Sunday, 19 March 2017

Bear's Story and what to do if you find a stray cat?

Bear's Story 

Poor Bear is one of the many stray cats we take into our care every year. He was found living rough on the grounds of the Police headquarters in Exeter. He would often sleep in a car they used for training or in any open storage buildings. Luckily he was spotted by a kind lady who noticed he was desperately trying to seek warmth and shelter. He was very frightened and wary of people, getting near him was tricky. After borrowing one of our traps, she continued to feed him and look out for him. It took many weeks before he was eventually trapped and brought into our care. Our Facebook team and members of the public had shared his photos around the local Facebook lost and found groups, posters put up, but sadly no owner had come forward.   

Bear sleeping in a car

Successfully trapped and on the way to our centre


Understandably he was very frightened on arrival to our centre. After lots of TLC from our CCAs, he remembers what it was like to have attention once again. He loves curling up on a lap and enjoys tickles. He has also been enjoying the perks of cattery life, which includes shelter, a warm bed, and regular meals and of course lots of fuss and attention. Bear is now available for adoption, we are hoping he will find love and happiness once again in a new home…..  
Helping Bear settle in


Bear now - enjoying some lap time with one of our CCAs
What to do if you find a stray cat?

Most cats are by nature, inclined to wander - so it seems inevitable that you might come across a stray. Unlike dogs, there are very few laws that give cats legal protection and for our helpline team, one of the most frequently asked questions is what to do when finding a stray cat.

Is it a stray cat?

Cats can often appear lost and wanting for food and this doesn’t necessarily mean they are a stray. If the cat appears a healthy weight and well groomed, they might belong to someone else – worth thinking about before you take the cat in for yourself.
Ask your neighbours if they recognise the cat. There might be someone in the local area frantically searching for their lost pet. Check out local newspapers for listings of a missing cat, or post up a photo on community Facebook groups.

What should I do if I find a stray cat?
 
If the cat is friendly enough to approach, check if there is a collar or ID tags – if it belongs to someone, you can give them a call to arrange a happy reunion. If there are no visible signs of ownership, take the cat to your local veterinary clinic or Cats Protection branch. The cat will be scanned for a microchip and contact can be made with the registered owners.

Keep the cat safe


In the meantime, keep the lost cat safe and provide it with food and clean water. It is advised not to give a cat cow’s milk as many are lactose intolerant. If you’re unable to take the cat home with you, you might want to provide it with a temporary shelter. Try a sturdy cardboard box with an old blanket or some straw inside. A piece of waterproof sheeting secured over the top will help keep the rain out. Make sure it’s properly and safely weighted down to stop it being blown away by the wind.

Advertise the found cat
Download our poster pack of on our the Cats Protection website www.cats.org.uk to advertise the missing cat in your local area – it might just catch someone’s eye. You can also report the cat as found on the Animal Search UK website. Post a picture on your local area’s Facebook group as well as the Cats Protection page, Animal Search UK and CatAware pages. Do the same on Twitter; you’re likely to reach a larger number of people if you ask your followers to retweet.

I’m worried about a stray cat’s health


A lost cat might be nervous, especially if sick and injured – so approach with caution. The safest way to move the cat is to carefully cover him in a blanket before picking him up. This keeps the cat safe as well as shielding you from claws!

If you’re worried about the health of the cat, call the RSPCA on its emergency number 0300 1234 999 (UK). If the cat is injured, take it to your nearest veterinary practice immediately. Vets have a duty of care to treat sick and injured animals and will help an injured stray cat at no cost to the finder.

I’ve found stray kittens. What should I do?
If you find stray kittens, you should first check that their mother is around. There might be no sign of the kitten’s mother but she may be frightened to return while you are there.
Check in a few hours and if the mother has not returned, you should call your local vet or Cats Protection branch. Give them as much detail as possible about the environment the kittens are in and they should be able to advise you on the best thing to do in this situation.

Kittens need veterinary care with worming, vaccinations and neutering before being rehomed, so it’s best to hand them into a rehoming centre as soon as possible.

I’ve accidentally hit a cat with my car. What should I do?
Unfortunately it is not unusual for cats to be involved in car accidents and although there is no law requiring you to report it, making an attempt to let the owner know is a good thing to do. If the cat is killed and you are able to pick it up, take it to a vet or rehoming centre to be scanned for a microchip. While it isn’t an easy thing to do, it’s always better for owners to know what has happened to their cat.

If the cat is alive and injured, take them to your nearest veterinary clinic. The vet should be able to find an owner or speak to a local rehoming centre to take in the cat after treatment.

How can Cats Protection help?
If you’ve had no luck in finding the lost cat’s owner, pick up the phone and speak to our National Helpline on 03000 12 12 12. They can give you the details of your nearest Cats Protection branch for a lost and found register. The Helpline team will also be able to send you some paper collars - you can also download these by following this link http://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/COM_1032_Lost_and_found_collar_print_out_AW.pdf. 
Put these on the cat with your contact details asking people to get in touch if the cat belongs to them.

Thankfully, many missing cats are reunited with their owners and in 2014, we helped reunite 3,000 cats with their owners. Unfortunately, there are cases where the cat has been abandoned and no owner will come forward. If you have no luck in finding an owner, contact your local Cats Protection branch. Our volunteers and staff will do their best to locate an owner and if no owner can be found, they’ll find a loving home for them. (SOURCE: Cats Protection)

Scratching behaviour

Scratching is a normal behaviour. Cats scratch for two reasons; to keep their claws in good condition and as a communication signal. Scent glands in between the pads of the paws produce a unique smell, which is deposited on the surface that the claws are dragged down. This scent, combined with the visual signal of the scratch marks and discarded claw husks, leaves a reminder signal for the cat and a message for other felines in the area. 


Why is my cat scratching indoors? 

If your cat has limited or no access to the outdoors - either through their own choice or yours - they will have to maintain good claw condition inside the house. They will find one or two suitable scratching sites and continue to use them, whether this is a cat scratching post or the back of your settee! 

If the scratched areas are widespread throughout your home including areas of conflict like doorways and windows, it is likely the your cat is scratching for communication reasons and feels insecure in these areas. Just like spraying, the most common reason for scratching indoors is the presence of another cat. 

The reason for cats to show this behaviour can change over time. If your cat enjoys attention, they might learn that whenever they scratch the furniture you interact with them, so they will carry on scratching. 

What can I do if my cat scratches the furniture? 

If your cat is scratching furniture or wallpaper to maintain their claws you could:
  • Protect the scratched item by covering with thick, shiny, plastic sheeting as this is unappealing to cats 
  • at the same time, obtain a suitable scratching post and put it next to the area where they scratch
  • choose a scratching post with a heavy base so it doesn't topple over or wobble when in use. It should be tall enough to allow your cat to scratch at full stretch - ensure it has a vertical weave to let them drag their claws downwards
  • some cats prefer to scratch horizontally (e.g. cats that scratch carpets or stairs) or diagonally so provide a scratching mat to meet these needs 
  •  once your cat is consistently using the new post, you can gradually move it to a more convenient location if you wish and then remove the plastic sheeting from the furniture or wallpaper
  • cats often like to scratch and stretch after they wake up, so you could try placing the scratch post near your cat's bed 
Each cat in a household should have a scratching post - positioned in different locations to prevent conflict. Some posts are impregnated with catnip, or you could try rubbing quality catnip on the scratch post to entire them - placing pieces of food on the post may also help. Playing with your cat little and often throughout the day and providing toys may help redirect their energy away from scratching. 



Scratching to mark territory 

if you cat is scratching furniture as a marking behaviour, then try to identify what is worrying the cat in this part of their territory and remedy it. As mentioned above; cover the scratched areas with a protective material and place a scratching post next to them. However, to help your cat feel secure in their surroundings and permanently stop them scratching the furniture, you will need to identify and deal with what is worrying them. Don't just provide them with another scratching surface without attending to their feelings of insecurity. You may need guidance from a suitably qualified behaviourist to help identify the cause of their anxiety. 

Importance of praise 

It is important to remember that cats do not scratch just to be naughty. It is a natural behaviour they should be allowed to exhibit. Shouting when your cat scratches your furniture can lead to an increase in frequency as they become more anxious, or learns that scratching can be used for attention seeking. Cats quickly learn that unwanted clawing gets a reaction, but clawing a scratching post doesn't. Make sure you praise your cat when they claw the scratching post and try not to react if they scratch the furniture. (Source: Cats Protection) 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Jingles success story


Jingles was a nervous cat in the centre but his new owners were willing to put in the time and patience needed to build this sweet cats confidence and allow him to develop his potential in their home.


We received an email from his owner Charlotte who is happy to share his story with you.


This is what she had to say..


I just thought you'd like to see how Endeavour (Jingles) is settling in to his new home.


A week since we picked him up and his new favourite place is now the washing basket!


He's still nervous but is starting to become quite the 'lad' at home now, after the first few days of only wanting to sit in his litter tray and not move from it. He's doing really well. We've had a few moments but a few treats and a lot of patience is starting to pay off and he's becoming a lovely, playful chap. He's looking much happier and settled since discovering the rest of the house to play in, after plucking up the courage to venture out of his cage and discovering it's actually quite nice having a comfy house to explore.


Thank you Charlotte for giving him a loving home.



Endeavour in the wash basket


Here is some more information about shy, nervous or timid cats that you may find helpful

While most cats settle into new homes quickly, some remain fearful despite a gentle welcome and time to settle in. Don’t be too disappointed if your shy or timid cat tries run away and, hide from you. Showing patience and sensitivity will go a long way to ensure that you have a happy and extremely rewarding relationship with your cat.

Why is my cat so timid?

Timid behaviour could be due to:

genetics – an inherited tendency. Some cats are naturally more anxious than

poor socialisation – a lack of contact with humans, particularly during their first eight weeks of life. If young kittens are not properly socialised with people, they will be frightened or stressed by human contact

bad experiences – a previous frightening experience that has made the cat fearful


What are the signs of shyness, nervousness or timidity?

As cats cannot tell us how they feel, it can be difficult to recognise that your cat wants you to move away. Signs of fear include running away and retreating to hiding places. A scared cat will show dilated pupils and/or flattened ears and will cringe and cower from you.

This fear can develop into aggressive behaviour – where your cat adopts ‘fight’ as a tactic instead of ‘flight’ as a last resort.

Usually aggression develops because the cat feels cornered or trapped, or because they have previously learned that flight is unsuccessful. Avoid putting your cat into this situation and ensure they can always get away easily if they want to.

Managing shy cats

There are a number of things you can do to make your timid cat feel more secure. As long as your cat had some positive contact with people when they were a young kitten, with patience your cat will learn not to be afraid but you must take things slowly. 

• provide plenty of refuges for your cat around the house. Cats de-stress quicker if they can hide, preferably in high and dark locations eg behind sofas and under beds. A cardboard box on its side or blankets placed on shelves or wardrobes can help your cat feel safe

• ensure other neighbouring cats cannot enter the house through the cat flap or open windows. Be vigilant to make sure your cat is not being bullied in the garden or intimidated by other cats through the windows, conservatory or patio doors

• keep all your daily routines consistent where possible. This provides a predictable, reassuring environment for your cat

• use synthetic scent pheromones – these can create a reassuring environment for the cat and may help to reduce stress – they are available from your vet

• sit quietly in your cat’s vicinity to allow them to get used to you in their own time. Ignore them while you read a book or take a nap so that they don’t feel pressurised or anxious about your presence. Do it while they are eating or provide a small treat so they associate your presence with something positive. The time you spend near them can very gradually be built up as they adjust

• let your cat make the first move –direct approaches are extremely threatening, so don’t force attention on your cat

• blink slowly at your cat, narrow your eyes so they are half open and then turn your face away slowly to reassure your cat that you are not a threat

  As your cat becomes braver, try:

• talking to your cat quietly in a calming tone – it is a great way to bond

• rewarding your cat with a treat when they approach you– at first, give the treat as soon as your cat approaches but gradually increase the time between the approach and the treat. Over a period of weeks, work up to being able to calmly stroke your cat once or twice before giving the treat

• using small toys you can gently throw for them, such as ball of foil, scrunched up paper or ping pong ball. Fishing rod toys allow the cat to interact without them feeling threatened by close contact.

Most importantly, never lose your temper or try to force your cat to interact too quickly as this will just reinforce their previous fears. Build on your successes gradually – eventually your cat will learn to trust you and will much happier. In some cases, you may find guidance from your vet or a suitably qualified behaviourist useful.

Overcoming a cat’s shyness through patient handling and care often leads to an extremely rewarding and close relationship between owner and cat and is well worth the extra time and effort.


This information was taken from our Essential guides leaflet-Managing your cat's behaviour.  There are more leaflets available for you on this link http://www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/care-leaflets/essential-guides























 


Friday, 3 March 2017

Eileen - our three legged cat


We thought we’d share Eileen’s story – every year we take in three-legged cats. These cats are usually injured or sometimes as kittens they may have been born with a deformity in their leg which later is amputated. Little Eileen is approximately 6 months old, she was found with an injured leg by a kind cat-loving member of the public. She was taken to a vet, as a stray they tried to trace her owner, sadly her owner was not found. She came into care; sadly her leg had been injured for some time and needed to be amputated. Our vet thinks she may have been bitten by a dog. She needed cage rest to begin with, our pens are split level with a ladder. She had supervised exercise with our CCAs to help her get used to her walking on three legs. She needed to wear a buster collar for two weeks to stop her picking at her stitches and scabs. She had a course of antibiotics and pain relief during this time. After many weeks, she has now recovered from her ordeal. She has full access to her pen, she can use her ladder with no problems. She’s a smashing little cat, who is super friendly and playful. We know she will make a lovely member of the family for somebody.

Eileen shouting

We thought we'd share some information about three-legged cats.....

Some cats are born with only three limbs, but the majority of three-legged cats have suffered injury or disease, which has led to amputation of the affected limb. Cats adjust to a three-legged lifestyle remarkably well, although the initial adaptation process can be a little challenging. However, once adjusted, most three-legged cats are able to jump, climb, hunt and play albeit perhaps a little more slowly than in their fourlegged days. Young cats and males are more likely to become three-legged – amputation is often a result of traumatic injury, with males more likely to roam further than females, and younger exploring cats more likely to be involved in road accidents. Most three-legged cats have lost a hind limb, rather than a forelimb.

 
Two weeks after surgery

My cat has had its leg amputated, how can I help them adjust?

confine your cat to the house at least, or take advice from your vet and follow any aftercare advice they provide. Be sure to speak to your vet about the subtle signs of pain in cats, as this may need managing in the post-operative period

ensure there is easy access to a comfortable, easily accessible place to sleep, food, water, a litter tray and a scratching post. Although cats don’t like to eat near to their drinking or toileting area, immediately following surgery, your cat is likely to appreciate these facilities being nearby

other pets in the household may recognise a change. Cats rely on scent to identify the members of their social group and a stay at the vets can mean cats are not recognised when they return. It is prudent to reintroduce cats to one another slowly and only once the patient has had a chance to recover.

your cat may take some time to relearn how to balance with three limbs. Limit access to high surfaces and keep them indoors until they are more confident. Provide stools that can be used as steps to help your cat to access things like the sofa

move furniture closer together so it isn’t so difficult to negotiate. As your cat’s confidence and ability increases, furniture can gradually be moved back to its normal location

be aware of litter tray problems. Toileting is a vulnerable activity for a cat and if they don’t feel safe using their litter tray, they may choose to toilet elsewhere within the house. You may need to provide a step to improve access to the litter tray and be patient while they learn to cover, dig and clean themselves with three legs instead of four

your cat may appreciate help in grooming areas they have problems reaching due to difficulty balancing. If your cat isn’t used to being groomed, start very slowly and be sure to make the experience positive by offering praise and rewards

when they can go outside again, ensure they have sufficient access to their entry and exit points. If a cat feels under threat while trying to exit the house, they may become reluctant to go outside and this could lead to a behaviour problem. Maintain access to a litter tray for your cat. They may no longer feel confident enough to go to the toilet outside


Do three-legged cats think their leg is still there?

Some cats will feel that they can still use their missing limb – for example, many cats missing a hind leg, will continue to try to scratch their ear with the missing limb, for the rest of their lives. It is not absolutely known whether cats are affected by phantom limb sensation which affects a high proportion of human amputees, but they only rarely show signs suggestive of this.

 

Why is controlling weight so important in three-legged cats?

It is likely that the change in movement and load shared over the remaining limbs, may contribute to the development of arthritis later in life. The majority of elderly four-legged cats are already affected by arthritis, so it is possible that it may develop earlier in their three-legged counterparts. For this reason, it is especially important to control their weight carefully. Extra weight puts more strain on the remaining legs which can cause problems later in life. Cats which have lost a front leg may be particularly at risk of the consequences of excessive weight and arthritis, as the front legs carry more weight than the back legs. Some cats overeat when stressed and there is likely to be a reduction in exercise during recovery from amputation, so owners should be aware that their cat could be prone to becoming overweight. Discuss an optimum weight for your cat with your vet and ask them to help you in implementing an appropriate diet. (Source: Cats Protection)  

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Taunton Homing & Info Centre's Amazon Wishlist

Our Taunton Rehoming and Information Centre have launched its very own Amazon wishlist. As this is a new adoption centre, our cats staying there are in need of toys, food, scratching posts and much more. If you would like to donate a gift for any of our cats staying at our Taunton Homing & Info Centre please check out our Taunton HIC Amazon Wishlist by following this link https://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/12QWDPS119I83
We are grateful for any gifts we receive from our Amazon wishlist.

Jeronimo (Homed Feb 2017)

If you haven’t heard about our new Taunton Homing & Information centre, here’s some information about our newest adoption centre. Our Taunton Rehoming and Information Centre is based at the Blackdown Garden Centre, Wellington, Somerset. We are open from 10am until 4pm every day. Our shiny new centre has five purpose built pens – where you can walk in and meet and greet the cats! If you are in the area, why not say hello to our friendly staff!

Taunton HIC

Taunton HIC

If you live in the Taunton/Wellington area and are thinking of adopting a cat or kitten - our dedicated team at Taunton Rehoming centre are ready to assist you every step of the way! Each of our cats available for adoption is neutered, fully vaccinated, microchipped and treated for fleas and worms. Our cats also come with one month's FREE petplan insurance. We do ask for an adoption fee of £60 per cat or kitten - this fee helps cover some of the costs - as on average it costs £200 to care for a cat in our centre. Any donations are gratefully received.

You can find our new centre at Blackdown Garden Centre, West Buckland, Wellington, Nr Taunton, Somerset, TA21 9HY. Telephone - 01823 667945. Our website www.cats.org.uk/taunton-centre. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Feral cats seeking employment

We have out of work mousers looking for employment opportunities! 

Are you looking for an environmentally friendly rodent-control service for your stables, garden centre, factory, farm or smallholding? Our working cats are just waiting to pounce on the right opportunity! 

We currently have a lot of cats here at the centre that come from an outdoor environment that do not want to be someone's pet. In time they will learn to trust you and want to hang around when feeding etc. These lovely cats do not ask for much, just two meals a day and some shelter to sleep in. In return they will keep your barns, stables and food storage areas free of mice, rats etc.

Some of our cats in our feral garden (2014)

Feral/Working Cats - Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when my cats are sited? 

When your new workers arrive the CP staff member will either set up the feral pen provided or use your existing shelter. We can provide beds/hiding places, food and water bowls, litter trays, litter and some biscuits to get you started. The cats are then put into their new enclosure where they can be left to settle for the rest of the day. Paperwork will all be signed off at this point and donations gratefully accepted. Your cats will then need feeding daily, their water changed and litter trays emptied and replaced. We ask that the cats are then kept in this enclosure for 4 weeks before releasing. 

One of our feral pens once sited
Why do I keep my working cats in a pen?

We advise you keep your new workers in their enclosed environment for 4-5 weeks to allow them to get used to you and to know that they will be fed and cared for. This way when they are released they have no desire to run elsewhere if they have all the resources they could need. It's important to keep their environment as it was when you first let them out for some time so that they know where to return for food. You can then think about other shelters they may favour and feeding locations. It's a good idea to keep the beds they have been using so they can recognise their scents. 
The first 4 weeks is an excellent time for you to get to know the personality of some cats. If you have opted for cats that you are likely to see then you could spend time chatting with the cats this way they recognise familiar voices. 

One of our feral pens

I took on cats to hunt on my land, why do I need to feed them?

Although working cats are used to hunt to keep rodent populations down it's essential they are still fed for them to work efficiently. A hungry mouser is not a happy hunter.

I have just let my cats out of their pen/enclosed environment and I haven't seen them for a few days, now what?

It is normal for feral cats to disappear once let out of their enclosure. This is an important time for them to get to know their surroundings and establish territory. They should return and be seen in a few days but it is important to continue to have food down in their original enclosure for them. Some feral cats may never be seen by their owners but this does not mean they have gone. 

4-5 weeks later, these cats are released - our staff will collect the feral pen

My 2 working cats have settled well and doing a great job, can I keep more than 2?

Yes. As long as you have enough space on the land, separate areas to provide resources and your existing cats are getting along fine then we will happily home more mousers to your property.

If you are interested in one of our feral/semi feral cats or want to know more or to book your home visit today, please contact the centre on 01395 232377. Please note we only home in the Devon/Somerset area (UK). For more information about our adoption centre please visit our website www.axhayes.cats.org.uk. Thank you.


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Moo our partially sighted cat is looking for a special home

Our lovely boy Moo came to Axhayes when his owner had to move house and sadly couldn’t take him with her. During his health examination on arrival our vet discovered he has cataracts which has left him with limited vision. We hoping to find him a suitable home for him, where he can settle in and adapt well to his new surroundings. Moo has been described by his previous owner as having a lovely personality; he’s very cuddly and likes to greet you when you come home. He will make a lovely companion for somebody.

We thought we share a few tips with you from our Cats Protection “Cats with disabilities” leaflet, to help cats like Moo adapt in their new home….  
Going outside
We would recommend that you do not let blind cats roam outside, for their own safety. Keep your cat indoors, unless they can have access to a safely-fenced garden or run. Since Moo has some vision, we are hoping to find him a home with a secure enclosed garden, away from main busy roads (in case he did get out of the garden). Make sure your cat is microchipped and you may consider fitting a quick-release collar stating his address and disability in case he escapes.

Moo
Finding his bearings

Try to encourage your cat to walk around on his own, as carrying him may cause him to become disorientated. Cats have scent glands on their paws that allow them to leave a trail of scent to follow – this is even more important for blind and partially sighted cats. If you do have to carry him, always put him down somewhere familiar such as his feeding or sleeping area so that he can easily get his bearings. Beware of lifting a blind cat onto raised surfaces as there is a chance he will fall.

To help Moo settle in to his new surroundings, we would recommend slow gradual introductions to each room in the house. This will allow him plenty of time to get use to where everything is. Supervise his excursions around the house until he seems confident. If he becomes disorientated, guide him back to a familiar place by using your voice or by walking with him. We would suggest removing any fragile objects off high surfaces in case he decides to jump up.
Approaching your cat

Talk to your cat as you approach him to avoid startling him. If your cat is blind in one eye, try to approach him from the side he has sight in.

Getting around
As blind cats rely on scent and memory to find their way around, you should avoid moving furniture, food and litter trays. Don’t leave obstacles in unexpected places where your cat could walk into them. If you have stairs, place a barrier across them until your cat knows where they are and learns to use them again. Putting a different textured carpet on the top and bottom steps can help your cat quickly learn when anticipate when they have reached the top or bottom.
Whiskers become more important to blind cats to judge the cat’s proximity to an object.

Moo in his pen

Play and Exercise

Sound is obviously very important to a blind cat so he may enjoy playing with “jingly” toys. It is important to encourage him to exercise as it is part of a cat’s natural behaviour and will help to stop him becoming overweight.

If you can offer Moo a loving forever home and have plenty of time and patience to help him settle in, please contact us on 01395 232377 or via our website at www.axhayes.cats.org.uk. Thank you.