Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Picked this one up on Friday from a house not far from The Seaton Lane Inn. The Inn used to be a spit and sawdust type local when I first visited back in the late 70's. It was also the only pub in the area which served Theakston's Bitter and Theakston's Old Peculier (at the time a legend among real ales, though now a shadow of its former dark and intense self; though maybe we've all got used to strong real ales as they are far easier to get hold of than they were back then. The Inn itself is now a pub/restaurant/hotel part-owned by Niall Quinn who'll go down in local history as a Sunderland footballing philanthropic legend). 

The cat's about 1-2 years old and suffered the injury long enough ago for it to be completely healed. The cat gets about fine and has a lovely nature.

Above are two hoours-old kittens and their mother. Carole was convinced she still had more inside her and took her to the vets. Wendy the vet opened her up and found only one which had died, then continued to neuter her to get it all done and spare her any future trauma. Nearly a week later, mother and kittens are doing well.

Speaking of mothers and kittens, Carole is keeping three mothers (including the one above) and their kittens in one spare bedroom. Here they are. The first photo is of an all black mother and her five tabby and tabby-grey kittens.

Yesterday, a nice gentleman took home a young friendly two year old peach-tabby cat which as far as we knew was nice and friendly. After an in his house she went nuts and attacked him. In the meantime, as a cage was now free, I went to pick up a stray black and white (and apparently un-neutered male) from a house in Seaham. I took him to Wendy's vets at Southwick as it was easier to drop him off there to be neutered. While Wendy was checked him out, I got chatting to this bloke in the surgery who turned out to be the one who'd taken the peach-tabby going nuts (which was when I first heard about it) and he was at Wendy's to look at a skinny tortoiseshell (see previous posts) whose kittens had recently been re-homed. Wendy appeared to say that the cat was neutered so I rang Carole about taking him up to hers except that she no longer had a space and wanted Wendy to keep him overnight.

A day later and all is well. He took the skinny tortoiseshell and he and his wife are delighted with her and the big black and white cat (who reminds me of my big black and white cat Ted) is safe at Carole's.

And just to finish off, a couple of photos of some of Carole's permanent residents.
"All good friends and jolly good companee-y!"

Monday, 20 February 2012


The name of this cat, at the time I took the photo, was Cleo.

I'm not suggesting that anyone, named or unnamed, in the piece deliberately told me lies.

What my wife told me.
"The people you go to see just want to get rid of a cat. That's their motivation. They want to get rid of it."

What happened.
I'm not daft. I've been doing this long enough to know that people can be economical with the truth. To be honest, I don't really care either as long as I can help a cat in need.

Okay, so I get a phone call asking if I can take a well pregnant cat. She was a stray they'd taken in after their male cat had been missing for over two weeks. He'd come back and they didn't get on. I called Carole who would take in the pregnant cat.

It was Sunday morning and I had a couple of calls to make. First to pick up the cat and take it to Carole's, then to Dalton-le-Dale, Seaham to drop off food with Elizabeth, one of our fosterers. At my first call, I found a pleasant young couple with young child, seven week old kitten (very friendly) unneutered male (fine) and a big friendly female called Cleo. I briefly checked Cleo out and didn't think she was pregnant, just a big cat. Into the carrier she went and off to Carole's.

There, Carole checked her out and verified that she wasn't pregnant. Not only wasn't she pregnant she wasn't a she but a neutered male. Guess who should have checked this before taking the cat? Yeah, right. This caused a problem because while Carole can squeeze in a pregnant cat by keeping it in a cage in her kitchen, she has no room in the shed for any males. I rang Elizabeth to ask her a big favour and, yes, she would take the misnamed Cleo.

Here's another photo of her/him.

And here's one of him just arrived in his new foster home. Isn't he beautiful?
Elizabeth emailed me today to say that he's settling in nicely and that he does indeed have a nice nature. He's being followed all over the house by two six month old kittens Elizabeth is also fostering for us. She's named him Beattie (as in BT) because, she writes, he's got the longest tongue she's ever seen in a cat. Sorry, Elizabeth, but I don't get the joke.

I'm a bit annoyed with myself because I should have checked him out thoroughly but it's worked out for the best for him. 

Two cats at Carole's.
The first is a pregnant female she's looking after. The second has been featured with her kittens in previous posts. The kittens all have homes now and we're looking for one for her. She's small, very pretty and very friendly. Any offers?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


My previous post clearly upset one person who, without attempting to enter into any dialogue on the subject, asked to be removed from the mailing list which I have done. So here are some photographs of kittens that I've taken over the years. Big aaahs! guaranteed.

And, lastly, one of my favourites.

All these kittens were found good homes by Animal Krackers and we'll keep on finding good homes for new kittens as they arrive for as long as we continue.

Monday, 13 February 2012


There are a couple of issues I've been pondering on recently with regard to cats. While seemingly different, they are related as you'll see.

1. Is it ever right to put to sleep a healthy cat? 

Now the obvious answer to that is a resounding NO! But sometimes it isn't always that simple. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a lady who, for very reasons (which I forget, sorry) needed to re-home her two 16-year old cats. 

Apart from the fact that that we were full anyway, it is extremely difficult to re-home older cats and sixteen is quite old for a cat anyway. Unless a friend or neighbour is willing. it's almost impossible. They are coming to the end of their lives and the likelihood of incurring vets bills is quite high. I told her this and also what would happen to them if a local rescue did take them in. The odds were that they'd be stuck in a small cage together for the rest of their short lives, surrounded by other strange cats in cages. 

I suggested that the kindest thing to do in this case would be to put them to sleep. They'd had good comfortable lives and had been loved. If that couldn't continue then it should end. I thought that discussing it with a vet would also help.

I haven't heard anything since. So, did I say the right thing or not?

2. Should a kitten be homed with an elderly person?

I'll define elderly as being in their late 70's or older.

And I'm not going to answer the question directly either. Instead I'll go off on a tangent and tell you what our personal plans are.

We have nine cats and we'll both be 64 this year. The cats are aged from just under 2 to 15 (the eldest being Lotus our newest cat). Despite our family backgrounds suggesting that we could be lucky enough to live to a healthy old age, nothing in this world is certain. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. So we aren't ever going to have another kitten. Neither are we going to replace any of the nine cats as they die off until maybe we just have three or four left. Then we'll begin to take in cats which we're fairly sure either won't outlast us or not by much if they do. I'm thinking of cats aged 14 or over. 

Something that worries us greatly is that we die leaving young healthy cats to an uncertain fate. This is one, not uncommon reason, for cats coming into our care and it's a very sad one and something which we'd rather avoid.

I mentioned Lotus earlier. Her story is a sad one. She was owned by an elderly mother with the onset of dementia and her son, not yet 50, who was dying of cancer. She had to go into care, he booked the cat into Westhall kennels, then put himself into a hospice. They'd been friends of Susan's family but Susan only found about these matters months later. We went to visit Lotus and found her to be withdrawn and in poor physical condition. She was never likely to be re-homed and it would have been kinder to put her to sleep. But luckily for her, we took her home and she now enjoys a good quality of life. But Lotus is the lucky exception.
Lotus at Westhall Kennels

And in our garden a couple of months later.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


I don't believe in fate but I still hope I'm not tempting it in what I'm about to tell you. Nothing has been signed yet, though a draft agreement is being compiled by our solicitor, and as far as I know a certain third party is in agreement, so here goes.

By the end of this year Sunderland will have its first purpose-built cat re-homing centre at Ferryfarm Kennels, South Hylton, Sunderland.

We've been housing rescued dogs there for years and Mark, the owner, has long been wanting to open a cattery there as well. Now he's got planning permission from Sunderland City Council, he's given us first refusal to have it as our re-homing centre which, after some discussion, we've gone with. It will be to the standard of a proper commercial cattery (i.e a place where people leave their pets when they go on holiday) but for rescued adult cats wanting new homes. I'm really excited as I'll be administering it. I've got lots of ideas about how to do it but I'll keep those until nearer opening day. Carole who usually looks after our rescued cats will concentrate on pregnant cats, kittens, and those needing close attention like the injured cat recently.

It will have 15 'rooms' plus an isolation cage in an L-shaped block. Cats which have lived together will share but the minimum space is for 15 cats -obviously. Here are a few photos of commercial catteries none quite fitting how I imagine it, more an amalgam of them, but you get the idea. I'll make the cages more homely with toys and scratching posts. I'll also be taking photos of each stage in the building process. 

I'll be mortified and very disappointed if this falls through because as far as I'm concerned it's the most exciting thing we've done since we started the charity

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Seem to have been quite busy the last couple of weeks with regard to picking up cats and kittens which need to be re-homed for various reasons. Plus numerous visits to the vets. Plus meetings. So, without further ado, the photographs of recently rescued cats and kittens all in need of new homes.

And then there's Buster who was seen being dumped out of a van. We know he's called Buster because the people who took him in for a couple of hours know the family and this was the second time they'd tried to get rid of him. By the way, he isn't a cat but he's very loveable all the same and currently being fostered out.

Vets trips involved picking up young cats to be neutered. It's no secret that we use more than one veterinary practice -Williams & Cummings, Roker Park, Vets4Pets, and Westways. In the last week, a new practice opened up though the vet, Wendy, was not new to us at all. She's opened it in the old PDSA building at Southwick which is a good idea as it already had most of the fittings she'd need and it had been built as a veterinary practice, plus it's not too close to other vets. And it's also just over five minutes walk from where Carole lives which means she can take cats and save me driving from one side of the city to the other. We aren't dropping any of the other practices we use but it's nice to have another one.

A couple of cats -Sophie and Rossi- we recently and separately re-homed came down with cat flu which meant it had to be in them when they went out so it was our responsibility to pay for vet treatment and also, as neither lady had transport, to take them there. The earliest case seems to be starting to improve and I'm hoping the other will soon follow. Mind you, something odd did happen. Being on this side of the river, I took them first to Williams & Cumming it being the nearest. Then when Sophie deteriorated, I rang the vets, got an immediate appointment and only realised when I got out the van at Roker Park that I'd called the wrong vet. Oh well. Two days later I took Rossi back to Williams & Cumming having earlier that morning booked another appointment for Sophie at Roker Park and mentioned it to the receptionist at W&C who told me no,  I'd booked her here.

The next day in The Mail Online I saw a test for Alzheimers and took it. Score 1-4 and you were okay, 5-17 cause for further investigation, 17-25 and you're wondering what you're doing and where did this computer come from. To my relief, I scored 3. Okay, the test was supposed to be completed by someone close to you but the questions were all clear and the 22 I answered no to I'm positive were the right answers for me.

And then there were the meetings, the subject of which I shouldn't tell you as we have nothing in writing yet so don't tell anyone, but... And this is really big news. It's the most important thing to happen to Animal Krackers since we opened the shop nearly ten years ago.

Oh it's no good. I can't do it. Not before the written agreement is signed. It could still fall through. Maybe by the end of the month. Maybe.

But it's great. Really.

Console yourself with these photos of growing kittens still about three weeks off re-homeable age.