Wednesday, 31 December 2014


IN 2014

A big thank you to all our volunteers who have made 2014 our most successful year yet. 
Thank you to: 
the shop volunteers; 
the cat, dog and small animal fosterers; 
the fund raisers; 
the cat cuddlers & the dog walkers; 
the contributors to our web pages; 
the committee who does 'the invisible work' that keeps our charity going and drives it forward; 
the van drivers; 
everyone at Ferry Farm Kennels, Kings Road Vets & Vets4Pets; 
the people who donate to and buy from our shop without whom we could not exist; 
and if there's anyone we've forgotten -thank you too.

In 2014 we have re-homed:
181 cats and kittens,
50 dogs and puppies,
61 small animals,
and we couldn't have done it without you.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


It didn't take long for Xmas to be over. Christmas Day itself was spent with my exes -with my ex-wife at my ex-brother-in-law's house for Xmas dinner with my ex-sister-in-law, my ex-niece, my ex-nephew, and their (my ex-) auntie, and then tea at my ex-wife (the same one)'s house for tea with my ex- but we've already been there. 
Boxing Day was a genuinely lazy day which is all that needs to be said about it.

On Saturday things picked up again. Out relatively early to the wilds beyond the boundaries of the mighty metropolis of Sunderland and into places where plants grow wild -it think it's called the country- (well, not really wild as it's pretty much all farms and villages and small towns- to a place called Great Lumley, which has a castle, to do a home check which was very satisfactory apart from my satnav trying to guide me into a car park in Houghton-le-Spring.

Then on to Ferry Farm to meet a nice family who selected Tina the unusually marked tortoiseshell I'd fostered. In the very short time she's been with them Tina has clearly decided she's landed on her feet and is making the most of it to the delight of her new family. A little later I'd just had my lunch when I got a call from people wanting to visit the same day. Right now, I suggested forgoing the coffee I'd just started to drink and delaying the nap I'd been anticipating. Right now it was and Annabelle, a cute torty who lived in the pen next to Tina, went to live with a lady, just a little younger than myself, and her husband.

So when is this erroneous chihuahua going to get here? you're wondering. Right now, I answer.

I arrived at a house in Castletown (a district of Sunderland which has the remains of a castle -there are castles all over the place around here) where S, who has a chihuahua, was fostering Tinker a cat (who, for some, reason, I misremembered as Rosie, well, sort of) and had a chihuahua I'd met and liked a week ago. S was surprised to see me and hadn't exchanged emails with me. The cat was settling in albeit avoiding the little friendly dog. I was making a fuss of it as I had the week before but made the mistake of assuming a familiarity not shared by the little dog which sank its teeth into the base of thumb when I tried to pick it up. Silly me. Oh well. Still bleeding, I said goodbye, and headed off to Ferry Farm to meet three groups of people (one of which didn't turn up so it was only two).

One family was already there, mum, dad, with future daughter in law who had decided she wanted to take Ember and Smudge, two young black cats, and take them she did. Which was when I got a phone call from A who was wondering where I'd got to having expected me an hour earlier to pick up Rosie (or, as I knew her, Fluffy). A, who also has a chihuahua, was expecting me to collect Fluffy as, sadly, it wasn't working out. |I'd got the two chihuahuas mixed up. Rather than delay things any longer, A brought Fluffy back to Ferry Farm and I apologised. I should have known better and I have a lot of excuses but basically I made erroneous assumptions. The family from Great Lumley also arrived and picked the young white and tabby Maisie the star (with her kittens) of several posts earlier this year.

And I'm back again tomorrow to meet another couple who are interested in adopting a cat. It's a busy end to a busy year and I wouldn't have it any other way. Next post will be the official Animal Krackers New Year's Message probably on New Year's Eve or New Years Day, unless anything interesting happens in the meantime.

Here's Beverley, a fluffy and likeable new arrival at our re-homing centre.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


It's been quite a busy December for me and the Animal Krackers team. Not sure about non-cats but for cats it's been a goodish month. To date (5.30pm 24th Dec) this month we've re-homed 14 cats and kittens compared to none in same period last year and there are hopes for at least another couple going before the end of the month.

I've been running around all over the place (well, all over Sunderland) doing home checks, meeting people at the re-homing centre to adopt cats, picking up donated pet food from supermarkets, distributing pet food, taking cats and kittens to the vets, spending hours on the phone trying to help people who need to re-home their cats or who've found one -some I've been able to accept, more not because the numbers needing new homes seem to increase in December, but really it's a matter of luck if they call when a space has been freed up with a fosterer (like me, or Adele), taking in cats to foster (see previous posts), updating the cats needing homes web page and the the archive of cats re-homed, writing blog posts, contributing posts to the Facebook pages of Animal Krackers and Kings Road Vets (mostly the same posts shared TBH) plus my own Facebook (less of an overlap), plus looking after my own seven little monsters and a varying number of foster cats, countless cat-related emails including keeping AK people in the loop of what I'm up to, and in between trying to squeeze in some life of my own. I'm not complaining, I love doing what I'm doing and wouldn't do it if I didn't. And please don't think I'm the only who does a lot of this work because I'm not, not by a long way.

Tomorrow, however, the only cativities I'm doing are looking after my own. Otherwise it's Christmas Day and Christmas dinner with my ex and ex-brother and ex-sister in law and my ex-niece and ex-nephew. Looking forward to it. Hope you all have a good one.

Here are some photos.

Monday, 22 December 2014


Can't get enough of these two rascals who won't leave me alone when I'm at my computer? Well here they are again, the little pests.


In less than 48 hours the newly named Mickey and Eva, the 13 week old kitten siblings have taken over the house. They aren't afraid of other cats. They investigate anything and everything, particular my computer when I'm using it -Mickey is currently sitting in front of the screen. They love being stroked and when I woke up this morning they were curled up next to me. 

They will drive some lucky person mad but it isn't going to be me. I want rid of them asap. Just have a look why.

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Busy week. wish I could tell you everything that happened but my memory is, as usual, very patchy.

The latest thing that's happened is that nervous boy Lightning is getting more and more confident in his dealings with me and just now he came downstairs and ate in the kitchen with the big boys and girls.

Fluffy the massive and massively lovable thick furred ginger cat has provisionally gone to a new home if he can get on with the friendly but noisy little chihuahua that also lives there. As he's already sleeping on the  his new owner's bed I don't think she's going to give him any choice.

Also re-homed only a couple of hours later was Bronia the three and half year old who lived with me for a while.

As expected it was a busy week for getting calls from people who had either found stray cats or wanted their own re-homing. Luckily for some of them, the way things worked out this week I did have space. I got two calls about strays and went over to Downhill to pick up one of them. However, after hanging round for a week there was no sign of it. In the case of another I was going to set out to pick it up but got a call in time to say it had disappeared. Four days later and I still haven't heard from either lady.

I did get contacted by a lady called Sonia offering to be a fosterer. I called round to do a homecheck and was very satisfied. That gave me a little more flexibility as it turned out.

Yesterday morning I got a call about two 13 week old kittens. Kittens the magic word. It wasn't far and I was round in half an hour. Brother and sister, ginger and tabby, went into my cat cage. Didn't seem too nervous. Anyway, this afternoon, I closed the bedroom door and let them out and then went for my nap -it had been a busy morning as you'll discover below. They were okay so I left them out of the cage when I opened the door and the others flooded in to no noticeable adverse reaction. The ginger boy ventured downstairs and, apart from Timmy who can be a pain with other cats but is going on Tuesday, ginger was quite curious and even came on to my computer desk while I was at it. The tabby remained upstairs. So, both promising. I haven't decided what to do with them yet but with Timmy and Minnie going to the re-homing centre on Tuesday there's no reason why I can't keep them here over Christmas. Adele has a couple of spaces so I've some reasonable flexibility.

Later that afternoon a cat which had been re-homed for a year came back because the dog she was living with suddenly started going for her. The owner was very upset to give it up as she had looked after the cat well, making sure it got regular flea and worm treatment and its vaccinations were up to date. It seemed a good starter cat for Sonia's fostering career so I kept it in a cage overnight and took it round later this morning. Her given name is Twinkle. There's no reason, apart from lack of spaces, that she shouldn't go to the re-homing centre but, assuming there's no problems with Sonia's loveable little chihuahua (whose best non-human friend is the neighbour's cat), I'll leave her at least till the New Year.

This morning I went to do a homecheck in Grindon and met a lovely family whom I took straight round to Ferry Farm where they ended up picking the first (and as it happens couldn't possibly be more suited for them) cat they saw which was 9 month old Tomtom who only been there a week after three with me. The lady's sister (who has four cats along with partner and young son) decided to come and do some cat cuddling. So: result!

After they'd gone, I moved Smudge, a three year old b/w female, in with Ember whom TomTom had left behind, which freed up another pen.

All things considered, not a bad week in the run-up to Christmas.

And Sunderland have just beaten Newcastle United at Newcastle's home ground.

And really one last thing, here's my new t-shirt. How could it be more appropriate for me?

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Apart from being Animal Krackers' fantastic secretary, this year Joanna has been fostering and re-homing lots of kittens for us. And rabbits. And guinea pigs.

There’s no room at the Inn!!

2014 has been a massive eye opener for me about working in animal rescue.  Volunteers at Animal Krackers don’t stroll about stroking the occasional purring cat and taking a dog for a walk in the sunshine; they work really hard, like 'slog your guts out until midnight' hard. And it’s not all about those who help with the animals, there are lots of people behind the scenes tirelessly raising money so Animal Krackers can continue its work.

I’ve been seriously involved with the charity for over a year and not only does it take over your life, it takes over your house! This Christmas I will have 12 kittens (7 of which are semi-feral), 5 cats, 12 rabbits and 2 guinea pigs in residence.

I thought I’d just pay tribute to some of the special little lives that have come through our doors this year.

Winnie who was handed in at Animal Krackers shop and was one of the most loving rabbits I’ve ever known. This is her licking the bars of her cage (one of her favourite past-times!)

Scrappy, the kitten who was motherless and had such severe neurological damage that he had to be put to sleep. A thousand tears were cried for this little one!

Evelyn, a giant bunny, who had been used as a breeding doe her whole life and had never known anything else other than her small hutch. She is now living free in Andrea’s garden.

Grace, a beautiful cat, who was living in a wendy house with her 3 kittens at a women’s refuge after her owner had run from a situation of horrific domestic abuse. Grace has found a wonderful home where she is treated like a queen.

Rita, one of 4 giant bunnies, rescued from a terrible situation in Gateshead. Pledges of help from rabbit lovers came from all over the UK for this poor bunny family. Rita is now living in luxury near Ferry Farm in South Hylton.

Lily, who with her two brothers was rehomed to a happy home in Essex (after being driven the hundreds of miles by an AK volunteer, of course!)

Nigel and Boris, who were terrified when they arrived and, after having Laura, a dedicated fosterer, working with them every day, have now found a forever home where they are enjoying lots of attention.

5 sweet kittens whose mother, Dorothy, died of lymphoma while they were still tiny. They have all found loving homes and the black one Dot, is the image of her mother. Although we couldn't save Dorothy she lives on through her little daughter.

Simon, the rabbit who thinks he’s a cat. This bunny sleeps, plays and chases his fosterer’s kittens everywhere. We’re still waiting for him to purr!

Annabel, who is currently at Ferry Farm waiting for a new owner. She can’t stand other cats but was one of the sweetest, most protective mothers we’ve ever seen.

And finally 3 of my own, all adopted from Animal Krackers and adored beyond all things!!

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Lightning is the seven month old and very nervous kitten-cat I took in three days ago. But before I get onto him here's a progress report on Timmy and Minnie, both very nervous, who arrived a couple of weeks earlier.

It didn't take long for one year old Timmy to settle in. He has the run of the house, goes where he wants, isn't bothered by the other cats, and will sit on my knee if he feels like it. I found him upstairs in the book room when I went to take photos of Lightning. He's big and beautiful and needs a more appropriate name than (Timid) Timmy.

Minnie, however, doesn't want to leave the conservatory. she's happy enough for me to come in and make a fuss of her but hisses at the sight of any of the other cats.

Meanwhile, back in the book room, here's Emma, a nice gentle girl who's one of my permanent residents.

And finally back to Lightning who I was really quite worried about. He hated being in the cage, but when I let him out, he'd disappear and was very good at hiding. Luckily he found a place behind a large flattened storage box propped up against a cupboard door which made it easy for me get hold of him/stroke him and harder for him to get away. After a couple of sessions this afternoon, he's now used to me and actively rubs against my hand He doesn't, unlike Minnie, seem to be bothered by the other cats.

If there's one thing I've learned about fostering cats, it's that even the most nervous will, given space and time, come around. They may not all become socialised with other cats but they will with people.