kittens

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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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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and then there were three

Regular readers will have got the gist of how stressful it can be around here.   It’s pretty much full on with caring for the cats … and when you add in the full time day job …..  well ….. it’s at hair tearing capacity much of the time.

“Why don’t you book a holiday?” they said … “it’ll be good for you”.

I was persuaded.

Having not had a day away from the rescue since October last year …. we set about looking for a short break.  The perfect option was found on airbnb near Ludlow: a quiet garden studio in the grounds of a house well off the beaten track.   A two night booking was made for ONE person and accepted, and the cat sitter booked.   I was excited to have the opportunity to visit an area I’d not explored before.  Started googling “what’s on” and walking options.

And then …. only a few days later … the first bank holiday monday in May ….  little Mathilde arrived in rescue.  I’d said “yes” to taking her without any calculation of dates or development… thinking only that she was a tiny kitten who needed someone to care for her and we could offer that.  Then realised she’d be about four and a half weeks at the holiday date and most likely not yet weaned.   It wasn’t clear if she’d survive at first so I held my breath and said nothing.  Thankfully with the help of aunty Jenny we managed to raise her to at stage where she was strong and viable.

Mathilde with Rufus

Hmmm ….. now what to do?  Cancel my holiday?  Take her on holiday and try to conceal her?  Cash in more than my fair share of child care points and ask aunty Jenny to have her?   I took the path that I thought would lead to being forced to cancel.  I messaged the people who owned the place I’d booked, explained the situation and that I thought I needed to cancel because of Mathilde …… though if they thought it was at all manageable  to bring her with me … then I’d still love to come.   Then kissed my deposit goodbye.

Amazingly I got a lovely reply saying the TWO of us would be welcome so long as she behaved herself.   So we started to make preparations.  A long long list of necessities was gathered together.  Some of the basics were easy – with her going back and forth to aunty Jenny’s every few days: feeding bottles, kitten formula, bottle brush, blankets, spare blankets, spare spare blankets, heat pad, litter tray.  The list assumed that aunty Jenny had a bowl to sterilize bottles in, poo bags, rubbish bags, kitchen roll, baby wipes, toys, towels, hair dryer etc.  but we couldn’t assume the holiday accommodation had any of these.   So the list of stuff got longer … and longer.

Then Mathilde started showing an interest in solid food …. so the packing list extended to baby rice, pouches of kitten food, kitten dry food, feeding bowls as well as bottles.

And then …. the day prior to leaving I had a day off, planned a leisurely day of gathering stuff together, chilling a bit and looking forward to holiday. Granted I got up rather late, but the phone pinged before I’d put the kettle on.

Before I’d finished drinking my coffee, little Mollie had arrived.

mollie

 

Weaned or not we could hardly leave a 5 week old kit home alone. Would she get on with Mathilde? Hardly time to find out before setting off so had to take a second play pen in case they needed to be separated … and double up on other stuff too.

Anyway, the day came and off we set.

I’m not sure if the journey properly qualifies as one of my all time worst journeys with cats … mainly because it wasn’t predominantly the cats who were the problem.  Vile weather, road works, bank holiday traffic and a temperamental sat nav were the worst of it.   Having timed their feeds to the last minute in the hope that there would be no need to stop, we were so delayed that we ended up in a service station somewhere on the M5 😦

The good news was that Mollie had taught Mathilde how to eat some solid food. The bad news was that it was just dry food and I was anxious they would dehydrate.   So had to prepare bottles of formula for them.  You know how awkward it is to manage your flask of coffee and mugs and milk in a small car?  Well its kind of like that but with more squealing!

Back on the road and finally within reach of our destination.   Living in the city I’m used to addresses with a house number and road name, however what we had was a cottage name and a post code.  The sat nav took us several miles down a very narrow windy lane then randomly announced “you have now arrived at your destination”   I swear I heard it mutter “good luck” and shuffle off leaving me to it.

Anxious to present a positive image of a good fur parent, and to break the news that the booking was now for THREE … I’d had visualised myself as capable, calm and organised, stepping out the car with two beautiful pristine kittens.  The reality, as ever, was different.  I’d been lost, tired and tearful.   The kittens had digested their service station snack, deposited the waste on the floor of the carrier and then rolled around in it.  They stank and were squabbling.

To their credit our lovely hosts showed me around like I was a valued guest and didn’t mention that the kittens were caked in poo.  I guess we all have those times in our work when we think we’ve seen it all …. and then something completely different happens.   I think we went on to be decent …. albeit unusual guests … (we may or may not share more about how the holiday progressed in a later blog).  If nothing else ….. I hope it gives them a story to tell x

 

 

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Bringing up baby

Last bank holiday monday we took in a tiny kitten, Mathilde. How exactly she came to leave her mum remains a bit of a mystery. She’d clearly been well cared for prior to her arrival as she was (is) a chunky little kit, and was (but isn’t quite so much now) very clean. There are a few things we know for certain: she’s adorable, she’s very well travelled, and she’s a little madam.

I collected her from Ilkeston on the bank holiday monday. She’d already travelled a long way to get there. The Tuesday, day after she arrived I had day off and had arranged to meet ex colleagues for a catch up. So she travelled to the Tara Buddhist Centre, south of Derby for lunch and back into the centre of Derby to natural therapy centre for afternoon tea. Whatever in deep and meaningful conversations we’d planned were scrapped in favour of cooing over her and sorting out her bottles.

It’s maybe not a bad thing that we were out a lot.  The residents are unimpressed to say the least.   Rufus (our last hand rear kitten … now almost two years old) is particularly put out. Having been mummy’s (and aunty Jenny’s) baby boy for a couple of years … the arrival of a new baby is hitting him hard.

 

Thankfully aunty Jenny has been there for us just as she was with Ru, and we’ve done the same pattern of shuffling Mathilde back and forth to fit around my work.   Who would have thought that one so small would need to travel with such an enormous amount of stuff?

The cats at Jenny’s aren’t too impressed either. The saving grace is cousin Oliver. Whilst cats are hard wired to do just what the hell they please, border collies are more able to think about the bigger picture and manipulate people by pleasing them.  He’s considerably better at cleaning her than I am, and Mathilde adores him.  Of all the furry people she’s met, Ollie the Collie is the only one who has been pleased to see her and happy to let her snuggle.

There have been some anxious times when its seemed she’s not putting on weight, but she’s an active and noisy little madam. She soon got close to climbing out of her baby cot and moved into a bigger bed … which she’s found she can climb just as well.

Her feeds have changed from gently trying to get the teat into her mouth and encourage her to have a few ml to her squealin when hungry, almost grabbing the bottle out of my hands and drinking it nearly dry before coming up for air. Check out the ears!

It’s fascinating to watch her gradually working out which limbs belong to her and what she can do with them.

It’s bedtime now though … night night Mathilde.

 

 

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Bank ‘holiday’

It’s been a fabulous weekend. Ruined all the cliches about miserable rainy bank holidays. The residents, and Ozzy (some of the time so long as he’s not too crazy kitten ish), and me (a little less of the time because I’ve been frantically spring cleaning the house) have been enjoying lazing around in the sunshine.

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On Sunday it was Flipper’s 6th birthday. She was the first kitten born in our rescue. I’m not entirely sure how she managed to end up staying here … but she did …. and she’s adored.

Also on Sunday it was our fundraiser event at Heeley Institute. Many people put in a huge amount more effort to make this a success than I did. Jenny, plus Zhany & Steve, and Noel are the stars of our fundraising …. plus all of you of course.

We all had a lovely time. I was only a grunt in the process … but came home exhausted from that on top of the cleaning.

The plan for today was to chill, finish the last bits of cleaning, but mainly just flop and read my book. It started well enough. Had a bit of a lie in, fed and cleaned everyone and then flopped on the sofa with book and second cup of coffee. Flipper settled down to snooze on my tummy. All was right in the world.

Less than half an hour later a rescue friend tagged me in a post and my phone pinged the alert.. You know how your phone pings, but you’re comfy and you think you’ll have a look later? This time it felt like I should look NOW.

There was a 10 day old kitten about an hours drive from here, looking for safety and someone able to hand rear. Our house is cat dominated, and cats move slowly …. and we follow suit. On this occasion however, we were out of the pjs and into the car within about 20 minutes of the ping.

Mathilde is now home and safe with us

Mathilde is the small one ………. the big ginger is the last kitten we hand reared …. who is having some jealous issues right now. He’ll get over it when he realises that there’s still plenty of love to go around all of them.

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Don’t say the Q word!

Things were a little quiet over Easter.  We’d held on to a rescue space for a couple of weeks in the hope of taking in a pregnant cat and enjoying the patter of tiny feet.   For various reasons that didn’t happen, and for a short, bizarre time through Easter week we had no one asking for rescue space.

It all changed last Sunday when the rescue friend through whom little Sparkle and her siblings arrived, contacted us about another poor stray cat.   We shelved the hope of a pregnant female and took in a grubby, battle scarred gentleman from Leeds.

Paul

He’d coped remarkably well with his lovely feeder getting hold of him and taking him indoors overnight ready to come to rescue the following day.   However the M1 and then other cats outside his bedroom door freaked him out a bit and he retreated into his shell …. or rather a cardboard box … and refused to speak to me other than the odd hiss.

Paul at vets

It was a bit touch and go whether Paul would agree to attending his vet appointment.   Thankfully he decided he liked Dr Fran and let her have a reasonably good look at him.  It was rather surreal as we had a photo of a wound from his feeder but didn’t know where it was on his body …… which led to several minutes of rummaging around hoping his patience would last.   We found it and it  appeared to be healing so we decided that checking his temperature would be an unnecessary pushing of our luck.  We did however agree that a long acting antibiotic jab would be a good plan just in case.   Paul decided to wait under his towel whilst Fran went off to get it.

Of course just as we’d filled the rescue space our occasional (believed to be) stray visitor became a regular.    Aunty Jenny and I first spotted him a couple of months ago …. mud wrestling with another unneutered tom cat in a neighbours garden.  It coincided with when Tyga & Belle had arrived here …. unspayed …. and were going through their pole dancing phase.

Stanlie the stray

A few weeks later my other neighbours asked me if I’d seen this tabby and white cat and were worried that he was limping. I soon spotted him and tried to engage him in conversation … but he didn’t want to know. It’s taken some time to make friends with him but we’re getting there. I invited him for a meal and he accepted … with the proviso that I sat the other end of the driveway whilst he ate. Then he started letting me closer, and sitting waiting for me at tea time, and then letting me stroke him a little.

Stanlie

We’re working towards him being confident enough to let me check him for a chip or even put a paper collar on to see if he’s going home somewhere. I doubt it though. He seems to spend most of his days on my neighbour’s lawn, looking through the hedge to see when I’m around to feed him.

And since then we’ve been inundated again with requests to take cats into rescue … all the usual excuses … mainly allergies and landlords …. but also one wanting rescue because the cat was scratching the wallpaper! We offered a space to another cat because they’d come via a friend. Then kind of wished we hadn’t because he turned out to be quite a bit older than ‘advertised’ …. full of hormones … singing pornographic songs from dawn to dusk.

Ozzy

He’s a nice lad … but sooner he has his snip and chip the better for the whole family.

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Spring Newsletter 2018

Well I hope its really Spring now and we’re finished with the snow [Nope – we’ve had more snow – Editor]. We’re in that lull between the rush of cats needing to come into rescue because the Winter is coming and they’re living rough and the avalanche of mums and kits that Spring and kitten season brings.

We were fortunate to have the usual post-Christmas rush on adoptions. The little F twins landed themselves a lovely patient home with a dad who was happy to build cardboard fortresses for them to play in. Lily found herself a beautiful home that purrfectly colour co ordinated with her lovely fur.  Merlot hooked up with Karis when she came to stay for Christmas and went home with her.  He was delighted when he discovered mum had named her favourite drink after him!  Poor Figgs thought he’d got himself a home lined up and then at the last minute was gazumped by his room mate Mr Tiggs. It all worked out well in the end though when Jenson’s mum fell for him and he went to live with Jenson and the bunnies.

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Mikey’s story

Mikey had been living rough in someone’s garden for a few months. He was one of the lucky ones who land in a garden that belongs to someone who cares.  They fed him and gave him some shelter and contacted Beverley who went out to scan him for a microchip.  Sadly he wasn’t chipped and no one was responding to “Found Cat” adverts .  Beverley got him on waiting lists for several local  rescues … and they waited .. and waited.   So many cats find themselves in similar or much worse situations.   This one got a whole lot worse when local kids started to push poor Mikey around, so she spread the net wider to include rescues that are further away.   The amazing facebook cat rescue network did what it does so well and found space here.

mikey on his way to rescue

We’re too small to realistically hold a waiting list so just  take the first needy cat we’re asked to take whenever a space becomes available … so long as we have the appropriate skills and resources to help him/her.  It just so happened that we received the message about Mikey the day before we were taking Lily to her new home.   The following morning I helped Lily settle into her new home and then came home to clean her room whilst Beverley drove Mikey over here.   She clearly cared very much about him and although he may have set off with nothing, he arrived here with two mega sized packets of dreamies and a lot of hope.   A week or two later a large tuck box arrived for him packed with toys and more treats and  dreamies.

We know that all cats are unique. Mikey was unique in a rather special way though that reminded us of a dog.  When he arrived he had his tail tucked firmly between his legs to the extent that we were concerned (it turned out unnecessarily) that he was injured. In his anxiety he huddled close to Beverley and kept his distance from me.  He soon realised he was fine, his tail relaxed and he started enjoying cuddles with me.  A few weeks later when his furever family came to meet him for the first time,  he tucked his tail in and huddled next to me whilst he weighed up his potential new staff.  That makes a lot of sense on one level .. but its mostly not what cats do!  I’ve known plenty of dogs who snuggle close when scared but mostly however much cats are loved, when they’re scared most cats hide or push us away. Remember the last time you tried to help Tibbles down from the shed roof, or unhook Fluffy when her claws were stuck in something?   When I took him to his new home it was the same – he tucked his tail in and huddled next to his new mum, then shyly went to the outstretched hands of his other new family members.  Then as his confidence grew he escorted his new dad to the kitchen to check out what was in the fridge ….. and then took him back to get seconds!   There were tears in my eyes as I watched this last stage in his transformation from an abandoned piece of rubbish to king of his little castle with doting servants.

A few hours after I left he sent the above photos and this lovely message:

“The last four hours have gone very quickly. I’ve eaten, used the litter tray, played, had a brush and got lots of cuddles. I know I had two beds to choose from, but as you can see from the picture I think I’ve chosen the best seat in the house! Can’t wait for my chicken dinner.

A huge thank you and purrrrrs to all the kind people that rescued me and helped me find my forever home, I won’t forget how generous and caring you have all been.

Mikey
xx”

It is a rare thing indeed to find a cat who pauses to say thank you 😉    It’s rare too to meet a human who is so grateful for finding a rescue space.  A  few weeks later Beverley returned …. with a wonderful collection of things we could sell to raise funds.

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So lovely to not only rehome a gorgeous cat, but also make a friend.

The day Mikey moved out was another quick turn around day … and the gorgeous Pearl & River moved in to take his place.  They’re also now delighting in their purrever home.

Bulgarian Feast

We feel so fortunate to have randomly made connections with Zhany & Steve Hughes through one of our  fundraising stalls.   People often come to our stalls or contact us and say they are interested in helping fundraise only to disappear into the mist, never to be heard of again.  So I’m hoping I can be forgiven for being skeptical initially.    Zhany turned out to be completely different.   We’d had an Italian meal fundraiser in February …. she raised us a Bulgarian one for March … and followed through with it.  Wow … just wow!

We’ve also found a lovely new community venue in Heeley Institute …  it invites those with a sense of adventure to find their way through the one-way road system …. and once there to enjoy lovely surroundings, and excellent facilities.

It wasn’t so great when I arrived on the night …. the night of “The Beast from the East Part 2 :The Revenge” …  snowing a blizzard …. people climbing up the hill from the match at Bramall Lane looking like abominable snowmen.   If it had been down to me I might have cancelled.  Thankfully the amazing aunty Jenny and our chefs were made of sterner stuff.

It was a fabulous feast … not to mention the Rakia which was included.  Mind you … we needed it in that weather.  Grateful to the amazing people who turned out regardless  … and then pitched in with helping to clear up as our washer uppers were snowed in.

The meal was excellent and people were amazed to learn that Zhany & Steve aren’t professional chefs …. they’re actually teachers of English to people who’s first language isn’t English.   That’s awesome because with connections like this we can have some fabulous international food events.   Our next one is French on Sunday 6 May.   If you’d like a ticket you need to be quick as we’ve almost sold out.

Please note: our main place to advertise events is our facebook fundraising page.  If you’ve missed out because you’re not on facebook and don’t want to miss the next one please let us know.

Snap!

When little Mogs arrived alone but keen to be friends with the other cats here we knew we needed to find another kit to pair with him so that they could go to a new home together.

mogs

We put feelers out to lots of rescue people across the area offering space for a single kit between about 4 and 12 months old and went to collect the first one that we were offered.  Imagine our surprise when we found they were almost identical.

patch

Thankfully they hit it off really well and are enjoying their new home together now

mogs & patch in new home

Fabulous stuff to sell

Our amazing and creative fundraiser Jenny has really excelled herself these last few months with more and more lovely ideas.  So as well as the gorgeous hand knitted toys made by Beverley we now have some amazing ‘Firefly Bottles’ for sale.   The ones below are just a small selection of an ever changing stock.  We’re delighted to have the support of Ralph & Dave’s mum who owns the Gin Wagon and The Gin Bar at Vintedge  and The Ale House for donating bottles…… and of course the lovely Noel (Daisy’s dad) in creating the lights.  [You need to check your punctuation so that people don’t think that Ralph & Dave’s mum owns all three establishments – Ed]

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They’re £5 each ….. though we’ve had such a rush on the Henderson’s bottles that if you’re wanting a Hendos you may need to bring your own bottle  🙂

We’re also developing a rather smart selection of drawstring bags which I understand are  called slipper bags.  Not only do  these come in several different sizes & designs they also come in waterproof option so great for toiletries, swim/beach stuff etc.

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They’ll be priced between about £5 and £8 depending on size.  If you’re interested in buying lamps or bags please either contact us at eightlives@outlook.com or call Jenny directly on 07743675747.

Still looking for their furever home: Tyga & Belle

These gorgeous young ladies arrived in rescue the same day as Mikey.  He’s been in his new home for weeks, and Pearl & River  who moved into his room the day he moved out have also been in their new home for weeks.  For some reason these two have just had people messing them around – people who live on a very busy road, people who don’t want to adopt for several months, people who live miles and miles away, people who want to split them apart or even mix and match them with another pair of cats.  They deserve so much better than that.

If you think you could give them a loving settled home please contact us …… their adoption advert is here.

Categories: cat, cat rescue, kittens, Sheffield | 1 Comment

Gender identity

I kind of think of myself as feminist and a little above average in terms of rejection of gender stereotypes and acceptance of different interpretations of gender and relationships.  I have six purrmanent resident cats …. three girls … three boys … and I love them all to pieces.

It shouldn’t matter really whether cats coming into rescue are male or female …. so long as we don’t mix unneutered different sexes.  What’s the difference really?  other than a slightly higher cost for neutering if they’re female?

And yet…  And yet …… somehow it feels important to know which they are.   Choosing names is often what forces the issue for me.  Of course several cat names are gender neutral, many aren’t, some I think should be but aren’t.  There’s a whole other blog post I think in the naming of cats.  That aside, are we going to play with them differently or snuggle them differently?   No. Or at least not consciously/intentionally.

In the course of several years of rescue we’ve had a few cats whom we’ve believed to be one gender only to find they’re the other.  Only a handful … but its a strange feeling, and one I can’t quite get my head around.

Little Mogs came to us a few weeks ago.  A lovely pretty little girl.  We’ve had a disproportionate number of little boys recently …. Felix & Fritz, Relish & Raffles,  Merlot, Mr Tiggs & Figgs …. it’s not been intentional but its been marked enough for even the vets to comment.   Then we were asked to take another kit and told she was a little girl.   She seemed a pretty little thing.  We posted her on our facebook page and lots of people said how pretty she was.

She was friendly and affectionate, and after the usual hissy fit introductions to the other cats, settled in quite happily.   As we’d had the lovely Karis staying with us over Xmas and they were both long haired cats, we ended up comparing ….. and something seemed not quite right.

Same cat, different angle.  Just as adorable.  Just as lovely …. and we loved her … but somehow she had a face that reminded us of our Rufus.

A couple of days after she arrived, she was quite itchy scratchy so we put some flea stuff on her. Very shortly afterwards she was unwell, stiff legged, unable to climb into the chair, flopped on the floor. We rushed off to the emergency vets. One of the first things they do of course is listen to their heart/lungs …. and take their temperature …. which led to the surprise sideline diagnosis being that she had testicles! The vet took some bloods, and we each negotiated the tricky pathway of gender re assignment. It was easier for the vet, or at least appeared to be – she was being calm and professional and had only known Mogs for 10 minutes. I, on the other hand, was anxious, and with a poorly cat who had been fine a couple of hours earlier … and indeed supposedly female at that point 😉 She was poorly so I wanted to be close to her and at that point it meant knowing her as I’d always known her, as a little girl.  Equally we’d been unequivocally been told she was a boy, and I think maybe at some level suspected it already.   I was aware of switching back and forth between referring to her as “she” and then “he”.  By the time we came to pay the bill and leave Mogs was clearly a ‘he’.

I think we should have listened to what Flipper was saying at the start … she obviously knew … and empathised since everyone wrongly assumes Flip is a boy.

What changed as a result of this? What should change? Why does it matter? He still looks as lovely as ever … but somehow “pretty” is no longer quite right as a description. Why?   Somehow those good looks now need to be referred to as “handsome”.

Categories: cat, cat rescue, kittens, Sheffield | Leave a comment

All change! (2)

After all the cats mentioned in part 1 had gone off to new homes or foster home we were without any rescue cats for a while.

When I say “a while” … it was the while it took to drive from Figgs’ foster home to the house where Tyga & Belle were living but unable to stay.  And then the while it took to get them home and settled into their new room before Mikey arrived.

They’re very different cats with different histories.  One thing they have (had!)  in common however was their unneutered status.  Mikey gently stank his room out with adolescent boy hormones, whilst the girls in their bedroom got all excited and sang him sweet love songs throughout the night.   I mention it because our bedroom is the one in between both of theirs … and most of us ended up downstairs sleeping on the sofa in an effort to escape it.

Tyga & Belle had lived in a home since being small kittens but both were very timid on arrival.

It was a few days until they would dare to come out of hiding when I went into their room, and longer until they’d actually eat whilst I was there.  Tyga then came into season and shamelessly pole danced around the chair legs whilst I watched.  She gained confidence that hasn’t been lost  since her hormones have settled.  Belle remains more wary but can be enticed out to play and to take treats from me.

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Mikey on the other had had been living rough and then camping in someone’s garden for a few months.  He’d spent some time on waiting lists at other rescues, but when kids started to kick him around the lovely people who were caring for him pulled out all the stops and tried rescues further away from them …. and fortunately we had space.

He was clearly also anxious.  Like a frightened dog he tucked his tail between his legs.   When he arrived he cowered close to the lovely people who had brought him to us, wondering what was going to happen next.    Very quickly though he decided it was ok here and was full of love and snuggles.  So much so that it was hard to get any decent photos of him – as he refused to stand far enough away to point the camera at him.

Even attempts at selfies were blurred as he’d head butt the camera.  Bless him.   I was heartbroken to find that when I raised my voice just a little “for goodness sake Michael … we need a decent photo for your adoption ad” …. he slunk away, tail between legs, and crouched under his cat tree.

It produced a good enough photo to get him a lovely new home that he’ll go to this weekend … but it hurt both of us.  Thankfully chicken and dreamies helped to restore him.   When his new family came to meet him he tucked his tail under again and stood close to me ……… but only for a while.  Then he decided they were the best thing .. and delighted in sitting on my lap being fussed by a family of four (soon to become five).   Hopefully he’ll never need to worry like that again.

Categories: cat, cat rescue, kittens, Sheffield | Leave a comment

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