Friday, 12 August 2011


I'm not talking about cats which have nice secure homes who can enjoy the sunshine (on the rare occasions we get any) and the warm days. I'm talking about the ones in need of new homes, or at least a place in a rescue. Summer seems to be a bad time for them. All the rescues are full; not that they aren't full all the time. But there seems to be more cats in need. And we, and this we is all the cat rescues not just ours, can't take them all. In fact we can hardly take any. It's a bad time for re-homing too because people are going on holiday and aren't really thinking about taking on a new cat. Cats just aren't being re-homed much  from mid-July to mid-August.

This week I seem to be averaging 2-3 calls a day and having to turn down all of them. I try to make suggestions, usually that they log on to to try other rescues in the area even as I know they're in just as bad a state as we are. But I can't bring myself to slam the door in the caller's face. I try to offer the slender chance of hope.

Today a lady called on behalf of a woman going into a refuge. She needed homes for the woman's three cats, dog, and a rabbit. The RSPCA had already told her they would destroy the cats. We couldn't take the cats but I gave her Phil's number and said he may be able to help with the dog and rabbit. The rabbit at least could go in the hutch at the back of our Grangetown shop. (It feels strange to have to specify which of our shops -our shops! We are a chain!)

Earlier this week I got a call from a lady whose elderly (mid-80's) parents had been feeding a stray cat but theirs was fighting with it and they couldn't deal with it. On impulse, I said I'd call round at teatime as I'd be on my way home from the vets and it wasn't much out of the way. So I went and looked at the cat. It was old with very bad teeth, thin, and with what I thought (correctly as it turned out) was a cancerous lump on its stomach. I told them that I thought the best thing would be to put it to sleep. They agreed to this and offered to pay the costs (which they did, plus a donation for us, and some cat food). Before I could sort this out, they rang me again to say that Pawz For Thought had put an ad in the lost column of the Sunderland Echo. That was a good thing but unsurprisingly it came to nothing. I suspected the cat had been deliberately abandoned as the family had tried to find its owner. So today I took it to Roker Park Vets where Wendy agreed with me that the best thing was to put it to sleep.

This was the third time we'd done that this week. On Monday an elderly cat of Carol's which had quickly started going downhill went the journey. Then on Thursday, Baby, the Lanchester kitten I'd rescued, which had been deteriorating for several weeks despite numerous trips to the vets, had to have an end to her suffering. Such a shame as she was a lovely natured little cat. I'd never expected her to have a long life but I didn't expect it would be only just over a year.

Yesterday I got a call from Carol. A woman had phoned her from Wallsend on the other side of the Tyne, east of Newcastle. She had a seven month old female to re-home because tomorrow she was leaving the area and Carol was concerned about it. I called the local branch of Cats Protection. Actually I made a mistake and rang the Gateshead branch not the north Tyneside one. By the time they rang back after I'd left a message I'd already sorted something out but did have a mutually sympathetic chat about the terrible situation we cat rescuers were in. I called the owner and explained I couldn't go through as I didn't know Wallsend at all and just couldn't do it at rush hour. I'd had a busy day as it was. However if she brought it through on the Metro... I got a few things sorted, went to pick up Carol and take her to the vets with Baby, and then to Seaburn Metro station where the woman (and two small children) arrived with the cat. I then took it to the vets to leave overnight and be neutered the following day (today).

Shortly after I got back home and as a result of the photo in the Sunderland Echo (which I can't reprint here as the scanner drivers are missing), a nice family came to see Josie. Now I'd gotten to know Josie a little better over the last few days and she isn't an easy cat. Try and pick her up when she's not in the mood and she'll attack. She's terrified of other cats and even when I leave the living room door open she'll stay where she is. Much as I want to re-home her, she wouldn't have been suitable for them. I contacted Carol who had a young cat in mind and they went over to hers straight away. They took the recently neutered young cat and the mother went back again today to take an older cat to live in the old people's home where she works. Result!

A bit of a mixed week, more down than ups. Next week I expect more of the same.

And you know what the real problem is? It isn't lack of money. While our charity isn't rolling in it by a long long way, we could afford to take in more than we do. What we don't have is enough people to look after the cats which need rescuing. Carol takes most of our cats. I'll foster the odd one. We have two other fosterers. Now and again StrayAid and  Tracy at Burnhope will take a couple. But it's not enough. It's nowhere near enough. Too many people take in cats (and dogs and rabbits and guinea pigs and bird and...and...and..) without really thinking what they're doing. Susan and I will not take on any more cats even though we're only in our early 60's because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. People just don't think and it's up to committed animal lovers like us to help out. But it's not enough.

It's never enough.

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