Tuesday, 29 April 2014


And this photo doesn't show the worst of it.

I got a call late yesterday afternoon asking if I could come and look at an ill cat which was just hanging around a side road not far from me, just off Stratford Avenue at Grangetown. You, dear regular readers, know my situation but I replied that I'd come and have a look at it. No promises, mind.

So I came, looked, and put it immediately in the cat carrier. 

It was sitting on the grass verge by the side of the road, completely vulnerable to a passing dog, just letting anyone come up and stroke it. Some kind person or people had been feeding it. No-one knew who it belonged to. I rang the vets and naturally they just told me to bring it in.

It was seen by Wendy and only when it was on the table in front of me could I fully see what a state he (a neutered male aged about 14-15) was in. Hardly any teeth, great clumps of matted fur hanging off, bald patches where the matted fur had come out, very underweight; all in all, a really dilapidated and sad state.

Wendy and I talked about what to do with it. We agreed on basic blood tests and then, if there was anything clearly and seriously wrong such as kidney failure (a distinct possibility) he'd be put to sleep. If there was nothing wrong other than being in a generally poor condition, she'd treat that until he was well enough to go elsewhere. I wasn't sure where elsewhere would be but I'd take him anyway. I'm being disingenuous, I knew damn well it would be my house because there isn't anywhere else and I wasn't going to put him back on the streets.

We left it at that. Later in the evening I discovered I'd missed a call from Wendy at 6.30 and pretty much convinced myself that he'd given up and died. I thought that he'd picked the spot on the grass verge just to die. Anyway, I rang the vets a couple of hours ago this morning to learn that he had survived the night. He'd been on a drip and had eaten a little food. He'd be observed during the day and I'd be notified on how he was doing. 

Does anyone recognise this cat or know who he belongs to? Is he yours and would you like to claim him? 

He may be in this state because he got lost rather than through neglect -in which case I apologise in advance to the concerned owner. I don't know and I probably never will. I'll let you know how he gets on. But don't be optimistic. I'm not.

This photo makes him look a lot better than he is but maybe more recognisable to someone who knows him.

Monday, 28 April 2014


As you'll see below, they are starting to look like proper kittens. Their eyes are wide open and they are beginning to look around. So far they haven't gone outside the boundary of their immediate environment -specifically the cat carrier where they've lived since I first picked them up scant hours after they were born but the next photos I take will show just that and I don't think it will be long.

Jeff continues to be a good diligent mother but just now when I went in and picked her up, she settled on my knee and purred while I stroked her, showing no signs of wanting to get up and check the kittens for at least ten minutes. This just confirms what I thought about her being a lovely friendly cat, albeit one who needs a good brush to judge from the hairs I'm covered in.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Let's face it, a blog about cat rescuing in Sunderland was never going to have mass appeal. I started writing it mainly because I've got such a terrible memory that I thought it would be nice to have something to look back on later in life to remind me of what I've been up to. Obviously I hoped other people would enjoy it and did my best to make it readable. I know I can write competently and have been writing fiction, articles, essays, and reviews all my life. But the fact remains that this is a very narrowly focussed blog.

The statistics seemed to bear that out. Once it got going it seemed to get around 200 hits a day which was quite okay with me as it began to match the hits on my much more eclectic blog Freethinking: a journal of popular culture (that is culture which is popular with me and also covered science, society and anything really I wanted to write about -the latest post covers actor Don Gilet, a new arrival to the cast of Holby City and the fuss over David Cameron calling Britain a Christian country). I've no idea about how many hits other blogs get (probably vastly more than this one) but I'm fine with what I've been getting.

Then something seems to have happened over the last few months. The number of hits I've been getting has steadily increased. Yesterday I received, to me, an astonishing 975 hits. I'll say that again, louder: 975 hits in one day compared to a recent average of 200. Already today, and it's only just 7.30 in the morning, I've had 235. 

So who are you all and why are you here?

Obviously labels like kitten photos, cat photos, cute kitten photos are big attractors but they've been up there since I started. Plus they aren't necessarily the posts which get the most hits. By far the most popular post is a history of Animal Krackers (2009, updated about a year ago) with 1709 hits in the last week. Trailing second place with 624 is my Cats Needing Homes list, and third with  is a book review of Tilly The Ugliest Cat In The World. Carole's Cats is fourth and a somewhat sad piece I wrote over three years ago about -well it's called Down, check it out for yourselves.

That's pretty much all I wanted to say. I'm surprised and delighted by the apparent sudden influx of interest in this blog, I just don't know why it's happening and, as I receive very few comments indeed, I've no way of finding out. Maybe it's some computer software making the hits and it isn't really people at all.

Not that it makes any difference as I'll still be here writing about what I write about and publishing lots of my photos of cats and kittens no matter how few or how many hits I get, all the while hoping that there are a few people out there enjoying what I'm doing. 

And if you're one of them: thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


I'm sure that what follows has nothing to do with the title and everything below that comes from a third party is perfectly genuine.

Earlier today I received the following email.

Hi my name is lauren tyler I currently work for barclays bank and I recently won an award for the work I do to help charities. I won some £300 to donate to a local charity and I was just wondering if you had any details that you could email over about your charity and what it is that you do.
I am very interested in this charity as from what I understand animal crackers is not government funded. Is that correct.
Lauren x

Taking it at its face value, I replied providing basic info about Animal Krackers and providing links where she could check us out  -basically this blog and other links listed here.

I then received an email from this person that was far too quick for her to have checked the links I provided.

Thank you for getting back to me. Barclays will transfer the money direcyly5. Is their a company bank sort code and account number I could take to pass on for them to make the transfer.

Thoughtfully ignoring her poor spelling and grammar, I replied to that stating I'd have to check with our treasurer and added:         

Before I do, could Barclays send me official confirmation of this please?

Thanks, Ian

That was several hours ago and I've yet to receive a reply.

I have no doubt that the reason is because this person is completely genuine but just happens to be too busy to reply as quickly as before -perhaps she's trying to share her largesse with other charities- and that s/he isn't a scum-sucking maggot, the lowest of the low,  who is out to rip off small local charities trying to do some good in their community.

However, this has reminded me of the need to be constantly vigilant against such people who make coprophilic necrophiles look good. If you're in touch with or indeed are an active member of a local charity like ours, do feel free to make the contents of this post known to them. Feel free too to quote anything written by Ms Tyler. As it's in a good cause I'm sure she won't mind.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


The student couple I got them all from popped in a couple of days ago to see how they were and were well pleased. They also liked my other cats who turned up to inspect them -the students, not the kittens. Even though I eventually chucked them out (it's me, not them) they are welcome back any time to see their progress. They're also missing Jeff.

The kittens themselves, as you'll see in a moment, all have their eyes wide open and in a short while will begin to explore their environment which is when they'll start to get interesting and really delightful. And destructive. And begin to use their tiny claws to climb up my legs. And the bloodshed (mine) will begin again as it did last year with a different mother and a different litter. And the pain.

There are two different tabby kittens there but they both look the same to me.

As for Dusty the Demon Kitten-cat, he's become what can only be described as a little sweetheart. He loves being stroked, curling up on the bed, is okay with the other cats apart from when he's attacking Aelfric and likes curling up to me on the settee. Or maybe he just likes curling up on the settee whether I'm there or not.

Other news. 

There isn't any. Easter's been very very quiet. The phone has hardly rung and hardly anyone has been emailing me. Just me and my cats just reading, watching TV and DVDs. That's me, not the cats and I think I've stretched out that gag for way too long.

Sniff? Sniff sniff! What's that smell? It's fresh cat poo. I'm outta here.

Friday, 18 April 2014


Not much to say really. They are now seven days and a few hours old. The kittens are doing well having at least doubled in size. Jeff continues to be a devoted mother, though she's very keen to get out of the conservatory and meet the other cats, which isn't going to happen for at least another week, if even then.
And so, without further ado, the photos.

Just noticed, a couple of them are starting to open their eyes. A landmark! Anyone want to start suggesting names?

Meanwhile, what's been happening to Dusty the Demon Kitten-cat?

L-R: Dusty, Aelfric, Emma.

Almost disappointingly, almost, Dusty has calmed down quite a bit, albeit not completely. He's decided he likes the settee in my living room and last night snuggled up to me while I was watching TV. I can now stroke him without getting assaulted though I still have to be careful. He likes to play with (i.e. terrorise) some of the other cats like Aelfric, Tilly, and Emma. But overall he shows all the signs of turning into a moderately nice young cat. Who knows, in a few days I may even deem him suitable for adoption. We'll see.

On the re-homing side:  Yesterday, a week after first viewing them, a family came to collect the beautiful and friendly 9-month old tabby brothers Bertie and Morris. Today, Roger, long-reserved, was finally claimed by the young woman who'd reserved him. Tomorrow I have high hopes that Hero will be adopted for the second time, this time to a home without a kid in sight. Fingers crossed; I never believe they've been re-homed until I see them being driven away. If he goes that will make six this month, quiet after March but April has nearly a couple of weeks before it's over.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


Tuesday. I'm starting this on Wednesday evening and it already seems like the semi-distant past. Hell, I can't even remember what I did on Tuesday morning. I know I went swimming and probably watched an episode or two of Murdock Mysteries Season 1 DVD but that's about it.

Tuesday afternoon is a different matter. About 1.45 I went upstairs for a nap, a regular ocurrence, and was half awake an hour later when I heard a knock on the door. The window cleaner wanting to be paid. I was half asleep and fumbling with change when I noticed Burnside halfway up the stairs and a second later he was through door, out the gate, under a car and then dashing across a thankfully, luckily for him, car free Leechmere Road. Bleeping great, I said aloud to the window cleaner as I gave him his money.

I'm sure you can imagine how I felt. I'd taken the cat on (for details see recent posts) and had just begun to think I might be getting somewhere with him when this happened. It's not the first time either but it's been oncee before, at least a year ago, and on that occasion, and thanks to neighbours and Facebook, I got the cat back and later re-homed him.

Luckily, if that's the right word, I soon had something to take my mind off Burnside's escape. I remember now that some time in the morning I wrote an email to a guy who was interested in adopting Hero from the re-homing centre and mentioned that, while I was generally free, something unexpected often came up.

Like an 80 something lady realising that she couldn't cope with a five month old male kitten. She gave me her address and where it was near -I knew the near- but I couldn't find it on Google maps and it wasn't in my quite new A-Z. So I went to the near and called in at a corner shop (the near) but nobody there knew exactly where it was. After some driving around and asking several people I ended up back where I started from and saw it on the other side of the road, about ten yards from the shop.

If only that had been the end of my confusion. The elderly lady said the kitten had had his vaccinations and his original owner, who lived nearby, had the documentation and she gave me directions to the place. She also said the kitten had been neutered. I couldn't find it and it wasn't in my A-Z or on my satnav so I went to the nearby PDSA centre where it had been apparently registered. After some discussion during which I discovered they couldn't give out the information I wanted because of data protection -which was fair enough- but they could give it to a vet- which was also fair enough as I was on my to one -Wendy's, our regular vets which was only half a mile away. So, do you have the information I want even though you can't tell me? As it happens, no they didn't. It took around 20 minutes, including waiting to be seen, to establish this. Look, it happens. I think the PDSA do a great job and they're in my will.

I took the kitten to Wendy who checked him out. Not neutered. Being a kind person, she agreed to keep him in overnight and neuter him in the morning.

I went home and felt depressed about Burnside.

Next morning the usual swim and a little later coffee in the city centre at Starbucks with my cat-loving retired colleagues, Denise and Sylvia. And then the unexpected happened again in the middle of me showing them photos of Jeff and her baby kittens. My phone rang. It was the lady who had originally contacted me about Burnside to tell me he'd turned up on her doorstep about a mile and half from where I lived.

I celebrated by getting a new phone on contract with EE-a 4G Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Kidding. I was going to get a new one from them anyway. I also bought a case for it and after the phone fell out of it half a dozen times ordered a much cheaper but more secure case from Amazon. I  put the box in the bin but if I can clean it up after being covered in used cat litter I take the case back for a refund.

Lunchtime, mini cheese and ham quiche interrupted by phone calls. Then, just before I was about to ring the vets to see if the kitten (he's called Dusty) was ready for collecting, another call, this one from a guy who'd found a very ill cat lying in the bushes in his garden; so ill it couldn't even walk. Well, I could hardly say no, could I? I rang the vets and if I brought it in at 2.15 vet Holly would see it.

It turned out to be a very frail elderly grey female with a collar and a disc with a phone number on it. Time was getting on so I drove to the vets before trying the number. I was talking to, as it turned out, the cat's previous owner, when Holly beckoned me in and was busy checking the cat while I was on the phone. The cat was seriously ill due to kidney failure and was suffering. The person I spoke said he'd contact the cat's owner, which he did and she rang me while I was still in with Holly. I passed the phone over to Holly with the upshot of the upset owner agreeing to have the cat put to sleep and to pay for it.

Me, I think the cat had wandered off to die but at least I'd been able to help reduce its suffering and let its distraught owner know what had happened. A good deed done, but a sad one.

I took Dusty home and locked him in my bedroom with food and water. Later he repaid my kindness with a series of bites and scratches. 

Around eight o'clock I went and brought Burnside home. He had something to eat and disappeared upstairs.

Okay, photo time. Starting with Dusty, followed by a rare photo of my five cats all in relatively close proximity to each other, and a couple of Jeff who, unlike certain other arrivals, is a friendly no problem cat.

(All the above was written late last night. It's now 7.50 next morning and I can authoritatively state that Dusty is a little sod. He is playful but his idea of play is to launch an assault with teeth and claws on the nearest part of human anatomy. I have the scabs and blood loss to prove it. I kept him away from the other cats last night but let him meet them this morning in the hopes that they'll have a calming effect. And he is playing, he just hasn't realised that you don't attack people they way you do another cat. Another bloody problem feline. To be a cat rescuer is to suffer endlessly.) 

Sunday, 13 April 2014


A week last Friday, as I related in two recent posts, I brought home the battered, bruised and now castrated stray cat I named Burnside. Burnside is having a hard time settling in and often howls to be let outside. While he will let me stroke him up to a point, if I'm not careful he can suddenly turn and bite me. It's not him, it's me. I should know better. And I need to be really really patient with him. And careful.

He's also having a bad affect on Aelfric my British shorthair. Aelfric is normally a laid back, playful affectionate cat, which he still is, but... He now feels the need to demonstrate that he is the alpha cat in the house and will confront Burnside, howling at him and sometimes attacking him, despite Burnside being larger. So far it's all show, bluff and bluster with no blood drawn.

And as if that wasn't bad enough. Emma, the black and white kitten, has turned out to be older than I thought and has proved it by going into heat. Now despite Burnside being recently neutered, he's still got male hormones circulating in his system and certainly enough to be turned on by what Emma's giving off. In turn, she is receptive to his advances and I'm often finding him mounting her. 

Naturally my first instinct was to stop them but I came to realise that I can't watch them all the time. Obviously the solution is to get Emma spayed as soon as possible but I've been told that vets won't neuter cats in heat so I'm hoping that she goes off before it becomes impossible to spay her because of advanced pregnancy. I seemed to spend a lot of last year looking after kittens and I'd really rather not do it again. Mainly because I'm sick of having my house wrecked by the little monsters.

Talking of kittens, here are three of Jeff's taken last night.

Saturday, 12 April 2014


The students called the young cat Jeff, despite her being female and she responds to that name. Fair enough, Jeff she is. Though I suppose I could call her Jeffica.

A couple of hours ago, Jeff, having spent all her time in the cat carrier until then, came out and let me stroke her.

So, I can make a few statements about her. She's friendly, probably more so when she's not protecting her new-born kittens. She's got a good appetite. Despite being young and it being her first litter, she's a very good and very attentive mother. You'll see that from the photos.

The kittens, all now over 24 hours old, seem to be doing okay. None are noticeably smaller than others and they appear to be feeding well. I've enough experience of young kittens, however, not to assume that they'll all survive or thrive. Even apparently healthy kittens can suddenly go downhill very quickly so I'll be monitoring them as carefully as I can without upsetting Jeff who is still getting to know me. In about three to four weeks time I'll start getting very hands on to socialise them. Two are tabby and white, one black and white, and one ginger.

I'll probably do an update about once a week or so with lots of photos so you can see how they're growing.

Meanwhile, unknown to these mostly slumbering cats, strange minds from a long way away were planning to usurp their home and steal it from them. All it would take is time. Time to think, to plan ... and to grow!