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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Big Day

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

mathilde arrives

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

Mathilde with Rufus

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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monochrome to colour

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

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

Now we have Hecate and her 4 kits:

Hecate & kits

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

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

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

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

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

henderson

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Throw away elderly cats

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

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

 

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

And helps them with getting their supper.

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

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

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

And … yet … so much in between 🙂

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

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

Paul anxious in rescue

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

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

Mikey & Paul discussing house rules

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Foster carers – recruiting

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Delights and dilemmas

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

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

So then there’s a dilemma:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stanlie

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

 

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

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.

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

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