which is good. She's constantly hungry but only nibbles. Today she's leaked considerably as well as doing several motions on the carpet. I don't know how many times I've washed my hands today. She's also slept a lot of the time on Susan's bed, snuggled up next to Susan who is herself low and only tolerates it because she can't bear to upset the kitten.

As I mentioned in the previous post, she's lost even more weight. Now I just think she's worn out with it all. I suspect the next couple of days will have her improve or drastically decline and die. I hope it's the former. I think it will be the latter.


Rabbit photos courtesy of Andrea Parkin. Top: group. Bottom: Basil the Baby Bunny.

So I was due to take Poppy (previously named Lulu the loose kitten) to the vets because her diarrhea isn't getting any better and then discovered I had to take Andrea and the five baby bunnies we've been looking after prior to re-homing.

My hands on experience with rabbits is quite limited so I was surprised just how friendly and inquisitive these little bunnies were in that they came to the front of the cage as I approached and happily sniffied my fingers. All of them were very happy, one at a time of course, to be picked up, held against my chest and stroked. Each one of them snuggled in comfortably and I found it almost as relaxing an experience as stroking a cat.

We were all seeing Honour, whom I've mentioned in several previous posts, at Vets4Pets. Not unusually, we were late going in but I never mind that because I get the opportunity to meet animals and talk to their owners about Animal Krackers. Anyway, Poppy, despite having physically grown a  little has actually lost weight since she was seen two weeks ago. Honour decided to try her on micro doses of steroids combined with this brown gunge which is supposed to line the stomach. If this doesn't work, then we have to decide whether to go ahead with expensive tests which could cost up to £800. The alternative is to put her to sleep; or, of course, let her die a lingering death and that is something no-one wants.

The bunnies were there to be sexed and checked out. Never seen a bunny sexed before and even a vet as experienced as Honour had to check them all twice before deciding which were which. She also pronounced them to be in hopping good health.

One the way out we saw Gillian of Feline Friends whom we've known for a number of years but my attentionwas drawn to a rat in a small plastic carrier with the top open. The rat's owner, a young woman called Kate Young, runs a rat rescue at Washington.

Here's her website:

Her poor little rat had a very swollen eye which she reckoned would probably have to be removed.

That's it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Another entry, another no photo and not much happening.

Saturday teatime Carol rang wanting me to go through to Washington to pick up a cat. Apparently it was neglected and the police were involved with its owner and it was skinny as a rake and left out all night. So...

I didn't go. I hate driving round Washington where I always get lost (see previous entries) and it would be even worse in the dark. I reckoned it would survive until the following morning. Carol phoned me later to say the bloke who originally contacted her had managed to get a lift and brought it through.

This afternoon I took it to Vets4Pets for a check over. It's a beautiful long haired ginger cat and I hope I'll get a photo of it before it's rehomed. Nice natured and lively. Also in very good condition: lean but not skinny or underweight. We aren't sure if it's been neutered or not so just to be on the safe side I'm taking it in next Monday morning.

While I was there I discussed our kitten, currently called Poppy, with Honour the vet. The result of that conversation being that tomorrow afternoon I'll take her in for a steroid injection to see if that has any effect.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

CATS: busy busy busy

No photographs because I've just installed Windows 7 but not yet reinstalled the copy of my hard disk. (For the full but still short story of that, see my other blog:

Monday was a record: 6 cats to the vets in one day. First off, I picked up a mother and her two grown kittens from Ryhope, getting lost in the process, and took them to Vets4Pets for neutering. The owner didn't want the kittens back as with 2 kids, studying science at Shiney Row college, and working at the Casino, she had enough on her plate. Later I picked up 3 cats from Carol's for checkups following their 2 neuterings and 1 teeth removal the previous week. At the vets I then picked up the 3 neutered cats and had 6 in my car at the same time. The kittens are being fostered by a couple who have just got in contact with us and seem very nice indeed. Paul has just been on the phone to let me know they have settled in well and are starting to play with his two cats.

Last Thursday (or Friday, I get mixed up) Andrea and I went to West Boldon (and got lost thanks to her crap navigating) to pick up a 14 month old Staffy bitch. Owner had a new baby and couldn't cope with the two. The dog was lovely, very friendly, almost gentle by staffys' ebillient standards. We took her to StrayAid at Coxhoe deep in the heart of Durham.

A couple of hours later I had got myself totally confused in Sulgrave, Washington, finding myself completely incapable of seeing my destination despite driving and walking past it several times. I was there to pick up two cats (brother & sister and proud parents of two kittens) for neutering. Rather than leave the house ridiculously early the following morning I'd decided to keep them here overnight. No problems, nice owner but with a lot on her plate. I strongly emphasised that she should get the kittens neutered no later than 6 months. Already the product of inbreeding, I shudder to think what their kittens might be like.

Talking of kittens, loose Lulu is now in my house. When there's no-one around she's kept in a cage which is more restricting that before, but when she isn't, she has more company for longer. Still loose, we're now trying a different food but nothing seems to work.

Last night a drunk idiot phoned who seems to think we should give her the name and address of the people we got the two cats from that she adopted and was pissed off when I told her that even if we had their details we wouldn't pass it on. She then threatened to smear our charity to the local newspaper. I put the phone down on her. So far today no more has been heard.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


While I'm behind on new posts, I have today finally caught up with transferring all the animal-related entries from my other blog to this one. They aren't strictly in (reverse) chronological order though they mostly are. They are also still on my Freethinking blog but I'll probably get round to deleting them from there.

I had quite a busy week last week which I hope to get around to writing about this week. But what with dealing with new software which crashes my system, cats, and finding time to read the many lovely books I've been buying lately, plus hoping to fit in an afternoon to go and see Zombieland. Oh, and my dear friend Barry is going into hospital for a heart op at the Freeman in Newcastle in two days and I'll have to visit him.

Well, we'll see.

ANIMAL RESCUE: The Story of Animal Krackers.

Monday, 6 July 2009

2002: Getting the shop ready.
L-R: Edie, Ian, Susan, Jacqui, Chris.

I meet Susan Hardy and we get married on August 21st 1988 Although we met on an Open University Social Sciences degree foundation course, it's really our mutual love of animals which brings us close.

Susan at the time was active in the anti-vivisection movement, which she still supports, and had been for some while. She got me to go along to some meetings and a couple of marches, though the movement seemed to be declining in Sunderland at least. I had and still have some reservations about its demand for a total ban of animal vivisection, though I would like to see a situation where it was completely unnecessary.

About a year after buying our first house we get our first cat together. Lucy is a stray black and white which wanted to live with friends of Susan's. They advertised it but no-one claimed it, their cat hated it, we went round and she sat on my knee the whole time we were there. When we got her home, she had a wander round, used the cat litter, ate something, then jumped on my lap and sprawled across my left knee, paws on either side of my leg. A couple of years later we got another cat whom I called BB after BB King (whom I'd recently been to see at the Newcastle Arena with Susan's brother), being that he was short, black and with a pot belly. A little while Bonnie, a psycho long-haired tortoiseshell, jumped in front of Susan while she was talking to a neighbour in the street. Susan picked her up ,ran in the house, gave her to me and went to visit her mother. Bonnie was in heat, we had her spayed (the vet reckoned she was about 3 years old) and she's still with us albeit a little bit doddery. Lucy had a stroke which left her blind and partially paralysed so we had her put to sleep. BB was hit by a car in our street and, we think, died almost instantly.

In the late 90's we started helping a lady called Wendy who'd set up her own rescue called Wendy's Ark. A support group had formed around her and Susan became active in that. Wendy, being shall we say, difficult, ended up splitting from the group which became the north side of Sunderland's animal rescue Pawz For Thought. Susan became fed up with Pawz for Thought because it became clear that only one person in the organisation mattered and everything had to be done her way.

About the same time Susan and I met Andrea, an animal-lover who was the shop manager of the local branch of Oxfam in Grangetown where we live. Oxfam was closing the shop down and Andrea was interested in setting up another charity shop. It seemed a match made in heaven. We soon found -found is not the right word- we walked along the street and stopped at boarded-up premises about a hundred yards away from the bottom of the street where we live.

The owner showed us round. It was a total mess. In the larger of the upstairs room, there were gaps in the ceiling and in the roof above. The floor was covered in a layer of pigeon shit and dead pigeons and the stench was appalling.

However as the rent was so cheap we took it. The owner had the roof repaired and cleaned up the rooms making it at least habitable. We then set about renovating it which involved redecorating, cleaning, fitting shelves, and so on. Even with the help of a number of volunteers, it still took months. I suggested the name Animal Crackers because it indicated what we were about, it was also the name of a Marx Brothers movie and a Shirley Temple song, which I'd like to forget but can't, so it had added nuances. Later on and for legal reasons we had to change the name to Animal Krackers.

As the shop took shape so did our ideas about what we wanted to do with the funds we raised. Although the spur to open a charity shop was to raise funds for Wendy's Ark, we never intended to limit ourselves to just funding Wendy. We hoped to be able help other local animal rescue organisations. A few months later, and like most people it seems who have much to do with her over long periods, we had a falling out with Wendy so we concentrated helping other local rescues and building funds to go towards establishing a permanent financially secure animal rescue for the City of Sunderland.

What we weren't going to be, until then, was an animal rescue.

To be honest, my interest had tailed off somewhat because the shop didn't become what I'd hoped. My intention had been, and I was more than willing to do all the work, was to have the shop become a pet information centre as well as our prime means of raising funds. But no-one was interested or wanted to give it much space. Making as much money as possible was the important thing. And after spending my working week involved with the public the last thing I wanted to do was go behind the counter of a charity shop or sort out stuff behind the scenes.

While this was going on we acquired Lily, a five week old grey kitten, and our fourth cat.

However, word got around about us and people started coming to us with lost animals, mainly cats and dogs, and we had to develop procedures to deal with this when the local rescues were full. Part of this involved liaising with Carol the cat rescuer who worked under the aegis of Pawz for Thought. With me being so keen on cats, I happily took this on. And then Carol fell out with Pawz for Thought and we took her under our wing, paying for vets bills and collecting (we had dump bins in several local food stores) and buying food.

On a visit to Carol's, Susan fell in love with the runt of the litter, a tiny long haired tabby who is now called Tiger and is the biggest cat we have.

Max, a needy six month old black and white cat was brought to the shop only a week or so after BB's death. We were just going to foster him for a few days and then take him to Carol's but he never left. A few months after that while Susan was away for a week's holiday with her brother and his family I fell in love with a little ginger kitten Carol had taken in. Several months after that Susan was at the doctor's when she was told of a kitten in the scaffolding outside. We advertised in the local newspaper but no-one claimed her so she also stayed. A couple of years later and while at Carol's a large black and white cat literally jumped into Susan's arms and she didn't put him down.

In the eight years since we first took on the shop we've developed from a virtually unknown support group to a very well known and highly regarded local rescue. The Sunderland Echo has featured us on its pages a few times a year -the most recent piece late last year was a double-page spread about cats with a quite decent photo of me on it. We temporarily house dogs at Ferryfarm Kennels in Sunderland and at StrayAid at Coxhoe (see earlier posts) and this works very well. I'm busy several times a week either picking up cats to take to Carol's or taking them to the vets, collecting food or sometimes driving the van for dogs. We always spend well over a thousand pounds a month on vets bills and it would be more if it wasn't for the national charity Cats Protection giving us neutering vouchers worth £30.00.

Sometimes we have to make the hard decision about whether or not we can save an animal or if it should be put to sleep. I hate that and have to convince myself I've done the right thing. My prime concern is that I do not let an animal suffer and if that means putting it to sleep then that is what I have done.

This is my blog and you may get the impression that I do a huge amount. If you have, then that's wrong. Susan and Andrea do far far more than me every day. I do what I enjoy doing and that is running around helping cats and, where required dogs too. I love dogs, I just love cats more.

But here we are, despite all the fights that happen in any group, we still going and still going strongly, though we never have enough people, never have enough fosterers, never have enough resources, and there is always another cat and another dog to be helped and we keep going on.

Update: four years later.

Obviously the cat rescue story continues in all the proceeding blog posts. The dog side of things continues more or less unchanged. The major change was our opening of the Cat-Rehoming Centre at Ferry Farm Boarding kennels (again fully detailed later in this blog). Volunteers have come and gone and many who have been with us from the beginning are still here. Susan and I split up but remain good friends. I have my own nice little house which I'm currently sharing with 5 adult cats and 4 kittens; number subject to change without notice.

There have been ups and downs and mistakes made but I like to think that we're still doing a good job of rescuing and re-homing animals and helping others to do the same.

Friday, 26th July 2013.

WHAT I DID TODAY: I Am White Van Man

Friday, 12 June 2009

5.00 am Woke up.

5.50 Got up, let 6 cats out, let 2 in, fed same, drank a glass of water (no food, no caffeine, I'm having a blood test later), watched BBC News 24 for 10 minutes, checked email.

7.30 Swimming.

8.30 Received no longer wanted four year old black cat which had just peed in its carrier. I get one of our carriers from the garage and put it in while I clean the wet one. Then I let it out in the kitchen for an hour. It's a chunky thing and quietly friendly but it still scared the crap out of its former owner's one year old daughter hence its appearance on my doorstep. It seems quite a placid animal.

9.40 I load up Animal Krackers' new white van (see above)a nd drive to the doctor's for the blood test. Until yesterday I had never driven anything larger than our Ford Fiesta so this is quite strange and I'm a bit nervous but don't have any problems and take to it better than I expected. I also discover that the cat (which I call Max as in Maximum) doesn't like being in a cat carrier in a van and loudly expresses this feeling. He also shits in the carrier. Twice.

10.15 Pick up Andrea (along with my wife, Susan, the co-leader of our charity) and we head off to Ferryfarm boarding kennel to pick up a dog.
At this point an update is in order.
The very sick dog we took in on Monday was taken back to the vets on Tuesday but this time was looked at by Honor, the senior vet. Honor quickly diagnosed the dog as being very old, having no feeling in its back legs, probably had some brain damage, and was suffering. She recommended it being put to sleep and mercifully it was. We find out later today that this was actually illegal. But later on Tuesday we discovered the owner of the dog -an elderly and not very capable old lady who was glad we had ended her dog's suffering; she intended to do it herself but we think she just couldn't face it.
Max the cat had supposed to have gone to the Burnhope cattery on Monday but didn't make it and the revised plan had been to take it today. However, two of the cats I'd taken there had come down with what might be cat flu and had been isolated. As it wasn't fair to Tracy the owner of the cattery/rescue to dump her with Max and put Max at potential risk, we managed to get Stray Aid to take him for rehoming. This was where we were taking the dog we'd come for.
Stray Aid is a combination of dog boarding kennel, rehoming centre (mainly dogs but the odd cat), and veterinary surgery and we pay them to keep 5 kennels available to us.

10.50 Arrive at Stray Aid, some 20 miles away in County Durham. Max is checked out, vaccinated and de-flead just in case, and declared fine. Four years old, low mileage, suit an elderly driver. Or something. The dog, a friendly cross-something, is also declared fine.

11.50 Back on the motorway heading to Penshaw Village on the outskirts of Sunderland to pick up a rottweiler. It had been re-homed with a family but we were told their landlord had changed the rules of their tenancy and they couldn't have a large dog. Translation: it's too much for us to handle and we want rid of it. Andrea knows of someone who wants a rottweiler and is experienced with large dogs so she rings her up and tells it's on its way back to Ferryfarm Kennels if she wants to see it. We duly dump the dog -large, friendly and likes to chew on your hand -in a friendly bone-grinding way.

1.45 I finally arrive home.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Now why, you're wondering, in the first place would we be at the Bangla Deshi Centre and who, in the second place, is we?

We, is me and Andrea. Why, is we was asking for money.  Let me explain...

There's a government funded local group called Back on the Map which is a quango with the aim of improving life in the Sunderland areas of Hendon and the East End. It does a lot of very good work, part of which involves promoting the area. One a year they allocate relatively small sums of money to groups which provide some form of service to the area which is where we come in.

Animal Krackers is well known in the area and a lot of rescued animals come from here such as Lulu the kitten. This year we put in a request for £1800 which would provide 5 places at Ferryfarm Kennels for a year and stray/unwanted dogs from Hendon would be guaranteed a place. One such dog can be seen sitting on my knee in the photo below about an hour after it was taken away to its new fosterer. The dog is a Jack Russell, a ratter by instinct and likely to chase small animals. It proved to be terrified of cats as I discovered when I had to drag it past one of my cats which was sitting just inside the front gate.

The format of the meeting is that each individual group gives a maximum 5-minute presentation. Each group is fit into one of 4 categories -Health & Fitness, the elderly, ethnic, and 'small sums' (our category). A varied amount of money is allocated to each category and is voted on by 50 volunteer judges from the area. However, as I've just found out from Susan a few minutes ago, the voting is overall and not in each separate category so it's possible that none of the groups in a particular category could be voted any money. This is obviously not a good idea and clearly I'm writing from hindsight as I found out some disturbing information after writing the following two paragraphs.

And it's held at the Bangla Deshi Centre which, despite the name, is open to all and is a very active centre.

Usually Susan and  Andrea we do it but Susan had to be at a meeting about her mother and I was the obvious replacement being articulate, confident  and charming. You do recognise that description of me, don't you? One slight problem, until the day before, Andrea was away for the week. Susan dictated an introduction which I typed and modified. I then wrote my piece about Lulu and Grace and brought it all together in the conclusion. Andrea emailed a piece a couple of days before which I then edited, cut, rewrote, etc until the whole thing pretty much worked. Given the 5-minute limit, I was still doing minor revisions an hour before we were due to arrive.

Held in a large hall arranged into the audience in groups of tables with up to six at a table, and the supplicants arrayed on either side of a wide table along one wall. With over 20 groups and allowing for technical hitches this would, I thought, take a long time. As it turned out, only one group overran and no-one minded as it was to support a group of prepubescent would-be cheerleaders who, while their young female presenter was excellent, were pretty terrible but all the more charming for it. Quite a few presentations were over in a minute or less and we were on last.

We had brought three display boards packed with photos of Hendon animals we'd rescued and put it in front of the table. Holding the microphone close and wearing my Animal Krackers t-shirt, I gave the introduction about why we were asking for money and what we did. I passed the mic to Andrea who then cited examples of Hendon dogs we'd rescued referencing the relevant photos. Back to me for brief stories of Grace and Lulu and I then wrapped it up by explaining that if we got the money for the dogs if would have a knock-on effect in that we would not be placed, by limited funds, into having to choose whether to provide either veterinary care or a kennel place, in effect, condemning an animal to an uncertain future. I may have imagined it but I thought we got a substantial applause when we finished.

Strange thing is, despite being shy in a social situation where I'm not on familiar territory or with people I know, I have no problems at all about talking to a large group, concerns that I might fluff lines or lose my place, yes, but I don't feel nervous at all. It would also seem that this is not a delusion on my part as several people mentioned how confidently I came over.  Andrea and I agreed that if we didn't get the money it would be because the judges had other priorities rather than any weaknesses in our presentation or content.

We then networked the various tables for about three quarters of an hour until lunch arrived, ate lunch, and, deciding we'd done all we could, left.

In a nutshell: we got the money we asked for.

However, Back on the Map shot themselves in the foot. Because it wasn't voted on by category, none of the groups in the ethnic section got anything and the organisation is in turmoil and accusations of racism are flying around. Susan even offered to donate £500 of the money we'd been given to one of the ethnic groups but we weren't allowed. I feel sorry for BOTM because they are a worthy organisation but they've screwed up big time and I hope they can this mess sorted. It's rather soured our win as I do feel the ethnic groups haven't had a fair shake.

And that's it, no real wrap up, just life, man.

ANIMAL RESCUE: TROUBLE AT T'MILL -Ian loses his temper

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Photo from Internet: a rabbit with myxomatosis.

So, we were having a meeting to finalise the new version of Animal Krackers leaflet when the phone rings. It's Carol, our cat rescuer. She's with two of her grandchildren at a shopping area on the north of the river about 3 miles away. She's found a rabbit suffering severely from myxomatosis and wants me to go pick it up, take it to the vets to be put to sleep.

I'm okay with that and relay this to Susan, Andrea and our treasurer, Anne. They aren't okay with it. Why can't she go to the nearer PDSA? Fine, I'll take it there. The traffic is very heavy, it would take a while, says Susan who was over that way not long since. There's more but I start to get irritated. I call Carol back and while I'm talking get more annoying comments. I tell Susan to speak to her and toss the phone to her. Unfortunately I toss it harder than I intended and it looks like I'm throwing it at her.

I pick up the phone and give it Andrea who talks to her, coming over as being a mix of condescension, indifference, and patronising and suggests she flag a car down as well as saying wild animals aren't our brief and she should call the RSPCA, like they'd come for a dying rabbit.

At this point I lose my temper and call the three of them 'fucking uncaring bastards' and only just manage to not stalk out of the room.

I shouldn't have done that and I was very wrong to do it. But all I knew was that an animal was suffering and I had the chance to ease its pain and those three were fannying around about cost and time and more crap rather than just letting me get on with it. What should have been something simple blew up into a major heated emotionally-charged issue which totally pissed of Carol and myself who do just about all the work involving cats.

Carol ended up walking three quarters of a mile along a busy road with two small children, a rabbit in a box and she also happened to be going for a hospital checkup about her legs today. The PDSA stayed open a little longer and the rabbit was put to sleep.

It's 24 hours since this happened and both Carol and I have calmed down. But we know we were trying to do the right thing. We help animals, that's what we do. We also thought that's what Animal Krackers did.



Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Tiger April 2006-7th October 2009

She was found on the front step at 8.15 this morning. She had been hit by a car and was bleeding heavily from the  mouth. Twenty minutes later, she died in the vets surgery before the staff  could do anything to help her.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Spent a lot of time on the road this week. Today I've been into the hinterland of County Durham, up on the moors to the village of Burnhope where the deep green landscape is overshadowed, rather wonderfully, by those huge electricity-generating windmills. I'd have loved to have taken a shot of them towering over trees but I couldn't find a place to park without blocking the road so the one above will have to do.

I was there to deliver two cats (not shown) from Carol's and two kittens to Tracy's cattery (of which the black and white cat is a temporary resident) which doubles as a cat rescue. Earlier I'd picked up the kittens from their owner along with their mother which I then took to Vets4Pets for neutering (the mother, not the kittens). After that it was over to Carol's to pick up the other two cats and off on the road. I'd been told the roads were busy but apart from the minor slow crossing of Durham City, it was an easy relaxed drive.

It's been a fairly busy week for cats. On Monday I took one to be neutered and another to have her teeth checked. On Tuesday I took the same cat to have her teeth out. Then it was over to Hetton, a village on the very outskirts of the city several miles away to check out a skinny stray which was being fed by a few neighbours over the course of a few weeks. It was a calico cat,  nervous but friendly, skinny, and old, and I immediately took it to Carol's.  She reckons it's just old and underfed but I'm taking it to be checked out on Monday along with today's neutered cat and the cat I'd dropped to have teeth removed which ended up having all of them taken out.

Yesterday catless but then that was the Back on the Map day (see previous entry).

Tomorrow is no cats and none until Monday. Except for Lulu the kitten (see three earlier entries).

Lulu continues to make progress, albeit very slow progress. She rarely craps on the newspaper now, most of it going in the litter box and, while still loose, it's no longer loose. She is lively and is obviously frustrated being stuck on her own in one room for most of the time. Given the chance, she'll shoot upstairs with a speed surprising for such a small kitten. But most of the time when I'm with her she'll spend it on my chest or jumping around me. I no longer think she has anything infectious though I do believe she's been weakened by her poor start in life. I'm hoping that eventually our friend June will take her to be a companion to Grace and where she'll be safe as an indoor cat. But we'll see.


Thursday, 24 September 2009

Photo: Leo and Ted who have nothing to do with this entry.

Monday morning I took Lulu the kitten's faeces samples to Vets4Pets for analysis. Apparently it will take a week. If it's parvo, she dies. End of story. I hope not, not just for the obvious reason that I don't want any young cat to die. Also she seems to have been perking up in the last few days to the stage that I've been leaving the cage open and letting her just wander around the room, albeit with newspaper covering much of it. I made a mistake when I left it open overnight as I ended up on my hands and knees with a bucket of soapy water, a scrubbing brush and several towels. But the diarrhea continues unabated albeit perhaps a little less frequent and a little less runny.

Carol wanted me to take a new arrival for the vets for checking -Roker Park not V4P with whom she's on the outs- so I made a teatime appointment that day. Then a cat was handed in at the shop with what might have been wounds on its back. I got it booked in with the other one.

Now, people tell us lies when they want to get rid of their cats.

According to her daughter, Cat No.1, a very elderly thin female, was supposedly found in the coal-house of her equally elderly mother who is suffering from Alzheimers. Carol and I suspect that the cat belongs to the woman's mother and she just doesn't want to go through the bother of paying for veterinary treatment or having it put to sleep -which would have been the kindest option. The vet checked the cat over and declared it to be elderly, virtually toothless, and with matted fur (which was obvious) but otherwise in good condition. So this poor old thing is going to spend the rest of its life in a cage surrounded by other cats because no-one is going to take on a cat this old.

Cat No.2, a large neutered pure black male, apparently keeps going back to its old home from its new one a mile away where it's supposed to live with its dog-breeder owners and it has wounds which look suspiciously like bites, or a localised flea allergy. It's pretty obvious its owners don't give a crap about him. The vet checked out the wounds, he's otherwise sound, and gave him a couple of injections with the instructions to bathe his wounds with salt and water every day.

In fact the cat has turned out to have gotten a lucky break. We originally contacted the RSPCA about this neglected cat and they agreed to pay the first £60 of any veterinary treatment -a standard procedure of their in such circumstances. We then got a call back from to say that they had a place at their rescue a few miles away and would take him. He'll stand a good chance of getting a home there and will be well looked after.

Yesterday morning I called round to pick up the semi-feral cat (which looks like Cat No.2 but unlike him isn't placid) which is 'owned' by an elderly couple and take him to the PDSA for an operation. While I was at their house they gave me a nearly new leather jacket which the husband couldn't wear because he'd lost so much weight as a result of diet and health problems. It's a little comfortable across the stomach (I also need to go on a diet) but otherwise fine. Thank you.


Friday, 18 September 2009

On Monday I took the kitten to the vets to see Kevin, a partner in the practice. He checked her out, gave her some injections, a new medicine and told me discontinue one I was using plus the anaesthetic drops on her bum as they could hinder healing. Using the Vaseline was okay though. She should start to improve in a day or so, he said.

So that's what I did and there were, after a day, small signs of improvement in terms of the constitution of her bowel movements but they didn't last. By Wednesday, her appetite was waning. Susan and regularly bathed her every couple of days and on Thursday, in an attempt to perk her up, I let her out of cage and gave her the runaround of the room for a couple of hours and if she shat on the floor then I'd clean it up. Her appetite hadn't improved so I made an appointment to see Honor.

It still had gotten any better when we turned up four 4.30 appointment this afternoon. Honor told me something that Andrea hadn't last week, something that I didn't know. Feline parvo is always fatal and it is a slow death. The only way to tell is to test the faeces from a collection of several bowel movements. If it isn't parvo then they should be able to identify what it may be. If they can't then it's blood tests and if it goes to that then the outlook is grim.

My primary rule when dealing with animals is this: Do not let them suffer.

If the kitten has something curable I will have it cured. If it isn't then I will take her to the vets as fast as I can and have her put to sleep.

This evening I had one of my regular four times a day sessions with her which involve: cleaning up where necessary, giving her any medicines she's due, cleaning her bottom and any other parts I can wipe, playing/cuddling her, feeding her, and lastly putting cream (I've gone over to Sudacrem on Honor's advice) on her bottom. Tonight I was going to collect a specimen of faeces and, for the first time in any of these sessions which have been going on for a week now, she didn't leak any poo.

I wish I could say I thought this was a good sign but the fact is she hasn't eaten much in the last couple of days and was bound to dry up a little.


Saturday, 12 September 2009

Around ten last night, after a nice meal down the street with Susan and her brother's family I popped back in to see the kitten and just cuddled the poor pathetic thing for a little while.

About eight this morning I was back there to give it its various medicines, all liquid. It had eaten a fair bit of the food I'd left for it but didn't look as if it had touched the water so I gave it a couple of 10ml syringes full.

It was also in an awful looking condition. The fur on its tail was matted solid with excreta as were the backs of its hindlegs with other hard smears at various places over its body and face. I took it back down to our house and, with Susan's help, washed it thoroughly in the bath in lukewarm water and with mild shampoo. It cried a lot at first but then seemed to give up. At least we got it off though it wasn't easy. The partially-dried result is above.

A little later we got a call from a lady who specialises in helping kittens and their mothers. She advised us to put Vaseline on its bum and feed it with a mixture of rice and fish or chicken and fish as the gluten would help reduce the diarrhea. I've since given it a small amount of microwaved fish and rice mix which seems to have gone down well. A little alter when Susan arrived with the Vaseline, I picked it up and it immediately let slip over my hand. I cleaned the kitten where necessary and applied the Vaseline.

It's now curled up asleep in a cat carrier in our house away from the other cats.

Post Script

She's been back up the street and I called in after a couple of hours just to give her some fluid and a cuddle. I put a towel over my chest and lap and she climbed up so her head was just under my chin. Two hours after that, I gave her her various medicines then brought her down here and fed her chicken and rice which she gobbled down and, again, gave her a cuddle on a towel until she started leaking a bit. She's now in her cage for the night with fresh water and more chicken and rice after having anaesthetic drops on her swollen little bottom. Hopefully the new diet will do something for her digestion. She seems a sweet little thing and loves being held.


Friday, 11 September 2009

If the first two photographs don't make you feel as if your heart is breaking then you don't have one.

This is the stray kitten which was handed in to our shop. It seemed healthy at first, then, a day later, I was a bit concerned about it being apathetic when I picked it up. Shortly after it developed uncontrollable diarrhea. Andrea has been looking after it but she's in London this weekend so it's fallen to me. Last night it went to Vets4Pets where Honor (see earlier posts) said it might have feline parvo and gave it several injections and medicine. Now I've got it for the weekend.

In earlier posts when I mentioned the garage, I deliberately gave the impression it was the garage belonging to our house. It isn't. A couple of years ago, Susan and brother Nick bought a house a few doors up the street for their mother who, awkward person that she is, refused to move into it. If she had, she might not have been sectioned and put in a home. So the garage that Blanket and Grace is three doors up the street.

The kitten is currently in a cage but inside the house and in a pretty pathetic state which the photos don't do justice. Her tail is caked in diarrhea which is also smeared over her legs and other parts. I've done my best to clean her up but she isn't strong enough to endure the trauma of being washed with soap and water in a plastic basin. I've changed the towels she sits on in her cage twice today. I've given her water and various medicines with a syringe into her mouth and squeezed antiseptic pain killer onto her tiny swollen bottom.

On the good side, she is eating reasonably well and also getting fluid from that. I've nursed her several times and she loves being cuddled, however, it's going to be nine hours before I can do all this again. Last night Andrea had the kitten in her bed and had to change all the bedclothes. Because she might have something contagious, I dare not have the kitten in my house which would put eight other cats at risk.

The tiny little creature is suffering and I'm doing all I can. I just hope it's enough.

And then there's the good news.

I took Blanket, who seems just about completely recovered, to his new home. The three other photos -a Maine Coon, a Ragdoll, and a moggie with one eye are just three of his new friends -I have some other photos but enough is enough. He seemed completely unphased by his new surroundings, met a friendly sniff with the same, and a hiss with a hiss. His new owners are delighted with him and I'm delighted he's found such a nice loving home.

Updates about the kitten -which I don't want to name until I'm sure she'll survive- will follow.


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I've spent several hours over the last couple of days working on a new version of Animal Krackers' leaflet. It's been written in collaboration with Andrea & Susan but I've done all the layout work and graphics using PagePlus 11. It's a double-sided triple foldout i.e. 6 column-sized pages. It's now at the stage where all the content is there -text & images- and is being circulated round three other people for comments before I copy it to disk and take it to be printed. The photo above is one considered for the first page but the one used will be similar albeit the top will be the top of the sign, omitting the first floor.

Yesterday I took a four year old tom to the vets for neutering. No problems. When I picked him up and took him back to Carol's, I then picked up one of the cats in her care to take it to its new owner who only lived about half a mile from. The girl Gemma is young, in her early 20's at most, with a 2yr old boy and another young cat. Nice girl, but her house was an absolute mess. The following lunchtime I returned the cat to Carol's as she couldn't cope with it. To be fair, her other cat seemed friendly and happy and in good condition. I think two were just too much for her.

Blanket's erstwhile new owner called round on Saturday afternoon to have a look at him. Nice lady, very effusive, and absolutely dedicated to cats. He's still not a hundred per cent and I'm wary of letting him go until he's stopped coughing completely. As she has a lot of other cats I don't want the slightest risk of them catching anything.

June, Grace's new owner, rang me this evening. Grace has been there for ten days now and has settled in well. She sleeps on June's daughter's bed at night and sits happily on knees any time it can. June's had her checked out and she's about 3 years old and will always have a limp but apart from that she's a healthy happy young cat. Happy ending there.

Before picking up the cat from Gemma, I called in at the shop with details I'd been typing about a case for damages against us on the ground of negligence. On this I can say no more at present. In a cat basket from which it was trying desperately to escape, in the kitchen, was a grey & white kitten -8 weeks old at best- which had just been handed to us after been found in someone's garden. We hope its owner will claim it. Slight complication in that, because of the cat flu, we dare not send it to Carol's so Andrea is looking after it tonight. Then this evening, Susan asked me if I'd kitten-sit tomorrow. Well, I was going to see District 9 in the afternoon but I suppose it can wait.

That's all folks.


Friday, 4 September 2009

These photographs of Blanket were taken a few minutes ago around 16.15.

Blanket has been here for five days now and he has improved, more so than I realised. I took him to see Mr Cummings of the Williams & Cummings practice who knows the lady (Chris Turner) who wants to adopt him. Chris, a somewhat effusive person, has been ringing me every day for progress reports as she is desperate to add him to her cat collection, making him the 16th. Thankfully I was able to give her good news today.

He is improving and Mr Cumming hopes that after the injection he gave and when the course of antibiotics is complete, Blanket (shortly to be known as TC -short for Tom Cruise and not what you thought) will be able to go to his new home. He also had a loose top left fang, ready to fall out, which the vet able to remove with just a short tug -no blood just a very rotten root. His coat for his age (around 12 as Carol thought) is in good condition.

So it's looking good for Blanket who is a very friendly cat (as long as he isn't being mauled about by someone trying to clean his eyes at which point he becomes awkward) and I've rather warmed to him. Blanket Part 3 -The Conclusion will appear in about a week.


The name 'Blanket' is a pun on 'white'. The cat, in a poorer condition than the photograph, has now replaced Grace in the cage in our garage. He has a touch of cat flu and had been harassed by one of the cats he shared a shed with at Carol's. There is a cat-lover who wants to add him to her collection but Carol wanted to give him a few days peace and quiet here and get the all-clear from the vets.

Quite frankly, I don't believe he's going to get the all-clear. Far from it. The areas around both eyes are brown-tear stained and difficult to clean properly. When I left him around ten this morning, he'd started to eat from a sachet I'd put on his plate. When I went to see him six hours later, he hadn't finished his food, indeed he'd left most of it. I made a fuss of him which he enjoyed, purring loudly, and pulled a couple of tats from his fur. I noticed he was very underweight, though age or illness I don't know. I put down some fresh chicken and just as he was about to eat it, he endured a prolonged coughing fit. I'll check him again in a couple of hours and update this if neccessary.

My impressions are that he's more likely to be put to sleep than rehomed. I'll try and get him veterinary attention by Wednesday at the latest.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about Grace the cat with the broken leg whom I'm looking after.

Since then she's come along quite well and this week I've taken to bringing her into the house and keeping her in one room for a few hours where she can safely stretch her legs and get a bit more stimuli. It's also been useful for me to get a better idea of her true nature as she gets her confidence back. So far she seems friendly, a bit nervous, and playful, and no bother at all really. As long as there were no other cats around I started leaving the living room door open so she can explore a bit more if she wants.

Yesterday I started some vacuuming and the next thing I noticed was that she'd disappeared. Scared by the noise, I assumed and just left her to it. About an hour later she hadn't reappeared so I went looking. A cursory scan didn't reveal any sign so I did a more meticulous one looking absolutely everywhere, not just under chairs and stuff but under anything raised off the floor more than a couple of inches, in cupboards, behind them, anywhere a cat could possibly get to.

No sign and I started getting seriously worried. Now she couldn't have got out of the front door because I'd only opened it once and been very careful. I had, however, been out into the garden for a couple of minutes and left the door open behind me. She might have gotten out then. I thought it unlikely but checked the garden anywhere. No Grace. I didn't think she could climb over the fence with her weakened leg, though chased by another cat might have spurred her on.

I wandered up the back lane and called her name. Nothing.

After another hour, Susan came home. Me being worried sick about the vulnerable little cat and feeling absolutely awful about it, she proceeded to make me feel even worse. We ransacked the house, went around the streets, the adjacent back lanes. I even went out in the car around the block. I also knew that this would be a total waste of time as you can call a cat's name and it could be a couple of feet away and you'd never know it.

Another couple of hours later and I was in the living room, head in hands, when Grace sauntered in, tail erect, from the small cupboard under the stairs facing the living room door where she'd been hiding in a corner totally out of sight because I had looked in there.

Relieved, yes, more because I knew now that I hadn't been negligent and let her down. Hopefully, Susan's friend June will take her in about a week by which time her leg, theoretically, should be completely healed.

Post Script


June rang and she's going to take Grace -now named Lady- tomorrow teatime. Grace has in the house all afternoon and towards the end jumped on my knee and sprawled out purring happily. She is going to make a lovely pet for June and her daughter. Susan's just concerned that she accidentally gets out at her new home which is very close to a busy main road, but I'm sure they'll be careful.

Animal Rescue: Monday Cats

Monday, 24 August 2009

Blossom, one of my eight cats. Cute, isn't she?

Not that she has anything to do with this entry apart from the fact that I successfully used electric shears I'd bought for my own hair to remove a large thick clump of matted fur from her right side.

Otherwise it was up, feed cats, clean cat litter, let them out, breakfast, check email for Amazon Marketplace sales (none but already had 3 over the weekend), get dressed, go to the garage to feed Grace (see earlier post) and clean her litter tray, then down to the Raich Carter Centre for a 35 minute swim. Then to business.

Over to Carol's to drop off a load of cat food, some bought by the charity at Asda, some donated, where I picked up a young friendly and very cute female tabby to take to Vets4Pets for neutering. That done, post office to post packets (one book, one CD, one DVD- Young Frankenstein, see below) and home.

A little later I got a call from Susan to go round the corner to see a lady who had a cat she thought might be a stray. Nice little old lady, cat-lover and animal lover in general, with a good-sized garden. The cat was in good condition, had a collar with what I thought was something to open a catflap with. I didn't think it was a stray, just an opportunist taking advantage of a nice little old lady, and asked her to leave things as they were but notify me if there was any change in the cat's condition. She was happy with that.

Got to pick up the cat from V4P round about three-ish to take back to Carol's and that should be that.


I arrived back at Carol's with the cat, whom I'd named Lulu, to find a family there who had come to adopt a cat but hadn't quite decided which one. I was in a hurry to get the car back for Susan so didn't stay long but when I left it looked as if Lulu had become the favourite.

ANIMAL RESCUE: Cats and Crisis

Thursday, 20 August 2009

It started out well at lunchtime when I found out there was a piece in the local paper about our adult cats available for re-homing. Turned out only to be half a column plus photograph but it was enough to get about four phone calls fairly quickly on my number. Hopefully some of them will result in new homes and, lord oh lord, do we need them right now.

A cat I had to take to the vet earlier this week deteriorated rapidly and Ian F, the other driver, who was over at Carol's delivering some stuff took the cat to Vets4 after I'd hurridly arranged an appointment. Sadly it didn't make it and had to be put to sleep because of cat flu. This was the second in two weeks, though admittedly the other cat was very elderly (see earlier post).

Simply, cat flu is endemic in one of Carol's sheds. Healthy unstressed cats don't catch it but vulnerable ones do and this is what had happened. An informal meeting was convened at the shop and I was summoned. Honor, the chief vet at the practice was very concerned about the conditions, said Ian F who also said, wrongly as it turned out, that Carol was taking in another five cats today. I rang Honor and got info from the horse's mouth. In short, we decided that the cats (all 20+) had to be temporarily rehoused while the two sheds were thoroughly disinfected and left for three days. Where the cats were going to go was another matter entirely as while we had a possibility if that didn't work out we had nothing. I was told to ring Carol and lay the law down.

As you can imagine, I wasn't looking forward to that. This is a woman who invests a massive amount of time and energy into looking after cats in, admittedly less than ideal conditions and who doesn't take kindly into being told what to do, which is understandable.

Of course, things had got twisted. Following the death of the cat, Carol, who realised herself that something had to be done, had decided to take no more cats in until the twelve in the shed where the cat flu was had been re-homed. Then she (but I want us to do it as a team effort) will thoroughly clean out and disinfect the shed. This has been accepted as a practical compromise by our team. Hopefully this will happen and work. We might have a better idea after the weekend when the re-homing results of the piece in the Sunderland Echo should be known.

ANIMAL RESCUE: Cats -3 More Cats

Thursday, 13 August 2009

It started on Wednesday with, a referral from Carol, a woman phoning me on the afternoon to ask if I would I would take her and her feral cat to the PDSA*, adding that I'd been to her house before to pick up a stray which I'd wrapped in a blanket. Which was news to me. Bad as my memory is, I would have expected to remember something like that if it had happened within the previous two weeks.

No matter. If she could arrange the appointment, I'd take her.

(*The Peoples Dispensary For Sick Animals is a national charity that provides people on low incomes or benefit with free treatment, though they hope for voluntary donations.)

Shortly after that another referral from Carol: would I take her cat as she was moving out and her new landlord wouldn't allow pets. As Carol had already agreed to take it, so did I. And, as they (the two women) lived within a half mile of each other, I'd pick up both cats more or less together.

The cat belonging to the woman who was moving was a small female, a stray she'd only had for five weeks, and was no problem. When I got to the second house we had a slightly different story. This cat the elderly lady and her husband (who recognised me from my morning swims) had been feeding this cat for 9 years and it was still feral. I found it in the kitchen and mentally named it Fat Freddie the Ferocious Feral Feline. It was also pure black but that didn't fit in with the alliteration. It glared at me and hissed then went to take up position at the kitchen door to the garden. I started having visions of bloody and shredded flesh and understood now why the lady had asked if I'd brought gloves.

Ah well, no time for hesitation. The cat had its back to me and didn't see me pick up a large white towel. I lunged, wrapped the towel around the cat and shoved it into the carrier before it could react properly.

Now that's fast. "Wow," I said, "I've even impressed myself."

I dropped the lady and Fat Freddie (yes, I am a Furry Freak Brothers fan -see my review of their omnibus on Amazon UK) at the PDSA at 10.30, went to drop the other cat off with Carol and returned to the PDSA. We finally got out of there by 11.45. The cat had a mouth infection and was given antibiotics and pills to take with food. Hopefully a second visit won't be necessary.

I say this because I dislike going to the PDSA, finding it a depressing and demotivating experience. Nothing against the PDSA itself which does a wonderful job. It's the fucking morons who can find the money to spend hundreds of pounds on dogs like rottweilers, dobermans, staffies, and other expensive (usually the rest of the so-called macho breeds) but somehow can't find the money for proper vet treatment. (Not that the PDSA doesn't provide proper treatment but they have their limits.) I don't mind the mongrels and cross-breeds, the cats, the rabbits, the little old ladies. Just... Oh never mind.

In the afternoon I went back to Carol's to pick up the cat in the photograph (who I did name but have forgotten what I called her). Lost its appetite and had other signs of cat flu. She got a couple of jabs after being checked out and that was it. She'd perked up in the vets, possibly because she was getting attention which, being a very friendly animal, she'd obviously been missing.

While I was there I asked after Sarah one of the vets. Just a couple of days ago, a german shepherd had been rushed in choking to death on a tennis ball. Sarah, in her mid twenties and only 7 months into her first professional job, stuck her hand down its throat got the tennis ball out thus saving the dogs life, and had her hand and tendons badly damaged for her pains. She's still in hospital and having surgery. Hopefully any damage to the nerves won't be too bad as this is potentially a career-threatening injury.

Updates will follow as and when.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

We rescue and re-home dogs, but I think you already know that. Guess what type (not breed) of dog we get the most. Here's a hint: it's in the title. Well done, the answer is Big Dogs. And rottweilers (see generic Rotty photo above), dobermanns, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers -what's that? You say staffies aren't big dogs. Have you tried telling that to a staffy?

People -I'm being polite, I mean idiots- get these types of dogs because they like their image and then find that the image is justified and, because they don't understand how to train a dog, can't control it and it ends up at a rescue like Animal Krackers.

Today, with Andrea, I went to pick up Zara, a very friendly spayed 14-month old rottweiler on her second owner and now looking for a third. She is a lovely friendly animal who loves to wrap her mouth around your hand for a friendly bone-crunching squeeze, in a friendly manner. She will make a lovely pet as long as she gets an owner who knows what they are doing. Sadly, this type of person is few and far between. When we picked her up she was wearing a short leather muzzle which meant she could only assault us with her tongue and waggly tail. And off to Ferryfarm kennels.

First, however, I had to pick up a cat to take to Vets4Pets. It was the old skinny stray I'd received a week ago from round the corner to the vet's. (See last Wednesday's entry for photo.) Sadly the cat, whom we'd just named Bluebell, had deteriorated very quickly -in the space of little over 24 hours. Dehydrated, mucus covering its eyes, high temperature suggesting cat flu, it was in a desperate state. Already severely underweight, she had no resources left to fight, and so we agreed to do the kindest and hardest thing we ever have to do and put an end to her suffering.

90 minutes later as I'm writing this, I got a call to say that I'd knocked somebody's car with our van on the way out of the car park and hadn't noticed -I thought I'd barely touched it.

Some days you just can't damn well win.

Post Script

It actually did get better.

Damage to the car was minimal and the owner (whom I'd met minutes earlier at V4P) graciously, appreciating what we do as a charity, refused all payment.

In the evening, we had friends to tea and I showed them Grace the cat with the broken leg. June, an old friend of Susan's and a cat-person, was very taken with her and came back later with her student daughter and when she is able to be re-homed they'll take her. Which means I know she's going to a good home.


Thursday, 6 August 2009


I don't write much, if anything really, about the dog rescue side of Animal Krackers simply because this is my blog. I don't pretend to be objective or impartial about anything. It's about stuff which interests me and which I'm involved in. So I don't write about dogs.

It isn't because I don't like dogs, I do, very much. If I'd been given a puppy instead of a kitten when I was three I'd be a dog person who likes cats instead of a cat person who likes dogs.

Dog rescue is as equally an important part of Animal Krackers' work as the cat side of things. While I sometimes help out with that, it's mostly Andrea with some help from ex-RSPCA volunteer Phil, our volunteer van driver (when neither Phil nor myself need it) Ian F, and sometimes Susan. They do all the collecting of dogs, arranging either fostering or kenneling, taking them to the vets as needed, and all the stuff involved in re-homing. Basically they do for dogs what I do for cats and they do it very well.

I've written this for anyone who's visiting this blog particularly to read about our animal rescuing and I felt I needed to set the dog record straight as this is otherwise a cat-centric blog.

Post Script.
Just found out today that Marmalade (see earlier posts) has been re-homed. My two favourite rescued cats re-homed in the same week. I'm over the moon, Brian.

ANIMAL RESCUE: Cats -more cats, dead birds, and a rabbit.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Monday was supposed to be a quiet day but I ended up taking Aslan (see earlier posts) to Vets4Pets because of a recurring eye problem -just needed a change in medication. Also to pick up a very thin cat (see photo) which had ended up in a lady's garden not far from V4P. Just a very old, friendly neutered cat and I'm putting a poster up in V4P's window tomorrow to see if anyone claims him.

Yesterday afternoon I was summoned to the Animal Krackers shop where I was asked if we could take a 14 week old kitten -owner pregnant. Rang Carol who agreed. Never got it as PawzForThought, who'd initially agreed but had never got back, got back and took it.

The cats were unusually busy that day claiming the lives of two birds, both starlings. I wouldn't mind so much -they can't help themselves- I just wish they would eat the damn things to give their deaths some meaning. I found a third bird sitting motionless under a bush with Leo our ginger cat looming. I picked it up and placed it in a bucket with some water, covered over the bucket, and left it. When I checked this morning, it had died, probably of shock.

Tuesday morning I went through to Low Fell, Gateshead where my mother is resident in a home. Deep now in the arms of dementia, she didn't recognise me and hasn't for a year now. I find this deeply distressing and I hate going to see her. Selfish, I know, but it's just so difficult to see her in that state. I pretended just to talk to her normally even though I knew not a word was sinking in. One of the staff overheard me saying that I rescue animals and asked if I could catch a pet rabbit which was loose in the immediate surroundings.

Despite being in a very built up area, there are lots of trees and expensive houses with big garden and is, as the name suggests located on what used to be a fell. It still is I suppose, just overgrown with houses. Nevertheless it supports some wildlife including a vixen which has just given birth and obviously a direct threat to the wandering bunny.

I was informed it (the rabbit) had just been seen under a car round the corner. I went out, not having much hope of catching a speedy rabbit. As it was, a cat was more its immediate danger but it disappeared when it saw me. The rabbit didn't disappear but it lit out like a speeding bullet and vanished under a car. A woman who saw me came out and offered to help. By this time it had shot into the grounds of the residential home and under, ironically, my car.

After playing chasies a little more, it got itself cornered in a corner behind a rubbish bin with the corner of a low wall at its back and that was where I managed to grab it. I popped it in the boot of my car and was about to take it to our shop back in Sunderland when a local came with a cardboard box. He believed it belonged to a neighbour who kept rabbits but was out. Fair enough. I left my number if it wasn't his or he didn't want to keep it. So far no phone.

Last week I put photos of Aslan and Marmalade (see earlier posts) on the national Cat Chat website. Within a couple of hours Aslan was offered a home in Newcastle and that was where, a week and an exchange of emails later, I was headed after picking up Aslan from Carol's.

Newcastle being Newcastle it took me 40minutes to drive the final mile through Gateshead to reach the Tyne Bridge into the city. Imagine a funnel full of cars trying to squeeze through the tiny spout. I found the flat easily and quickly, a quiet greenish area not far from the city centre. The adopter was Tara, a woman in her twenties at a guess, a student of middle eastern extraction but very much a local and definitely a cat lover. Aslan proved to be everything she hoped and she let in the living room a small short haired ginger cat who watched Aslan carefully. Neither cat growled or hissed. She also had three other cats who preferred to keep to themselves while I was there. I was happy -Aslan would be secure, looked after, and loved, and that's all that matters.

I drove back through the centre of Newcastle, out again and was home -well, at the local Asda, within twenty minutes.

First thing tomorrow morning, if it's been caught, I'm taking a feral to V4P for neutering.

ANIMAL RESCUE: Cats -Grace & Aslan. Update.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Grace has gradually been getting used to me and seems to like me stroking her now.

I took her back to the vets for a checkup. The vet, Mr Cummings this time, confirmed my own observations in that she's recovering well from the two operations. Grace was very placid while being examined and seemed relaxed when I held her. She has to stay on the antibiotics until Tuesday just to make sure that no infection develops. She also has to remain confined in the cage for three weeks to give her a proper chance to heal properly.

However, that depends on whether she remains unclaimed or not. If she hasn't by next Wednesday, I'm going to take the notices down and probably transfer her to Carol's at the end of the three weeks. I may, before then, give her the run of the garage, or at least try it out in about a week once she's built up some strength and trust in me.

To be continued.

Aslan may have found a new home.

I put his details and photo up on Catchat, a national website with regional pages, and within a couple of hours had an enquiry from a young woman in Newcastle. She sounds ideal so I've suggested I take Aslan through next week -no compulsion to keep though- I want them both to be happy.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Tuesday morning and I'd not long been back home after taking Bonnie (our eldest) to see Honor at Vets4Pets for a final checkup when the phone rang. Call from the shop. A woman had found a cat in her garden with a broken paw and it looked like the cat had recently given birth. I told them to keep her there, rang the Williams & Cumming vets (the nearest to us) and they could see her immediately but only if I got her there in 15 minutes before the vet started his mornings operations. Into the car, down to shop, up to the woman's house, cat in the carrier, and got to the vet's -in, amazingly, 12 minutes flat.

Mr Molina the vet checked her out -almost certainly a fractured leg. I left her there, went home and set up a cage in the garage. It's a big garage with a glass door to the garden so there's a lot of natural light and something to look at.

Back at teatime. The cat had a fractured leg, probably the result of a dog bite, which Mr Molina had put a pin in. The cat was also spayed -a kitten still in her womb was 'non-viable'. The other kittens would probably be dead by now as the lady who'd found the cat had checked her garden and not found any.

I took her home and put her in the cage. Understandably she was terrified and tried to make a run for it but I was able to gently keep her in the cage while I put food and water in with her -the basket and litter tray were already there.

Next morning I knocked up a poster and put copies in our shop and the local post office. No reply so far. I check on her several times a day, change her food and water twice including mixing in pain killers her food. Her bowels and waterworks are normal and she's slowly getting used to me stroking and talking to her but she hasn't started purring yet. She'll be back at the vets tomorrow morning for a checkup but she seems to be doing fine so far.

I'll update in a Post Script below when there is more news. When I first took her to the vet's I was asked for a name and I'm useless at thinking up names on the spot. She's grey and white so I said Smudge. When I called to pick her up I changed her name to Grace.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

There's no photo because Reg wasn't with us long enough for me to get round to taking one.

I got a call two weeks last Saturday about a thin stray cat and could we help. By the time I'd checked with a couple of people, the caller rang back to say it had been taken in by Westall kennels. As they don't do cats except as paying guests and are normally for dogs, I rang them and said we'd take it off their hands after the statutory week when it became their property.

In fact it took two weeks because I forgot and didn't go till last Saturday. They said it was an old but friendly cat. Which it was -a bog-standard amiable tabby- until you tried to get it in a cat carrier when it turned into the feline from hell and I have the scars to prove it.

I got it to Carol's safely. Later she called me to say it probably needed neutering, so I made the appointment for this morning with a checkup first. Carol confirmed it was an old cat and one which didn't use the litter tray. I decided to call it Reg as it seemed the feline equivalent of a smelly old man.

At Vets4Pet, Sarah the young vet confirmed it definitely was male and lifted its tail to show me and made me wonder how Carol could have any doubts that it needed doing. It had a very wheezy breath but, surprisingly, good teeth and Sarah said she doubted it was more than five, if that. Then she checked Reg's heart and discovered what she thought was a heart murmur. Concerned she went to check it on Honor's more sophisticated equipment.

Reg had a very severe heart murmur and would probably not last twelve months during which his condition would deteriorate. Even neutering him would pose more than normal risks.

It was pretty obvious where Sarah was heading with this and I found it difficult to disagree. I rang Carol and told her who, if a little surprised at first, said that during the weekend he'd been with he'd acted consistently like an old cat.

Now all he had to look forward to was a year in an open cage, surrounded by strange cats, slowly deteriorating as his heart struggled to keep going. So I authorised the kindest and hardest thing I ever have to do and Reg was put to sleep.

And that is the short story of Reg.

Post Script

I got home and told Susan the story and she agreed that I'd done the right thing. I mentioned to her that Sarah asked me if I wanted to stay with Reg. I didn't because I'd only met him a couple of times and it wouldn't make any difference to him. If it had been Aslan or Marmalade (see earlier posts) it would have been different because I'd grown extremely fond of both of them. Susan then said something about maybe taking Aslan. As Susan's not too well at the moment -either a viral infection or swine flu- I'm not pushing it, but I'd love to bring Aslan (and Marmalade) here. I'll remind her when she's feeling a little better.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

ANIMAL RESCUE: TROUBLE AT T'MILL -Ian loses his temper

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Photo from Internet: a rabbit with myxomatosis.

So, we were having a meeting to finalise the new version of Animal Krackers leaflet when the phone rings. It's Carol, our cat rescuer. She's with two of her grandchildren at a shopping area on the north of the river about 3 miles away. She's found a rabbit suffering severely from myxomatosis and wants me to go pick it up, take it to the vets to be put to sleep.

I'm okay with that and relay this to Susan, Andrea and our treasurer, Anne. They aren't okay with it. Why can't she go to the nearer PDSA? Fine, I'll take it there. The traffic is very heavy, it would take a while, says Susan who was over that way not long since. There's more but I start to get irritated. I call Carol back and while I'm talking get more annoying comments. I tell Susan to speak to her and toss the phone to her. Unfortunately I toss it harder than I intended and it looks like I'm throwing it at her.

I pick up the phone and give it Andrea who talks to her, coming over as being a mix of condescension, indifference, and patronising and suggests she flag a car down as well as saying wild animals aren't our brief and she should call the RSPCA, like they'd come for a dying rabbit.

At this point I lose my temper and call the three of them 'fucking uncaring bastards' and only just manage to not stalk out of the room.

I shouldn't have done that and I was very wrong to do it. But all I knew was that an animal was suffering and I had the chance to ease its pain and those three were fannying around about cost and time and more crap rather than just letting me get on with it. What should have been something simple blew up into a major heated emotionally-charged issue which totally pissed of Carol and myself who do just about all the work involving cats.

Carol ended up walking three quarters of a mile along a busy road with two small children, a rabbit in a box and she also happened to be going for a hospital checkup about her legs today. The PDSA stayed open a little longer and the rabbit was put to sleep.

It's 24 hours since this happened and both Carol and I have calmed down. But we know we were trying to do the right thing. We help animals, that's what we do. We also thought that's what Animal Krackers did.