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There is always something going on in a multi-cat household. Erm 9... cats and counting...... Plus stories from the Sheffield Cats Shelter

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday at the Shelter - 24-02-13

We started with litter tray cleaning again this week.  I'd love a room like this at home.  Huge sinks for doing messy jobs!

Emma had the kittens with her again. Some sad news though, the smallest one developed flu like symptoms during the week and sadly didn't recover. Thankfully the others are doing well and are now 12 days old.

Feeding time!

They are now being fed every three hours instead of two and their eyes are open.  Emma still needs to help them wee and poo and will keep doing this until they are around 4 weeks old.  After this they will start to learn to use a litter tray and Emma will have to scratch around to show them how its done!

But for now all they want to do is eat, sleep and have a cuddle.

Our next job was cleaning in the Infirmary.  There are only 3 residents at the moment.  Frosty, Deedee and Smudge. They were all very vocal!

Deedee with Libby
Libby helped me make a start and then went to clean room 3 on her own. Room 3 also happens to have this weeks "Star for 7 days"  This is where one of the cats gets promoted as much as possible for a week.

Beautiful Cleo - photo by The Sheffield Cats Shelter

Cleo has been at the shelter since November.  When you walk into the cat rooms some will run up to you wanting a fuss straight away, others, like Cleo, often stay curled up in a basket. If you take the time to sit with Cleo, you'll find out she has a very loud purr and loves being fussed.  I really hope someone adopts her soon, or I might not be able to resist....(Don't tell my husband I said that)

After our duties were over I did my usual 'rounds'.  I can never resist a basketful of fur-babies :)

Last week I mentioned ways you can donate money to the Shelter.  Unfortunately, a lot of us are watching our pennies at the moment so can't always help.  So here's an alternative, why not drop by with your unwanted items?  I've been having a good clear out at home and took two bags of things today.  Games, toys, clothing, bedding, gifts, household items etc can all be taken.  The only things which can't be accepted are electrical items, pillows and duvets.  It feels great having a clear out, and even better to think I'm helping the Shelter at the same time. Some of the items are put aside to be sold at one of the yard sales held during the year.

Before we left today Libby had a little cuddle with one of the kittens.

How big will they be next week and will Emma have decided on any names???

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Here come the girls

It was a girl we needed, I was sure of it. A girl to get these boys organised and maybe one that would play with Billy to give George a break.  Billy was still so playful.  George could never keep his tail still and Billy couldn't help but pounce on it.

A young Billy goes 'Piggy fishing' when he's not chasing George's tail

My other half was less convinced telling me two cats were enough.  Even so we, my son and I, persuaded him to go to Thornberry Animal Sanctuary, 'just to look'.

Once there we went straight to the cattery, but it looked like there would be no suitable candidates for us. Almost ready to call it a day, I thought I'd just double check with the staff. It turned out they did have another girl we could look at, she was in the stable building with her sister. The problem was that they too were a pair and needed a home together.

We decided to go and meet them. As soon as the door opened a small black and white cat ran to us, tail up, rubbing round our legs and purring madly. Bella stole our hearts immediately. She was just so pretty and so affectionate. All we could see of her sister was a pair of bright orange eyes peering out from the back of a little fabric cat house.  You could almost hear Bella shouting 'pick me, ooh, pick me, pick me!' but her sister, Tinker, remained unmoved.

I looked at Andy, my son was asking if we could have them, I wanted them too. I could see Andy was finding saying no a struggle. Instead he suggested we have another walk around and think it over, so we did. We walked around and let him think it over.  I sent a text to my Daughter and told her all about the two girls.  Her response was 'If you don't bring them home, I'm not letting you in'. No doubt about her thoughts then! 

I knew we hadn't gone for two, but they would have each other for support when settling in. Bella was just lovely and Tinker just needed some tlc, which we were more than happy and capable of providing.
And so after 20 mins Andy's resolve finally crumbled and later that day the girls came home.

Abbie and Bella

Billy's room became the 'cat' room and the girls settled in quickly with toys and boxes to play with.  We were happy with the name Bella (My Daughters favourite films are Twilight) but Tinker didn't seem to fit.  A short discussion followed and we went for a name from a favourite TV show, this time Primeval, and so the two sisters became Bella and Abbie.  We gradually introduced them into the rest of the house.

At two years old they were still very playful.  They were a little hesitant around the boys for a while and regularly found the highest place in the house to look down from.

Bella and Abbie on top of a cupboard
 To begin with we started to call Bella Queen B as she definitely thought she was in charge.  Despite being very affectionate she wouldn't sit on your knee, unless you were sat on the toilet....Very odd.  She also had a strange habit of sitting upright, perfectly still and staring into space. 

Abbie on the other hand, went from a shy girl who spent a lot of time hiding, to a total sweetie who loves playing and lots of affection.  She is very often found on her Daddy's knee.

So did my plan work? Did the girls improve the relationship between Billy and George, well not straight away, but after a couple of months there was a definite change.  So much so I began thinking, maybe it would be nice to have another one...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday at the shelter 17-02-13

It was great to hear that some of the older cats had found homes since my last visit. I keep up to date with the Shelters Facebook page so I can see when someone has been adopted or pre adopted.

I started today's volunteering session working in holding (see the last shelter post for an explanation)

Molly had been spayed during the week and has been given a lovely collar to stop her licking the wound. Unfortunately, I took this photo before I cleaned her compartment!  She's such a sweetie even though she looks a bit squashed here!

Molly models her new accessory

As usual, once my jobs were done I went into a few of the rooms and spent time with the cats. There are so many lovely ones, I can't believe some are still there.
Just cuddling up until a new Mum or Dad arrive

The big story this week involves a mum and her four kittens, born earlier in the week, just before the snow came. Had they not made it to the Shelter there is a good chance they would have all died. Thankfully someone spotted the pregnant Mum and alerted staff.  Mum had a seriously infected womb requiring emergency surgery,  that left her kittens needing to be hand reared from just one day old. Without the shelter, mum would have died of her infection and the kittens, well, you get the picture.

Five days later, they are at the shelter with adopted mum and Deputy Manager Emma.  When Emma goes home, so will the kittens. Most of the time they sleep together in a basket, with a heat pad in the bottom to mimic mum's body heat.
How cute?

Every two hours Emma makes up a small amount of milk. Each tub of formula costs £15 and it will last 5 days. They will stay on milk for the next six weeks. After this time they will start to be weaned. 

Emma picks up each kitten in turn, her first job is to stimulate them to poo and wee. She does this by wiping their little bums with a wet wipe. Mum would normally do this by licking.  Once they've done their business it's time for milk.
Emma feeding one of her new babies

Some of the kittens take to this quicker than others.  They are all very tiny and very sleepy! Emma explains that they waggle their ears as they drink.  Could there be any more of a cuteness factor???  Yes, actually, when one of the kittens is winded a sound like a squeaky toy comes out!

So Emma will have a very tiring few weeks ahead of her.  Feeding every two hours means a lot of disturbed sleep, but as she says, who could be mad being woken up by these little sweethearts?

The Sheffield Cats Shelter go above and beyond, if you'd like to help to buy milk for these kittens or others like them why not visit their website where you can donate via Paypal or Just Giving. Or if you're local, pop in :)

Thanks for visiting, pop in next week to see how the kittens are getting on.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Billy kitten

George had been an only child for some time, he loved to spend time with us. In or on the bed at night and on our knees whenever he could elsewhere in the house.

George sat on Daddy's knee

But we had to go to work and I began to wonder if he might be a little lonely.  I started to think that maybe he would like another cat for company.

Whilst I'd had a cat for some time by now I'd never had more than one at a time.  I have a number of friends who have a lot of experience with multi animal households, and so I asked out for advice on Facebook. Should I go boy or girl, cat or kitten?  I got lots of useful advice.

Within days a friend mentioned she knew of a black kitten looking for a home. I was told there was something special about this little boy and when I heard the kitten had extra toes, I was sold. I love black cats anyway, but if he had too many toes and George didn't have enough? Well that sounded perfectly balanced to me :)

And so Billy, the naughty kitten, arrived in May 2011 and we stared in wonder at his 'thumbs'

Billy's first look at his new home

I am very lucky that I have a back room in my house where Billy could become acquainted with his new home. It's really important, when introducing another animal, that you do it slowly. In 'Billy's' room he had toys, a scratch post, litter tray and his food.

Look at my thumbs!!

Kittens can be quite destructive at times. Most people need to leave the house at some point so its important that you don't leave them with your best furniture, designer curtains and priceless antiques.
They can also get into the smallest holes and gaps known to man. If you thought you didn't have any, you may find a new kitten will prove you wrong!  Under the sofa was a particular favourite for Billy.

He was full of energy and wanted to play all the time with George.  The older cat didn't dislike the kitten, but he did find him a bit annoying at times.  It was useful to be able to keep them apart for some of the day and give George a break.  We helped out too, playing with cats and kittens is always fun.

Billy and George share a rare moment together
As time went on there were days when I thought I'd made a big mistake.  Billy would chase George around, he just wanted to play.  Unfortunately, George didn't always want to and they often fell out over it.
Once Billy could go outside he was able to use up more energy and that helped their relationship.

Remember, if you have a kitten, you need to make sure they are vaccinated and neutered.   Follow your vets advice on how soon they can go outside.

The months passed and the two boys did bond, but Billy still wanted more from George than he wanted to give.
Spot the difference
By December that year I decided we needed a girl to come in and sort out the boys.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sunday at the Shelter

On Sunday mornings you will find my daughter and I helping out at The Sheffield Cats Shelter and today was no exception.

You could be forgiven for not spotting it.  Just outside the City Centre, in a residential street, a large house has had its rooms converted into 'cat rooms'.  Helping cats and kittens since 1897 the shelter is maintained purely by donations.

The Sheffield Cats Shelter - Travis Place

The hard working, dedicated staff have a strict cleaning, feeding and medication routine and its the cleaning part where we, and other volunteers, come in.

Today we were there for around 9:30am.  The staff go around emptying all the litter trays from the numerous rooms, and so our first job was washing the rather large pile of  trays.  We make use of big catering style sinks.  I scrub the trays clean with a solution of water and washing powder, Libby rinses them in cold water to remove the washing powder and then puts them into a solution of disinfectant.  Trays are then left to drain, making sure each one has at least ten minutes for the disinfectant to do its work.  Later someone will add litter and distribute them back around the shelter.  There are a lot of cats, which means there are a lot of trays.

At 10:00am, the staff and volunteers are allocated rooms to clean.  Libby and I were asked to see to 'Holding'.  This is one of the area's cats can go when they are first brought into the shelter. They won't go into the main 'adoption rooms' until they are ready for meeting potential 'parents'.

This is a small room with cats kept separate, in contrast to the adoption rooms, where a number of cats will share the room.

Each animal is taken out of their section, unless they are very scared, in which case we clean around them.  The cat gets to stretch its legs in the main area while we brush out any debris, disinfect, change toys, bedding and water bowls.  Each section is given ten minutes for the disinfectant to work. While we wait, we can make a fuss of the occupant :)

Libby brushing out a compartment
There are always some sad stories. The little lady in the next photo is swollen with milk.  Staff think it likely that her kittens were taken away from her too soon and now she is left with milk and no kittens to feed. She's definitely a sweetie and will hopefully find herself a new home quickly, but for now, she is obviously in discomfort.
Once the compartments are clean, we do the walls of the room, as high as we can go and the floor.  All the rooms and the corridors are cleaned in the same regimented way each and everyday.

We also need to clean and disinfect all the toys and water bowls from the upstairs rooms and clean the small kitchen area which joins Holding with Maternity.  Each room has its own equipment and when the cleaning is finished this also gets ten minutes being disinfected.

After we've done our work our reward is to be able to spend time with the cats.  Today I made some new friends.  Rex (the tabby) is a bit wary of contact at the moment, so I spent a little time chatting to him, stroking him and tickling his chin.  He put up with it very well :) 

Rex and Sasha 

In the same room was a basket full of fluff!

3 pairs of eyes and ears!
There are some beautiful cats and kittens just waiting for the right person to walk through the door.  People ask how I manage not to bring them all home, but whilst there are some sad stories, there are positives too, when you hear about the latest adoptions.

I really enjoy working at the Shelter and I look forward to showing you more of the cats I meet each week.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Two Months Later....

I missed having a cat around the house.  I missed the cuddles.  I knew I would never have another cat like Lister, but it wasn't about replacing him, there was just something missing. And so, two months after losing Lister, I ventured back to the sanctuary.

I was drawn very quickly to a black cat sat high up in one of the pens.  Eyes wide like an owl, I couldn't stop staring.  When I asked if I could have a closer look, I was told I wouldn't get anywhere near him, but I was welcome to try.

I admit I didn't get very close to him, but close enough to feel he wasn't being nasty when he hissed and recoiled, he was just frightened. I did look in the other pens, but I think my decision had already been made.

A week later I sat in the back of my friends car with a cat basket on my knee.  I talked softly to the wide eyed animal all the way home.

When I opened the door of the basket in the safety of my home, I was in for a shock. The first thing I saw was a deformed paw creeping tentatively through the open door and it was closely followed by a second.  At the time I remember panicking a bit, did it mean there was something really wrong with him?  Had I let myself in for more than I realised?  I'd never really seen his feet and the sanctuary had not mentioned it at all.
Poorly paws

On closer inspection I could see that he only had one foot that looked normal.  His front paws had missing toes and one back foot looked like someone had stamped on it.
This is actually one of his back feet

He no longer hissed, but he was still very frightened.  He ran quickly into the bathroom and wedged himself in behind the toilet.

His name was Sooty but, to me, he looked like a George and that's what I called him.  I did have to ask my Dad's permission first though, who happens to also be a George.  Once I'd got over the initial shock of his deformaties I felt even more protective of this little animal.  I would love him regardless, he was even more special.

George spent a lot of the first few weeks hiding, only coming out to eat and use his litter tray when we weren't about. There was one time when I couldn't find him anywhere.  I was starting to panic that maybe he'd somehow got out of the house. Taking another sweep upstairs I spotted something odd about the pillows on my bed.  One side was slightly higher than the other.  Closer inspection revealed a little black cat curled up inside the pillow case, but not on top of the pillow, he was actually underneath it.  That has to be the best hiding place any of my cats has ever found (definitely beats Abbie at the bottom of a pop up laundry basket)

The defining moment happened in the middle of the night.  I was gently awoken by movement at the side of me.  Reaching out my hand I felt soft warm fur.  George snuggled down close to me and went to sleep.  It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

A trip to the Vet confirmed that his feet were the only abnormality.  It's likely that his parents were a little too closely related...

George saw as many changes as Lister.  When the children and I moved out into a rented house, he couldn't come with us.  It was a long year without him.  I did visit him when I had the chance, but that just upset me more.  Once I bought another house I moved George straight in.  He adapted well to the new surroundings and it was great having him with us again.  Then he got a new Daddy and they bonded well.  As Andy worked from home, George sat on his knee. They too became firm friends.

Another year passed and another house move. George has never lost his nervousness, but he is so loving and very vocal.

He likes to sleep between me and Andy under the covers.  He's the only cat I've ever been able to actually hold in my arms and go to sleep with, like a real live teddy bear.

He was an only cat for quite a while, until that naughty kitten turned up....

Monday, 4 February 2013

In the beginning...

In the beginning, many years ago, there was a cat.  I'd just left home and NEEDED to get a cat.  Even then I picked a 'looking sorry for itself ' slightly depressed animal.  He was a male in with several females at a rescue centre. Every time he tried to get anywhere near the food the girls snarled at him and he cowered back into his corner.  He was all black and he was scared stiff.

When I first got him home he smelt so bad through not washing himself, my Mum helped me bath him.  He fitted into a small washing up bowl and made no attempt to escape.  He really didn't care what we did to him, he had pretty much given up.

After that he spent the first week under my bath during the day (no side panels, nasty turquoise blue, dead rat in it when I first moved in...) and during the night he would 'amuse' me with his wall of death routine around my living room.  Several days in I thought I would have to take him back, I couldn't get any sleep for all the commotion, my Mum even rang the sanctuary to make arrangements. Well, I was young and hadn't understood what I was getting.  Thankfully I gave him a bit longer to adjust.  'Him' had a name.  As a avid Red Dwarf watcher my little boy became known as Lister.

He turned out to be a lovely cat, he was my best friend.  We spent many hours playing with silver foil balls.  In the mornings I would have to empty my shoes of them.   Presents you see.  Silver balls were fine but the odd mouse in my shoe was less appealing.

This is about the best photo I have of him.  It's still in a frame in my bedroom :) Unfortunately, it was before the days of digital.

Lister is gone now.  He saw many changes in my life, he was my first real dependant.  He saw me move into a house, get married and bring two children into the home.  He took everything in his stride.  He liked the babies as a Moses basket doubled as a cat bed, as far as he was concerned.  He got presents to open at Christmas and I always joked he was my 'first born'.

It must be 8 years since he had to be put to sleep, but I will never forget that morning.  My husband at the time could see him in our back garden, but no amount of shouting or biscuit box rattling would encourage him to move.

He was very quiet at first and then he began to cry in pain.  It was horrible. The kids were crying too, we all were.  The Vet wasn't sure what had happened, but for some reason Lister could no longer move his back legs. I held him in my arms as he went to sleep and I brought him back home in a daze.  He was my first born, just a cat to some, but not to me.

And so he rests in my back garden and on that day I said I would never have another cat, no one could replace my Lister, no one could possibly compare.