Monday, 19 September 2011


It started out as an ordinary Tuesday morning as I went to pick up cat food from Asda and Sainsburys. It differed a little after that as I had to call in at a friend's house to feed her cat and change the litter and then keep it company for a while as she was on holiday. She actually got the cat from me as it had been found locally, had recently given birth, and had a damaged (discovered to be broken) leg. I'd kept the cat in a cage in the garage, spending some time with it each day until it was ready to be re-homed which, obviously, she was and very successfully.
About an hour after getting home, Susan and I set off in the van to visit Westhall Kennels which acts as a dumping ground for stray cats and dogs which have ended up being the responsibility of Sunderland City Council. It's basically a converted farm and is a dark and depressing place to visit. I'm sure the staff do their very best for the animals in their care but it isn't the sort of place I'd want any of my cats to go to. The reason for our visit is that Susan had just learned of the death of a family friend -it had happened some months earlier but for complicated reasons (not unsavoury I should emphasise) it had been kept quite. He was only in his 40's and as a result his mother with whom he lived had immediately gone into care and their cat into Westhall.

What we found is in the top picture. I could tell she was an oldish cat even before I looked at her teeth and she was clearly stressed. She'd stopped looking after herself and her coat was peppered white with dandruff and thick with loose hairs. She hadn't licked her bottom very well either. As I was due to take a cat to Stray Aid (see several previous posts), I rang up them to see if they would take this one -she'd been named Lotus- which they would. In the meantime, we'd look after her for a couple of days and, suspecting this might happen, I'd brought a cat carrier with me.

That sorted, our next stop was at Carole's with the weekly delivery of food. One cat which had arrived a couple of days ago had just finished giving birth to her last kitten not long before we got there. She'd had six in all. I took a few photos of them and some other cats.

While we were there, Carole suggested we take Lotus to Roker Park vets to be checked out as they'd probably fit us in now. So we did. Wendy, who took the ginger kitten a couple of weeks ago, checked her out and reckoned her to be about 10-12 years old and in reasonable health, coat  condition excepted. So we took her home and she took up residence under the settee.

I was back at Carole's in the afternoon to take one cat and a kitten to the vets. The cat, Ossie (otherwise known, to me anyway, as Psycho-cat) and one of Carole's had recently decided to start peeing all over the place. The three-week old kitten, on the other hand, had developed eye trouble. Here they are.

Thursday morning dawned mild and sunny and, after paying a visit to the cat, it was off to Stray Aid. The first cat was located upstairs above the shop. A stray, it had arrived yesterday. Now I was originally going to take Lotus but, for reasons I'll explain later, it was going to be this friendly young tabby (sorry, no pictures of it) instead. Then I picked up Phil who, with Andrea, does the dog-running. Over to Red House Estate on the north side of the city to pick up a one year old neutered male as the couple didn't have to look after him properly because they had a new baby. Yeah, right, like a cat takes that much looking after. But into the box it went.

About a mile to the west and it's a one year old German Shepherd which has been neither trained nor socialised with the result is that he's wildly friendly with people, can't be allowed near other dogs and a tight grip needs to be kept on his leader at all times. He can be trained but it will need someone with a lot of experience and patience to do it.

Stray Aid were hugely busy that morning due to an influx of several stray dogs and it took a while for them to check ours out. The cats were no problem, both young, friendly, neutered, and healthy and very re-homeable. The dog might have to go to the Blue Cross animal charity for special training.

It's now Monday and Lotus, the cat in cell 9 (actually a reasonable size cage with an outside run) is still with us and looks like being our Cat No.9. In the time she's been with us, I've given several intensive brushes which she actually loved and would let me pretty do anything to her to get at the fur. I gave her a dry shampoo with a special mousse like stuff which got rid of most of the kennel smell but replaced it with a smell that Susan hated. So we gave her a bath and Susan shampooed her with Head & Shoulders. I held Lotus by her front paws against the edge of the bath and, while she clearly wasn't happy, put up with it all.
She actually looks better than this now and the dandruff has mostly gone. While mainly staying in the living room, she occasionally venture into the kitchen or upstairs. She doesn't react to the other cats even when one of them hisses at her, though they most keep out of her way. She likes being cuddled and will happily stay on your knee or slumped against your chest for as long as you'll let her, purring loudly all the while. 

In the last couple of days she's started climbing on my knee without waiting to be picked up. Although Wendy the vet put her at 12 at the oldest, she acts like an older cat. I've never seen her move quickly at all. Susan doesn't think we'll have her long, though she may surprise us. Me, I just feel so sorry for the poor old thing and also pleased that she's begun to respond to us. But what we are doing is giving an old cat a loving home for her last few years which I'm sure would have pleased her late owner.

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