About Me

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

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday (not quite) at the shelter 25-08-13

I'm on holiday at the moment, but I've been keeping up to date on Shelter news.
If you read last weeks entry you'll know that fighting cat flu was the most pressing task. The situation continued into this week.

Libby and I spent additional time at the shelter on Monday to help out with the cleaning.  I started in Room 5 which contained the lovely Mika and her man Marvin. Mika was her usual self, chatting to me and wanting cuddles and kisses.

Unfortunately she and Marvin were sneezing. Despite wearing a clean suit, complete with hood, gloves and overshoes, kisses were strictly off the agenda.

Poor Marvin was curled up in a basket looking very sorry for himself.  With his third eyelids visible, crusty deposits under his nose and no interest in food, it was obvious he was really suffering.
I gave everything a thorough clean and did the floor on my knees with a cloth.  This gave Mika the opportunity to give the top of my head mutiple chin rubs and kisses,  so she was happy :)

The Shelter Manager,  Shirley,  brought in a bowl of hot water with a few drops of olbas oil in, to try and break through their stuffy noses. Its very difficult to get a cat to eat if they can't smell the food.
Its for this reason the shelter have been asking for donations of smelly fish!  

Shirley then spent time cleaning Marvins nose and giving him medication.

We then headed down to Infirmary, with just 3 occupants, again we wore disposable clothing.

Libby (not the cat) in her clean suit

Lottie was full of flu and Shirley had been trying to encourage her to eat by hand feeding her.  She'd also cleaned her eyes, as they were full of puss,  fortunately cleaning showed they weren't as bad as first feared.
There were also olbas oil bowls in each cage here too.

We cleaned out Lottie and then moved onto Tigger.   Tigger was seriously stressed about me going near him, which is a big deal as stress can make flu worse. I slowly cleaned around him as best I could.

Finally we had Libby. Another very timid cat.   She was so full of flu, with a sore eye and blocked nose, poor soul.

Libby (the cat!)

Despite having worn protective clothing we showered and changed at my parents house. I needed to be sure I couldn't take any infection home.

During the week the Flu infection pretty much went through the whole shelter, with the exception of Room 4 (where the kittens were) and the old bathroom (used for single cats).

It seems the problem may have started in Infirmary and quickly spread to Room 1.  Its the occupants of  these rooms who are now starting to recover.  They are eating well and should hopefully be available for adoption soon.

Room 2 and Holding  then became the worst affected.  Medication plus smelly food, such as pilchards have really helped.

At the height of the problem the shelter had no option but to close its doors to new cats.  As cats from Infirmary have now been relocated into Room 3, Infirmary has now undergone a deep clean.  Deep cleans are performed periodically when a room is entirely empty of cats.  Once no cats are present, harsher cleaning materials such as bleach can be used. The staff make sure all traces of harmful chemicals are then rinsed away prior to the introduction of any further cats.

Once this is completed new cats will be able to come into the shelter under strict quaranteen procedures.

This last couple of weeks has been a real lesson to me about the importance of keeping vaccinations up to date (all mine are vaccinated).  Even those who have had the vaccine can still get ill, but those who haven't fair much worse.

The staff and volunteers have worked so hard to care for the cats in the shelter and, amongst all of this, have managed to rehome several well cats and kittens, plus arrange the pre-adoption of sick ones.  I'm very happy that Marvin and Mika will be going to their new home as soon as they are well enough :)

Lets hope next weeks blog is 'Flu free' :)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday at the Shelter 18-08-2013

I went to the shelter earlier than normal today to do some filming. I want to try and capture some 'behind the scenes' elements of the day to day workings.  I'm not sure many people realise quite how much work goes into every single day.

Judith was already preparing food when I got there at 8:10am.

Preparing cat mealsPreparing cat meals
Judith prepares meals

Currently the shelter are having to be really careful throughout as flu symptoms have started to appear.  Pro-biotic powder, plus a Flu remedy are being added into food where appropriate.

Preparing cat meals
Judith adds pro-biotic powder to meals

Flu in cats can go from mild to very serious and it can spread very easily. A cat showing no symptoms can still pass on the infection in a number of ways, in addition, some can be carriers.  This is one of the reasons the Shelter has such a strict cleaning regime. Sadly as the infection can be passed by direct cat to cat contact or from being carried on clothing and shoes, it's managed to get through the defences.  Even cats who have been vaccinated could become ill, although not usually as severely as non vaccinated ones.

In view of this a number of additional measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of cross infection.  Rooms with cats showing any sign of illness are marked accordingly. Anyone visiting or cleaning in such a room will not be allowed in any other room and should completely limit their movement around the shelter.

Protective clothing
Smurf fashion?
Where necessary, staff equip themselves with overshoes and aprons, or full 'clean suits' which are disposed of as soon as a room is completed.

Back to the filming and Emma kindly talked me through the daily routine.  Generally the morning starts with feeding in all rooms, medication and changing litter trays.  Although it sounds a bit gross, the contents of litter trays are important as any diarrhoea or evidence of blood can indicate a problem.

I took some photos and video within Room 4 to begin with, Daisy and Princess's kittens are in here. All but one have been pre-adopted and should be going to their new homes in about a weeks time.

ginger kitten hiding
A hiding little kitten

They were all due for worming, which meant each one had to first be weighed and then given a tablet.  Weights and medication are then all written on each kittens record sheet.

Ginger kitten on weighing scales
Weighing kittens
I then moved into Maternity to do a little more filming.  Some of the younger kittens are weighed to check their progress. As before these are then carefully recorded.

Then it was all about cleaning. As you can see a Mum and her babies can make quite a mess of their cage!

Here's the before....

Messy cat cage
Dirty cage

And the after :)

Clean cat cage
All clean!
The newspapers in the bottom of the cage serve two purposes, they help to make cleaning a little easier, but also make the surface of the cage a little warmer for younger kittens.

Speaking of which, here are a few kittens to drool over!


Tabby and white kitten



And Mum :)

So until next week! Thanks for calling by :)


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday at the Shelter 11-08-2013

It was lovely to have Libby with me again.  She's not been able to volunteer for some time due to illness, but hopefully she will be back to her regular Sunday slot from now on.

Thanks to the recent request for volunteers the Shelter was full of helpers today :)  Libby and I dried and filled litter trays while we waited for rooms to be allocated.

Holding was oddly a 'girl only' zone this week!  Lots of new faces to introduce you to, although I apologise in advance for my photography!!

First out was Ruby (black) and Pearl (tabby and white) they were abandoned in a carrier along with a third cat, Sapphire.  Pearl is confident and happy to have a fuss.  Ruby was slightly more apprehensive, but still happy to have some attention.  Both are beautiful girls.

black cat

Tabby and white cat
Tabby and white cat
Pearl having a look out of the window

Pixie is a little nervous and isn't keen on being handled at the moment.  We coaxed her back into her house with some treats.

black cat

Wednesday is a gorgeous long haired black cat, she was playful but a little cautious around us.  Unfortunately, she was easily startled by some loud noises outside the shelter.

Teenage girl holding a black cat
Libby with Wednesday
Sapphire is a tiny little girl who was happy to have some attention.  While we were in there a wasp wandered in through the open window and she was fascinated.  Watch the video to see :)

Crystal was in the yard as normal, waiting to see what everyone was having for lunch....

You may remember Libby (the cat) who was missing.  Thankfully, due to the shear determination of one lady called Maggie, who waited patiently to trap her, she's now in infirmary.  Thank you to everyone who helped. Her ordeal has unfortunately led to her being even more frightened and timid than before.  I managed a little photo of her, it's not great as I didn't want to disturb her with flash.  At least she is safe again and will be well looked after and fed.

black and white cat
Libby safe back at the Shelter

We were about to head for home, when the day took a little twist.  An un-neutered male, Marvin and a pregnant young female, Mika were brought into the shelter on Friday.  It was thought that the 5-6 month old female was in the early stages of pregnancy.

Emma introduced us to the pair and it was during this time that she noticed some changes in Mika.  These  led her to suspect that the little girl may actually be further into her pregnancy than first thought.  It seems that Mika is starting to produce milk. Mums 'to be' generally start to produce 24 to 48 hours before the onset of labour. This means that there is a possibility that Mika could deliver at any time. 

Rather than risk her going into labour overnight at the Shelter,  I offered to bring her home with me, where she could be monitored.  The risks to her are increased because she is young and very small.

This prompted a crash course in hand feeding and toileting kittens 'just in case'.  Emma talked me through the signs of each stage of labour and the actions I should take in certain situations.  I have the back up the emergency vet number, should I need it.

Here are my practice kittens :)

two small white kittens
Ernest and Egbert
There are many Mums and kittens out on the streets at the moment, as there is simply not enough room at the Shelter. 

Experienced cat owners (or previous cat owners) are desperately needed for short term fostering.   Kittens are fostered until they are ready to go back to the Shelter for re-homing.  All you need is a bit of time, a spare room and transport to get to Vet appointments. Food, Vet bills, cat litter etc are all provided by the Shelter.

If you think you can help, contact the Shelter, they will be happy to answer your questions.

Oh by the way did you know the Shelter are now on Twitter??  Why not follow them via @CatsShelter

So far Mika seems settled, so hopefully we will have a uneventful night, but if that changes, I'll let you know!!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sunday (not quite) at the Shelter 4-08-13

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit the shelter in person today but I'm not going to let that stop me from bringing you a weekly round-up of news.

If you remember last week I mentioned the article in The Star. We were hopeful that this would bring in a lot of potential adopters and its certainly been a better week in that respect, around 12 cats/kittens have gone to their forever homes.

One particular adoption put a big smile on my face and that was Kit.  She'd been at the shelter for months and no one could understand why.  Here she is from one of my previous posts.

tabby cat
Such a lovely cat, I'm so happy someone has given her a forever home.  I'm told she has gone to a lovely family who already had a cat and were looking for another.  After visiting a number of rescues they felt Kit would be the perfect fit for them. They have made a great choice and I do hope they update the Shelter on her progress.

Sadly as soon as one cat or kitten leaves for their forever home there is another coming through the doors and some of the details are shocking and heartbreaking.

Mid week, 3 abandoned cats sharing one pet carrier were brought to the Shelter.  It seems they had been  dumped on someone's drive.  They were, understandably, very stressed at first but responded well to food and some tlc. The new additions are thought to be a Mum around 2 years old and her kittens who are approximately 7 to 8 months old.  The Shelter staff have named them Ruby, Sapphire and Pearl. It's likely we'll never know the real story behind their abandonment. 

Today a 1 week old kitten was brought in, in pitiful state, after being found under a bush. The little mite's face was covered in fleas and tics. He had puss under his eyes, was filthy, starving and to top it off had horrid diarrhoea. This is an awful lot for any kitten to deal with, but at 1 week old it really is going to be touch and go.  Egbert, as he is now known, is in Emma's care and rest assured she will do everything she can to give him the best possible chance, including hand rearing and veterinary care.

tiny white kitten
Egbert, looking much cleaner

Another admission today was a Mum and her 6  2 days old kittens.  Mum had no milk to feed the babies, so they were literally starving.  They were also in danger from foxes and possibly dogs. If they hadn't been brought in they would have died from starvation, if nothing else.  At the moment the plan is to get plenty of food into Mum so that she has a chance of producing milk for the kittens.  If this doesn't work, hand rearing will be the only option.  Emma will be back at the Shelter later this evening to check on them. 

There are no 9-5 hours here.  Young kittens need feeding every couple of hours, day and night.

kitten being given milk by syringe
One of Emma's previous hand rears

In between the adoptions and the admissions there were 6 individual calls from the public asking for help in respect of Mums and kittens or Mums to be, all of whom are living outside and are therefore terribly vulnerable.  No doubt there were countless other calls in addition.

Another sad story broke this weekend.  Libby was a very timid cat who had come into the Shelter after being found as a stray. Her age was approximated at around 1 year.

This photo was taken when I first met her in June, she was hiding in the back of a pet carrier as everything was very strange for her.

black and white cat
Libby at the Shelter
It wasn't long before she was adopted, but sadly she escaped from her new home and is currently missing.  The Shelter and others are doing all they can to try and find her.  If you, your family or friends live, or work in the Abbey Brook/Chancet Wood area of Sheffield (S8) please look out for Libby.  (This is the area  behind Morrisons on Meadowhead )  She is micro-chipped, but is not wearing a collar. 

Here is her most recent picture, taken before she left the Shelter. To date there have been no sightings.

black and white cat
Everyone is very concerned about her welfare. She is very timid and won't approach people, please get in touch with the Shelter if you have any sightings of her at all.

Sadly calls about abandoned cats and kittens are all part of the working day for the Shelter, but there are only so many spaces available. They do everything possible to give all cats and kittens a chance, but they can't do it without you and me.

With so many calls about Mums and babies and so many more on the waiting lists, volunteers are so desperately needed.  Can you help?  Can you support the Shelter to allow them to keep doing what they do?

Could you help with fund raising? Adoption fees are a drop in the ocean against the costs the Shelter has and raising funds is vital to enable this work to continue. How about one morning a week cleaning in the cat rooms? (read my previous posts if you want to know more about this)  You will be greeted by lovely, friendly staff and will receive an induction to give you all the information you need. Rubber gloves provided!!

Maybe you are an experienced cat owner (or have recent past experience) and could help with short term fostering?  (again read back on my posts to see about my own experience of this)  All you need is a spare room where foster cats can be safe, plus transport to attend vets appointments.  All vet fees, food and litter will be covered by the Shelter.

If you don't have time to spare, visit the Donate & Support page to see if there is anything else you can help with.

Finally, share the Shelters Facebook posts, share this blog, invite your friends to 'like' their page.  Do you know that some residents don't know about the Shelter?  The more people who know, the more cats and kittens can be saved.