End of an era

On Easter Monday I took Fingers & Bandit to their furever home … the second pair of the Norton 4 kittens … now young cats.

It marked the end of quite a long chapter in 8 Lives history.  We had the original message about the Norton 4 back in August 2018 – Four kittens around 5 or 6 months old had been living in a garden for some considerable time.  Intially mum had been with them … but she’d moved on .. sadly presumably pregnant again.   Kind people had fed them, but not really interacted with them … and for reasons that made sense, but won’t be disclosed here, had just let them be.

It was a more challenging situation than we’d normally tackle, but it was very close to home, other rescues were full and we could see that if something wasn’t done very soon, the Norton 4 would be the Norton 14!

You can read all the twists and turns in their story if you scroll down the blog a bit … but back to Easter Monday ….

In an almost exact paralell with the rehoming of Nancy & Dodger … Fingers came out the carrier and ran under a chair, Bandit was reluctant to leave the carrier.   In the Nancy & Dodger story, it was a cupboard rather than a chair … but it’s the same difference.   Eventually Bandit made a dash to be with her sister … and that’s where I left them.


Fortunately they are a little more confident than their brother & sister, that is Fingers is more or less as confident as Nancy … though she doesn’t quite express it in the same way, while Bandit is quite a bit less shy than Dodger.  So by the following day they’d put in an appearance at the food bowl next to the chair.

In terms of further exploration it seems Fingers was sent out to check the perimeter of the room whilst Bandit stayed close to the chair watching, cleaning herself and tapping a few toys.

It didn’t take very many days before Fingers was up on the sofa, checking out the cuddles.

Bandit isn’t quite there with cuddles yet …. but is enjoying sitting on the windowsill with her sister each evening … watching the world go by.

Couldn’t be happier for all 4 of them.  They’ve found two lovely families to give them the best chance possible in life.

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It’s complicated

After the failed relationship between Dasher & Dexi, she went off and found herself a lovely ‘only cat’ home.

Dasher had been longing to try again to find a pal … but we couldn’t do anything until Dexi had moved out as there was no space for another one … especially when we had Dexi complaining loudly about how many cats there were around here.

He was philosohpical about it and spent his time just chatting with uncle Henderson … and playing in the garden.

We started putting the word out again that he was looking … and heard that there were 5(!) kits needing somewhere … but they were only about 5 weeks old … so would need to stay with their mum for several more weeks. Five were rather too many to manage … but then Howard landed himself the offer of a foster home, so his bedroom was going to be free. So we agreed we’d take them … hopefully there would be two pairs and another who could be a mate for Dasher. Then we found out the place they were in seemed less safe and we offered to take them earlier so long as mum could come with them. Howard’s room would be free so it would be ok. Then we learned that there were actually 9 kittens and 2 mums … but 3 of the kits had homes lined up and the home they were coming from would only part with one of the mums. So the agreement became that we’d take one mum and six kittens. And we realised that through the long and complicated negotiations we’d started by looking for a pal for Dasher, but ended up agreeing to take a (part) family of 7 which meant there were 3 pairs of kittens, and an adult cat .. but in reality no one for Dasher to pal up with. They needed a place of safety though … so we sucked it up, laughed about it, and got on with making the plans.

The plan was that Howard would go to his foster home on Easter Monday, the room would be available from that evening. Then a couple of things happened. One of the three kits who had a home lined up had his offer withdrawn. Then there was a greater risk of tiny kittens being handed out “free to good home” … except these homes are rarely “good”. An odd number of kittens at last …. but who needed to move pronto if they were to be safe.

So … 7 kittens, plus mum to some of them, arriving today … with no room actually available just yet

backend clash between henderson & howard

Emergency plan was to move Howard downstairs with the residents for a couple of days until he goes to his foster home. He’s spent some time down here when there was a hope he might be integrated with them.  It went sort of ok .. though there’s a bit of a rivalry for my lap between Henderson & Howard.

Yesterday I frantically cleaned downstairs, so there woudn’t be too much disruption if Howard moved down. Today I guiltily evicted Howard from his bedroom, cleaned my bedroom (next door to Howard’s room) and Howard’s room … ready for kits arriving and not having too much noise and disruption. It’s one of those situations that illustrate the warning to “be careful what you wish for!”. I’d wanted kittens for Dasher & Howard had been desperate to come downstairs. The reality was more stressful than either of us would have expected. Dasher hissed lots at Howard, Rufus started being a little b@gger again and slapping anyone and everyone … just to make his point.

Howard is trying to manage it by stealing my seat on the sofa.   I’m trying to manage it with a complicted algorithm of doors closed and open … and a few beers.  Tomorrow we need to find a way of separting them enough to manage any arguments … but be able to show Dasher off to his best to potential adopters (they also want him to come to his new home with a pal) … without him being able to run off and hide under the sink .. and without any embarassing family arguments in front of visitors.

Praying to the Easter Bunny for assistance 🙂

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Norton 2+2 – the remainers

Bandit and Finger were clearly a little unsettled when their siblings went off to their new home 3 weeks ago.  Whether that was because they missed them, or because they feared they’d also be shuffled into carriers I’m not sure.

Three weeks on and Nancy & Dodger are getting well settled


The nice suprise here is that Bandit has come out of her shell more. There was no suggestion that she was being bullied or intimidated by her siblings … but she whilst she wasn’t particularly scared of people, she wasn’t that bothered about interacting either.  Since the others have moved she’s been much more interested in approaching for snuggles.

Bandit was much quicker to come out to play when Rachel visited this weekend, and she’s been more likely to come to find me when their bedroom door has been open than ever she used to be. Shyly peeping round the bathroom door, and loving the fuss she gets when I spot her.

Since they’ve just been a twosome they’ve been accepting other feline visitors.   That’s not been so much initiated by their hospitality as my need to make the most of time and space.  We have Dasher downstairs, desperate to play with someone, and Dexi who sadly does not like him.  So Dasher has been up for a play date.  Bandit was a bit shy with him but Finger entertained him and showed him some smart hunting moves.

It also occured to me that I spend ages waving toys around for these girls, and then a similar amount of time in the next room with Howard firmly planted on my lap … If we could join up and multitask they could have twice the play time and Howard could have double snuggles.   That kind of went ok too.  The girls are lovely and friendly, Howard does his best, he’s not actively aggressive but bear in mind that he arrived in rescue very poorly .. and recovering from an abscess that we assume was the result of a cat fight.   He has a clear idea about purrsonal space .. and each time the girls breached it, said “How” ..  more assertively than aggressively.

There was an awkward moment where Finger had gone into his bedrooom whilst he was in hers.  As Howard returned to his own room, Finger decided to leave.  The shape of the landing forced this into being a bit of a confrontation.   Words were said, but no threats were acted on.

Less stressful moments were when Howard and I sat in his room,  watching Finger play with a rug on the landing.  She suddenly noticed that the cat in the bathroom mirror had an identical rug … and freaked a bit.

Today it’s been Rufus who went to visit.  No particular reason .. other than the fact that the girls have been here for months now, confined to their bedroom with occasional access to bathroom, stairs and landing.   I wonder if we might be able to get them coming downstairs a bit, so they have more interaction, and even a chance to play out in the garden.  However that means them interacting the the residents, as well as Dasher (who they’ve met) and Dexi (who I’m sure will not be pleased to meet them).  That meant we left the door at the bottom of the stairs open

We love our Ru to bits … but his social skills aren’t great 😉

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Norton 2+2 – the leavers

So it’s finally happened, two of the gorgeous Norton 4 have found their new home!

Nancy & Dodger

Just over a month ago we had an adoption enquiry from a lovely young couple who had just moved into their new home, and didn’t seem at all fazed by the prospect of shy cats.

I explained how our amazing friend Rachel had come over just after Christmas and spent hours with the 4 of them until they finally came out to play and started to trust her.  The couple arrived prepared to do the same.  It was the same sort of line up as with Rachel, though things happened more swiftly, as they’d all built up a lot more confidence through her visits.  Nancy bounced out first of course … curious, friendly and full of hope for chicken treats.  Then Finger, and eventually Bandit emerged, cautious at first but then very sweet.  I’m sure they knew what was at stake because whereas Finger normally plays with her feather wand toy like a crazy mad growly tiger, on that day she and Bandit daintily batted the toy back and forth between them .. as though choreographed for enticing adopters.   Dodger as ever hung back.  Although the couple had initially expressed an interest in N&D, Dodger’s reticence and F&B’s cuteness nearly swung things in their favour.  Then the gorgeous Dodge put in an appearance, and deigned to accept Dreamies.



Nancy & Dodger won the day and I spent a week fretting about how to get Dodger into a carrier to go to his new home without stressing him too much. We practised each night going into the carrier for Dreamies and for most of the week that carrier was his favourite spot.

Annoyingly though, on D Day, I misjudged it … tried to push him fully into the carrier when he was only half way in, and that was the end of that ruse. In the end he chased the red dot into another carrier, and I slammed the door.

We had the opposite problem at the other end of the journey.   Nancy came out her carrier and ran under a cupboard.  Dodger refused to leave the carrier.  Yes, we could have forced him out, but we didn’t want to make it any more stressful for him than it already was.  So there he sat, in an enormous carrier, similtaneously blocking entrance to kitchen, lounge and the stairs.

I cried in the car on the way home.  I knew they’d got the best home they could ever hope for, and all would eventually be well.  However they’d trusted me for 6 months and now I’d done something that had made them scared again.

Thankfully their adoptive parents are amazing.  Not only do they understand the cats’ anxiety, they seem to get my anxiety too!  … and send lots of updates.

Our first update was the following morning.  No photos as both hiding.  Dodger had come out the carrier and joined Nancy under the cupboard.  Nancy had accepted a little chicken when being hand fed.

A couple of days later, a photo of Nancy under their cupboard.  And the reassurance that they were eating and using the litter tray, and exploring … though only when the humans were out.

Another day or two and they’re looking more relaxed, starting to be interested in the laser toy again.  And a day or two later, confirmation that they’re exploring the part of the house they have access to, as Dreamies left in various locations have disappeared 🙂   They’ve also been spotted exploring the landing when the humans have arrived home unexpectedly.


A week or so on and Dodger is starting to remember that he really likes Dreamies and playing with the red dot.  They’re not quite comfortable interacting with the humans but are getting used to sharing the space with them, and happier about exploring whilst the humans are home.

And not many days after that, Nancy came out, feeling much bolder and had some strokes from both humans.

She was fascinated watching mum cooking, even though there was quite a lot of noise and crashing around in the kitchen.

And then this!  Growing in confidence by leaps and bounds


They’ve been in their new home for 3 weeks tomorrow, and its lovely to see how much they’ve grown in confidence. It will still take some time and patience … but we have absolute faith in them and their humans that they’ll get there.

Well done Nancy & Dodger!

Huge thanks to their lovely adoptive parents, and to Rachel for helping to socialise them x

We’ll update about the other two in our next blog 🙂

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She’s just not that into you

The last few weeks have been a difficult emotional journey for little Dasher. He put so much effort into finding a potential bestie, and could scarcely contain his excitement when little Dexi arrived.

waiting for first sight of her

He’s worked hard at the relationship, chattering to Dexi, showing her how to climb curtains, suggesting all sorts of fun games they might play.

To be fair, the rules of some of the games have been a little complex and tedious, but he’s put the work in. He’d had dreams of moving to a new home together, with a garden and servants of their own. Sadly it’s not to be. Much as he chases around after her telling her she’s beautiful (and clever & strong too because he’s a 21st century kitten and doesn’t want her to think he’s only interested in her being pretty), her invariable response is “HISS OFF!”


We can all see it, but it’s hard for him to let go and move on. He remains hopeful.

His pal Rufus is being a good mate, and suggested they go out and play in the garden to take his mind off it.

Finger even invited him upstairs for a playdate with her and Bandit. In the event, Bandit wasn’t so keen, but Finger listened patiently to him and showed him a few ‘special’ hunting techniques.

Dasher obviously felt a bit more valued after that and practised posing like Dodger in their bedroom. We think it was a pretty decent attempt.

Both Dexi and Dasher and lovely kits, but we will all have to accept that the love affair we hoped for is simply not going to work out. Dexi wants a home where she can live the single life with no other cats, Dasher wants to have some mates around.

Aunty Honey isn’t pleased that her boy has been snubbed .. and would like to know just what the problem was

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Howard’s Tail

When we went over to my rescue friend to collect Dexi a few weeks ago we bumped into Howard.  He’s an older chap who had arrived with her that day.  To our knowledge he’d been living rough for some time (rumours suggest for 2-3 years, after his humans moved house and didn’t take him with them), but had come to more urgent attention just then as he had an abscess on his foot.   He’d been to the vet earlier that day, had an antibiotic shot and been discharged with some metacam.  He was sitting in a large crate looking sorry for himself, but still purring.   This was Wednesday, I knew Skye was off to her new home on the Saturday, so offered for him to have her bedroom from the Sunday.



He duly arrived and settled himself in.  Having eaten ravenously for a few days, I was told he had been off his food from that morning.   We tried every sort of food possible and he wouldn’t eat.  Then a day or two later he was eating ravenously,  drinking enormous amounts of water, and peeing with his sights on a world record.

His first vet appointment confirmed that his abscess was healing  nicely but his foot was swollen, and he had a temperature.  There were also the concerns about fluid intake and fluctuating appetite.  He complained a bit about Dr Fran poking his sore toe, and about where she put the thermometer … but on the whole he thought she was wonderful.

Then there was an anxious wait for blood tests. The first batch came through in a few days, revealing that he had anaemia and that there was a kidney problem – which we’d suspected because of his fluid consumption. A longer wait for results of FIV/FeLV tests. As an unneutered stray who had clearly been in fights Howard was a prime candidate for these viruses. [It’s hard to imagine Howard in a fight, he’s a sweet placid sort of chap. I’m sure it must have been the other cat who started it! I did offer for us to drive round the area he came from and see if we could spot the offending cat] Thankfully and amazingly the tests came back negative. So the next thing was a scan to see if anything sinister might be causing the problems. The various blood results suggested there might be something else going on. We decided to combine this with a little contraceptive advice, so Howard was in for the day at the vets. This was bliss for Howard … lots of lovely people fussing over him … though he has expressed a wish to pop back and check their “lost property” box at some stage.

Thankfully the scan didn’t show up anything awful … it was ‘just’ chronic kidney disease. He was told he’d need a special diet, lots of good quality food … just for him … which he was happy about. We went to see our friend Nic at Pet Company on the way back to the car. With the shop door safely locked he came out for a little snuggle. There are some lovely tasty sausages and treats on Nic’s counter. It was at that point that reality hit home – the special diet was ALL he was going to have … no sneaky nibbles of sausages. You can tell by the look on his face how pleased he was with this turn of events.

A few days on and we’re starting to get the hang of it. Ordered several different lots of specialist renal food. It’s tricky to tell whether the times he doesn’t eat it are because he doesn’t like it or whether its a spike in his kidney problems and he’s feeling rubbish and not wanting to eat.   Have to say I’m impressed by Royal Canin renal food. They do a special palatability pack … with samples of different flavours, wet/dry food, different textures of wet food.

To be fair, Howard has also enjoyed Hills Science kidney diet pouches … but there’s something reassuring about having lots of different options in one big box to offer him.

Currently resurrecting nearly 40 year old memories of A level biology to understand what’s going on for him. Our vet nurses have been hugely helpful too. This book loaned by one of them is really useful … enough info for it to feel like I can start to get my head around just what is happening inside Howard … but still gentle and “cat mom” friendly. Definitely recommend.

Meanwhile, Howard is zoning out on the nip

No prizes for guessing who is most stressed about the diagnosis 😉

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Dasher WLTM

Little Dasher came to us just before Christmas.

He’s a little bit shy with people until he gets to know them, but clearly enjoys the company of other cats. He loves playing with Rufus and Flipper (though the delight isn’t always mutual)

and enjoys a snuggle with Uncle Henderson and Aunty Honey.

So we were keen to make sure he had a pal to go to a new home with, and set about finding another youngster who needed to come into rescue. Despite there being dozens of cats needing rescue space it’s been tricky finding a single older kit to pair him up with. We spent a lot of time online looking for a friend.

There were several disappointments along the way. However finally, this week a rescue friend trapped a kit who had been living in a garden for a few months, and we drove up one night after work to collect her.

Dasher sees Dexi online

She went into a large covered dog crate to start with … just whilst we dealt with the fleas and she had time to settle. Rufus and Dasher were very curious.


The next day Uncle Henderson became concerned that she was still in the crate, not least because his favoured litter tray is usually in there.

So she came out to play. Dasher ran away! To be fair, she’s biggerer than he is. Rufus was happy to play with her though …. a little too happy. Although Ru (and Dasher!) has been neutered, Dexi hasn’t yet (booked in later this week) … and Ru could smell some things he couldn’t quite make sense of but was very interested in. We had to have a talk to Ru about purrsonal space and boundaries.

Dasher is interested but still wary. Here’s Dexi standing on the lap top a couple of minutes ago whilst I write this blog … with Dasher watching coyly from the sidelines.

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Reach for the Sky(e)

I took Cloe to a foster home a couple of weeks ago so we were in the exciting position of having a rescue space available.  I realise as I write that I’ve not mentioned Cloe on the blog before.   She’s a sweet elderly stray who we’re pretty sure was dumped.  Her arrival was stressful and distressing through absolutely no fault of her own.  She’s a little sweetheart and is now living it up in the most lovely foster home she could have dreamed of and her story will be told one day.   As I was walking down the foster carers’ garden back to my car my phone pinged ….

Cloe settling in foster home

… It was a kind neighbour of an elderly lady who had sadly died the previous day, leaving a cat who needed a lifeline and a new home.  After checking that there was no one else who laid claim to the cat and that the lady’s relatives etc were in agreement that she came into rescue with us, we agreed to take her, checked she would be fed and safe for a couple of days and planned to collect her on the Saturday.

Saturday is often the day I take my own elderly neighbour shopping.    She’s about the best neighbour you could have but for the first 70 years of her life hadn’t been someone who had much interest in cats.  It’s kind of changed in the 10 years I’ve lived next door to her as she’s listened to endless stories about cats and saved her spare bits of meat and chicken for the poor felines trying to eke out an existence with a veggie human.  [Just to be clear … I’m veggie … the cats absolutely are NOT … but there aren’t any meat scraps coming off my plate for them.]   It goes without saying that Henderson adores her …. not only for the treats but also because a while back when he had an altercation with “The Cat up the Road” while I was out at work, our neighbour came round, armed with a large piece of strong cardboard, bravely fought on his side … and they won!  Anyway I digress.


It’s not a turn that most people’s lives take at rising 80, but my lovely neighbour got involved in the trapping of the Norton 4.  The N4’s garden was handily almost on route between here and Aldi … so it fitted in nicely to collect the trap on the way back from shopping.   It was a similar occasion with the arrival of Skye.  We’d done an Aldi shop but needed a few things from Sainsburys too and by the time we’d done it time was tight to get the shopping home and unpacked and back to collect cat.  So off we went together to collect Skye.   I’m telling you this just because it’s part of the story but also because people mostly assume that cat rescue people just do cat rescue and that’s what they’re paid to do.   The reality is that for most rescue people, other than ones employed by the big rescues, we’re fitting it in, unpaid, around our day jobs and everything else we need to do.

Anyway, we find the house and  I knock on the deceased lady’s neighbour’s door.  He answers and then goes to get his wellies and thick gloves.  Uh oh! ?  It transpires that his neighbour had been unwell for some time and hadn’t been able to keep on top of flea treatment … to the point that the carpet was jumping … hence the wellies.  I have a brief moment of wellie envy.  The house is rammed with a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff.  It’s heartbreaking.  Thankfully the neighbour has had the foresight to close the cat into a small ish room, though it was filled with plants and furnished with high shelves … which of course the cat was right on top of.  You know those moments when you wonder what you’ve let yourself in for?  Hats off to the neighbour who took responsibility with his thick gloves for getting the cat into the carrier – most people would have stood back to watch me struggle.

I wondered as I was putting the cat carrier in the back seat and putting her seat belt on, whether I should mention to my neighbour that the cat was bouncing with fleas, and on balance thought it was not the best plan.  She got very stressed about a recent mouse infestation which had affected several of our neighbours but oddly enough left us untouched 😉   Drove home.  Left cat in car whilst I got neighbour safely into her house, rushed home, guessed weight of cat and applied appropriate sized Advantage … sprayed RIP fleas on stair carpet and around car …. then gathered up the shopping and took it round to neighbour … praying that nothing had jumped into the bags.  Both very ready  for a coffee by then.   I love this “No Cat Cafe” just up the road – a haven in which to drink cat hair free coffee in peace 😉  We sat on the sofa and thanks to web cam were able to watch puss settling in to her new surroundings.


There was a little while where she explored her igloo, but soon was hiding up high.

It took a while to spot her.

She stayed up there and on other high shelves for several days.

She was clearly scared. It was a bit surreal to watch Finger .. one of the (used to be) very timid Norton 4 .. come into her room and try to reach her and reassure her.

Finger trying to help

As you can see … we fetched in a chair from the other room. I climbed to to see her, expecting to be hissed at or even swiped at. Instead she leaned into the strokes and cuddles, purring loudly.

The tricky bit then was avoiding her feeling all loved up, rolling over and falling off the shelf.

There had been some hope that she was microchipped and that that would give us a bit more info about whether she was spayed, her age … and her name! Once she was relaxed enough to cope with the scanner we checked, but sadly no chip.

Our vets guesstimated her age at about 4-5, shaved her flank and found a scar which we’re 98% certain indicates that she’s been spayed … but her name?! We tried to guess what an elderly lady might have called her cat. We thought of calling her after the elderly lady as surely at least it was a name she’d have heard and recognized – but then thought it might confuse her. We looked at suggestions for black cat names and witchy names, and since she loves to climb thought about names of famous climbers (other than Ivy! … we’ve already had an Ivy). We went above all that and thought of Sky as that’s about as high as you can climb. We added an e because she’s beautiful … like the island.

Welcome Skye x

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Facing our fears together

The Norton 4 and I have formed a close bond.  They arrived here in September having lived in a garden most of their young lives.  They’d been fed by a kindly neighbour but not had much human interaction, and were terrified.  It’s been a long slow process but by Christmas it was clear that they all trust me and in varying degrees are happy for me to stroke and cuddle them.

Fingers and Nancy are particularly affectionate

Dodger and Bandit are more wary.   Dodger is way bigger than his sisters but on the whole a bit of a wuss … maybe it’s because they push him around … girl cats can be very bossy.   I have a very strong sense that he’s a big soft tom cat waiting to happen though.   He was the last of the group to allow strokes, but now clearly enjoying them and wanting more, but not quite ready to risk it.  Bandit on the other hand was the first of the group to allow contact, but now seems to be the most wary.  Her weakness is chicken … which is perhaps how she was the first to be bribed when they arrived.  Dodger has never been one for chicken … he’s more a Dreamie man and is loving the Dreamie toy he got at Christmas from Jess his cat sitter.


What we’ve realised though is that although they’re confident with me, they’re not used to anyone else really and tend to hide when other people are around.  It’s understandable given that it’s just me that they see every day … but it’s not a winner in the adoption stakes.

I get where they’re coming from.   I’m not very confident with new people either.   I’d dragged every random visitor I’d had into their room to meet them briefly but it wasn’t going to be enough to help them.  So one evening over the Christmas holiday we posted on a local facebook group asking for help.  It was a bit of a weird request … asking random cat loving strangers to come over for an hour or so, sit with me in their room and just chat so they got used to other voices, and if they came out to interact at their own pace.

There was a flurry of interest which resulted in four serious offers and dates in the diary.    I think all 5 of us were anxious, though at least I was also hopeful and optimistic.

The first visit was less stressful for me as it was one of our adopters from years ago, Elisha & Ezekiel’s mum.   Nancy bobbed out to play a bit and even had a little stroke.  The others hid.

Second visit was a kind lady and her amazingly calm and lovely kids.  Norton 4 had never been matched by same number of humans in their room before so it was a big event for them.  Again Nancy popped out to say hello … and to the kids delight shot off after smelling mum’s feet 😉  I’m sure it was just the smells of other pets she’s picked up on her socks but it caused some hilarity.

Our third brave visitor also had a snuggle with Nancy but not much sight of the others.

I’m hugely grateful to these people who responded to our request for help.   Despite it looking as though nothing was changing, under the surface it was!  What I’ve consistently found with cats is that it looks like nothing is happening … and then suddenly there’s a shift.

Our fourth awesome guest managed to charm Nancy out to play very quickly, not surprisingly as Nancy had been the main meet and greet purrson previously.  That was lovely but not ground breaking.   However, it started to get more exciting when Fingers put in an appearance.   That was amazing.

It made my day really … huge progress. Then we noticed that Dodger was just visible around the side of the filing cabinet. That in itself was a big deal as he’s normally hidden much more securely than that.

I was blown away when he also came out to play. And then Bandit too … she gave up her rigid “in the corner behind the desk” hidey hole … and joined in the game.  Then Dodger was taking treats out of her hands and Finger was climbing on her lap like she was a long lost friend.

This is so exciting and hopeful for the future of these cats.  Their increased confidence was sustained when our adopter friend came for a second visit … the cats were markedly more outgoing with her too.   They’re still going to be a bit wary of new people and take some patience to gain their trust and confidence … but I’m sure once they’re settled in their new homes they’re going to be amazing.


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Seasons Greetings : nativity & pseudo nativity stories

I make no secret of the fact that one of my favourite things about Christmas is hearing from some of our previous guests and seeing photos of them happy and settled in their new homes enjoying Christmas. There’s little as wonderful as seeing the cat who arrived here filthy and scared, full of fleas and eye infections and goodness knows what else … now proudly posing by the Christmas tree, or sprawled on the sofa after too much Xmas dinner, or playing with their new toys as though nothing bad had ever happened in their lives. It makes all the evenings of rushing off to the vet after work, shit shovelling, ear drops etc worth while.

If you’ve been following our facebook page you’ll maybe have seen these photos and a little bit about the cats … there’s more of their stories here:  [Edit … I’ve decided to split this into more than one part as its a long read … just browse … enjoy the photos 😉 ]

Nala got in first to send her Christmas greetings


Nala came to us in the summer of 2014 … along with her three tiny kittens. She wasn’t much more than a kitten herself, but on her own and pregnant. She went inside a house and gave birth under a child’s bed. The lady of the house was pregnant herself and let her be whilst the kittens were tiny, but once they started moving around, and she herself had also given birth, she realised they needed to be safe in rescue.

She’s a lovely little cat who always takes time out of her Christmas to send us a photo x

The lovely E Team are also very reliable correspondents. These are four little boys who were born here in September 2015. Gorgeous lads all of them.

Their mummy, like Nala, was a pregnant stray. She arrived here shortly before she gave birth to the boys.

Not all the cats we take into rescue are pregnant … but it does seem that the ones who arrived here pregnant and brought their families up here are good correspondents. Take Betty for example:

Betty was heavily pregnant and living on the street close to a main road. She was so frantic to get help that she threw herself at our 8 Lives treasurer’s door and hung on until she was noticed. Our treasurer didn’t know she was going to be our treasurer at that point, in fact she’d never heard of 8 Lives. However she searched on facebook, found us and a few hours later Betty was settling into our maternity suite … aka my little front bedroom. She was clearly a first time mum, and didn’t know what to expect. She was so anxious about squashing her kits that she stood up to feed them for the first few days, trying to work how she could lie down safely without hurting anyone.

She’d got the hang of it by the time we took this photo. Lots of lovely things about this story. Once the kits were grown and adopted, Betty went back to the lady who had found her, the lady became a friend and our treasurer! And some of Betty’s kits still keep in touch regularly too.   Photos here of Betty now, and two of her lads who will be 4 years old this summer.

As I said … not all of our cats arrive pregnant. Here’s one who wasn’t but we thought was … Domino. I was at work one day towards the end of 2014 when I got a message asking if we could take a pregnant cat. Long story short we agreed that finder would drop her at our vets and I’d pick her up on the way home from work. It meant that the vet could examine her straight away. She did indeed appear pregnant on arrival … however on examination it turned out she was absolutely full of wind. We’ve no idea what had happened but she deflated slowly and odorously over the next few days. She’s a gorgeous cat, and seems to enjoy posing for the camera x

We had a similar sort of situation with Saffia who arrived in 2017.  I went up to a branch of PDSA in West Yorks to collect a cat and two tiny kittens, and was told the cat was already pregnant again.   She did indeed look rather round.  I took what they said at face value, popped them in the car, put their seat belts on and set off.    Something niggled me though.  I’m not great at maths, and doing it whilst negotiating the inner ring road of an unfamiliar city did nothing to help with that.  The kits were just opening their eyes, so must be about 10 days to 2 weeks old.  Cats are pregnant for 9 weeks and start to show about half way through.  So … um … that meant she’d got pregnant again about a fortnight before these two were born.  I know cats are prolific … but !! … we pulled into the next layby … called our own vets and went home via an appointment with them.

It wasn’t wind this time.  The vet got a very large bowl and gently squeezed her tummy.  We think she’d been anxious to leave her kittens, so she’d not been for a pee for several days.  To my knowledge its not a stunt she’s repeated.   Another lovely little family saved.   Saffia has kept in touch regularly and so have her kits.   The kits have been very excited about their human mum’s advent calendar … mum likes the chocolates but the kittens (not really kittens any longer) love the wrappers and even go into the wastebasket to retrieve them to play with.

We also heard from Tabbytha and Mowse … who are completely awesome.  Despite being feral/semi feral outdoor cats with no Xmas decorations or internet … they are  some of our best correspondents.  Mowse was a little over excited and out of focus this time.

Caring for these ladies back in 2016 was one of the most lovely experiences we’ve had at 8 Lives.   We responded to a plea to help someone on a farm way up in North Yorkshire who had been feeding stray cats, but hadn’t had them neutered as he was unwell, and was now terminally ill so could no longer feed.   I should add that other rescues helped with far more cats than we did … we just played a part.  So I arrived home with two very pregnant farm cats, in a chicken coop or something tied up with twine .. the way they’d been caught by farm hands, but before one of them had bitten quite badly.  You know those days when you wonder what you’ve let yourself in for?

I don’t know who was more scared of who at first, but we kind of rubbed along.  I was anxious about how each of them would be with the other’s kittens.  I’d thought I should perhaps separate them in case they attacked each other’s kittens … but they were obviously very attached to each other … so I put it off.   Birth is always a magical experience … but what happened here just blew me away.  Each helped the other with their births, purring and cleaning newborns as they arrived.  Then shared the feeding and caring of kits between them.  When Simon arrived in rescue, about 5 weeks old, found abandoned in a garden, they welcomed him into the family too.  He’s sticking out like a bit of a sore thumb here … but that was only for a day or so.

getting adopted into the family

Tabbytha & Mowse have found themselves a nice live in job as rodent managers in a stable in North Yorkshire. They didn’t stand in the way of their kittens becoming home cats. We still hear from Simon & Minnie (one of Mowse’s kits) regularly. They’ve recently had a human baby brother so are quite tired:

Hecate is another of our mummies who has sent greetings. She’s enjoying her first Christmas in a new home. Much of what that means for Hecate is that there is food … and no more kittens. Poor Hecate had lived rough for a while by a busy road in Sheffield. She’d had more than one litter of kittens (that hadn’t survived) already when she came to our notice. Thankfully someone alerted us to her plight when she’d just given birth to possibly her third litter of kittens. They were only a few days old when they arrived here this summer.

Hecate was understandably anxious about the intervention … given that her previous babies had perished. I can’t bear to think exactly what happened … and please don’t you imagine or it will give you nightmares too. The little H team grew up … they were harder work to socialise than Tab and Mowse’s kittens were …. but turned into lovely young men. Hecate was wary but found just the purrfect home where she could be loved and learn to trust again. For her the Christmas celebration was about realising just how much she’s changed over the past few months.


No account of our nativity stories could be complete without sharing Maya’s story.   It’s a sad and happy tail at the same time.  That also started with a phone pinging whilst I was at work .. pregnant cat living in outside toilet … can you help?


She arrived … pregnant, terrified … and poorly.   Lots of dilemmas about treatment.  She needs care, she won’t let us touch her, so she needs sedation …. but that could affect her unborn kits.  The upshot was that our vets saved her life.  However she came home from the vet, and gave birth to two premature kittens.  One was still alive.

Maya would have nothing to do with little Max … maybe she knew he was beyond hope.  We and our lovely vet nurses pulled out all the stops to give him a chance … but sadly he didn’t make it.  Maya wasn’t easy to care for … still very wary of people .. but slowly making progress.

Jenny our lovely fundraiser took pity on her and invited her home … just on a foster basis (ahem … that was 2015).  She’s gone from strength to strength since then.





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