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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, 31 March 2013

Sunday at the shelter 31-03-13

I was very thankful to have Libby with me again this week. I seem to be suffering from some bug or 'man flu' type problem. Energy levels have been at rock bottom this weekend. Still, we made it to the shelter as usual.

We met some new residents in holding this week. Only Fi was still in there from previous visits.
The cheekiest chappie of all is Aragon. He hates being confined to quarters and makes people aware of this with his bizarre behaviour. He talks constantly in between chewing his litter tray and bathing in his water bowl!

Aragon after his 'bath'

Once we'd finished the entire room, we let him back out into the main area. His behaviour completely changes and he shows us what a lovely friendly fluff ball he is. Here he is using me as a cat perch while I clean up his messy paw prints!

Emma has her hands full again. One of the new mums stopped producing milk after just five days, which means these little cuties now need to be hand reared.

5 new babies

Mum had a trip to the vets today as she'd not wee'd or poo'd for 3 days. Fortunately, the vets managed to get her to 'go' and she was able to return to the shelter. It seems like it could be the stress of not being able to feed her babies that has had an impact on her health. To prevent further problems mum and babies will now be kept apart.

It was lovely to see Cookie out in one of the main rooms. He is still very nervous but seemed far happier in his surroundings, when you consider how he was last week.


I was also pleased to meet Paul, who helped to bring Cookie into the shelter. Paul is one of a number of people who take time to care for the feral cats of Sheffield.

You can follow them on Facebook, Friends of ferals. They provide shelters and food for many ferals. In fact Paul was off to take a shelter out this afternoon. He told me they are still trying to capture Cookies sibling but as he's wise to being trapped not even tasty chicken can tempt him.  I've no doubt they will keep trying.

If you want know how you can help The Sheffield Cats Shelter have a look at the donate & support page.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Kitten Capers

It became clear, quite quickly, that limiting my little foster family to the cage when unattended wasn't right.  When they're not snoozing, the kittens love galloping around, so we needed to make some changes to our 'kitten room'.

We moved a few things around and the family PC and desk went into my sons room.  The remainder of the room was kitten proofed, no wires, gaps filled with towels, hardboard to protect some of my more important books and another piece across inside the door so we don't have to play 'catch the kitten' when opening the door.

Making the most of the space

For a time it worked much better, giving the little family as much space as possible.  Wendy was  jumping on the windowsill to get time to herself and the kittens had fun rushing around chasing toys.

It wasn't long before we found kittens were climbing, like little monkeys, up to the top of the cage.  The trouble is they are not so good at getting down. My solution was to put hardboard panels on the top that would overhang the sides of the cage. I can't stop them climbing, but at least now they can't get right to the top.
'anti climbing' boards!
Now we are faced with another problem. Wendy is growing tired of being confined. Whilst the board across the inside of the door stops kittens, its no match for a determined cat. As soon as the door was opened she jumped over and we had to be on our guard.

This then progressed to jumping into the small gap between the board and the door and pushing the door open! Thank goodness we were in the first time this happened. Without the board she wouldn't be able to lever her weight against the door to open it, but take it away and we could potentially be chasing 4 little monkeys.  At the moment, we are working with an additional, higher board and putting a weighty bag of cat litter behind the door. Plans are afoot to work out some form of airlock system. I knew all those bits of wood we never throw away would come in handy!

The kittens now find alternative places to sleep, sometimes in a bundle and other times scattered around in various places. My favourite was when they were all curled around the bottom of the scratch post.

Wendy's stomach problems have settled thanks to the sensitive food.  I'm now in the process of re-introducing normal food. It seems to be going ok, sometimes poo is less solid than normal but nothing as bad as before and no blood.

William continues to eat well. He needs no encouragement to tuck in. He is the one straight on your feet when you get in the room, unless he's asleep of course!

William play fights with my hand

Willow was eating, then she lost interest and we had to start encouraging her.  At one point she would only eat off your hand. Bizarre! Thankfully she is starting to eat from her bowl again.

Willow likes her box

Whisper had been giving some cause for concern, she was active enough, but hadn't been interested in eating solids.  I was also not sure she was getting enough fluids.  She is definitely the smallest of the 3. Earlier in the week I started using a syringe to get a small quantity of watered down kitten food into her.  It seemed to work, and as the days have gone on she's now eating from her bowl without any encouragement, which is great.

Whisper in the middle of washing herself

I stocked up on supplies for my own 'tribe' today.  I walk around a pet shop like a new mum does at Mothercare.  No surprise then that my foster family have a few additional things to play with.  They seem to approve :)
Willow assesses the new toy

William likes his mouse

Everyone joins in the game

Willow has a turn

Whisper concentrating
Their baby blue eyes are now starting to change colour.  At the moment they look like they are all going a greenish colour, it'll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday at the Shelter - 24-03-13

On Friday it started snowing yet again and it continued through yesterday (Saturday),  we had a thick layer covering the ground.

Bella's not sure about this white stuff

I got up early this morning to see to Wendy, William (who my Mum refers to as Will I am!!), Willow and Whisper.  After they, and the other 7 cats, had been given breakfast I ventured out to consider the car.

Too much snow!

The amount of ice on the drive and roadway was enough to convince me to forget it.  All I can say is thank goodness for the Supertram.

When I arrived Judith and Emma were giving worming paste to Kit's babies.  She has two black and two tabby kittens.  Kit's tummy is definitely going down to a more normal size, so hopefully she won't give staff any more cause for concern.


I got started on the litter tray mountain with fellow volunteer Laura.  We were down on volunteer numbers today, likely due to the weather, so we all took on extra work to help out.

Once the trays were washed and sterilised, Laura went to her allocated room and I got to work in Infirmary. Current occupants are Billo, Joe, Deedee, Mae and Cookie.  As with Holding, cats are taken out one at a time so their compartment can be cleaned.  They get fresh water bowls, toys and clean fleece bedding. Trays have already been changed earlier, but if there are any poo's I usually take them out.  All sections get cleaned, even if there isn't an occupant, and then there are the walls and floor to do.

Deedee was already out of her compartment. Every time I opened the room door, she wanted to run into the small kitchen area.  Once I'd cleaned her section I sat down and gave her a fuss while the cleaning solution did its thing.  Deedee curled up on my knee and enjoyed a tickle and a stroke. Unfortunately, she wasn't so happy to go back into to her compartment.

Next out was Billo.  An unusual name, Billo is a girl about a year old.  As I need to take the cats out to clean properly I always talk softly and slowly put my hand towards them.  Usually they will either have a sniff at your hand, start to back away or grumble. Billo had a sniff and let me stroke her.  As soon as I started to stroke, she started to purr. 


I lifted her out and cleaned.  We managed a nice cuddle before I put her back.  She is such a pretty girl, with a tail you could use as a duster!

Joe came out without any fuss, and was happy for some attention.  Mae looked like she might be frightened, so I lifted her bed out with her still in it.  Once I put her down, she jumped out of the bed and explored.  This worked well until it was time to put her back.  Maybe this is where the term 'hissy fit' comes from?  You have to remember though that these animals are out of their comfort zone and it can be very traumatic.  Mae could well turn out to be a sweetie when she's less confined.

Finally there was Cookie. He had a towel covering part of the front of his compartment.  I could see straight away  from the position of his ears he wasn't happy. 

Cookie looking a little scared

Still I wanted to try and talk to him, just like the others. As I moved my hand closer to him, he didn't hiss, but it did look like he might try and move away.  I talked softly to him and managed a tickle behind the ears and a little stroke.  I took him out in his bed the same as I'd done with Mae.  He too jumped out and hid around the corner.  He was living outside in an old car before he was brought to the Shelter, so this must seem completely alien to him at the moment.  He's just frightened, but at least now he is safe, warm and well fed.

When I came to putting him back in, I managed to pick him up without too much fuss and get him back away.  From speaking to Judith it's likely Cookie is improving thanks to people trying to handle him, especially Paul who is at the Shelter on Saturdays.

I also cleaned room 1 today.  Its been a while since I did a room so I had to remember the regime! As I was leaving I was pleased to see that some adoptions were already taking place.

I set back off to the tram stop with my foster family supplies strapped to a folding trolley, oh how I missed my car!

So, another nice day, but there was something missing, the three G's!  So no new kitten pics this week, but I'm told they are doing really well.  Hopefully I'll get to see them next weekend.  In the meantime you'll have to make do with my foster family, more from them during the week :)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Fostering Wendy and her kittens

As you may have read in my last post, I brought mum Wendy and her 3 kittens home on Sunday.
I'd already expressed an interest in fostering, but didn't think it would happen quite so soon!  Taking in this little family left a space free to bring another new mum in to the shelter who would otherwise be living outside.

We'd already discussed fostering as a family, but we did have the issue of where to put them. Our 'cat room' is still the safe area and bolt hole for Bertie. Whilst his door is open and he's free to move around the house he's not ready to be evicted from what he sees as his room.

Wendy and her babies need to have a room on their own and be kept away from our 'tribe'.
So, the only other option was our smallest bedroom which is home to bookshelves, the family pc and the printer. Oh and I think I forgot to mention the large rocking horse...
The rocking horse constantly moves around our house. My kids are too big for it, its too big to get in the loft and none of us want to part with it.  This is where a nannan comes in. She thinks its short term, but I may try and forget to bring it back..

Anyway, back to our fur family.  We borrowed a large wire cage from the Shelter to put into the newly named 'kitten room'. We came home armed with food, litter, paperwork and of course our new family.

Wendy is a lovely cat, only around 9 months old herself she is very petite with strikingly large ears! She is very vocal and enjoys a bit of attention.  When she's not being an attentive Mum she likes to rest on her own, while the kittens play nearby.

William is a 'proper' kitten, loves his food and likes rough play with his siblings, not to mention stray human hands and feet! His fluffy fur is mainly black but if you look closely he has a few white ones mixed in on his tummy. It almost looks like he got too close to wet paint and brushed against it.

William plays peek-a-boo

Willow is a real fur ball, again very playful stalking and wrestling with the others. She is the most vocal, often giving a squeak when you pick her up. With no interest in solid food yet, except to play football with kitten biscuits, she relies on Wendy for milk.

Willow gets ready to play fight

Whisper is quite aptly, the quietest. She does play with the others and is eating some solids, but there is often something about her that makes me smile. She studies you intently. When I clean out the cage she sits still and follows my every move with her eyes. It's almost as if she's seeing how I do it so she can do it next time!

Whisper checks out the windowsill (fully supervised!)
To begin with I noticed Wendy kept a very close eye on her babies, she didn't like it if they went too far or out of sight. Over the last few days this has started to change, maybe because she is learning to trust us, but more likely as she now knows the room better and knows her babies can't escape.
Wendy keeps an eye on her babies
On Monday Wendy started to have really watery poo, coming at regular intervals.  Elizabeth looked after her during the day and I took over when I got home from work.  We could hardly keep up with the trays.
It did worry me as, after all, we are being trusted to take care of these little souls.  I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to them.

On Tuesday this seemed to have settled. I took some advice from the Shelter and collected some pro-biotic powder and a worming treatment yesterday.

Last night we had something resembling a cow pat, unfortunately there was also blood in it. At 2am I woke to hear Wendy crying and sensed something wasn't right. She'd been sick and the trays needed changing. While I sorted out the cage the kittens took full advantage and started playing.

Checking with the Shelter today led to a trip to the vet.  Wendy had a slightly raised temperature and its likely her bowl is inflamed, causing the blood. I was told that nursing mums have a lower immunity so this could also impact on Wendy. She had an antibiotic injection and I brought home some special food to hopefully calm things down.

It's been a real learning curve.  It took a couple of days to get into a routine and a couple more to polish it, but we're getting a lot slicker.

I clean out the cage every day, just like the shelter would.  To start with I used a steamer to sterilise, but after a couple of days I decided to change to a pet safe spray from Pets at Home (it's safe for cats and kittens). I can also use this on the laminate floor to try and keep everything as germ free as possible.

Playtime :)

As for the trays, oh how I crave the big sinks in the Shelter!!  I scrub them clean and sterilise with the pet safe spray.  I knew I had a couple of spare trays at home and thought that would be enough....Oh my did I underestimate that! I've since gone and bought another 7 trays.  As I have 3 in use at any one time, this lets me have spare ones filled ready to go and there is no panic any more should they be filled all at once!

I have a lidded tub made up with Milton sterilising tablets to ensure the food and water bowls are as clean as they can be.  Lots of towels to use as bedding, changed at least once a day (usually more!)  Plenty of toys to keep them amused. I'm just missing a cardboard box.

My tribe are very curious about the visitors, but unfortunately they can't meet.  Likewise Wendy is very interested what goes on beyond the door.

It's been an interesting week so far and hard work at times, but those sweet little kitten faces more than make up for it :)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday at the shelter 17-03-13

Actually the title of this weeks post is misleading as we joined other volunteers on Saturday too this weekend.

It was the first yard sale of the year and the big kitchen needed to be turned into a cafe by 11am. Everyone helped with the cleaning  to get the shelter ship shape before the deadline.

The yard sales are just one of the ways the shelter raises much needed funds. Not only do they sell donated items, but also some wonderful cakes and savoury treats. Between me, my Daughter and my Mum we sampled quite a few. All homemade, all delicious.

Saturday also saw the 100th adoption for this year :)

When I bought an extra large carrier (with Bertie in mind), from the sale, I had no idea how soon I would need it. But more about that later......

Today we slipped into our practised routine cleaning holding. While we waited for the compartments to dry we spent extra time with the occupants. A few of them were in need of extra cuddles and we were happy to oblige. There is always something satisfying about getting a frightened animal to trust you.

Here's Garfield, definitely not one of the scared ones, he's very vocal!  About 10 months old he's a very handsome chap.

Garfield loves being high up
Molly has now been moved out of holding into a room on her own. She's such a lovely girl, a real fuss pot and was very playful.

Molly is such a pretty petite little girl :)
Playing with Elizabeth's shoe laces

Kit, the new mum in my last post, is still not quite right and has been to the vets again. It's not yet clear what's going on with her. It could be nothing or maybe an infection in her womb. The staff will be keeping a close eye on her to see if the antibiotics given by the vet do the trick.

No post would be complete without a little look at George, Grace or Gabrielle. Here's George (I think!) before foster mum Emma has had chance to clean their faces!

They are very active now and run to Emma as soon as they see her. It's a very cute wobbly run but they move faster than you give them credit for!!

And finally to my big news of the weekend....I am very proud to tell you I brought home a Mum and her kittens today. I will be fostering them until they are ready to go back to the shelter and find forever homes.
Mum, Wendy is only 9 months old  herself. Her three kittens, William, Whisper and Willow are 5 weeks old. I guess buying the big carrier yesterday was fate.  It's an ideal size to carry home and Mum and babies.
Mum Wendy with Whisper, and Willow in background

They are super cute and its very funny to watch them play. They can't mix with my cats so I have a large cage in one of my bedrooms and the bedroom door has to be kept closed. When we go in and spend time with them we open the cage and they can have a wander around the room.

Willow when she was still at the Shelter

I've already worked out a number of things I need to sort out for them! I think this is going to be a learning curve for me, but what could be more rewarding?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sunday at the Shelter 10-03-13

Well it was a snowy start to Mothers Day here in Sheffield.  Fortunately, there wasn't enough of the white stuff to prevent me getting to The Sheffield Cats Shelter.

I arrived with a golf bag in tow, courtesy of my Dad, another contribution to the yard sale which will take place next Saturday.  Libby and I have our names down to help out on this day too.  The cleaning will need to be completed earlier so that all the jobs are out of the way ready for the sale to start at 11am.

Libby wasn't well today, so I washed trays with Alex, another volunteer, who is a student at Sheffield Uni.  Once the trays were finished I was off to take care of Holding.  I'd just got started when Emma told me she was about to feed the kittens she's been hand rearing.  More importantly, they now have names!!  George, Grace and Gabrielle.  I have my own George at home, so I very much approve of this :)

Looking much bigger now

Much more mobile!

Look at those ears!
As the three G's were in the Maternity section, I also took a moment to check out Kit.  Kit is a beautiful girl, she has just given birth this week to four kittens.

Kits new babies :)
For some reason Kit is still a little unsettled, she is also looking a bit swollen around her tummy.  Usually a new Mum will curl up with her kittens, but Kit is definitely not doing this.  Emma is worried that maybe not all the kittens have been born.  If Kit doesn't settle, she'll be having a visit to the vets tomorrow for a check up.  I really hope she's going to be ok as she's a lovely cat.

Kit loves a fuss
Kit joins two other Mums who are currently nursing their babies in Maternity.

Finally I helped out a little when Cindy was brought out of Holding and re-united in one of the main rooms, with her previous mate Dexter.
These two beautiful cats were abandoned in a cardboard box with two of their kittens.  The kittens are now with a foster parent until they are old enough to come back to the shelter for adoption.

I can never understand why people can be so cruel.  I spent a while in the room with them and they both adore attention, I know they will soon find a new and loving home.  They certainly deserve it.


Dexter rolling around :)
So, don't forget, if you're local to Sheffield, get down to the Shelter on Saturday 16th March from 11am.  The first yard sale of the year will help to raise the vital funds needed to help all these beautiful animals.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sunday at the Shelter 03-03-13

Well its been a very busy weekend at the shelter.  Yesterday a number of kittens returned from foster care, which prompted a large number of potential adopters eagerly waiting to view.  As a result there were a lot of adoptions, always good news.

When Libby and I arrived this morning, Emma, Judith and Leanne (Shelter staff) were again very busy.  One of the pregnant ladies had delivered her kittens earlier today and the smallest wasn't doing so well.

Here's mum and her kittens.  You can also see the afterbirth laying at the front.  You'll have to excuse the poor photo's but I didn't want to disturb her.

Proud new mum

Can you make out the tiny kittens??
 No post would be complete without a little look at the 3 black kittens Emma has been hand rearing.  Still no names yet, but they are a lot more active and getting bigger.  The one I've photographed has, for some reason, started to lose his fur.  Emma is waiting for test results on what may be causing this.

I'm hungry!!!
Big enough to eat without being held :)
Our duties were in Holding again today and I was pleased to see Molly doing well.  She's even allowed her collar off during the day.

Molly minus her collar
We offered to stay on today past our normal time as it was anticipated it would be another busy day.  The lovely foster mum, who brought a number of kittens back to the shelter for adoption, came and sat in the kitten room to talk to potential adopters.  This was a great help to staff as not only can Claire tell them apart, she also knows their personalities really well.

Here are some of the furry faces waiting to meet people today.

No wonder adopters were so keen to to meet these cuties.  Several more adoptions today.  One of the ladies I showed around went home with a cat.  It was a really nice feeling.  I loved chatting with people, talking about the cats. I'm also hopeful that one of the couples may be back for Cleo tomorrow. (she was the 7 day star last week)

One thing did disappoint me today.  My Daughter overheard a visitor stating rooms could be cleaner and other negative comments.  If I had heard this personally I would have politely explained about the strict cleaning regime and how hard everyone works all week to keep the cats healthy.  I wonder if some people expect a smell of disinfectant or bleach to prove that rooms are cleaned.  Can you imagine cats getting that on their paws and licking it?  So no, there are no strong cleaning product smells as the products are animal friendly.  It makes sense when you think about it.

There was a moment (or possibly a good half hour) of panic towards the end of the afternoon.  A Mum and her Daughter were in the kitten room and decided on two they wanted to adopt.  Great news, until it was discovered that one of the kittens was nowhere to be seen.  Everyone hunted around the entire shelter just in case he'd sneaked out through the room doors (there are airlock style doors to prevent this) It seemed unlikely he could have escaped as no one had spotted him anywhere in the corridors.
Everyone thought about the last time he'd been seen.  It was then that Emma wondered if he'd got in the cat carrier which was being used to take another kitten home.

It was a nervous wait for both the staff and the Mum & Daughter waiting to adopt.  Finally the call came through, the kitten was in the carrier and would be brought straight back to the shelter.

What a fab day :)