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I haven’t updated this blog for a little while due in the main to running Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue & our family committments. Today however gave way to a Dilemma we all too often find ourselves in and I thought I’d share.
The crux of the situation is this. The Harbour is full to bursting, in fact when is it ever anything else. The phone rings relentlessly with people who say they can’t keep their cats anymore. Whilst yes, some I empathise with, others have found themselves in the situation due to poor choices and impulsive purchases (the curse of the free ads pet trade).
Today’s situation is a tricky dilemma that we all too often find ourselves in. When confronted by 2 options.
1 is to squeeze in a kitten or 2, make them safe.
2 is to accept we have no space and refuse knowing what fate lies ahead for them. We know this as we are told that if we can’t take them and they ‘must’ go now so will be advertised. Those of you who have read my earlier blog posts will have an idea of just ‘where’ this could be. This potential space will now no longer be available for a genuine emergency.
More often than not we take option 1 knowing that option 2 really is the correct choice but at the same time how could we live with ourselves knowing we had possibly sealed the fate of the little soul.
So we put us all through stress & extra work trying to work out where to house them, relieving someone else’s problem. Yet again…. We’re the dumping ground for peoples pets that they chose to have but who can’t cope with their behaviour. We carry the burden of people’s irresponsible, rash decisions to have pets they clearly can’t care for. People who look to re house their pets having only had them a few short weeks.
What chance does any animal have in today’s throwaway society. People have lost the ability to commit to care for their pets. They feel it is their right to have pets, well no its not. It’s a privelege and if you can’t provide love, care and safety for an animal you chose to have then don’t get a pet.
All too often we hear statements like “a kitten is better for kids you bring a kitten up the way you want it” The truth couldn’t be further from it.
You don’t create the personality of your pet anymore than you create the personality of your child. Expecting a pet, especially a cat, to be moulded to what suits you just isn’t going to happen. But instead of tossing them away because they don’t ‘fit’ try understanding their perspective, give them space & keep a genuine rescue space free for a cat in genuine desperate need.
What option will it be next time? I really don’t know and it really depends
Certainly, for now there will be no more arrivals until space is created as we are too full. At the same time we are desperately fundraising to generate extra income to enable us to create the new rescue centre and services so we don’t have to make this difficult choice every single day as we will have more space to cope.
Until then….the dilemma continues
These last few months have been tough. We have seen a huge number of genuinely needy cats like Bruno, Floyd, Alice, Tyson, Benjamin and Reggie find their way to our door. We have given our all to save these little ones though some are no longer with us.
This is what Sunny Harbour formed to do. To help the most needy cats and kittens and we strive to do this as well as we can.
Despite these cases some successful, others not so much, there are still the calls for help from those wanting to rehome their own pets for a variety of reasons. Those who are genuinely in need we can sympathise and help as best we can. But it really is difficult to know who is telling you the truth and who isn’t.
Those who say they emigrate next week but when quizzed stumble & stutter to come up with incoherent answers. Are you really?
Those who say their newly bought pet kitten makes them so ill they can’t keep it after just a few weeks. Nothing to do with the 40 cigarettes a day then?
Those who are moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend who’s allergic. You mean you never thought about that possibility? So new boyfriend makes your cat disposable. Remember the cat you called your baby until he or she came along?
Yet all these urgent calls are as a result of situations people create. You control your life and the bringing of pets into it. So please take responsibility for once for those lives you chose to bring into your home.
Ah but what happens when the next person offers you a kitten? Or you split up with your boyfriend or girlfriend? That’s right, you take on another little furry life and just when will they become disposable too??
Think long and hard before you bring a pet into your life. They utterly depend on you to be selfless and to care for them.
Rescue is no place for any animal. There really shouldn’t be a need for rescues. After all in this day & age we should be educated enough to understand why neutering is essential to stop the thousands of overflow pets being killed every week. Most of all we should be responsible enough to know whether or not we can provide a life long home for a pet. If you can’t then don’t get one in the first place. Save that animal the stress & heartache of being yet another number in the rescue chain.
We want to help as many kitties as possible but please don’t abuse our kindness and dedication to the cats. Taking in your cats in an understanding way whilst you tell us how upset you are, only to see you replace them with a newer model just a few short weeks from now smarts.
Why? Well because as we were bending over backwards to help you & took in your little one we had to deny a quick intake for a stray at deaths door. So thank you I hope you’re happy and we just pray we can find a tiny bit of space to help.
The one good thing to come out of it is that your attitude towards your animals has driven us to keep going and to save as many as we can. That’s why we are actively setting about establishing funding to purchase land and build our own purpose built facility so more cats can be saved from the horrors many should never have to face.
Late Thursday night Paul receives an email from a council worker to tell us that there are 2 kittens stuck in a boarded up property some 1.5 hrs drive from the Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue base.
The property was boarded up a week ago and mum cat has had no access to her babies in this time that they are aware of. The situation is critical, the kittens may even already be dead or dying.
First thing the next morning Paul heads out to the property with a series of traps and equipment and food not knowing what he will find when he gets there. He collects the keys of the property and then heads inside cautiously fearful that the kittens will in fact be dead already. Paul wanders round the property and looks for the most likely place they could be hiding. Wall vents, under the floor boards or… the fireplaces.
Paul thought he heard a sneeze but couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from. Then something drew him towards the upstairs fireplace. There were no footprints or marks in the dust but was that a little foot hanging out?? He looked a little closer and yes, it was a little foot. His first thought was it was dead and his heart sank but then its little foot moved.
He eagerly set up a couple of kitten traps to try and get the little ones safely by tempting them with some tasty foods. He went downstairs and heard the trap ping shut almost immediately, these little ones must be very hungry. He went back into the room cautiously to find 1 kitten in the trap and 1 kitten wavering by the trap. It froze in fear and tried to make a very slow run for it back up the chimney and Paul managed to grab it before it got there. His heart was literally in his mouth as he felt just how thin these little ones were. He had been able to grab this little fluffy kitten because she was so weak and thin. She was literally a little bag of bones and fluff and was very near death.
Paul transferred them to a smaller transport cage and slid in some food. They nearly took his hand off to get it. These guys were starving.
He left them eating and then went to see if there were any signs of the mum cat who had been heard calling the kittens from outside. He tried and searched for another 4 hours but he just could not find her anywhere. The longer time passed the more the kittens were in need of urgent attention and seeing how dehydrated and weak the kittens were he had no choice to make the decision to head back to Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue without the mum cat as he still had an hour and a half drive to get back to base. He left word with the council officials and the key holders and left food out for mum and that was mum to return they were to going to make efforts to catch her and then have mum transported to the safety of Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue.
With a heavy heart at leaving mum behind Paul rushed back as quickly as he could with the kittens. Once back at Sunny Harbour we realised just how thin and frail these littles ones were. We are sure that at most these kittens would have no more than 24 hours left to live if we hadn’t found them.
They are now safe at Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue and will need much care and socialisation before they will even begin to be ready to move onto a new home.
The sad thing is that several other rescue’s including national rescue’s with millions in funding were alerted to the trapped kittens. Most did not even attempt to help. 1 attended did a quick walk through and then left leaving the kittens to their fate yet their were clear signs that the little ones or at least something was there.
Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue travelled 1.5hrs out of our area to help these kittens knowing they were in grave danger. We didn’t get paid for doing this and we didn’t receive any recompense in any way for doing so either. Our reward is saving the lives of these 2 little kittens who would have otherwise died a slow agonising death in their cold, stone chimney.
If you would like to follow the recovery of the Chimney Kittens join our facebook community here: http://www.facebook.com/sunnyharbourcatrescue
You can also help us by donating to help us purchase the special foods and milks needed in their rehabilitation. To find out more please visit our main website here: http://sunnyharbour.org.uk/donate.html
Update 21 /08/2012
We are devastated to have to report that Ash, the little black and white male kitten has left us to join others at Rainbow Bridge. His sister, Cinders (long hair) remains with us still fighting to recover.
Ash collapsed on the morning of the 17th after taking a bad fit. We rushed him straight to our vets who fought to save him but couldn’t get his fits under control. Our vets believe the severe malnutrition and having eaten the rotting pigeon carcass has contributed to Ash’s death due to organ damage. We just hope and pray this won’t happen to Cinders too.
“RIP little man. Know you were loved by many and will never be forgotten.
Love you always, mum and dad xxxxxx”
This has definitely been a week to try us. Thank gawd its Friday…. I think.:…
There are SO many cats out there just now that need our help but we cannot physically save them all. We simply don’t have the resources to allow us to do so.
All of these cats were at 1 time someone’s cute kitten that were easy to rehome. Now they are older, tainted by the humans they have met along the way.
Sadly there just isn’t spaces sufficient to care for all those in need.
The cats that need help were once someone’s pride and joy but now their owner is no longer here to care. They have found themselves a cat now sick after months or years living rough. No shelter, no food, no love.
Why should we in rescue have to bear the stress and frustration, anxiety, worry and tears for cats that aren’t even ours?
Several times this week I have put my head in my hands and asked why? Why do people get pets and not make a lifetime commitment to them? Why should we have to be your dumping ground for a pet you haven’t considered properly? Which you will replace in a few months with not a thought.
Adults, oldies and even babies under a year. Surely you considered the immediate future before getting that cute little kitten?
You beg us to help even bribe us to help even though the reality is we couldn’t squeeze another cat or kitten in. We have squeezed and squeezed til we can squeeze no more. When we say try again next week you shout and swear. That was helpful wasn’t it?
What would really help us all? Think before getting a pet. Seek knowledgeable advice, not from the lady at the checkout in Asda..
Treat your pet like a sentient being, a member of your family not an object to be tossed aside.
Most of all please please Neuter your darn pet. At least by doing so you help reduce the population of the future and may help the odds of tens of thousands of pets per 1 rescue space to perhaps a few hundred per space. ( well ok that is in my dreams)
Maybe just maybe if you took responsibility for the pet you chose to have we may actually have the time, resources and space to say yes, we can help you under genuine circumstances.
So can I ask the next time you call a rescue for help consider the following when you need your pet gone as you’re moving house;
Today we have picked up a cat killed in an RTA. We have taken in kittens callously dumped to ensure their death, we have watched a pregnant cat howl in pain from delivering her kittens, we have taken in a grieving old cat whose owner has died and to top it all off we have dealt with several abandoned cats with sores, lesions who are literally on their way to being the walking dead. They deserve so much more.
This was what we got involved in rescue to do. Not to be humans dumping ground for throwaway pets……
Been a rough week? Yes it has. Here’s hoping next week is better…. yeah right, who am I kidding!
Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue are so grateful for the votes that helped us secure the 5k award from Animal Friends Insurance in April. You may have read of some of the ways we envisaged the monies helping and we thought we would let you know how your votes have been put to good use.
Those who may have read about Sunny Harbour will know that we openly share our home with the dozens of cats that need our care. One of our main rooms is converted into what we call the Cat Room.
Here we have had for many years 9 permanent pens and 3 temporary in the form of collapsing dog cages. We always said that we would hold off building a 4th set of pens as we didn’t have the finances spare, but with the vote monies we have been able to steam ahead and create better accommodation for all the residents in the cat room. The cats who used to live in dog cages are now sharing the luxury of the permanent pens with better space distribution.
If you would like to see some of the cats enjoying their new pens then you can view a live recording here.
We have been able to erect desperately needed storage space and replace old broken equipment that was beyond its functional best.
We have taken in several cats over the last few weeks which have required extensive medical care and it has been a relief to know that, for a short while, we don’t have to worry about how we will meet the costs of their x-rays and extensive blood tests.
All of us at Sunny Harbour would like to say a massive thank you to each and every person who voted, shared and helped us secure this critical funding. We could not continue in what we do without your support.
We will also now be able to refurbish the pens we first erected in 2008 which have become battle scarred and worn with the hundreds of residents that have graced their doors.
The cats have also had their environment greater enriched with new toys and mini cat scratchers for their pens.
These are essential works we have been delaying for months, well probably years, due to lack of funding. So on behalf of us all, especially the cats we say a massive massive Thank you.
Our future goal is to continue to fundraise as best we can with the aim of funding our own charity store and advice centre. With the help of all your votes and winning the critical funding this has finally seemed more attainable.
Such a resource will deliver a regular funding source for Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue whilst assisting the public in identifying the help and resources available to enrich their cats lives.
Thank you so much everyone for your support and we hope you will follow our progress on Facebook and our website.
Please continue spreading the message about the Animal Friends vote and help other small charities in the UK make a difference.
Over our years in rescue I can honestly say 1 of the most common reasons for relinquishment of a pet is the arrival of a new baby. Sometimes the cat or dog is rehomed before the baby even arrives thereby denying their ‘loved’ pet any chance of forming a bond with their new human arrival & even remotely giving things a chance.
Before I go any further I want to qualify my experience here as no doubt some will read and think, how would you know? Clearly you don’t have children? Well guess what, we do.
We have a 10 month old little boy who adores the cats and greets them all with a huge smile. The cats on the other hand are quite happy to take or leave him but the key aspect is they have an understanding. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be scratched as he gets older, but like I did as a child, he will learn not to annoy the cats if he doesn’t want scratched.
The famous line I hear is ” But the midwife said….” yeah yeah yeah.. I heard it all too and as I said to them. Toxoplasmosis can be an issue in some cats however basic hygiene and washing hands regularly will negate the risk. Having watched the poor hygiene of several so called professionals I can honestly say I would rather eat a sandwich I prepared after having petted my cat and washed my hands than I would one made by them.
Let’s be practical. You don’t have to run & hide from a litter box all you have to bear in mind is wash your hands well and use a litter scoop. Even don marigolds if you have to. Feel free to use it as an excuse to get hubby to do the litter boxes a while, but don’t make it a reason to get rid of your cat. After all you pett your cat everyday who cleans themselves with their tongue…. everywhere! Bet you never thought of that when you kissed them last night?
I’m not being naive and there is a period of adjustment for them all. But the bigger ordeal you make of small changes the more you feed anxious signals to your cat. The end result is a highly stressed cat and a cat who may become aggressive or spray / inappropriately urinate around the house.
If your cat develops stress related behaviours like these don’t look at it as an objection. An act of defiance or jealousy. Instead see it from their point of view.
Whilst you are all wrapped up in the excitement of the new addition your body is changing. Your cat can sense this and may even be anxious from not understanding what is happening. Next, you begin bringing things home for the baby and maybe even shutting them out a room they previously were allowed access to. Perhaps even chasing them from the babys things re- enforcing their anxieties and assuring them they have a reason to be unsettled or stressed.
By the time baby arrives they are SO stressed out they don’t feel safe in their own home. Everytime they go near this tiny noisy human they are chased away, building fear of the baby and often tipping the cat ‘over the edge’. Often this is when aggression can play a factor.
So how do you prevent this stressful situation?
By considering your cat and the role it plays in your life. If your cat was once your baby is it really fair to expect them to understand why you hardly have time for them once baby arrives.
Make changes at home, to their routine, access to the house gradual. Slow and steady and allow the cats a chance to see what is going on, to sniff items and gradually reduce contact if you have previously been very attentive with them.
1 mistake many people make is they take baby to see the cat or vice versa. Don’t.
Let kitty decide when they feel brave enough to come up and say hi. Your cat will be terrified of this strange small person and you forcing baby on them is going to completely freak them out and erode their trust with you.
Don’t faff or fuss. Keep calm and speak gently if you have to speak at all. Should baby move chances are your cat will run & hide anyway. Let them go. Don’t give chase & try talking to them. Ignore them and by doing so you are telling them they don’t have to be afraid.
Essentially use common sense and treat your cat with the consideration you would anyone else in your family.
It’s not impossible, you just have to be willing to try.
At this time of year the number of reported ‘stray’ cats increases daily. Whether this is because there are genuinely more around or just that people are spending more time outdoors, I’m not entirely sure.
Now, when I talk of stray cats I need to be clear. To me cats loosely fall into 3 groups and we ask a number of questions of each caller to try to identify whether it is a cheeky neighbours cat, a stray cat in need or a feral cat.
So what’s the difference?
Your cheeky neighbours cat will generally be friendly, often bolshy and will come looking for tasty bits of extra food. Their appearance will be generally clean and may have slight dirty paws and with the exception of nervous pet cats (who generally don’t approach strangers) will approach freely on the mooch.
Stray cats are generally very unkempt. Dirty all over and more often filthy, as they have stopped cleaning themselves through depression and lack of care. They often appear unwell or sick looking and matted. They look tired and worn and often will sport various injuries or ailments. Stray cats are NOT feral cats. Stray cats were at 1 time a family pet and for whatever reason whether abandonment or getting lost they have found themselves without a home or someone to care for them and struggle with life on the streets. If you are approached or see a possible stray it is likely they are looking for help so please don’t ignore them. Also fearful stray cats can be rehabilitated successfully to enable them to once again live a comfortable life. So please remember this next time you see a “dirty wee” cat at the bottom of your garden. They are far from happy.
The myth that all cats eventually turn feral is also, in the most part, and certainly in our experience, untrue. Stray cats over time through lack of social interaction with people or due to the encounters they have while living on the streets makes them fearful of humans. In the case of un neutered male cats in particular, once they are brought in, neutered and given time to relax and settle in they are often the sweetest, most loving little cats you could ever wish to meet. So please, before you label a cat as a Feral and restrict its immediate options consider all the facts and ask for help.
Lastly the feral grouping. You are highly unlikely to see feral cats during the day when people are around. They will keep their distance, are very flighty around people and will appear generally very clean and tidy unless they are sick. You will never coax a feral cat to you, a stray yes, but not a feral cat. We use humane traps for feral cats to catch them, have them neutered and then returned to site. Commonly referred to as TNR Trap Neuter Release.
Generally speaking cats who fall into the cheeky neighbourhood cat & feral cat group very seldom need your help (if neutered) . Stray cats on the other hand rely on you, especially when sick or injured as that is often when they appear most frequently.
If you find you have a friendly though very grubby or thin new addition, then consider doing the following:
- The first thing to do is put its details on as many lost and found sites as you can and contact all local rescues to let them know you have found a cat.
- Put notices in your local shop, notice boards and go door to door asking residents in the area.
- Lost cats are generally within ½ mile of their own home so do make sure as a minimum you have gone door to door at least 3 streets in any direction from your home.
- Also, place a paper collar around the neck of the cat you have found if it will allow you to approach. A paper collar is a strip approx 2cm wide from a sheet of A4 paper which you secure firmly but loosely around the cats neck with cellotape. You should be able to get 2 fingers between the cats neck and the paper collar.
- Write on the piece of paper – “ I believe this to be a lost cat if your cat please call me on ###### “
- If the cat already wears a collar an option is to create a paper tag in the same way and attach it to the existing collar with the same information. You should leave the paper collar on for at least 7- 10 days.
- Continue to monitor and check lost and found websites and notify rescue’s if you find the owner.
- If the cat you have found is injured and in need of veterinary care due to an open wound or very poor condition then contact the SSPCA or your local rescue as soon as possible.
- If you are able to catch said cat and have a secure cat carrier you can also take the cat to a local vet to be scanned for a microchip which will hopefully allow the cat to be returned home much quicker.
- DO NOT – just pick up said cat, keep it indoors or take and leave with a rescue immediately without having attempted the steps above first.
If you believe you have a genuine stray call for advice if the paper collar technique, speaking to neighbours and local notices have resulted in no information about a potential owner.
Please be aware that at this time of year a large number of people still put their cats out on the street when they go on holiday for a couple of weeks so we always suggest you keep trying for 2 – 3 weeks before calling rescue. The exception to this obviously being if they are clearly sick or injured or have a litter of kittens so that we can ensure all get appropriate veterinary care, nutrition and medication.
Typically 1 out of every 3 cats we have reported to us belongs to a neighbour within 2 – 4 streets from the finders location. So always ensure you cover a reasonable area with your enquiries. In fact some have been from the same street or half a dozen doors away!! Dealing with these calls wastes valuable costly resources, time and ultimately upset and anxiety for both the cat and owner needlessly
Too often we hear “but its in the same garden all night”. But is it really? When you sleep at night they can be off doing lots of things, even going home again. Cats are after all nocturnal animals. So yet another reason to make thorough local enquiries. If these steps aren’t taken then don’t be surprised if you are advised to do so before any action is taken.
You wouldn’t like it if we lifted your pet cat would you? So please consider other owners in your decisions and how you would feel if it was your cat that someone had carted away to a strange place without you knowing why and when and when you would see your furry comanion again. It is always wise to let people know you have found a cat in case it is lost, just don’t be hasty in your actions but always be neighbourly.
By learning how to spot those cats genuinely in need we hope by us all working together we can spend more time working to help these sick street cats rather than wild and often costly, goose chases for neighbours cats that could have been very quickly resolved if the finder had asked further afield than over the fence!
For help or advice please feel free to contact Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue. Full details can be found on our Sunny Harbour main website
Hello fellow cat fans I know I’ve asked for your help before but I’m asking, well ok, begging for your help again for Sunny Harbour Cat & Kitten Rescue in the vote to win £5K for our cat rescue this month. We need all the help we can get from the rescue / cat community to have a chance to win as the puppy dogs are shooting waaaaay in front. Could I possibly ask if you could vote for us and share with your friends? We would be ever so grateful and a win would help us secure the future of our cat rescue!
Thank you so much in advance for reading my message. The link to vote is here: http://www.facebook.com/FeelGoodPark
You have to Like the page and then click on vote for a charity and then choose Sunny Harbour and the submit button.
Thank you so so much xx