Monday, 29 March 2010


It's nearly the end of the financial year when we start totting up figures and presenting statistics. In my case, this means counting up all the cats rehomed by adding them up on the adoption forms, then trying to remember the cats which didn't have adoption forms filled in for them and also the cats fostered out as some of them are on a long-term basis like Florence and Lester.

So, the provisional totals are:

Neutering: 80
Re-homed: 76.

I think that's pretty good for a small charity..

Friday, 26 March 2010


Twelve years ago on a mild Spring Saturday lunchtime and Susan was standing in the street talking to Anne a neighbour when a scrawny cat with hardly any fur on her back and tail appeared. It was in such a state, Susan carried it into the house and gave it to me to look after as she was off to see her mother. I fed her, made a fuss of her, and cleared up her vomited after she'd gobbled down too much food in too short a time. She was also in heat. Within a week we'd had her neutered and de-flead -her condition was due to a flea allergy. When Anne first saw her she called her the ugliest cat she'd ever seen. I named her Bonnie. The vet thought she was about three years old.

She didn't like our other two cats, Lucy and BB,  and spat at them and they soon learned to keep her distance. I sometimes called her Miss Hiss. She did like affection from us but generally for a short time, although the periods grew longer as she got older. Her dislike for other cats remained unabated and the others we gradually brought home a few years later all learned to keep a respectful distance as Bonnie only attacked if they got too close. Susan and I loved this scrawny idiosyncratic bundle and I confess she was my favourite.

About a year ago she started to lose some weight and I suspected she was on her way out but somehow she stabilised and carried on as usual, scaring the other cats and putting her paws on either side of my neck when I picked her up as if she was cuddling me. In early autumn last year, she started disappearing for days, often staying out overnight. Then, abruptly, she must have decided the weather had grown too cold for wandering  as, until last week, she hardly left the house. And then she was off again. 

This week, on Monday, she disappeared and didn't come back till Wednesday teatime, not long after Susan had knocked on some doors in the next streets whose gardens we were sure she'd been visiting. She disappeared under an armchair and stayed there, eating and drinking little, until this morning when she came out to lay in sunshine streaming through the windows. When Susan got back from our charity shop this lunchtime, she thought Bonnie's breathing seemed laboured so she got her an apointment with Honour at Vets4Pets late this afternoon.

Honour checked her out, x-rayed her chest and found a mass that was pushing Bonnie's lungs up against her spine so that she could hardly breathe. There was only one solution and so I held her as her breathing slowly subsided. Because we loved her so much we had to let her go.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


And the cats keep getting re-homed. A week ago a young gay couple took a surly young black cat and then returned for my favourite, Gobbolino (above), despite getting scratched by the black cat which has taken up residence on the windowsill above the washing up basin and regularly swipes at them with her claws. Two alpha-females in the same house should make for fun.

I took a young tom for neutering yesterday and he was picked up from the vets by his new owner.

The feral kitten which Lynn has domesticated was re-homed last week and has settled down well.

A scrawny and friendly 6-month old grey which was found roaming the streets at Dawdon near Seaham is getting a new home this afternoon.

And then there's-

-Lucky whom I took to Roker Park Vets this morning for firstly checking for FIV (feline AIDs), neutering, and then his teeth seen to. Sadly, Lucky was not well-named as he fell at the first hurdle. He did have FIV and was put to sleep.

Mind you, the first I heard of this was around 2.15 this afternoon when I rang Roker Park to see when I had to pick him up. What followed was a misunderstanding that lead me initially to believe that Susan had authorised this -she hadn't. To cut a long story short, the vet had rang Carol and, as Lucky was an older cat which had had a rough time recently until rescued by us and several other problems, she went along with his recommendation. He was only going to get worse and no-one wanted to take the risk of him infecting other cats.

The reason I only found out about this later was because after dropping the van off, I had to rush into town to see the dental hygienist at 9.30 and typically didn't get seen to until 10.00 followed by a quick march to a cafe in The Bridges Shopping Centre to meet my ex-library friends Denise and Sylvia (as I do every Wednesday morning) and, latterly, Phil the recently retired Local Studies librarian, for coffee. It was nearly 12 when I got back home and, during a very brief encounter with a rushed Susan, she completely forgot to tell me about Lucky. Communication is not always our strong point.

Tomorrow morning I'm dropping off Kaiser at the vets for 8.30.

Saturday, 20 March 2010


This is Florence, the one that had been hanging around a Seaham factory site with some ferals which, luckily for Florence, were being fed by a lady I've helped before. She realised Florence was different because she was friendly and contacted me. Her fur was in a terrible mess so we booked her in to be part-shaved. She now looks like a badly cut long-haired poodle if it was a cat. Like the photo only with chunks of fur missing.

Unluckily for Florence, the vet found a lump under one of her nipples so she had a partial mastectomy and the lump sent away for analysis. The lump turned out to be malignant which means that it might be spreading or that it might reoccur in the same place. If it doesn't happen again then there is a good chance she will have to be put to sleep.

Luckily for Florence, she isn't going to spend what may be her last few months stuck in a shed with several other cats. Rachel, who took in Lester (also possibly with not much time left, see earlier posts), has taken Florence. I brought her round this morning where Florence showed what a lovely natured friendly cat she is. Rachel is doing a wonderful job fostering older cats with a limited outlook -one just died recently, making space for Florence- giving them a caring comfortable home for their remaining time with us. Long may she continue to do so.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I keep telling you that we're on a roll with regards to re-homing cats, even though that does sound like tempting fate, but we really are. The brother and sister pair in the previous post (photo immediately below) were barely with carol for 24 hours before they were re-homed. They gone to two women, who've been together as partners long enough to have had a cat which recently died aged 16, and who live a nice area. Carol tells me that they are lovely people.

I rang Jamie, their previous owner, to tell her the news and reassure her that they had indeed found a lovely home together. Apparently her boyfriend was going to ring to ask to be kept in touch about them. Needless to say, Jamie was very happy and relieved with my call.

I love a happy ending and, one of these days (hopefully soon), I'll get my finger out and tell you the story of Aslan and his new home with Tara and print some of the many photos she's sent me.


Supposed to be a quiet day.

Just after 11 in the morning I got a call from a young woman who was allergic to one of her cats which shed a lot of fur but she didn't want to separate him from his sister -both neutered, both friendly, both good with kids. She'd called the shop a couple of weeks ago but got a very snotty answer which upset her so she'd tried putting them on the net but no answers and finally rang me out of desperation. After 38 years of working with public I have developed, he wrote modestly, good people skills and quickly reassured her. I called Carol immediately, she could take them, and rang the girl back to say I'd be round shortly. The cats were as advertised and here they are at Carol's.
Mid afternoon I went with Carol to pick up a dog from Ferryfarm Kennels where we board most of our rescued dogs to pick up a -gasp- dog to take to Vets4Pets. This one had been re-homed with someone and twice it had been found wandering the streets and returned to us. There won't be a third time for this guy. He's a nice friendly middle-aged collie cross and here he is.
Back at Ferryfarm I had the opportunity to meet and photograph two lots of lurcher-cross puppies. Two were crossed with a saluki -we had the mother there, and the rest I've no idea as the mother is a lurcher and here they are. The lurcher mother first and then some puppies.
After dropping Andrea off at home I had to go round to Mark's house -he of the one-eyed cat (see recent posts)- to feed said one-eyed cat, Charlie, and change his litter. Mark had just gone into hospital that same day -the Freeman in Newcastle- for a triple bypass, so I'll be doing this for a while.

I would have been taking Kaiser the rottweiler back to the vets this morning (Thursday 18th March) but it clashes with a doctor's appointment. Pity because I'd like to see the dog again but I'm sure there'll be other times. Prior to typing this, I'd been swimming as usual and then up to see to Charlie who is an amiable placid cat. Must take a photo of him for the blog.

Tomorrow morning it's two cats to the vets for checkups (see recent post for last Friday). But today, after my trip to the doctor's and as Susan is at work and hasn't given me any jobs to do, my time is my own for once.

Damn, just remembered. Got to clean the cooker, one of my least favourite jobs.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


The above is from Saturday's Sunderland Echo and is a piece about the proposed legislation against 'dangerous' breeds. Andrea and Susan were interviewed -like many, they think the new laws would only hurt conscientious dog owners and make no difference to those at whom the legislation is aimed. Tying in with this is Kaiser's story (he's above with Margaret -not Mary as I said in the previous piece- as an example of a so-called dangerous breed.

My view is, as a generalisation, that there's no such thing as a dangerous breed only a stupid owner. That said, breeders can force inbreeding on dogs which can physically and mentally damage them. But a normal healthy dog, irrespective of breed and properly trained, is not dangerous.
I also read a piece on the Daily Mail Online this morning where a rottweiler stopped a woman -not his owner- from being raped in a park. It chased off the woman's attacker then circled the woman and his owner guarding them against any further attack. Good boy.

Post script

This appeared first for some strange reason in my Freethinking blog. Don't ask me why because I don't know.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


This is not Kaiser. I did not have my kamera with me.  Kurious and Kase are spelled with a C and so is kamera. The case is not curious. It is not a case.

Good to get that out of the way. I mentioned the dog in a post last week. For the last few months, he's been hanging around Hendon, accepting food but running away from any attempt at physical contact by a human being. Until last week when Mary, a friend of Susan's caught the dog (which she's named Kaiser, duh). Last night I was asked if I would take it to Vets4Pets today. Of course I would. Then I was told that Lisa the experienced pet taxi lady couldn't get it into her taxi. Susan told me to tell Andrea to bring a muzzle when I picked her up.

Oh yes, this was going to be fun.

At Mary's, when she opened the shutter in the back lane, Kaiser was standing up with Mary holding his leader. when he saw us, he promptly sat down on all fours, one big immoveable dog.

I made friends with him. Well, I talked to him, I offered my hand to his nose, rubbed his ears and under his chin, petted him. Kaiser just lay there. I went behind him and touched  him and he suddenly jumped up and charged out of the back yard and almost bumped into the van. Mary got in the van and Kaiser sat down outside it. Again I petted the dog, then touched its back and it suddenly jumped up again and scrambled into the van where it stayed for the rest of the trip to the vets.

It got out of the van easily and voluntarily and it wasn't much harder getting  him  through the door. Once inside he sat down, again the immoveable object. But without too much difficulty we got him weighed and into the vet's room for checking over. He may have a pulled muscle in his front left leg or possible a small fracture. Either way, he got and injection and Metacam painkiller and we're bringing him back in a week. Throughout the vet's examination he sat without  either moving or reacting.

I think he's been so traumatised by whatever happened to him that he's sunk in depression. The whole time I was with him, he never showed the slightest bit aggression. But then he showed no interest in anything at all except perhaps for Mary.

At the other end, Mary climbed out of the back of the van and Kaiser stayed where he was. So I climbed in and once again showed my legendary skills* with dogs. By gently tapping on his right hind leg he got up and got out, lunging into the back yard and making straight for his kennel.

More fun with Kaiser next week.

* This is a lie. My skills with dogs are not legendary. As far as I'm aware I do not have any great skills with dogs. But I am comfortable with them, know how to approach them, and can generally understand their body language to an extent that I rarely even get barked at by a dog.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


So we had to clear out and tidy up the garage because our niece Sarah is going up to Edinbugh to take up a shiny new post with a finance company with megasquillion euro turnover and susan's offered to store her car until she needs it in our garage which is full of charity shop stuff, bedding for Carol, stuff for the auction rooms, cat and dog food and much more. And that was all one sentence.

So we did that. Then I took a pile of stuff to the shop, some to sell, some to store (Carol's cat bedding), and picked up several large black sacks of rubbish to go to the tip along with stuff for the tip from the garage.


Then I had to go to Tracy's at Burnhope (see recent post) to collect a cat I'd taken her last week which was pining and wanted to go back to its tiny flat on the 12th floor of a Sunderland tower block. Fair enough. Also a couple of neutering vouchers for two toms. However, I clearly wasn't listening to all the information from Carol as when I got there, Tracy was keeping the cat which had finally come out of its box and had started socialising with the other cats and I was supposed to phone her before I left.

It wasn't a complete waste of time as the vouchers were supposed to be for females so I changed them. Also she had some new cats in which were lovely and I wanted to take home, particularly two young female tabbies which the vouchers were for. Annoyingly I'd forgotten my camera. Tracy also gave me some useful advice on subject that is still not for publication.

Got a Big Mac on the way home and napped for two hours.

Monday, 8 March 2010


So, other than a quick trip up to drop cat litter off for Lilian, I had no other animal-related jobs to do, until the phone rang...

A lady who'd been fostering a dog for us needed dog food. Neither Andrea nor Susan whom she'd spoken to had got around to doing anything, so would I..? No problem. They asked if I could get there around one-ish

About an hour later, around eleven-ish and Susan had gone out, I was pottering on the computer when Carol rang to see if I could pick up a cat.

Okay, no time to waste. I had to go over to Hylton Road about a couple of miles away to pick up a stray cat a guy's mother had been feeding until she died yesterday and his cats were frightened of it. Carol and I think it probably was his mother's but no matter. Found the house easily, put the cat in the carrier with a little effort but no blood, and took it to Carol's. Here it is.
Then it was back to Grangetown to pick up more dog food in addition to the stuff Susan and I had got from our garage. Fully loaded I headed to Silksworth to drop of the cat litter and another litter tray for Lilian. Baby has settled in well and seems very content. Here she is.

That done I headed off for Hetton on the far west side of Sunderland which, if you don't know the place, is very large in area, bigger than neighbouring big city Newcastle upon Tyne. I had a map printed out from Google with the location on it and I parked roughly where  I thought the house should be. Problem: I'd forgotten the scrap of paper with the actual address and phone number on it. I rang Susan: no answer. I rang Andrea's mobile: no answer. I rang the shop: engaged. I tried all three again. And again. Finally got Andrea who phoned the house but didn't get an answer. I took the number and tried myself. Got an answer. I tried to describe where I was but the response I got (the map I'd printed out being on too small a scale to have street names) was ambiguous. Then I was told that her street actually had a different name for each side of it so you could have two No.15's facing each other. This is strange and perhaps something very rare that no-one except those who live there  and the postman are aware of.

I moved forward, reversed, started back the way I came and hadn't gone more than a few yards when I noticed that on my left was number 16 and on my right was number 16. Yes, indeedy, I had orginally parked about 10 feet from where I was supposed to be.

The dog, some kind of lurcher cross, moves like lightning and is incredibly friendly. Here she is.

I suppose that's part of the fun of doing all this, the unpredictability and meeting all kinds of animals which, like the dog above, can be a delight. Some of the people can be nice too.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Different way to spend Sunday. We had a meeting with Lynn and Mary of Pawz4Thought. Although Lynn was the mainstay of P4W, it's now very much under the aegis of Mary who also voluntarily  rescues stranded seals and keeps them housed, away from the public, temporarily on the Blue Reef Aquarium site, hence the meeting being there. When Mary took the reins it (the charity) was weeks away from going under.

The purpose of the meeting was to see what we (that is, Animal Krackers) could learn from Mary and to look at ways we could be of mutual help. What we discussed is, for the moment, confidential but it was an interesting and valuable meeting which left us taking a fresh look at what we are doing as a charity. Us, in this case, was me and Susan. Originally I wasn't even down to go but then Anne our Treasurer dropped out because a friends from Australia was visiting, Andrea went sick, and Gordon had a last minute something to do. 

The meeting was held upstairs from the cafe in a roped off section (presumably open during the busier summer months) and then in area where Mary houses the seals. Sadly she didn't have any when we were there but we did have to walk through much of the aquarium to get to it. Apart from seeing the inhabitants of various tanks, we passed through the otter area where it was feeding time and the bred-in-captivity seals' tank. Fascinating and delightful and we (Susan and I) are definitely going again and  will also spend some time at Tynemouth to walk along the shore (a very attractive area I haven't been to for decades) and, no doubt, go shopping.

I haven't been overly busy since the last posting. I took the cat (now named Florence) for its mastectomy at Roker Park vets on Friday and it's currently recovering well. Just waiting now for the results of the biopsy.

Let's see what happens the rest of this week.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


I was due to take a cat to Roker Park Vets around 9.30 but Carol got a lift. This was fortunate as Andrea needed a lift in the van with one of our Elderly Helpers to take said EH and her rescued dog to Vets4Pets at Fulwell. Andrea, as usual, was accompanied by her dog Millie and the recently acquired 3-legged dog Benjy (whose story will be told in this blog sometime). EH's dog Emma was recently acquired, not young, and has arthritis which seemed to flare up  the day before hence the visit today. Emma is friendly but noisy when other dogs are around.

At V4P I made friends with an 18 month black female pug which sat on my knee frantically trying to lick my face. Emma was given more drugs and I dropped them all off at the nearby seafront so they could take the dogs along the beach for a nice walk.

In the afternoon I went to pick up the cat, the one I rescued from Seaham last week (see post). Her fur was very matted and needed large chunks shaving off. She seems otherwise in good condition, been spayed, and  is extremely friendly. However, Wendy the vet pointed out that she has lump underneath a nipple and needs an operation which will cost around £225 including biopsy. I rang Susan who, after some discussion with Andrea and talking to Wendy, agreed we'd have it done. As if we could have done anything else.

Back home, Susan and I had just got settled in when there was a phone call. A timid rottweiler which has been roaming the nearby Hendon area for the last three months has been caught today and taken in. I went to the shop to pick up bedding and food and then off to see the lady who wasn't at her house but a few streets away looking after her mother who has Alzheimers. I took her home to drop off the food and bedding but didn't see the dog, which was cowering in a kennel, then  took her back to her mother whom she visits several times a day. She thinks she knows a couple of people who might give the dog a home but we're going to get it thoroughly checked out at the vets first.

Tracy rang later wanting a neutering voucher. Then I had my tea and went to the pub with Ian P.

Today should be a quiet day for me on the animal front, but Susan has just woken up and doesn't feel very well so I might have to do her run to South Shield to pick up a dog and take it to Stray Aid in Durham.

So it goes.

Monday, 1 March 2010


Erm, sorry, that should read:

Had a trip out in the van. First off to a tower block not far from the mouth of the Wear to pick up a cat from a tearful owner who felt guilty about it being stuck in a tiny flat which, being 12 floors up, it couldn't really jump out of the window. Then to Carol's to pick up two more -a mother and daughter- and take all three to Tracy's rescue at Burnhope (see earlier posts).

The cat in the photo is one she rescued recently and, as you can see, has just been neutered.

It took me longer to get through than I expected. From Carol's it was a little hop to the A19 and a turnoff at the second junction. Exception it was closed, so I had a few more miles to the next one and head across country before I could get onto the A690 for Durham. Once out of Durham on country roads, I hit a succession of slow moving traffic. I'm not complaining really as Tracy had told me she might not be there due to a vet's appointment. As things turned out she arrived just before I did.

I met her two donkeys and a large horse for the first time but stupidly didn't think to take any photos and then my battery went dead after taking some of the cats.
This is the kitten's mother and very friendly she is too. I couldn't get a decent photo of her kitten.

This is the one from the tower block. Never met another cat and nervous of strangers. The next photos are of cats already in residence and wanting homes.

This cat is a delightful character, full of life.
And lastly we have Little Bastard, as in, "You bloody bit me, you little bastard." He's been re-homed and returned three times. Not suprised.

Tracy was in a better mood than the last time I'd been up to Burnhope just before Christmas. A dog and horse had just died, cats weren't being re-homed and she had financial worries. Since then things have picked up including the re-homing. Animal Krackers is, after talking to Cats Protection and the vet she uses, sending her neutering vouchers as she needs them and the  Consett-based vet is charging significantly less than we do in Sunderland partly because Tracy is such a good customer.

Been fairly quiet since then. Saturday morning I did my usual trip to Asda to buy cat food for Carol which I then took over to her. That afternoon she managed to rehome three cats which is pretty good, though two more arrived.

Sunday morning I went to see Lilian to check on the cat and bring her a bag of wood chip cat litter which is about the easiest to clean and lasts a while. She'd phoned Saturday about something, can't remember what though. Ah yes, the cat doesn't stop eating. Simple answer: don't give her as much to eat. I rememinded Lilian: a sachet and half in the morning and the same at night, a bowl of dried food always available, and a bowl of water. I'd also brought up a mini hi-fi system she's bought at the shop and was afraid I'd get lumbered setting it up but didn't. In a couple of weeks time, I let the cat out and stay to see what happens. I think the cat will be okay as she seems quite happy but takes no nonsense -i.e. tummy tickle equals Lilian getting bitten. she'll get the poor soul trained eventually.