Friday, 31 January 2014


2001 - 30/01/2014

Well, this wasn't expected. I'd booked in Tilly, the small grey kitten-cat because her diarrhoea problem just wasn't going away. Max hadn't been eating too well this week and when he threw up his cooked ham yesterday morning and started retching bile in the afternoon I thought I'd best take him along as well just to get him checked out. The vet found a lump the size of a satsuma in his gut at a place that was hard to get to. So: palliative treatment to keep him going longer or put him to sleep. Obviously I chose, not without some deliberation and discussion with the vet, the latter. As the vet said, just because we can prolong life doesn't always mean that we should. My first rule is: never let an animal suffer. And that would inevitably happen to Max. I wanted him to go with dignity.

And he did.

He patiently accepted the vet shaving his leg and just as patiently, without the slightest struggle, let her insert the needle into his vein. Because his veins had contracted it took a second injection in the other leg before he finally slipped away. I stroked him and spoke to him throughout and finally kissed him goodbye. 

I hadn't had him long, taking him in after his elderly owner, whom got him from us several years ago, went into a home. He spent all his time in my living room, mostly sitting on the arms of the settee or chairs, often next to where I was sitting so I could stroke him and sometimes he'd step down and settle on my knee.

Now there's a Max-shaped space in my living room and I miss him.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Sounds like the opening line of a joke, but it isn't.

I'd finished the previous post and gone upstairs for my regular afternoon nap. Head down, pushed Aoife off me, ignored the phone ringing downstairs, mind beginning to wander over bits and pieces prior to slipping into a light dozing state followed by proper sleep, then BANG! BANG! BANG! on the front door. Had to be Susan. No-one else knocks that loud.

And it was. With a box in her hands. And in the box was...

A four month old grey and white kitten.

I haven't yet got the full story but Susan was gabbling something about a woman coming into the shop with the kitten in the box and because it was kitten she didn't want to turn her away and she felt sure I'd be willing to take it in and...

My ex-wife, with whom I remain on close terms, turns up with a cute kitten in a box so I'm hardly likely to turn it away. Besides, I'm still too used to letting her tell me what to do all the time so that when she says jump...

...I'm now fostering another kitten and already booked him in at the vets for a check-up and flu jab on Tuesday.

He's been here for two hours now and I have to say I'm quite impressed. He's sniffed around the living room, tentatively investigated Aelfric and vice versa as they touched noses, had a look at Tilly the grey kitten-cat whom he seems to find interesting, and he's settled down on different pieces of furniture. He's also quite friendly, pickupable, and likes being made fuss of.

Here's some more photos fresh off the memory card.

And before you ask, no you can't have him. He's so cute and bold that I'm rather taken with him so he might (only might, mind you) not be going anywhere. We'll see how he settles and fits in. First impressions are, however, extremely favourable.

To be continued.

So this woman walks into our charity shop with a box and says, "Please take my kitten."

And we do.

This time.


Without going into personal reasons, someone needed to have six young cats re-homed. She was keeping three other cats, a staffie, three tanks of fish, two pythons, one coral snake and one tarantula.

I'd already collected a friendly ginger kitten from her earlier in the week which I'd taken to Carole's for re-homing. Today I picked up the six for their first flu jab. They're already booked in in ten days time for neutering and spaying. In the vets they behaved perfectly. All are very friendly and socialised with cats and people, even children. So, in three weeks time or thereabouts and if there's space, they will be appearing live and confined at our cat rescue for an unscheduled period. They'll be available either individually or (two or even more) together. 

I was originally told that there were four males and two females so I decided to name the males: Jerry, Bob, Phil, and Bill. There is a link between these names but only the very coolest and  hippest of readers among you will pick up on it. But the info was wrong; it's the other way around so the boys are now called Ginger One and Ginger Two; boring but accurate. The four girls I'm now calling: Jenny, Victoria, Miranda, and Shappi. The connection here is a lot easier to get. And, no, they aren't the real names of the Spice Girls, or any girl band for that matter.

Here they are in name order.

And a few more.

Provisional expressions of interest can be sent to me at the usual email address.

Friday, 17 January 2014


A simple story with pictures.

Featuring: Fifi the black and white cat, Aelfric the pedigree short hair, Tilly the small grey kitten-cat, Tiger the tabby, and Aoife and Max the adult black cats. 

Just recently I tidied up my kitchen work bench and put all the stuff that used to be scattered across into a nice storage box I got for review from Amazon. And that's pretty much all you need to know to get started.

Fifi likes boxes. Fifi likes Tilly. Tilly likes Fifi. Tilly also likes Aelfric. Fifi tolerates Aelfric. Aelfric likes dripping taps and sitting on kitchen benches. 

Fifi does not like Tiger. Ian suspects Tiger has started making a play to be top cat here at No.48.

Max does not like other cats. Max likes to sit on my knee.

Aoife does not like other cats. Aoife likes to sit on my knee. This can cause problems. Aoife likes to sleep on top of me. Aoife is shut out of the bedroom at night.

The End.

Post Script.

It's a couple of hours later and I've just noticed that prominently displayed is an 18 certificate DVD entitled Girls. I would just like you to know that this is a box set of the highly praised award-winning US TV series and not something less respectable. The red plastic DVD box facing away from the camera is Torchwood Series 1 which I bought in our charity shop recently. Had their positions been reversed I would not be writing this.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


That's me, I'm afraid.

(Don't worry, by the end of this post I'll have revealed myself as the wonderful and saintly altruistic person you all know me to be. Well, we'll see.)

Two days ago I transferred Tiny and Todd, two young black cats about 8 months old that I've had since they were born, to the re-homing centre. While nice friendly things, they've only really known me and so finding themselves together in somewhere they've never known has left them almost catatonic (pun not intended). They've hidden themselves as best they could, huddling together for comfort, cowering away when Dawn brought food and cleaned our their litter tray. I saw them this morning when I went to pick up Wendy, a young cat who needed spaying and a hernia treated.  They were tightly curled up together in a drum-like piece of cat furniture. When I made a fuss of them, they responded and one even came out to see me.

The reason I put them there is because, although litter trained, they also had a habit of urinating and crapping on my bedroom carpet. I put spare laminate flooring on top of a section of carpet. I had four litter trays in close proximity. I put down newspaper on sections they used. Neither carpet cleaner or deodoriser was enough. Nothing was enough and they've been doing this for months. They had to go.

It broke my heart but I had to it. Have a look at photos of them while I take a breath and prepare to tell you the full story.


I'm 65 and if I'm lucky I've got about another ten years of active cat rescuing and re-homing at more, but probably less, than my current rate. But, let's face it, there are no guarantees in life. Seven years ago I was hospitalised for a month with pneumonia exacerbated by chronic diarrhoea and other more minor stuff. I lost nearly two stone and it weakened my system in that I was never quite the same afterwards either in terms of physical or mental resources. I'm overweight because I'm a greedy pig, though I do go swimming about three times a week, more once the winter's over -I suffer a little from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and don't laugh because that's what my doctor said after I'd jokingly suggested it.

I've also been on Citalopram (a relative of Prozac) because I get stressed out relatively easily. Also, Perindopril to keep my blood pressure under control, and Simasvastin (statins) to control cholesterol. I do get tired easily and a need a nap once a day, usually, but not always, in the afternoon. 

Now I don't think I'm suddenly going to drop dead in the next five minutes. Although my father died at 69 of angina and his brother less than a decade later of heart disease, my heart is okay -my aorta was checked recently and pronounced absolutely normal. My great grandmother, who I grew up with, lasted till a hundred and two and a half, my grandmother and her sister till their mid-nineties, and my mother till she was eighty-nine. If I take after them I'm good for a while yet. But, as I just said, there are no guarantees. 

Which is why if I want to keep doing what I'm doing for as long as I can then I have to put myself first. Because Tiny and Todd were just stressing me out too much. In the two days since they've gone the difference is noticeable, not just in the reduced smell and the reduced litter emptying/cleaning workload and improved hygiene, but there are simply fewer cats flying around which means the house feels calmer. I'm now down to six cats (plus poor little Lucy with the amputated tail in the conservatory) and would prefer to just have four (not counting Lucy). 

I always wanted to re-home Tiny and Todd but from my house. However I now think they stand a better chance at the re-homing centre. They'll get used to different people and the chance to break their toileting habits so they'll end up as the lovable cats with other people that they are with me.

Of course if I was really that altruistic I'd go on a diet until I'd lost at least forty pounds and cut down my alcohol intake from three large glasses of wine and evening to one -or less.

Post Script.

I'll be honest, I didn't like writing all that, which is an attempt to justify my actions to myself. But when I set out to write this blog it was always intended to be a subjective account of cat rescuing from my point of view. Sometimes whether I like it or not.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Every so often I get emails, or texts, or just a phone call letting me know how an adopted cat is getting on and it's usually well. I love getting these because it reassures me that a cat has gone to the right people. I don't normally print them but I am these because they are just so nice. They're from a couple who live a few miles west of the City of Durham and adopted Tink the cat I took in on Christmas Eve.

Hi Ian,

Just a quick email to send you a HUGE thanks for enabling us to find & re-home Tink (now re-named Albie, though Tink will always be a nickname we call him).

He's already stolen our hearts and put a smile back on our faces. He's settled in very well, our 2 other cats Bertie & Mouse are still a little wary of him (as he is them) but there's been hourly progress in everyone's mutual acceptance. We're sure it won't be long before they're all inseparable. He's extremely humble and although he's becoming very curious, he's being patient and his attempts at making friends are slow and very gentle. There's already been some nose to nose without any discontent.

We know he hasn't come out of his shell and are both looking forward to seeing his true personality once he knows he's secure here. Saying that, he had a daft half hour earlier today and literally hammered up and down our stairs playing hide and seek with me.

I rang Petplan yesterday and got the best cover available for him (the same as our other two cats). He's eating really well too.

I'll keep you updated with his settling in & we both can't thank you enough for your fantastic blog allowing us to find him (looks like you've had a very busy time since we saw you).

Here's some pics of Albie in his new home too.

All the best from both of us,

Bronia & Jonny

From a follow up email:

We've had more exciting progress with Albie since I last emailed. Last night he lay on the sofa next to Jonny and rested his front paws against him (he's progressed from his first day where he chose to lie on our wooden stairs looking down into our living room from his safe higher place). Yesterday he took to lying on the back of the sofa and by the evening lay on the actual seat of the sofa with Jonny - it was funny as Jonny had very little room when Albie got even more comfy, relaxed and long. This has been where he's settled for most of today. Next step will hopefully be on Jonny's lap but we'll be patient.

To our amusement,  he tried to instigate a game with our 15 month old cat (Mouse) today by scooting along the top of the sofa, pulling his chunky self along with big eyes towards her. She was a bit threatened and gave a small hiss before running away but she's very playful with our eldest cat Bertie, so I'm sure it won't be long before they're hammering around chasing each other and playing.

They're all sleeping in the same room by choice and are much more accepting of each other already, although still a little wary.

Albie follows Jonny around wherever he goes, which is just too cute (even to the toilet, ha). I'll be sure to keep you posted with his stories.

He's an absolute little ray of sunshine in our lives. Please keep up the great work you do, we'll be rooting for all the rescue cats to find their forever homes.

Thanks millions again,
Bronia & Jonny

And thank you too, and all the other lovely people, who have adopted our cats and given them  such good homes.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Sounds like something from an academic journal rather than one of my chatty posts, doesn't it. Don't worry, it isn't, though I do find it interesting how cats adapt to being put in with other cats, so I thought I'd look at mine and hope that other readers who have more than one cat will find it both interesting and relatable. 

Academics (general statement coming up) tend to poo-poo the observations of cat owners because they are observational and emotion-based rather than the results of the objective correlation of data. I'm not so sure that this is a valid point. Last year there was a programme on TV which had a team tag a select number of cats in a village and, when the devices didn't fall off, tracked them. What they came up with was nothing that a moderately experienced cat owner couldn't have predicted. My credentials are simply are simply this: I've lived in two multi-cats households and, while both validate my conclusions, I'm just using the current for examples.

One of the myths about cats is that they prefer their own company. Now, unlike dogs, they are not pack animals. This is certainly true. Not being pack animals means there is no hierarchical structure. There may, or may not, be one cat which is dominant but even this can be fluid. Certainly, some cats do not like other cats and much prefer the company of humans. I recently re-homed one from my house. Aoife, who had been with me for eight months, was fostering three one-month old kittens and a month later had two of her own, avoided interacting with other cats in the house and would hiss and even give them a slap if they got too close. Eventually this even applied to her own kittens now 7-8 months old, so I was pleased when she went off with a nice family to be their only cat.

Getting back to the point of this post, what I've learned is that, even  in a small house like mine, cats will have their own preferred areas, territory if you will, but there is considerable overlap and they are often willing to share it completely. It can also change over time. 

Sticking with cats that don't like other cats, I'll start with Max whom I've had for several weeks and is the newest arrival. He's also the only one I'm fostering who is currently up for adoption for that same reason. Max sticks completely to my living room. Most of the time, when not eating or using the litter tray, is spent on parts of my settee. Sometimes he'll curl up on my vacated computer chair. While he's not actively aggressive towards the other cats, he'll occasionally give them a warning hiss and mostly they leave him alone. Today, however, for a few minutes he and Aelfric stood just inches apart on a small square coffee table. Aelfric is a sociable cat but avoided looking at Max, was clearly uncomfortable, and quickly jumped down.

Foe Aelfric, being a sociable cat, the whole house is his territory, though he may spend more time in the kitchen, sharing the room primarily with Fifi, than anywhere else. 

Fifi's territory has changed several times since she arrived here and she was the first cat I took in, though not the only cat in the house there being two I'd brought with me). She started in the living room then, as other cats arrived, first moved upstairs to my book room as her primary domain, and then back downstairs to the kitchen which remains her preferred room despite it also being neutral territory. Fifi herself has changed, initially only really tolerating Aelfric to cuddling up to all of Aoife's kittens, one at a time, on a chair or cushion in the kitchen.

The three kittens, now 8/9 months old have no concept of territory. The whole house is theirs. They interact with each other constantly. After a nap this afternoon, I woke up to find two curled up together on one side of legs (I tend sleep on my side) with the third on the other. If Tiny makes a fuss of me (who is trying to attract my attention as I type this), one of the others is almost certain to join her. All three are comfortable with both Aelfric and Fifi.

Tiger, easily the largest cat in the house, could be dominant but isn't. He has been known to have a go at Aoife and Aelfric but lets the kittens push him out of the way if I've put down a tidbit for him. He mostly lives in my bedroom and when, as I've taken to doing, closed the door shutting out all the others when I go to bed at night, comes and cuddles up to me to be stroked as soon as my head has hit the pillow and does so again in the middle of the night after I've returned from the loo. He will venture downstairs but rarely for long.

So: any conclusions to be drawn from this?

Erm, yes, tentatively, maybe, bearing in mind that this is a small sample. Here they are: and if you think I'm stating the bleeding obvious then there's a very good chance you are absolutely correct and I'd be surprised if other people who live in a multi-cat household would come to different conclusions.

Cats actually are sociable animals that comfortably interact with others, probably as long as a food is plentiful, and live happily in a multi-cat household.

Some cats aren't, though they can tolerate other cats as long as they don't come too close.

Cats do need their own space, and food, and as long as they've got both can co-exist without friction with other cats.

That's it really. I'm sure an animal behaviourist could write tens of thousands of very long words on the subject but he still wouldn't say much more than I have.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


"Temporarily traumatic Tuesday"? Meh! The quality of my post titles has just succumbed to a sudden drop in quality. However on with the story.

This is Hero.

Arrived on Friday.

Listed on Friday.

Re-homed on Monday.

Returned on Tuesday.

Which is the fastest turnover of a cat I've known and it's all his fault. Well, almost all. When he rolled over in his pen to have his tummy rubbed by a small boy, he seemed ideal. Sadly it didn't last as within hours of arriving at his new home he turned into psycho cat going for said small boy. Understandably his new owner wanted to bring him back which she duly did. And took a nice little tabby recommended by Dawn who looks after the cats at our re-homing centre.

I think I may have made a mistake in allowing him to be re-homed so quickly as we didn't have time to assess his character properly. It may also have been too many changes in his life in too short a period. He also hadn't been neutered though he will have by now as I dropped him off at the vets for that very purpose four hours ago.

I was also due to take Roger the nice big black cat to be neutered but that proved unnecessary. Wendy the vet called in to adopt one of our dogs being kept there. As it was her first visit she had a good look round and told Mark the owner of Ferry Kennels that Roger had been neutered but because it had been when was older it just appeared as if he hadn't..

And then there's the cat that I have cruelly but temporarily called Stumpy. If you look closely at the first photo you'll see why. 

This poor little soul is the stray cat being fed and sheltered on nights at St.Anthony's Girls School in Sunderland. They contacted me on Monday teatime to tell me that she was injured and could we help. I picked her up, took her to the vets where I found out she'd broken her tail. They kept her in overnight and amputated it yesterday, leaving a small and currently hairless stump behind. 

I decided to bring her home to my house to recuperate in the conservatory and called in at the school on the way back to let them know and that if anyone wanted to come to my house to check on her then they were more than welcome.

She is traumatised, poor little thing, but responds to affection. She's not eating much but she has eaten something. I've decided to keep her for three weeks until her second flu jab and then, when there's space, take her to the re-homing centre. I'm also going to add her to the cats needing homes list. If anyone's interested they can come and look at her but I won't let her go anywhere for at least another two weeks. Initial impressions, which can be misleading as recent events have proved, are that she is a gentle friendly little thing. I think she's quite young but I'll ask for a more informed guess when I take her back to the vets on Saturday for a check-up.

Here's a nicer photo or two.

Oh the heck with it. I've been saying how much she reminds me of Lucy, mine and Susan's first cat together, so Lucy she is and I'll never mention the S-name again.

Monday, 6 January 2014


The best thing I've done recently is create an easily updated blog page which lists all the cats and kittens available for re-homing with a brief description and photo. Regular readers will have already seen it but you can access it on the Recommended Cat Rescue Sites on the sidebar. Because it's part of this blog, but also separate with its own URL, I can update it sometimes within an hour of the arrival of a new cat or one being re-homed. Perfect example is Hero who arrived on Friday morning and his details went up shortly after. I received a call asking about him and he was re-homed today -3 days from start to finish. He's now listed under the re-homed cats section. It's also had 390 hits since it went up on December 10th which is pretty good for a very specialised site.

We didn't re-home any cats in the run-up to Christmas, which was probably for the best, but from December 27th to today (Monday 6th Jan), I've re-homed six, including two I'd been fostering. I wasn't sure about Hero as with him being so new I hadn't had a chance to assess him properly. However, at the visit he was nice and friendly and when he rolled over so a little boy could rub his tummy, that was it! Sold!

Aoife, re-homed from my house yesterday, is very wary of two young children, though she will allow them to stroke her when their father is present. As she's just been used to mostly me for eight months I think it's just a matter of her getting used to them plus a little patience on her new owners part.

Tink, who came on Christmas Eve, went yesterday to a nice couple who had to put one of their three cats to sleep -on Christmas Eve. He's proved to be a friendly cat with people but wary of, though not aggressive towards, other cats.

Not mentioned in my last post was Hamish who became a starter cat for a young family. His two lovely friendly sisters are still available for re-homing together.

So, all things considered, not a bad couple of weeks work.

On the other hand...

Susan tells me I'm too trusting because I take people at face value and believe what I'm told. That's because such an honest and open person myself. Yes, you at the back, I am! 

Now all the cats at the re-homing centre are supposed to have been vaccinated against cat flu and I insist on seeing proof it's been arranged by their previous owner. I also always ask if they've been neutered or spayed and if the answer is yes then I don't check any further.

Not any more.

Just as I was about to put Hero in his cat carrier I gave him one final check and found a pair of those little round furry things which can cause so much trouble. His new owner will get him neutered and I've said we'll pay the bill as a matter of principle.

Roger, a stray black cat, also has his little furry whatnots but they are going on Wednesday.

When I arrived at Ferry Farm this morning to meet Hero's soon to be owner, Dawn had been trying to get in touch with me about Wendy a cat that arrived about three weeks ago. She'd miscarried during the night and, as it was early in her pregnancy, none of the kittens survived. I believed she'd been neutered but, in my defence, before I'd brought her to the re-homing centre she'd been checked out by her namesake vet Wendy. And if an excellent and experienced vet like Wendy didn't spot she was pregnant then I was hardly likely to do so. 

I took Wendy to the vets where she was seen by -wait for it- Louise. Yes, I know what you were thinking. Anyway, Louise determined that Wendy wasn't in any danger but her uterus was too enlarged to operate so we're waiting until a week Thursday when a hernia will also be fixed.

And the rest of the day went like this...

Late afternoon, phone call, can we take in 5 cats as their owner is suffering from Alzheimer's and can't cope. I offered to take in one if they got it vaccinated against cat flu but five is impossible. Recommended checking other rescues on Catchat.

Another call, a stray cat at Seaham, friendly. If the caller could get her vaccinated against cat flu, she would go on the list for Ferry Farm. We'd pay if she could take it to Wendy's. Pending.

Then a call from St.Anthony's Girl's School. Staff had been feeding a stray cat for a few weeks but it had just badly damaged its tail. I rang Wendy who said it would be okay to bring it in. So I went to the school, realised I'd forgotten the cat carrier and had to nip back home for it. The cat is a quiet but friendly black and white and its tail was definitely damaged. At the vets Louise checked it out and pronounced that the tail was broken and would have to be amputated but a stump would be left. She gave it a painkiller and kept it in. I also asked for a flu jab and in three weeks it'll be a candidate for re-homing with us. The staff of the school bring it food and it stays overnight in the watchman's room so it's safe in the short term.

It's 7.20pm, time for something to eat I think.