Hanne: a tail of unsuccessful matchmaking

Those of you who know us know that we much prefer to rehome kittens in pairs than singly. There are lots of benefits – they keep each other company, they have a partner in crime to trash the house with, they continue to learn social skills, and it’s actually more fun to have two than one.


So, when little Hanne arrived here age six weeks we set out on a mission to find another singleton to send her off to her new home with. That has turned out to be much more of a saga than you might expect.

Our first attempt was following a request to take three kittens who were about 12 weeks old, so twice as old as Hanne at that point, but that age gap would close quickly. Two of them could go as a pair and the one who got on best with Hanne could go with her. Granted the place we were collecting them from was about 50 minutes drive away, but by the time we arrived the owner had given away one of the kittens, despite having a rescue place for them. The remaining two turned out to be Solly and Hilde. Hilde was indeed about 9 weeks but Sol was a year old. We wondered if Hilde and Hanne might pair up and Solly enjoy having a home of his own but it quickly became apparent that they were devoted to each other and there was no way we were going to separate them. So we had two extra cats in rescue, who were gorgeous but weren’t going to be a buddy for Hanne.

Once Solly and Hilde were rehomed we set about our search again. We were told of a stray, an older kitten, who had been living in someone’s garden for weeks. He was ALWAYS there. Except of course the day we went round to collect him he’d evaporated. There was no sign of him the following day either. So when later that evening we had a message asking if we could take a 6 month old kitten into rescue we thought our prayers had been answered. We prepared ourselves for the fact that she might actually be older than we’d been told, she’d probably be black (which we love, but it is the hardest colour to find adoptive homes for) and she might not be in great health. What we didn’t prepare ourselves for was that she she was in fact 8 weeks pregnant! Nocka and a belly full of babies came home with us.

Nocka very pregnant

The following day, August bank holiday Monday we planned a rare treat .. going out to a concert that was nothing to do with cats. My friend and I had just settled ourselves into our seats when my phone buzzed. The first cat, the one that had evaporated, had rematerialised. We left the concert, came home and turned the house upside down in order to accommodate an extra cat that we didn’t have space for. Luci who had been starting to mix gradually with the resident cats was evicted from his bedroom and thrown in at the deep end with the gang. I have to say he’s managed this magnificently.

And off we went to collect Walter. Walter turned out to be huge. Still a kitten certainly but probably about 10 months, very sturdy and about 6 times bigger than Hanne. Nocka, was also a lot bigger than Hanne too of course, but only around the tummy area. It was heartbreaking to see what would otherwise have been a kitten not much older than Hanne really heavily pregnant.

Walter the evaporating cat

We’ll maybe tell Nocka’s story in more detail elsewhere so not say too much here. It was a long labour, much longer than any of the other mums we’ve had here. I’ll never forget the early stage where she sat on my lap, purring, paddling at my fleece and sucking it like an anxious little kitten, whilst she had a partially born kitten of her own making it’s way into the world. Eight hours later and with a little help, she’d given birth to five live and apparently healthy kittens. We’d braced ourselves for the possibility that they may not be born alive and she may not be able to take care of them. In the following days we began to relax a little as she took pretty good care of them and they began to grow. Sadly on day 5 we waltzed into her bedroom in the morning to find two kittens dead in their cot and the others not looking too good. We tried to give them a bottle but they were weak and over the course of the day they all passed over rainbow bridge. Nocka was unwell too and needed antibiotics for an infection.

Nocka with kittens two days old

Once Nocka recovered we thought we might try introducing her and Hanne, but she had her own ideas. One evening Walter was sitting on the landing and Nocka rushed out of her bedroom door when we opened it. I swung round to grab her and separate them but they were already rubbing faces and starting to chat to each other. They’ve gradually spent more and more time together and look for each other when separated. Hopefully they will be going to a new home together too.

Walter & Nocka

So back to the drawing board. Just to say, meanwhile Hanne is entirely happy living with the resident cats, especially her bestie Rowan.

Three weeks ago we had a message asking if we could take in an eight week old kitten. Much smaller now than Hanne but still a promising match for her. We went more or less straight away to collect her, and within an hour of collecting her were at the vet with her. Within 24 hours we’d spent nearly £1k on her! On initial examination Muriel had a huge lump on the side of her abdomen which turned out to be a hernia, we believe caused by blunt force trauma. There were scary decisions to make about whether she should have difficult surgery or whether we should say good bye to her. It didn’t feel very hopeful, especially for such a tiny kitten (we were told she was 8 weeks but she was the size of a 5 week old kitten). However, she was very lively and purry and clearly seemed to want to live. Amazingly she came through the surgery and is making a fabulous recovery. She’s in a foster home at present, until she recovers and until she’s fully vaccinated. Then we’re hoping to be able to introduce her to Hanne. We’re hoping that this time we might be lucky in our matchmaking.

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Small things can make a big difference

Never has this been more true than this week at 8 Lives.

On Monday afternoon we were all home, nine residents going about their usual Monday chores and Luci working in the office with me. Then a message pinged through. One of our adopters had seen a very young kitten being given away free on a social media site and had rushed to get her before she came to any harm … and now needed a rescue space for her. We agreed to take her almost without thinking about it … after all … one tiny kitten can’t cause that much disruption can she?

On Monday evening Hanne arrived. She looked so tiny we were worried initially that she was too young to even be eating solid food. However, she quickly polished off a bowl of wet food, tucked into the dry and then moved on to some chicken.

For once we did have a bedroom available that she could go in, but she’s way too small to be put in a bedroom on her own. So we cleared everything off the dining table and set up our largest dog crate on there. She has food and water, litter tray, blanket, toys and a hammock in there and can watch all the comings and goings in safety. That’s her refuge for when I’m out or busy. She doesn’t like it much and shouts in a high pitched kitten voice that carries through the entire house …. and down to the bottom of the garden.

When I’m home and have time to sit down she comes into the lounge to play. She realises I’m coming to pick her up and take her into the lounge and greets me with a huge purr. The aunties of the house, on the other hand, realise what I’m about to do and immediately vacate the lounge and set up camp on my bed. Jerry is often caught napping on the sofa and wakes to find her using his tummy as a trampoline.

We don’t want to risk losing her, so she’s confined to the lounge and the door is closed. There’s a cat flap in the door to go through to the kitchen, but as the door is rarely ever closed, there is a reluctance on the part of some of the family to make use of the flap. There’s also a cat flap from the garden into the lounge. Her play times largely seem to consist of me getting up to let cats into and out of the lounge from the kitchen, and let out cats who have unsuspectingly used the cat flap to come into the lounge from the garden and found themselves in the middle of play group. Of course we can no longer have the door open that leads from lounge to garden. All gettings up to open doors are preceded by having to peel Jerry off my lap before I can move … he’s still working on making up for the cuddles he missed during years of living rough.

We were a little anxious about Jerry at first. Although he’s sadly probably been the cause of dozens of kittens in his street life years, he’s not used to little ones running around his ankles like the other residents are. He’s been surprisingly tolerant, despite the number of times his snuggles are disturbed.

As ever, when it comes to kittens, it’s young Rowan who is the hero of the day. He’s always had a flair for childcare and is the only one that actively seeks Hanne out. He plays with her and washes her. He also teaches her stuff and I fear that by the end of the weekend he’ll have taught her to use the cat flap … then we’ll have to lock both cat flaps in the lounge to “in only” and peel Jerry off laps to stand up and open the doors every time anyone wants to leave the room.

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The first week of Piper’s new life

[Piper came into rescue in mid October. She was quite handful here to say the least. Full of boisterous kitten energy, very loving and wanting attention but clumsy and lacking in socialisation having left her mum too young. It took a while to find the right home for her … somewhere that could give her sufficient attention and who had enough patience and cat experience to continue the process of socialising her. A couple of weeks ago though we found a fabulous, purrfect home for her and her adoptive mum has sent this update to share]

Piper working from home in rescue

Piper has been with us a week now, but from the get-go she was confident and comfortable with us. First contact was with our daughter (14y/o), who was thrilled. We let her have the run of the house up to the attic and she soon discovered a small crocheted ladybug I’d made on the stairs; this and the subsequent small crocheted balls I made her are her favourite toys. The game is to throw it up in the air, play a bit of football then bat it under one of the sofas. If we are not fast enough to get them out, she discovered if she jumped down the back of the sofa she could retrieve them herself 😹. She is a clever kitty.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is piper-blog-2.jpg

Piper’s week days start by having breakfast with my partner and our daughter, then when daughter goes to school she comes up to my attic office. We play a bit (while I work; cats cradle tied to my wrist is great entertainment) then she jumps onto the bookshelf to look out of the window, tips a few books off (clearly to read later) then has a snooze on the futon, joining me in any Teams meetings I have.

In the afternoon she will go downstairs and either sleep in her bed by the radiator in my partner’s dining room office, or on the sofa in the lounge. I’ve made a nest in an open bedroom cupboard for when she needs some Piper time, but she mainly likes it on the sofa. She will run to us if we call her name (and rattle a box of treats) and likes playing with the various small crocheted things on the stairs (many an Xmas 🌲 has been felled…). 

At night she firstly slept on my partner’s lap after I went to bed, but now she will snuggle with me and we fall asleep together, until her dad makes her supper and she goes downstairs. She has her big fluffy blanket by the dining room radiator and sleeps to about 6am ish, though our daughter said she started mewing at 5.45 one day!! 

We love everything about her; her purr, the teeny mews she makes, the chirrups, putting her paw on your shoulder to say hi when she is on the back of the sofa, her rapid ninja swiftness (I’m on my own, look down and there is Piper looking up at you with her beautiful eyes), her intelligence and her beauty. We all love Piper and are glad 8 lives made us a family 😻. 🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈

Huge thanks to Piper’s new family for giving her such a lovely home .. and to Piper’s adoptive mum for guest writing this blog post.

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disciplinary proceedings

We’re having a bit of a staffing crisis in our working from home office at present.   You may remember that following the death of our first office manager Jango in May this year, Flipper took up the post.  It was a rather left field appointment however she’s worked surprisingly hard and with dedication, sometimes working well into the night and sleeping at her desk.


She’s become so much of a fixture that colleagues expect her to be present at meetings, and clients have even asked after her  by name.

So it was a shock last week when she suddenly didn’t turn in to work one morning.  I found her sitting downstairs in Henderson’s favourite igloo.  That’s a whole other issue which needs to be dealt with outside of work.  Long and short of it is that I washed the igloo, and maintain that I did this with good reason, however it’s upset the whole eco system of the house.   Despite it having been one of Henderson’s favourite hang outs, second only to the heat pad on the sofa, he now refuses to set foot in it.  Turf wars between Rowan and Flipper have ensued.  Anyway, I digress.  She claimed to be off sick with hairballs.

The following day she was simply absent.   She didn’t call in sick, she just wasn’t there.  She wasn’t in the igloo, or on her perch in the bedroom window, or out in the garden, or nudging Hendo off his heat pad on the sofa.  She wasn’t on the shelf near the treats waiting hopefully, she wasn’t on the bed with Honey.   She wasn’t even under the bed, which is favourite spot for coughing up hair balls.  I’m not sure what made me think to open the wardrobe door … but …

To be fair, she’s aways had a bit of a thing about wardrobes.  I put it down to us watching The Lion the witch and the wardrobe when she was a kitten.  If I leave the door open she’s in there dreaming of Narnia.    When I raised the issue of work she simply said she didn’t want to.   I reminded her of the number of days I’d said that I didn’t really want to go to work, but had gone anyway.  She couldn’t get her fluffy head around why on earth anyone would do something they didn’t want to do.   Anyway, she said, she’d been to work nearly a hundred times now and was  getting bored with it.   I began trying to work out how many hundred times I’d been to work since starting in the early 1980s … but quickly realised the futility of this.

Obviously we then had to get cover in at short notice.  No one felt able to cover a full shift, so it was a bit of a patchwork.  Henderson put in a couple of hours, snuggled on my lap so I couldn’t move to reach anything.


Rowan came in later but unilaterally declared it was “bring your kitten to work” day.  He then crashed out in his nest, leaving his kitten to run riot around the office.

There were limited options after that.  Kevin & Dasher were engaged in re enacting scenes from DH Lawrence

Dasher & Kevin

Rolo and Amber were in the garden doing semi feral things.


Honey, being “extremely upper management” was hardly going to drop everything to cover a shift at short notice.


So we were left with the only option of calling in a temp.  Becky had only been with us a few days and had mainy been self isolating in her bedroom.  [Unbeknown to us at that time she’d been struggling with gender issues … or at least our perception of them ….. and later that day revealed herself to be a boy cat …. and changed her name to Beckett … but again I digress]

S/he wasn’t entirely pleased to be pulled away from her nap

Becky / Beckett

and didn’t really understand anything about the job or what she needed to do.  However she set about trying to organise my diary

took over supervising Rowan’s kitten

and then gave him a telling off for his negligence

The situation will need to be discussed with Flipper ahead of her appraisal.  Her behaviour may have scuppered her chances of promotion to extremely upper management.  It may even result in disciplinary proceedings.  Take a guess at how bovvvered she is by this.

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In which we experience stress, fame, hope and some ordinary-ness

Some weeks in cat rescue there is a very clear “headline news” kind of story.  Mostly though, it’s moving from day to day, doing our best, watching how things change and thinking how to respond.

In some ways the most imminent stress this week has been about vet appointments and perusading anxious cats and kittens to attend them.

First up was Hissy & Spitty on Thursday for their second vaccinations.  Thankfully when the time came to round them up for their appointment, Spitty was snoozing in their carrier (which stategically doubles as a cosy bed) and Hissy was easily picked up and popped in with her.

This photo shows their different purrsonalities sooo clearly … those flat anxious Spitty ears x

Slightly more stressful was the Friday appointment.  Kevin, Rolo and Rowan were all due their boosters.  They’re all timid kitties … very loving if they approach you, but if you approach them it’s a different story.  To be fair, Rowan has blossomed in recent months and was less of a worry.  His sister Rolo is very timid still though, and Kevin, though bolder than Rolo, is huge!  … and couldn’t easily be folded into one of our usual carriers.

We booked Rowan and Rolo in for this week, and Kev in for next.  The plan for making that happen was well stressed about … but also a bit vague.   The plan included:

  1. a very large, very sturdy carrier which was donated to us after someone moved to the UK with a couple of cats.   We set this up in the lounge back in June, with a comfy bit of vet bed and regular spinklings of cat nip … so it could come to be seen as a cool place to hang out.
  2. their favourite fishing rod toy, an exciting game with the toy ever so casuallly landing at the entrance to the carrier, and then a little further inside it … and then …
  3. my foot … carefully positioned by the door to the carrier …

Kevin fell for it, so after a quick call to the vet it was Rowan and Kev on their way and Rolo booked for next week in what had been Kev’s space.  Two down, one to go!

We like to encourage all our cats to live their best lives, and reach for the stars … if that’s their ambition.  So we were utterly delighted when Howard messaged to say he’d become famous.  The step from scruffy street cat to most pampered foster puss in the history of 8 Lives simply wasn’t enough for him and he needed to go on to be Susan Calman’s cat of the day with over a thousand likes!  Has it gone to his head?  You decide.


Henderson has managed to rollercoaster us through the whole spectrum of emotions over the last week.   Thursday last week he had a quick check up with the vet and we felt he was doing fairly ok.  He’d put a little weight on and his glucose level was fine for the time of day it was taken.  At bedtime he was sick and collapsed in a heap.  Fearing he was hypo we checked his glucose … but again it was fine for the time of day.  I sat up all night with him fearing he was dying.  Traumatic memories of losing Jango still very fresh in my mind.  He was a tiny bit better in the morning but not much.  We made a vet appointment and cancelled work, fearing that this was the end.   This kind of appointment is agonising at the best of times, but since COVID and being unable to go in with them it’s even worse.  Sitting baking in a hot car on the car park, waiting for that call, and the news of what’s to happen next.

What did happen next took me totally by suprise.  The vet admitted him and put him on fluids for 24 hours and started him on a steroid.   More blood tests confirm anaemia as the next serious health issue he’s added to his collection.  So now, in order of diagnosis, we have “weird blood results that we’re not sure what’s going on”, hyperthyroid, chonic kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and anaemia.   That said, since this little episode, and starting the steroids, he seems better than he has been since before lockdown.  He’s cuddling again,  interacting with the other cats more and generally seeming more like the old Hendo.

Things settled back to ‘normal’ after that episode.   The kittens got over their vet visit … eventually … and went back to playing.  The others went and flopped in the garden in the sunshine.


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Happy New Year!

As I start to write it’s early evening on New Year’s Eve. It’s dark outside and we’ve been doing the usual pre-firework preparations – curtains drawn, lights and radios on. The younger kittens are kicking a ball around, watched and coached by the older kits. Some of the residents have already gone up to bed, others are snuggled in their Xmas igloos. Henderson is perched on his chair by the radiator and Howard (who is new to sharing the whole house) is pottering around trying to work out which spots are most comfortable.

No kitten photos .. they just rush past in a blur. I do hope Howard doesn’t decide the keyboard is his happy place. If there are no blog updates for a while you can guess why.

Inevitably New Year thoughts turn to memories of the felines we’ve had here this year. We’re a small enough rescue to remember each one of them very clearly.

January started with the residents plus little Dasher, older stray lady Cloe, and the infamous Norton 4 (Nancy Dodger Fingers & Bandit). It was wonderful over the New Year holiday to have some help from several random facebook people with socialising the Nortons and getting them used to someone other than me. The other brilliant thing that happened was that Cloe found a loving foster home where she could be the “only cat” and have lots of love and attention”. Soon as Cloe moved out we took in Skye who’s human had sadly died.

February saw the arrival of Dexi as a potential friend for Dasher … and that relationship just not work out. Dodger & Nancy (half of the Norton 4) went to a lovely new home, and so did Skye. Into the space created Howard arrived. Initially complaining just of a sore toe, Howard was diagnosed with renal failure and anaemia.

March was the month from hell. First Howard was admitted to the vets because he was dehydrated and not eating. Then we noticed that Henderson (our long term foster) wasn’t eating either and he was admitted for an urgent dental surgery which was risky given his age and health conditions. A couple of days after they’d both been discharged, Jango (one of our residents) developed a urine infection and also had to go to the emergency vets.

Here they are … somewhat later …. and looking much better.

The redeeming feature of March was a message one Saturday morning from Stanlie’s foster carer .. saying that Stanlie who had resolutely lived outside her house and refused to come indoors had just followed her in the previous evening after work and settled himself down as though he’d always been an indoor cat.


This had been a loooooong saga starting over a year previously …. check out the back posts on this blog for more. Couldn’t have been happier x

April had to get better. Dexi went off to her new home (without Dasher!), the second half of the Norton 4 (Bandit & Fingers) also found a fab new home. Howard found himself a long term foster home. Into that space came Fynn … a gorgeous, affectionate stray … who was just soooooo noisy!

Also .. in the quest for a pal for Dasher we ended up with Ailbhe and her 7 kittens … well they weren’t all hers but she’d been looking after them in an over crowded house and brought them all with her into rescue.

May was busy as you might imagine. Lots of routine vet runs for vaccinations, chips, neuter. Plus a couple of non routine vet runs when Fynn had a very very rare complication following his neuter. Numerous homechecks for kittens. Fynn went back to foster care with the lovely couple who had found him, and then to a new home. Aric & Archie also found a new home.

Aric & Archie new home

June Ash & Arran and Ailbhe & Alix went to their new homes.

Ailbhe & Alix new home

The remaining two of Ailbhe’s kittens – Alice & Arnold – moved downstairs to live with the residents and get more socialisation as they were very timid. Dasher became very involved with them.

He took great care of them until they too were adopted.

As the Ailbhe team were moving out, Alice & Arnold were downstairs, and the rescue bedrooms were free, we had a message asking for help with A LOT of cats. We were able to help with fewer than half of them but took in Raven & Squiggle who had 7 young kittens between them.

Only two of the kits were Squiggles, but Raven wasn’t big into parenting … so Squiggle looked after them all.

Jette gave birth to 6 kittens on 16 June … sadly one of them didn’t survive.

Jette with kits a few hours old

Alice & Arnold … the last of the A team went to their new home

July was pretty much like April with lots of routine vet runs. A couple of the kits went to their new homes, and thankfully Raven & Squiggle found the purrfect purrmanent home.

Raven & Squiggle new home

I’m so happy for these girls … they’ve had a hard life caring for kittens since they were kittens, one litter after another. So lovely to see them happy and settled.

Meanwhile … with it being a little quieter … and still in search of a pal for Dasher … Kevin arrived. Kev had been living rough in a garden like Dasher had .. they quickly found some common ground … and got on very well.

Dasher & Kevin

August Ringo & Scruff … Raven & Squiggle’s most confident kittens went off to their super new home. Jette’s kittens had their vaccinations and the first two, Jade & Jemima went off to their new home.

September at last, thank goodness was a bit quieter month. Jaffa & Jellybean (two more of Jette’s) found their new home.

Jellybean & Jaffa

Delighted that also the old lady Cloe found her new home after nearly 10 months in rescue.

Into the space made available we had Rosie & Mabel arrive

October Rosie & Mabel had a very swift journey through rescue. They went into a fab new foster home and were adopted within a week or two.

Still here were Jette, her remaining kitten Jethro, Squiggle’s remaining kitten Smartie, and Rowan’s remaining kittens Rowan & Rolo. Jette landed a fab new home … all to herself ..

Jethro & Smartie teamed up and also found a lovely home.

Rowan & Rolo were the most timid of Raven/Squiggle’s kits … and to make it worse Rowan had a persistent tummy upset.

They’re lovely young cats though … and to my delight once Rosie & Mabel left their foster home, these two moved in. They’re growing in confidence and we’re doing our best to sort out the tummy.

November was planned to be quieter because that was our holiday time. Nevertheless .. we mananaged to take in Betsy & Benjamin, orgaised from Laos with the help of our amazing cat sitter.

Here’s our first proper glimpse of them courtesy of web cam from Singapore. I’m not sure if they’ve gone through the house like a breath of fresh air or a dose of salts … but … um … you sure know you’ve got them!

betsy & benjamin

Here they are being calm for their adoption advert. Don’t be fooled!

December thankfully another relatively quiet month as I was ill pretty much from getting on the holiday plane in November to a couple of weeks ago. Sadly (or happily … depending on how you view it) Howard outlived his foster carer’s interest in caring for him … and he returned to rescue when I got back from holiday. He’s back here trying to make the best of it .. and to his credit isn’t making a bad job of it. If it wasn’t for the renal diet complications of communal living … we’d be rocking it!

We’re at the stage where he can mingle without fights. The older kittens escorted him on his first trip round the (cat secure) garden. He’s a lovely old boy x

So that’s us .. settling down to New Year’s Eve. Apologies (huge apologies) to anyone I’ve missed out.

The gorgeous Stanie was adopted by his amazing long suffering foster carers in June this year.

He now shares a home with the equally gorgeous Harold who was adopted last year.

Not to be forgotten … but so easily forgotten … and that’s possibly intentional … because he’s trying to creep up onto the table to steal food … Oscar. He’s our other long term foster cat who lives with the fundraiser without whom 8 Lives simply woudn’t survive. He’s been with 8 Lives well over a year now … skulking under the radar … looking for anything tasty.

Best wishes for 2020 to you and especially to your felines x

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Season’s Greetings from 8 Lives

Tis the season for climbing up into the loft and gettting the Xmas decorations down.   Tis also the season for being a little smug and thinking “blimey, its cold up here … the insulation must be working well”.

I suspect Dasher remembered the boxes and the excitement of the tree last year .. judging by his reaction:

Who would have thought when he arrived 18 December last year he’d still be here this Christmas:


dasher xmas tree (5)

Dasher Xmas 2018

That’s a long story we’ll not go into right now. However for Dasher’s best mate Kevin, it was the first Xmas anywhere. Kev could hardly believe his eyes when we set up the biggest cat toy he’d ever ever seen, or imagined in his wildest fluffy dreams.   He walked into the lounge and stood in amazement …

He went to fetch Dasher to come see it .. because that’s what Kev does – if he’s not sure about anything, absolutely anything at all, he goes to find Dasher to ask his opinion.

Dasher thought he’d seen it before, but needed to touch it a bit just to be sure.

Yep .. he’d been there, done that … and wandered off to find some supper.

Kev however was transfixed.

The gingerbread man, who has survived several generations of kittens, realised to his horror that he was the focus of Kev’s attention. He tried to just dangle calmly but suitably fesitvely ..  however it was too late .. Kevin just couldn’t resist.



At first it was just a tap, and although gingerbread man swung dizzyingly … he regained his balance and composed himself.

Unfortunately this just whetted Kev’s appetite for more .. and before he could say “don’t eat me” .. Kev had launched a vicious attack.

We last saw him laying face down on the kitchen floor …. with the shadown of young Benjamin hanging over him.

is this the end for gingerbread man?

Wishing a Merry fun filled Christmas to you all!

* Please be assured that gingerbread man (and snowman, angel and a random apple) will be offered appropriate support before being returned to their boxes/loft.

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Holidays … ? (in praise of cat sitters)

It’s been a long haul through the summer … and autumn.    Ailbhe and her 7 kittens, Squiggle & Raven and their 7 kittens, Jette and her 5 kittens, plus several others who aren’t part of these huge families.   I’m not complaining – they’re all very lovely cats, and we’ve had some awesome adoptive parents joining our 8 Lives family.   However it’s meant homechecks / visitors /takings to new homes almost every weekend day for the last 6 months, vet trips after work one or two evenings every week … plus vet trips before work too when they’ve gone to be neutered.  And the cleaning! OMG! The hours of cleaning!

I’ve watched all my colleagues and friends going off on summer holidays but been happy to hang on knowing I have MY holiday coming in November.   A visit to my lovely friends in Singapore and a few days exploring Laos … what could be better?   It took a lot of planning, making sure everyone had enough medication and food, checking all the cats in foster had sufficient supplies, timing the cleaning so things were at their best ready for cat sitter to take over.

Freyja: one of my best friends in Singapore

At times it seemed like it would never all come together, but finally, finally I was at the airport, on the plane and settled into watching more films than I’d watched in the entire year to date. I was a bit hot and cold through the flight but put it down to the air con on board. Arrived in Singapore feeling spaced out and disorientated … but you know … jet lag and all that. Still feeling like I was on another planet, but embracing it, we set off to Laos the following morning … and finished the day with a beautiful sunset cruise on the Mekong river.

Followed by the first taste of amazing Lao Beer

Woke the following morning with the cough from hell. But hey …. we’re on holiday. So off we went to explore the city and temples. It was a long climb to the top of Mount Phousi, but we were rewarded by this sight:


The world is an utterly fascinatingly varied place – so many different beliefs, traditions, ways of living out our lives. One thing is constant the world over … cats just don’t give a f@ck about the rules.

Annoyingly the virus got worse … and so did the news from home. Jango had initially been fairly compliant with taking his meds, but realising that mum was away longer than he was happy with, started to rebel. He’d been my main worry for the holiday – he’s elderly, possibly suffering some dementia, and a complete b@astard with anyone who isn’t me (and occasionally with someone who IS me!).  Without his painkillers he obviously got more uncomfortable and more grouchy and more difficult to medicate. I panicked and started googling flights home. Our lovely cat sitter stayed calm and came up with solutions. Jango was persuaded by tuna water and took his meds disolved in that.

Jango – scourge of cat sitters … and vets

Once back in Singapore I stopped trying to be ok and just flopped. Not quite though, because late one night (early here in the UK), there was a post on a local (local to S8 that is)  facebook group about two small kittens found under a car not so far from our rescue. Several people tagged me personally, or mentioned 8 Lives as being the people to help. For security reasons we didn’t want to say we were on holiday, and of course wanted to help the kits, so went ahead as though we were round the corner rather than nearly 7,000 miles away and in another time zone. Jess our cat sitter offered to go and collect the kits and bring them here. We’d done our best to reduce the numbers of cats here so far as possible before the holiday … so at least we had space here for them. It was strange to see them for the first time, in my house, from so far away, on our webcam.

Betsy & Benjamin

They’re gorgeous kittens, very loving and full of crazy kitten energy.

Sorry to grumble but I got more and more poorly through the holiday. I think I can honestly say that I don’t remember feeling more poorly in my entire life. That may be a memory issue … but I don’t think so. Nothing like two 8 hour flights home to help with a head cold / sinus infection.

I got home and immediately crashed on the bed. Jango emerged from his cave in the wardrobe for a cuddle. It was sooooooo good to see him. Then I realised I was seeing twice as much of his face on one side as the other.  Naturally I panicked.  Of course it was Sunday and vets were closed.   If I’d not been so poorly and taken time to read the note from the cat sitter I’d have read the legendary notice “Don’t Panic!”.   He’d had a swollen face on Friday night (early hours of Saturday morning in Singapore) and she’d managed to bundle him up in a towel and get him to the vets, who diagnosed an abscess.

Cat sitter must have been counting the days and looking forward to signing off from this awkward squad … but was kind enough to continue coming in for a few days after I got home, until I was well enough to manage to care of them again.

Many thanks to Jess from 3 Strings for caring for them … and to our lovely vets at V4P Millhouses who coped with me in various stages of poorliness whilst trying to sort cats out over the last few weeks x

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

“just stuff”

Not sure how this blog is going to turn out.  It’s been a while since we posted anything and feels like time we should .. no … not “should” … would actually really like to.  However there hasn’t been a “story” really to share, nothing obvious to talk about.  Don’t get me wrong .. its absolutely not that nothing is happening … we’re so busy its crazy  … but it doesn’t arrange itself conveniently round a blog post.  Texting a friend a few days ago about having not been in touch because I felt overwhelmed, she asked “by bad or good stuff?”  Having pondered on it a while … I replied “just stuff!”

In our last blog we talked about Jette’s kittens growing up … and they still are!  The coloured collars we put on them allowed us to begin to see them as individual people rather than just the amorphous mass named “Jette’s kittens”.

Whilst Jette’s kittens were growing, Raven & Squiggle’s kittens were growing even bigger!

Then Kevin arrived.  We weren’t going to take in any more cats until we’d sorted this lot … but Kev is about the same age as Raven & Squiggle’s kits … and also we’re still trying to find a suitable pal for Dasher to be rehomed with … and Kev was a baby living on his own in a garden.  How could we say no?

Then Squiggle and Raven found a lovely new home.

Once the mums had moved on we decided that it would be best for the two most timid kits (Rolo & Rowan) to move downstairs so they could have more contact time and build their confidence.  But then, probably with the stress of it all, little Rowan was poorly with a nasty tummy upset.

poorly rowan

So instead of putting them in a large crate together, so we could start stroking more often and building confidence, we needed to separate Rowan and barrier nurse him to avoid passing on the tummy upset.  Only in order to do that we needed to order a second large crate.  Then were was a mess up with the delivery and we had to go to Rotherham to the depot to collect it, but only found out that we’d need to do that about 40 minutes before the depot was closing.

Managing several separate groups of cats in one house is hard work.  Just for context, we live in a small 3 bed semi.  There are the 6 residents who kind of share space and Dasher (and now Kevin) too, but Henderson needs some degree of separation to have his renal diet.  We also need to try so far as possible for most of the other residents to have senior food, Rufus to have adult food, and Dasher and Kevin to have kitten stage food.  Except Dasher for some reason loves renal food, and Henderson loves to eat buffet style taking a few mouthfuls from each bowl.

Then there were the Squiggle/Raven kittens, being kept separate from Jette and her kittens in the two spare bedrooms.  Except on opening either of their doors we were met by an avalanche of kittens onto the landing, down the stairs and into the bathroom.   Collecting them up, posting them back into their bedrooms without the others getting out was starting to be impossible … so we ended up with a combined group.

Add to that two separate crates to manage with litter trays, food, water bowls, and in Rowan’s case meds (to add to the everyday long term meds that Henderson & Jango need), without the kittens getting out and it gets very complicated indeed.  We have an awesome cat sitter who comes in on the nights I’m working late and sorts the cats for me.  I normally get a message from her just as I’m doing the last of my paperwork to say she’s finished and passing on any updates I need to know.  The other night I’d heard nothing, finished my admin, drove the half hour back from work, stopped at the shop, and arrived home to find cat sitter only just leaving.  It had been a two hour ordeal to get around them all.

It was all so stressful that when aunty Jenny invited young Rufus to spend part of his summer holiday at her house I jumped at the chance.  He’s a precious little boy who we hand reared from 10 days old between us.   He’s very loved, but out of all the cats here, he’s the one who taken out of the equation would make the most difference.  Despite living around other cats all of his life, the fact that he’s been hand reared seems to have impacted on his ability to socialise properly with other felines.  Amber is terrified of him.  He must have upset her at some point …. but now he only needs to walk into the room and she’s stressed.  Honey (Amber’s mum) understandbly is angry with him for upsetting her daughter.  Old Uncle Henderson is intimidated by him too.  He’s an amenable old chap … but I’ve been horrified to see him cowering infront of Rufus, looking like an elderly gent being mugged.  I miss Ru terribly and feel awful that I missed his 3rd birthday … but its made things a lot easier around here.

Dasher & Kevin fell in love.

Rowan started to feel better, Rolo became more confident.

Then all four kittens were chasing around happily in the main part of the house along with the residents.

With Rufus out of the way, Amber ventured downstairs for the fist time in ages.  So long that one of the cat flaps had forgotten her.  We had a bit of a saga getting her scanned in again because she won’t go near the cat flap whilst I’m standing there … she’s semi feral and I’ve touched her only a handful of times in the years she’s lived here.  We had multiple instances of me putting a peg on the flap to wedge it open, setting it to scan a new customer, getting out the way so Amber felt safe to go through it, and then Dasher rushing through instead.  The flap says it has the capacity to scan and recognise 30 cats – 20 of them are Dasher!  Finally though it was done and Amber was out enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

The next event was that Ringo & Scruff found a lovely new home.  Our house has become much calmer and quieter since they left.  I guess their adoptive parents’ home has suddenly become rather more noisy and chaotic.

So then the next thing is the dilemma of how to manage the remaining kittens.  Ringo, Scruff and Smartie had been upstairs sharing space some of the time with Jette and her kittens.   Smartie was now the only one of the Squiggle/Raven kits upstairs.  Should we leave her in a room alone? (no .. that’s not really an option)  Put her full time with Jette et all? (Maybe … though she and Scruff had been a bit hissy with Jette and kits)  Bring her downstairs to join the others? (Possibly … though that might just be the last straw for what the residents will tolerate .. and I can cope with.  Five kittens running wild through the house like a whirlwind)  Put some of the others back upstairs to join her?  (Again this could be an option … but which ones … who are we going to pair with whom?)

We’ll leave you with that cliff hanger 😉

You might have noticed that some of our photos are of considerably better quality than usual!  The rogues galleries of kitten photos are gorgeous.  That was the other big exciting event here.  We had a visit from Isobel from Steel Rose photography last weekend.  Absolutely delighted with the lovely photos she took.


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

tempus fugit

It seems only a few days ago that I was watching Jette’s kittens taking their first breath … but today they’re chasing around their bedroom, and I know from experience that in a few more days they’ll be climbing and causing absolute mayhem.  What I DON’T seem to learn from experience is just how quickly this happens.

They were 4 weeks old last Sunday and desperate to be allowed out of the nest. Jette and I reluctantly decided to drop the drawbridge on the “very useful box” and allow them out.

Jette found it hard at first … needing eyes in the back of her head to keep track of all of them:

It wasn’t easy … but once they were out there was no going back.

So we enter the period of very steep learning curve for kittens. Moving from fighting over nipples to perfecting table manners …

Just what DO you do with your feet whilst eating?

And then there’s a minefield of litter tray etiquette to learn. Hint! Pooing right behind the door so that when its opened your sh1t is smeared across the floor is not generally regarded as good manners! Neither is peeing right at the door opening and just where I step sock or bare footed into the room. Other handy tips: don’t go to sleep in the litter tray, don’t wee on your siblings, don’t kick litter in other people’s faces.

The intermediate course covers the ability to wee & poo quietly without having to announce to mummy and everyone else in the house what you’re doing, and expects that if you go into the ‘grown up’ litter tray you’ll be able to get yourself out again. Also: NO FIGHTING in the tray! For some reason it brought to mind an image from childhood swimming baths days:

Some of the little Riggle (Squiggle/Raven) kittens have been to visit aunty Jette and haven’t been made entirely welcome. However one little J toddled off to see aunties Squiggle & Raven this week and was given a much better reception ….

…. if you regard having your bottom washed as a positive sign of hospitality! We’re not judging … It’s one thing to have a tiny kitten intruder when your kits are twice her size … its quite something else to have ninja kits bouncing into the nursery when you’re feeding tiny kittens.

They’re 5 weeks old today. Ninja kittens in training, and starting to emerge as individuals. We don’t usually use collars but we have two black kits (Jellybean & Jethro) and two tabbies (Jaffa & Jade) who look very similar … so decided to go for colour coding. Little Jemima as the only black and white kit doesn’t need a collar, but we don’t want her to feel left out.


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