Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I said-

"I picked up this 8-week old kitten this morning.
"Along with an 18 month old black and white un-neutered male. Apparently the adult cat had been left behind when his owner moved and the new owner took him on along with  young kitten but then changed her mind and passed them on to the young woman who handed them over to me because her two young sons were allergic to them.
"Anyway, I took them to Carol's. Carol rang Roker Park vets to see if they would keep the boy in overnight and neuter him in the morning, which they would, so I took him down. He's a bit nervous but quite placid really."

"You talk about nothing but cats," my wife said.

"Rubbish," I said. "I sometimes talk about kittens, maybe mention dogs, and occasionally things like guinea pigs. Of course I don't talk about cats all the time."

"Everyone in the shop thinks you do," said my wife.

"It's a charity shop raising money to rescue and re-home animals," I said. "I do the cat side of things. What else am I going to talk about to tell them how the money they raise is spent?"

"Lots of things," my wife said.

Of course there's no answer to that. My interests, however, are far wider than cats as anyone checking out my Freethinking blog about pop culture and society, but mostly pop culture, can attest. But, no, it is true that, given the chance, I will talk about cats. My first genuine memory is of a kitten. Apart from term time at college for three years and the first three and half years Susan and I were married, I've never been without a cat or (as things are now) eight.

So, as I apparently wear my heart on my sleeve, I've now decided to wear it on my chest as well and have just bought the following two t-shirts.

Anyone seeing me wearing one of those can't say they weren't warned.

(Susan thinks I'm mad for buying them, but then she thinks I'm mad for lots of other reasons as well.)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


I was supposed to go to Tracy's rescue at Burnhope deep in the wilds of Durham (see several previous posts) on Monday morning. Setting off at 6.30am. Picking up two Bengal cats from Hetton. But the cats got re-homed on Saturday. And less than 24 hours later the new owner emailed me to ask if I could take them. Which I would. I then heard nothing until I sent her a second email on Monday only to find that they'd gone to a local rescue. 

Today, after swimming and filling the van with bought cat food and the donated food from Asda, I went to Penshaw, a small village that's part of greater Sunderland and about four miles away, to pick up a kitten. The lady concerned was giving it up because her two adult cats hated it and she was worried they might harm the little thing. So off to take the kitten to Carol who wanted me to take a tortoiseshell kitten which had just been brought to her by her ally Gary who rescue animals in the Downhill/Town End Farm/Red House areas at the north of Sunderland. Tracy had someone who wanted a young tortoiseshell who had  recently lost (euphemism for died) hers. 

As I've said before, there's always something new to see at Tracy's. In this case, she'd got rid of gravel in the yard and substituted it for decking, wooden furniture, and grass and it looked really good. See for yourself.

Next up, the cats. First the little torty which I brought through. Then five little black and white kittens, two adults, and a Bengal which, despite its appearance, turned out to be a big affectionate softy (who doesn't get on with children). All but the torty are available for re-homing.

You can access Tracy's website by clicking on the the link in the  cat websites sidebar.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


This lovely friendly cat has been at Carol's for a few weeks now, her stomach getting larger and larger until mid-day today when the first of five kittens finally popped out. This was the ginger one -the rest are either black or black and white- and Carol rang me to let me know. I didn't dash over and hadn't planned on calling at all until she rang me later in the afternoon to ask me to pick up a mother and two kittens which were being given away 'free to a good home'. Well, we'd rather decide what the good home was and as I'd already had one of the owner's cats neutered she was happy for us to take them. 

I got to Carol's a little while after the fourth kitten had been born and all four were frantically snuggling up to their mother. While Carol was preoccupied with another cat, I noticed that the fifth had started to come out.

If you look closely, you can make out the kitten's face through the sac wall. A couple of minutes later and it had emerged and the mother was busy licking it clean, prior to tucking in to the afterbirth.

Carol had to move the newborn up to her mother once it started moving around and before long it was tucking in. Carol thought there might be another one still to come but there wasn't. Meanwhile I had to pop out to get a load of baby wipes which she uses, along with a load of other stuff, to help clean out the cats. I use them too, along with paper towels and disinfectant spray, to clean out cat litters.

By the time I got back, the mother (whom I decided to call Sophie) had lain down with all the kittens snuggled against her and was relaxed and purring loudly.
I'll keep updating with new photos as they get bigger.

And as for the mother and kittens I'd brought to Carol's earlier, they are all available for re-homing and this is what they look like. Mother first.
And then the kittens.

Monday, 13 June 2011


Here's me, sitting at the computer, adding items to my Amazon Marketplace listings- (If you want great deals on CDs, DVDs, graphic novels, and books, all in excellent condition just keep an eye out for seller ianw700)- when the phone rang. It was a lady who thought I might have her cat. She worked at Boots where the cat was found and her was black and white and was missing since Friday, the day before the cat was found outside Boots. But hers was a 5-year old male and the one I had was a 2-year old female, but they did sound very similar. I suggested she check the blog (see below). About ten minutes later she called back and the cat in my garage wasn't a 2-year old female after all, which shows just how much I know.

Her and her daughter called round shortly after and it was pretty obvious immediately that the cat recognised its delighted and relieved owners.

And there we have the sort of happy end of pet reunited with owner that so rarely happens.

I even said that I wouldn't sue for being bitten. Mind you, since then the finger has started swelling noticeably. I wonder, if I have to have it amputated, I could change my mind?

(In case anyone is reading this who doesn't know what I'm like: that was a joke. But then I've still got my finger.)


Just to give the cat a break from the cage, I brought it into the house to spend some time in the living room, something I did for the ginger kitten a couple of weeks ago. It immediately went under the settee, though it came out in a few minutes with a little coaxing. Clearly nervous and probably wary, it would be smelling all the other cats. After about fifteen minutes, I picked it up and it straight away began to struggle but before I could do anything, it sank its teeth into either side of my right index finger causing two puncture wounds which are still seeping half an hour after the event. I'm used to scratches but puncture wounds are quite unusual.

The cat is now back in the cage with its last meal of the day -it's going to be neutered tomorrow morning. I've also noticed that it seems to drink a lot and I'll mention this to the vet.

Despite this, I don't think it's a vicious cat, it's just nervous and doesn't like being picked up. I'll keep you informed.


Another cat in the cage in my garage.
I'd just got back from running around on Saturday morning when I got a call from Andrea who had another cat at the shop. This one had been found at the back of Boots in the city centre  by Andrea's mother who works there. I've now had her for a couple of days and she seems a quiet friendly little thing. Like the ginger kitten, when I open the cage she comes up and rubs against me. Don't know how old she is -less than two, I think- or if she's been neutered or not. I'll find that out tomorrow.

Another wild animal in my house.
Last week it was a mouse. Yesterday morning I was sitting reading The Sunday Times when the cats made a noise. This time they were playing with a medium sized dark-coloured frog which made a hideous wailing noise when touched. I coaxed it into a bucket, took it outside and dropped it over the fence of a neighbour who has a pond.

Cats and kittens.
Picked up a few and re-homed some during the course of the week. On Monday, two 5-year old sisters (pictures in previous posts) went to two different but very nice homes, one at Downhill, the other on the opposite side of the river at Silksworth. The Silksworth cat was the more nervous of the two and disappeared very quickly to be found a couple of hours later asleep in the sun on a windowsill.

Another pretty and friendly tortoiseshell was given to us at Roker Park vets.
On Friday, I picked up a mother, her kittens, and another adult female. All available for re-homing.

The Day I Thought I Knocked Someone Down With The Van.
Which was early Friday evening and the end of nearly two and a half hours driving around.

First I'd picked up a cat from Millfield which was to have its stitches out at Roker Park. First though to Southwick to pick up Carol and a cat. Once done at the vets, we dropped the Millfield cat off home then went round the corner to Pallion to pick up the cats and kitten mentioned above. From there to Downhill to drop of cat food with a fosterer, before returning Carol home. And all this at a time of high traffic density.

I'd got through most of the city centre and was in the dual carriageway which bypassed Park Lane bus station. There is a set of pedestrian operated traffic lights about thirty yards before a set of standard automatic lights. I was in the left hand lane behind two cars as I approached the first set and could see ahead past the next set that there were parked cars. So I pulled into the right hand lane and stopped at the automatic lights. I was just pulling away on green when I noticed in my rear view mirror that a person was collapsed in the road next to the lights immediately behind me. I did briefly wonder if I'd caused the accident and not noticed but thought that firstly, someone would have tried to attract my attention as there were several other cars and people around, and secondly that I'd have heard or felt any collision. So, as I hadn't seen anything, I drove off.

But the farther I drove the more I wondered if it could have been me. I told Susan when I got home and she immediately and correctly said I should go back. She drove me there and I found the person still on the ground, several police cars and officers milling around. I approached two officers and explained the situation. They'd only just arrived but were pretty sure it had nothing to do with me. They took my details and thanked me.

And that was it. But I was quite tired at the time. You never know...

Our Garden.
We've had a lot of work done on our garden recently. First off was having a new patio laid with stones imported from India, not your factory-processed identikit stone. Then more of them were laid on top of the concrete path which has been down probably since the house was built (1925). When that was finally sorted, we had a friend come over and do some tidying up with the plants and laying a couple of rows of turf where once had been a row of bushes. While all this was going on, several of the cats were fascinated by the activity, particularly Daisy and Little Bob. The result is still a small garden but one that seems larger than it used to be and we're very pleased. What the cats think, they aren't saying.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I forgot to mention this in the previous post.

Saturday afternoon, just after three and I'd just got back from running around and had sat down on a chair next to the window in the living room for a cup of coffee when I saw something tiny flash across the floor swiftly followed by Lily our grey cat. She spent a few minutes chasing it before Little Bob joined in and managed to catch the mouse. 

Then he let it go.

And chased it again. And caught it. And let it go again.

Daisy, his partner in crime, took an interest but wasn't much use. 

So with three cats in the room, the mouse continued to manage to evade being permanently captured and killed by either one of them. This went on for about ten minutes until I was finally able to catch the little thing, take it outside and drop it over the fence into next-door's garden.

I'm hoping that the mouse was brought in by one of the cats and let go because the alternative is that it found a way into the house that I don't know about. I've seen live mice in the garden before, though more often dead ones, and a couple of times in the kitchen where it was obvious how it got in -in a cat's mouth. But I'm even more amazed that three cats couldn't quickly catch and kill one tiny mouse.

Oh well.


Started off fairly quietly with nothing much happening. The little ginger cat was settled in the cage in our garage and I'd begun getting into a routing of visiting him four times a day and feeding him twice. Every time I let him out, the first thing he did, before running around the garage, was to rub up against me so I'd stroke him. 

Tuesday morning and I'd thought about taking him through to StrayAid at Coxhoe where I was due to drop off a load of dog bedding and dog food that morning. Susan suggested ringing the Sunderland Echo with the story about how he was found tied to a gatepost with a shoelace. The Echo are always favourable to animal stories but they have to have a hook on which to peg the story to get the reader's attention, which this did. Susan called them, told them the piece over the phone and they agreed to send a photographer that afternoon.

Not surprisingly, the photographer was over an hour late, though she had a good excuse. She took several shots of me holding the ginger cat and more of Andrea and Susan standing next to each other holding a couple of bunnies -two brothers which had been given into our care. The piece didn't appear until Friday and, as far as text goes, it was fine. The photos were amusing from our point of view. All that appeared of me was a portion of my right hand. Susan had been completely cropped out so only Andrea was shown, but she'd been misidentified as Susan.

By this time, I'd been letting the ginger cat, now provisionally called Tim, have the runaround of our house for a couple of hours each afternoon. He immediately showed that he was extremely fast, darting around all over the place, extremely destructive, as he attacked carpets and chairs and anything else vaguely soft including a cloth mousy. He and Little Bob played chasey with each other, though Tom got spat at by a couple of my other cats. Little Bob, however, pretty much likes every cat and person he meets.  

And here's a couple of snaps I took at Carol's, one of the new arrival who turned up the same day as Tim.

Wednesday was a busy morning. After my usual early morning swim, I dropped Tim off at the vet's for neutering. From there I went to my doctor's to give a blood sample for testing. Home and a quick bit to eat as I'd had to fast since ten the previous evening. Then down town for coffee with my ex-work colleagues and show them cat photos I'd taken -two of the three are big cat fans. And from there to the dentist's, yet again, to decide whether to keep the filling I'd had put in the week before or have the tooth removed. Although it was still sensitive to temperature, I opted to keep the tooth and only have it removed if the filling dropped out again, which has happened several times recently. In the afternoon, and after picking up Tim who was fine, I had to pick up some furniture for the shop.

Now I'm sure I did something on Thursday but I haven't listed it in my diary and I can't remember what I did at all that day. Friday I did some running around after cats, took some dried cat food over to Carol, and the piece appeared in the Echo and the phone started ringing.

First thing Saturday morning, after the usual routine of feed cats, let them in and out depending when they're stayed out all night or not, see to to Tim, etc, was to drive to Hetton on the outskirts of greater Sunderland to drop off a cat cage. A young woman who'd had dealings with us before had opened her front door earlier this to have a cat run in, run upstairs and hide in a fitted wardrobe where it proceeded to have four kittens. As her cat took exception to this, she asked us for a loan of the cage until the kittens were old enough to be re-homed. The house next door to hers was boarded up which concerned me a bit but hers was well looked after. She also had her sister and sister's 2 year old son there. The boy was bright, chatty and friendly, and really rather cute and I'm not a great fan of kids at the best of times. The photos below can speak for themselves.

On the way home, I picked up some cat food for Carol, who has several growing kittens with large appetites, and took it over. A little later and just tucking into my lunch, I got a call from Andrea at the shop who had an elderly lady she knew who was interested in taking on a cat. I rang Carol and arranged to go there and then so I picked up the lady from the shop and took her over. After much deliberation, she selected a quiet 5 year old tortoiseshell female which I'll drop off on Monday once she's got all the cat stuff. At teatime I took Tim to his new home not far from where Andrea lives. It looks pretty good but as he is very lively I suggested a two-week trial after which I'll do the formal adoption procedure. I'm quite hopeful.

Friday, 3 June 2011


These are some of the cats and kittens currently living at Carol's. Some are permanent residents, some are waiting for homes. More about actually taking the photos can be found on my Freethinking blog.