a day is a long time in cat rescue

So last Friday we posted blog written but not quite finished on Thursday.  In the 24 hours between writing and posting things had moved on yet again with the H Team.

Just after 4.30 last Friday afternoon I had a message from Bosca’s lovely mum asking if Hecate was still looking for a home.  Yes, she is … and really needs out of rescue because its stressing her.  However she’s very reserved and not sure how she’ll be as a pet.  Wondering how she might be away from the kittens, with a bit more space and 1:1 attention.  Bosca’s mum really missing the company of having a cat around.  [You may remember the lovely Bosca had heart problems and went to Rainbow Bridge a few weeks ago]  Would she be interested in fostering Hecate and seeing how it goes? Yes.  When can they come to meet her?  Now.  OK.   After a brief meeting where Hecate is a bit aloof but puts her tail up whilst being stroked, and leans into a chin rub we have a deal 🙂  I wait while 6pm to set off to take Hecate round there to avoid the worst of the traffic.  Not quite believing that between initial text and landing on their door step has taken less than two hours.

I very clearly remember arriving on the doorstep almost 4 years ago with Bosca.  Such a lovely little cat … so sweet I almost forgot to rehome her.   She was so very loved and cared for … ….. run free little one x

Hecate struts of out of her carrier, explores a bit and then sits under the same cabinet Bosca initially hid under.  Although she’s hiding, she seems relaxed under there, and has been walking around with her tail in the air and happily checking the place out.

Later in the evening I got a message that she’d found the litter tray and was now settled in the chair.   And by Saturday morning she’d found a nice warm sunny spot on the windowsill.

For a cat who has lived outdoors most of her life, struggling to feed herself and kittens, this must be heaven.

Then it was time to think about how to make progress with the kittens.  You may remember that Henry & Harvey had come downstairs to live with the residents a few weeks ago and were growing in confidence.  Hector & Herbie were still upstairs with mum.

On Saturday morning we decided that the best plan was to bring them downstairs to join their brothers.  As with their previous attempt to come downstairs, there was a lot of hissing and growling.   Despite being brothers and being close for most of their lives they claimed to have never seen each other before.   I don’t know if its just me … but listening to kittens growling and squabbling all day really grates on the nerves.  It took while Tuesday for it to be anything like civilised.  They’ve still been very clearly divided into pairs but gradually less likely to be fighting.  A week on they seem to be back to being a team of 4.

black cat appreciation day

As far as confidence goes … they’ve come on in leaps and bounds this week.  I’m so pleased and excited … and relieved.   Despite their arguing, they do seem to have helped each other.

Here’s Henry demonstrating to Hector how snuggles can be fun …. and Hector looking rather unconvinced …. though he’s been more than persuaded since that photo was taken.

My best ally in this project is our precious Henderson.  He may have been someone’s castoff grubby old tom cat … but he’s my most reliable colleague.  Apart from being just a steady presence for the kits and letting them snuggle up to him, he’s helped them start to enjoy human contact.  He enjoys his snuggles with me and purrs loudly.  The kits trust him … and are used to the sound of loud purrs signalling a happy feed with mum …. so they come running to join him.  He’s gradually building up the number of kittens who are flocking to him.

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It’s hard to get photos when they’re all piled on your lap … hence the photos when they’re beside me.   It’s felt a looooong week in many ways … but brought us to a point right now as I’m finishing this blog, where Hendo is off doing his own thing, and all 4 kittens are on the sofa beside me … purring loudly.   Given their wariness of people to start with this is just awesome.

Once they were downstairs Isaac & Theo were able to move from the small rescue room to the bigger one, so the small one was free again …. for a few hours …..     Check out the next exciting episode to see who arrives in it 🙂

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Yellow & Purple and other complications

Last week we brought you the positive story of Henry & Harvey (previously Green and Pink) moving downstairs and growing in confidence and purrs.  We promised an update on their brothers Yellow & Purple (now Herbie & Hector).   The hope was that they’d play happily with Isaac and his confidence and purriness would rub off on them.

It started well:

Isaac even managed to make a good impression with Hecate and she invited him round for supper

We were full of hope.

However … as happens in cat rescue … it got complicated.

Little Herbie hurt his hand/arm … possibly an insect bite .. and needed to take things a bit steady.  Isaac was too boisterous and Hecate started to object.  Isaac was given a single room, but cried most of the night through loneliness (I know this as my bedroom is next door).

A friend contacted me about a kitten who was being hurt by children in his family and needed out … fast.   I said yes because it was a friend, and a scared kitten.  Brought him home, without a precise plan for where he’d go.  He growled and growled and hissed, and when he went to the vets later they diagnosed him with a nasty case of ear mites and advised he be kept away from the other kits …. for 3 weeks!

I wonder how many people lay awake at night thinking about their house and the various doors in it in quite the way that we do.  Endless turning over permutations of space and who has access to where.   Anyway … we came up with a plan.  Theo on his own in the little bedroom, so he keeps his ear mites to himself.  Isaac and Hecate in the back bedroom, as they’ve got along ok.  Then all the H Team kittens downstairs, Herbie & Hector initially in a crate and then just in the extension so Herbie could rest his leg and they gradually gained confidence with more space.

Yes!  The endless turning of maddening puzzle … with a little blue sky thinking …. gives us a solution.  Lots of cleaning, changing litter trays, moving favourite beds around.

The first thing we noticed was that the now divided H team no longer recognised each other and were hissing lots.  I’d probably been a bit optimistic hoping that the residents wouldn’t notice that there were now 4 little black kittens sharing their space rather than 2.   We persisted for a while.  Hissing and growling usually settles after a few days with kittens.  However Theo sobbed his socks off being alone in the little bedroom, Hecate blamed Isaac for her kittens having been taken away and they started scrapping.   Herbie and Hector’s cries downstairs could be heard by Hecate upstairs when all the windows were open (covered with cat safe netting of course) and they howled back and forth to each other.

Struggling with concerns about how rehomeable  Herbie and Hector would be if they spent too much longer with mum’s negative opinions, but heartbroken by the cries between mum and babies, we caved in.   Took the kits back upstairs to mum at which point she claimed that it wasn’t these kittens she wanted, she’d never seen them before and started hissing at them and pushing them away from her.   FFS!  It’s really late at night by this stage and I have to be at work in the morning!  Watched them for a while on CCTV (thank goodness we have that option) decided they’d be ok, though laid awake most of the night listening to check.

Of course Isaac then had to come out of there.   And go where exactly?  A leap of faith and a jump of desperation led to us putting an Advocate on him to protect from ear mites and rooming him with Theo.  After all the growling that was going around it seemed a bit ridiculous to think they might be ok together.  More watching of CCTV.  Amazingly and thankfully these guys have just been happy friends.  They play at prodding and poking each other but it’s just normal kitten games.

isaac & theo

Watch out next week for the next twist in the tail

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Coming downstairs ..

Following on from our previous post, Green & Pink, won (or lost) the lottery and were the two kits who left their mum and siblings and came downstairs to live with the family.

 

By chance we’d got the most confident so far of the group (green) and the most timid (pink).

They don’t look particularly pleased about it on day one.  They were in a large crate in the main living room whilst they acclimatised a bit.

Once they were more settled they started to explore the space a bit.  Spent a lot of time offering treats, playing with toys with them, stroking when possible.   Isaac sort of helped by playing with them and purring lots, though he’s a lot biggerer than them so was a bit scary too.

 

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Quite a bit of the time I’m reminded of playing grandmothers footsteps … though in this version I try to pretend I’m not noticing them as they risk getting a little closer to me.   For a few days I really wondered if I’d done the right thing … although I’m not at all convinced there is “A Right Thing” in this situation.

Then it started to get noticeably better.  I’m not entirely sure what happened first.  I stroked Green and he purred.  First time I’d heard any of the family purr apart from the group purr when mum was feeding them.  Pink was much more wary and would stand at a distance and cry to Green.   Two weeks on, Pink is still more wary, but will also come to me and purr whilst being stroked.

I have to give at least some of the credit to the residents for their improvement.  Jango has helped a little, but Henderson has been a real hero.  Hendo has let them sit with him, and feel safe next to him.  I did see a look of horror on his face when one of them asked about the possibility of a milky supper … but mostly this old chap has given them the reassurance they need in settling into a home.

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The full family gathering for chicken supper was a bit tricky …. but we managed

At the end of two weeks living with the family, these two little ones are definitely more confident than their siblings upstairs with mum.   They’ve had their first vet appointment and started their vaccinations.  They’ve made the transition from being Green and Pink to Henry & Harvey.

In the next exciting episode we bring you ….. what happened with Yellow & Purple!

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Any colour you like … so long as it’s black

We sit in solidarity with Henry Ford right now as we offer cats and kittens in … well … black. We have various sizes .. small timid and cute: adorable medium:  and possibly depressed adult.

Isaac is an adorable live wire, about 4 months old, full of life and hope. He’s not twigged yet that he’s black and will probably wait longer than kits of other colours to find a home. He’s very purry and gorgeous.

The five others are the H Team – mummy Hecate and her four kittens.

They’re an interesting family.  Poor Hecate is only a youngster but so far as we know this is at least her third litter.  She’s had a rubbish life so far.  As if it wasn’t enough to be neglected and pregnant, she’s seen her previous litters not survive.   Who knows what she made of it when she arrived here with her week old kits some weeks ago.

She was safe and cared for, and had space to bring up her little family this time and see them survive.  She was a little hissy when we were handling her babies while they were tiny … though not nasty and not as they’ve got older and come out the nest.

Most adult cats we’ve had here are either friendly or wary or scratchy.  Hecate is none of these.  She greets me and asks for food, allows me to stroke and groom her, but never purrs and doesn’t seek out affection.  Sometimes she accepts the treats I give her … often to only then drop them and leave them for her kits.  She cares for her kittens, though I think also passes her negative view of people onto them.   For the large part its a silent family.  I know they can all purr because there is a group purr when mummy feeds the kits …. but mostly there’s nothing.

I honestly wonder if Hecate is depressed.  I would be if I’d had her life.  She’s seeing the vet next week so will talk to her about it.  Meanwhile I’m struggling to work out what’s best for her … and her kits.  Is it better for her to keep the kits with her?  or have some space?   And from the flip side … is it better for kittens to have mum around, even though she’s passing negative stuff about people on to them?  Or maybe its hereditary.  Is it nature or nurture that the kits are wary?  They’ve all been safe here since about a week old, but two are noticeably more confident than the other two.

The weekend before last, after Mathilde and Mollie went to their new home, we decided to bring a couple of the kittens downstairs to live as part of the family as M&M had done.   They’d have more contact time with people and with cats who think humans are on the whole a good thing.  It was too much to ask of the resident cats that we brought all 4 kittens down, and felt wrong for Hecate to suddenly lose all her babies, especially given that she’d lost her previous litters.  So splitting into two pairs seemed to make sense, but then the dilemma of who to choose.  It’s the usual ethical dilemma with limited resources do you offer to the most needy, or the ones most likely to benefit? … and what happens to the others?  Having spun the dilemma around my head for a long time and come to no conclusion .. I decided that it would perhaps just be a bit of a lottery.  I took a cat carrier up to their bedroom, opened it, and waited for two to climb in …

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The Big Day

You may have followed our stories of Mathilde and Mollie over the last few months. Mathilde arrived here age about 2 weeks, having been taken away from her mother (complicated and annoying story that we’ll never get to the bottom of). She needed hand rearing of course at that age.

mathilde arrives

Bottle feeding baby animals is often romanticized. It’s certainly very rewarding. It’s also damned hard work. Very young kittens need feeding every 2-3 hours, bottles etc need to be sterilised, formula made up. They need toileting and cleaning ideally before and and after feeds. As with bringing up any species … as one challenge is met and moved on from, another is faced. When we hand reared our last kitten, Rufus, a couple of years ago, we’d never have managed without his aunty Jenny and uncle Rog to share the care.

Mathilde with Rufus

Thankfully they agreed to share the care of Mathilde too. There was the additional bonus of Uncle Oliver, adopted since Rufus was a baby. Uncle Oliver has a serious interest in dirty bottoms. We’re hugely grateful to all of them as we wouldn’t have managed all this and work too, without them.

When little Mollie arrived a few weeks later, also tiny but about the same age as Mathilde, she was just scooped up into the same routine.

I’m very grateful to our resident cats for accommodating them. I know they weren’t pleased at first, but they’ve got on board with it and Henderson particularly has been wonderful. He’s taken it upon himself to be their “go to” mentor. I love him so much for doing this. (I love him stupid amounts anyway.) Despite being our oldest resident and not very well himself with thyroid issues and arthritis, he’s been so kind to them. He gives them what I can’t possibly give, by being a furry purry feline body to snuggle up to.

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Last weekend I did a homecheck for them. I’d struggled to imagine who on earth I’d be able to trust them to after all this. I’d been unable to let go of Rufus (our previous hand rear) but very aware that we can’t hold on to any more cats and still function as a rescue. More or less the moment their potential adoptive mum opened the door at the homecheck I knew it would be ok.

When I say I knew it would be OK, I don’t mean I thought it would be easy. I’m confident she’ll be an awesome cat mummy who will do all she can to make them healthy happy kitties. Nevertheless we’ve had a week of anticipating letting go.

Henderson particularly has found it hard.  They’re his kittens and much as he grumbles about them sometimes, he clearly adores them.   Honey helped by combing their hair and getting them ready this morning.

 

The time came and I took them to their new home. Mollie chased around excitedly exploring everything. Mathilde climbed the biggest cat tree she’d ever imagined and fell asleep at the top of it. I know they’ll have a lovely life. I kissed them bye bye, hugged their mum, and I hope managed to get far enough from the house before I started crying.

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monochrome to colour

Over the years we’ve had a few little rescue families where mum is all black and all her kittens are also all black.

I have to say, black kittens are just THE cutest little teddy bears ever.   However it is a real challenge to know one from t’other.  I remember an adopter spending ages choosing one of Coco’s kittens, only to not be able to pick him out from the crowd later.  Oddly enough, Wilma’s kits, despite being ‘identical’ were quickly easily distinguishable  by their behaviour and expressions on their faces 😉

Now we have Hecate and her 4 kits:

Hecate & kits

You can probably see some of the problem right from the start. Hard to even know which blob of black is mum’s paw and which is a kitten’s head. It doesn’t necessarily get any easier as they get bigger either.

I’ve talked before on the blog about the curious difference it makes not knowing the gender of your kittens, despite all efforts to not be sexist.   A lot of it for me is about being able to name them.  Whilst its true that there are non gender specific names available … it’s our rescue tradition to name kittens starting the the initial letter of mum’s name.  That narrows the choices a little.

The problem is compounded if you can’t distinguish one kit from the next.  It’s not simply that we don’t know the gender of “little X” … we can’t even pick out which is “little X” in the crowd.   On a simple practical level of care this is tricky …. who is weaned?  who is confident?  who can use the litter tray?

There’s another level though where is feels hard to bond with a generic interchangeable black kitten … and that seems to impact on the kittens being able to relate to people.

It might sound a bit trivial …. but names and naming ceremonies are important for humans across time and cultures.  It’s part of identity and being known, and mostly we  transfer this onto our loved other species.  I think of various temporary carers of animals who try to avoid giving a name to them for fear of attachment.  Conversely, I think of our determination to give our cats a name, because “they can’t die with no name”.   We hastily named Henderson whilst stuck in traffic by the old Henderson’s factory, on a desperate dash from picking him up to taking him to his first vet appointment.

henderson

 

He may have just been A N Other dumped cat at the point we picked him up … but by the time he arrived at our vet 30 minutes later he was a purrson with a name and his life mattered.

But anyway … I digress. We have four jet black kittens and a  black mummy. Mum isn’t feral but she’s understandably wary.  As far as we can tell this is her third litter of kittens and she’s had them all outdoors.  The older litters haven’t survived because of the environment they were born in.  She’s had a rough deal from humans and has clearly spoken to her kits about this.  They are following mum in their wariness.  It’s been hard to gauge whether there is one or two kits who are particularly anxious and others more confident, or whether they’re all ok sometimes and not others.  Useless trying to sex them if you’re just randomly picking up one and then another, as you don’t know which is which five minutes later.  And so impossible to name them and know them as individuals.

It’s been quite a dilemma.  I don’t like collars generally, and I particularly don’t like them on kittens, and even more so not on tiny kittens.  I’ve heard too many horror stories.  However, we’ve bought a selection of “whelp collars” and anxiously put them on a couple of days ago.

The kittens are now Green, Pink, Purple & Yellow.  Despite anxious checking of tightness of collars each day (not too tight as they grow, not so loose as to get paws stuck through them or get caught on anything) the difference is incredible.  They’ll shortly get their H names to match mummy Hecate.

It’s only fair to acknowledge that this is our perspective on the situation.  Hecate is no doubt completely aware of who is who and has her own names for and thoughts about her kittens.   

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Throw away elderly cats

It’s pretty apparent from info that we don’t want to share publicly that Oreo was dumped.   An older cat thrown away simply because he’s old.   Thankfully he’s settling happily in foster care with Aunty Jenny.  I messaged her a couple of days ago to check how he was doing and she replied that he’s getting his feet firmly on the table.  Aware of her previous fostering failure  I asked: “Um … do you mean getting his feet under the table?”  But no, he’s on the table cheerfully pinching chicken off Uncle Rog’s plate.

He’s clearly having a happy time and enjoying winding his humans round his little fluffy paws.  They think he’s learned to tap their arms when he wants something.   I suspect he knows that he’s taught them to do exactly what he wants as soon as he touches them.  He’s currently purring his way into their hearts by helping make book covers … which will shortly be for sale through 8 Lives.  Here he is with the first one.

 

Our other thrown away elderly cat, Henderson, is proving invaluable in helping with the kittens.  He’s been in permanent foster here for the last 18 months.  He’s not been without his challenges with health and behaviour, but he’s a lovely grandad to kittens.  Little Mathilde and Mollie are lucky to have paired up in rescue and spend most of their time playing or snuggling and snoozing together.  They also get lots of cuddles from the humans.  However when you’re a small kitten without a mum, what you want most sometimes is a big cat to cuddle up to.  The other residents on the whole vary between unhelpful to downright rude.   Grandad Hendo lets them cuddle.

And helps them with getting their supper.

He may have been someone else’s disposable item … but to me … and these babies …. he’s very precious.

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here.  We started with a rare placement of a black and white cat in foster care … and have ended with the a black and white cat in a rare foster placement.

And … yet … so much in between 🙂

Paul has been in his foster home for nearly 6 weeks now.  The change in him has been phenomenal.  It’s what his feeder (whilst he was living rough) believed in, what I hardly dared hope for, but what his lovely foster family have made come true.  The grubby scared boy has grown incredibly in confidence and self esteem.

It’s hard to believe its the same cat who arrived with us a few weeks ago.

Paul anxious in rescue

However, I’ve been round to his foster home this evening and checked his microchip … and confirmed that it’s the same boy. I don’t normally go around checking chips but his foster family decided they don’t want to foster Paul any longer.

This isn’t bad news though … it’s good … in fact it’s awesome! The dirty, frightened stray cat whom we thought may end up needing to be re homed on a farm has got his paws under the table and his humans wound around his fluffy fingers.  They’re stopping fostering him in order to adopt him 🙂  Despite some tricky times with ear drops this is one loved up little family.

Mikey & Paul discussing house rules

Here he is with Mikey the resident cat who was adopted a few months ago. They appear to be discussing general rules of sharing the house and who will sleep where. They’re both big fans of rocking chairs. Thankfully this is a two rocking chair family … so everyone will be happy …. unless of course the humans wanted to sit in them.

 

Adoption papers signed. Everyone involved in this story is just so pleased.

Meanwhile about 10 days ago one of our lovely fundraisers contacted us about an elderly stray cat she’d found. She’d taken him to the vet to be checked for a microchip … and to everyone’s joy a chip had been found and the ‘owner’ was contacted. To everyone’s amazement and horror, the ‘owner’ said he was nothing to do with them and disowned him.

We don’t know how old this lad is … but records say he was micro chipped in 2003 so he’s 15 at least.  It’s easy to be angry with the ‘owner’ … and on one level I am! … but who knows what’s happened in 15 years to bring them and poor Oreo to this position.  Life can be tough for humans as well as cats.  Thankfully another of our fundraisers has agreed to foster him.

So here we are again with a black and white cat in foster care.  Foster placements are a rare luxury for us and prior to Paul finding a foster home it was July last year when we had a cat in foster care.  If you’d like to be part of changing that … and giving more cats like Paul and Oreo a better chance in life … please contact us at eightlives@outlook.com

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Foster carers – recruiting

We’re currently looking to recruit a few foster carers to join our 8 Lives family.    As a small rescue we’ve cared for 98% of our cats in our own home.   However as our funds become a bit more buoyant and the need for cats to come into rescue grows and grows … we’re looking for a few committed people to offer some space and love in their homes for cats who otherwise may not survive the circumstances they find themselves in.

You may have seen the lovely story of the transformation of Paul in his foster home.  He came to us after living for months on the streets, grubby, wounded, not neutered, terrified of people.  He went to his foster carers neutered, patched up, slightly cleaner and with a little bit of confidence and hope.  His lovely foster family have given him a safe space, the opportunity to spend a lot more time around people than he was able to get here and lots of patience and love.  It’s been an investment that’s paid dividends …. he’s now so clean that he shines, his confidence is coming on in leaps and bounds, in fact … speaking of leaps and bounds …. he’s now playing for the first time since his feeder spotted him as a stray many months ago.

 

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It’s not just people like Paul who need foster homes, he’s just an example of the change that fostering can make: There are also  oldies who need a safe space out of the wind and rain, and a lap to snuggle on until they can find a furever home.

 

And young mums with tiny kittens who need safety and a roof over their heads whilst they bring the kids up and then have a chance to restart their lives.

There are older kits who are often dumped once they’re no longer tiny cute kittens: they need a safe space to crash, and to sort out their family planning options before their little lives go awry.

There are cats of all ages and abilities who fall on hard times, almost never of their own making, who need a safe place to stay while they get their lives sorted out.

What we ask of foster carers:
A secure room separate from other pets and away from external doors
Cats to be kept safely indoors through foster placement
Feed, clean, play with, cuddle, observe the cat/s
Communicate with rescue and send updates and photos
Take cat/s to Millhouses Vets4Pets as agreed for appointments
Welcome potential adopters coming to meet the cat/s.  [Potential adopters will have been homechecked by rescue prior to any visits]

What we offer:
Any equipment needed …. litter trays, food bowls, beds, toys.
Food and cat litter
Vet costs including routine flea and worm treatment
Support/ advice with any health/behaviour issues
Advertising cat for adoption, homecheck of any potential adopters.
All adoption paperwork and transfer of cat to new home.
The opportunity to be awesome and make a real difference to lives that were going off the rails.

Don’t just take our word for it … here’s the experience of one lovely foster family in their own words:

Having adopted a cat from 8 Lives a few months previously we kept up to date of other cats’ comings and goings via Facebook.  It was there that we read the story of one poor soul – so lucky to have been rescued by 8 Lives but desperately scared, anxious and withdrawn.  After a few weeks it became apparent that he needed a bit more time to help him come out of his shell and, at the very least, work out what sort of home would best suit him.  With kittens arriving at 8 Lives, that’s when we saw the message on Facebook asking for a foster family.

We could offer a spare room, safety, patience and most of all some time to spend with him.  Our teenage daughters joined in the challenge of making him feel settled.  Early days were slow with him hiding behind furniture and scurrying away when we walked in the room.  Over a few days and with some gentle coaxing he gradually started to come out for treats from us, then he started to eat food in front of us.  Still very anxious and wary, sometimes it was just a case of sitting in the same room watching television or reciting poems and Shakespeare in preparation for exams!  Clearly every cat is different but once he started feeling safe and trusting us he flourished.

We found we didn’t really need to adapt our routines or home-life when fostering – it was more about offering what everyday life is about: hearing noises, seeing people and learning to trust.  8 Lives is always there for help and information, and we felt very supported.  The reward you get is knowing that you are helping to bring out a cat’s true personality enabling 8 Lives to make the right choice of a forever home for them.  Alongside your foster cat getting the attention they need (and deserve) it also frees up space at 8 Lives to help some other desperate kitty.

We’d never fostered before but as a family we have shared the satisfaction of knowing we have helped improve a kitty’s future and have found the experience genuinely fulfilling, and we think others will too!!

There are other rescues who are bigger and better known and attract more volunteers.   We’re not so well known but because we’re a small rescue as a foster carer you will become part of our rescue family rather than just be A N Other volunteer.  If  you are interested in helping please contact us at eightlives@outlook.com.

 

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Delights and dilemmas

You may remember that Paul arrived in rescue a few weeks ago grubby and miserable and scared.

He made some slow but positive progress here  ….. however with all the other cats to care for we didn’t have the time to spend with him to properly grow his confidence.  We wondered if he might need to look for an outdoor / farm kind of home.  The young woman who had been feeding him before he came into rescue had felt he really wanted to be friends, but was just very shy.  I could see what she meant …. there was a real sense of a lovely character inside that hissy, grubby jacket.

So then there’s a dilemma:

A:  Try to move him on as quickly as possible and have an outdoor home.   There are some lovely outdoor homes as you’ll know if you’ve followed the story of Tab and Mowse.   Difficult to hope we could find anything near so good as we did for them though.

B:  Keep him here, moving desperately slowly towards being a timid house cat.  He seemed quite settled and not in any rush to get back outdoors so that perhaps wasn’t too bad (unlike Ozzy who is banging on his bedroom door, desperate to be out).  However it’s kitten season …. and not to put too fine a point on it …. Paul was bed blocking.  Obviously we love him and care for him and want the best …… but there are mums and kittens struggling for their lives outside … and we can’t take them because Paul has the room.

Rescue is too often like a real life game of Lifeboat.

We dared to hope for option C …… which was to find Paul a foster home where he could have time with people, and grown his confidence ready for a purrmanent home …. and we could then free up space here for other cats/kittens.   It was a big ask, given how Paul was at that stage .. but amazingly ….. Mikey’s adoptive parents stepped up.   I could have cried when I got their email asking if I thought they might be a suitable foster home.   YES YES YES!   Having seen how they’d welcomed a rather anxious Mikey into their home a short while before, I couldn’t think of anyone more suitable for the challenge.

It’s been a complete delight to get updates about him and see him getting cleaner, happier and more confident as the days go by.   He gradually dared to emerge from his cave and to not need to run for cover the moment anyone moved.  Then he’d approach his foster family for food and treats … now he comes to them just because he wants to come to them.   He’s also having a boost to his education as he listens to one of his teenagers quoting Shakespeare to him in preparation for impending exams.

So we had Paul’s room free and set about the next priority of trapping Stanlie. Stanlie is a stray who camps around our estate. We’ve been feeding him for a while and his trust in us (and our neighbour) has grown gradually over the last few months. He spends a lot of time sitting in our neighbour’s garden trying to fathom out my shift patterns … and as he’s got more confident, complaining loudly at me when I get back late.

Stanlie

Sometimes Stanlie seems to be in quite a bit of discomfort when he walks, other times he’s fine. He’s not confident enough for us to pick him up so would need trapping to come inside. That’s going to freak him out a bit I think. The weather is warm, he’s found a decent way of getting by. Should I try to trap him now and keep him indoors at least whilst he’s neutered and vaccinated. Is it fair to keep him locked up? Then again …. is it fair to risk him being on the loose and not neutered? I can sense he’ll be another Paul … wanting to be friends but struggling. Do I then keep him prisoner, or release him back to his previous life .. but no longer trusting me because of what I did. Having gone around in circles deciding what to do …. I took a rare decision to prioritise ME! I have the six residents with their various needs and squabbles, we’ve had Mathilde & Mollie needing hand rear help and lots of attention, and Ozzy who is adorable but completely fed up and crying in his bedroom (next to mine) a lot of the night because he’s lonely. I can’t let him out because that will inflame arguments amongst the rest of them. One way and another I’ve not had a decent nights sleep since Oz arrived a couple of months ago. The thought of Stanlie kicking off in a similar way in the bedroom on the other side of mine was just too much. I still have to be up in a morning for the day job.

The outcome of this dilemma was that because I didn’t trap Stanlie, I did in effect have a spare room. So when someone messaged me whilst I was at work on Tuesday to say that a cat had just had four kittens in her outhouse ….. Well if you know me you can probably guess.

Back to the Lifeboat game … she may have survived without rescue but her kits most certainly wouldn’t have. If she did survive she’d be pregnant again in no time. Stanlie hopefully will cope for a few more weeks. Right now … her room will be quiet because she’s focused on snuggling with and caring for her tiny kits.

Current dilemmas are more mundane. Is Hecate an acceptable name for a black cat … or will the witchy connotations put adopters off? Is it safe or acceptable to use tiny collars for her kits … just so we know who is who among the apparently identical quads?

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