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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

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sunday at the shelter 14-7-2013

Another hot one! In the UK I find we are always taken aback a little by a heat wave, especially one that spans a couple of weekends!  We complain when we have no summer and many of us also complain when its too hot! 

Fortunately for us, and our pets, we have options to minimise any discomfort.
Its not same for the shelter though as they battle to get as much air flow into each room as possible.
One room, in the attic, becomes pretty much unusable during hot weather as it just can't be kept cool enough.

The attic, the old bathroom and the yard outside are used to give some cats a space of their own.
These are cats who, for whatever reason, can't be in one of the main communal rooms. Crystal from last weeks blog is one such cat. By day you'll find her on her own in the yard. 

Black cat
Crystal in the yard
Any other time she will need to be isolated inside the shelter. There is nothing wrong with her, she just really doesn't like other cats. To put her in a communal room would lead to upset and stress for everyone.
So if just one of these "single accommodation" area's become unavailable it causes big problems.

Maternity is a cage room, like holding and infirmary. 

Cages for nursing cats and kittens
Most of the cages can be split up in different ways to make bigger or smaller areas. Currently in maternity there are three nursing mums. The heat is not helping here either. Mum's are too hot to want to nurse their babies for very long.

Cat nursing her kittens
Nursing Mum
In the case of these little ones, who are 5 weeks old, they are nowhere near the size or weight they should be. They are being given extra formula milk to try and help build them up.

White and tabby five week old kitten
Five weeks old, but very small
Ginger and white five week old kitten
A second, underweight kitten
When you first see the cage rooms you feel a little sad, but they are there for a reason and the majority get a time out by taking turns in the main part of the room. The Shelter staff always try and spend as much time with the cats as possible too.  

As can be seen, some happily play with their toys. 

Small tabby cat plays with a ball
Tootsie plays with her ball
Tabby cat putting paws through cage bars
Tootsie trying to play with me through the bars!
Others like nev find the cage a safe place and don't always want to come out, but will, once their confidence increases. Here he is venturing a little further. I also managed a cuddle which is always nice

Ginger cat sat on steps
Nev sitting on the steps
One of the bottom sections is always without a door. This lets the more timid cats hide away while their own cage is cleaned, or as I call them, their 'houses'.

Tabby cat
Tootsie makes use of the open spare section
Holding was full despite Salam and Freddie, from last week,  now being in a small room together. Its hoped this will help Freddie to feel more settled.  He is also having to adjust his diet. At 3 years old he has never eaten cat food, being fed only on tinned tuna and pilchards. These are fine for the occasional treat, but not as a diet. The shelter team now have the long task of weaning him onto cat food.

As you've seen Tootsie is still here and so is Ellie, both very playful! 

Black and white cat with paws through cage bars
Ellie also playing through the bars :)
Once out of her house, Ellie was particularly interested in chasing my feet and grabbing my ankles!

Black and white cat looking out of a window
Ellie checking out the street scene
Here's Shamus, a very handsome young man, confident and curious.
Black and white cat
 Next we have Grace.  She's very loving and fluffy, if a little timid :)

Black cat in cage
Grace in her house
Black cat with pink rubber gloves
Grace checking out my gloves
Finally Shadow.  She is unhappy and with good reason. Her owner passed away recently. To add to her misery, when relatives cleared out the house, they left her behind. She was spotted by a neighbour crying to get into her home.
Black cat in a cage

Every time I hear these stories I hope they are isolated cases. Sadly they are not. There are so many cats and kittens in Sheffield needing re-homing.  But until cats are adopted no new ones cat come in.  

The larger rooms are generally home to 6 or 7 cats.  There are 3 large rooms and two smaller ones.  These are all currently at capacity.  In addition there are around 50 mum's and kittens out with foster carers. Plus there are approximately 400 other cats and kittens on the waiting list.  Some are strays, some are unwanted pets, others have suffered the death of their human.  Many of these would not be on the list, if more cats were neutered.  Sadly, many people just don't do this and just assume that the Cat Shelter will take the resulting kittens off their hands.

I popped in on Monday to drop off newspapers. In the ten minutes I was there the phone rang as soon as the previous call had ended. I mean seconds.

One caller was asking for 15 cats to be collected. They had 3 females and one male, none neutered. No surprises that there are now 11 kittens.

Others were ringing about cats they'd seen caring outside for kittens or just about strays in general.  In those ten minutes there were easily another 20 cats or kittens added to the waiting list.  With little movement in adoptions recently, no one is quite sure where these cats or kittens are going to go.

The Shelter do everything they can to take in and care for those who have been abandoned or never had a home in the first place, but if there is no room, there is no room.  

There is a small part of the solution that we can all help with.  We should think very carefully before taking on an animal.  They are for life and they deserve to be safe, loved and cared for. An animal is not something you should just give away when your circumstances change or you want an "upgrade".  And neuter!! I know it costs money, but it costs more in the long run when those kittens start appearing. Finally, if you're looking for an animal, go to a rescue.  There are so many lovely cats at this Shelter and no doubt others across the country.  Try and help them out if you can.

So for now I'll leave you with a picture of a Mum and her babies enjoying a little time outside their "house"

Black Cat and kittens
Mum and her kittens have some time out
If you are interested in volunteering like me, the shelter are looking for people to help out, Tuesdays and Fridays in particular. Why not call in or pick up the phone?  Contact details can be found on their web page.


  1. Oh this heat! How those mummy cats and babies endure it I do not know. Last week kittens were found in our village, wandering alone, some huddled in a hedge and mummy cat was found carrying one in the middle of the road. Luckily a kind soul took them all to the vets who are caring for them and will be adopting them all out (spayed and neutered) when ready.

    Another tip I have been told of to help in the heat - freeze some tuna juice and water and give each cat one of these cubes to play with, they lick and get more water into them in pursuit of the tuna. It might mean more cleaning work in the shelter though as tuna juice can't stay fresh once the ice has melted. Haven't tried this yet with my two.

    These austere times are awful for animals, so many people seem to be just dumping their pets like they dump an old fridge. It's heartbreaking to realise that animals are so low on the priority list.

    Big props to all who work/volunteer at the shelter, you are doing such brilliant work helping these darling felines.

    1. Thank you, the staff do an amazing job. They put their heart and soul into every cat and kitten. The tuna ice cubes sound fun!!

  2. PS: I wish the larger charities would make more of an effort to advertise their low cost/free spay/neuter vouchers too!

    1. Yes it might help. I don't think people realise there is help if you need it