Monday, 25 June 2012

The Accidental Resthome for Unwanted Felines

Whilst London and my own little flat are now definitely the place I call home, for the 20 odd years before I moved down here, it was an L-shaped house in a Staffordshire village.  It was a large, wonderfully up-and-down house which meant it was usually full of things happening.  The Accidental Mother maintained (and still does!) an open house for any friends travelling up and down the country, meaning that our own family of four was often joined by numerous others at one time or another.  But asides from the human visitors who came and went there was always a pair of feline family members about the place too.  I have lived with cats since I was born, and for me a house without a cat just doesn't feel quite complete.  A kitchen without a coil of fur asleep on a chair or a laundry basket without a smug, hairy face peering out over the top of it is just plain wrong in my world order.

I always imagined I would get my own cat when I was grown-up (err, still waiting for that to happen...) and had my own place.  But my peripetetic first few years in London, and then my flat without a garden, prevented me from doing this.  Even now I own a property and I don't have to contend with prohibition from a landlord, a cat and the care it needs does not sit well with my slightly chaotic lifestyle.  I couldn't abandon it a couple of nights a week to go out partying, or for the rare weekends I make it out of London, or for weeks at a time when work takes me overseas.  It just wouldn't be fair.  Pets really are for life, not just for the occasional cold Monday evening when you decide to stay in, eat pizza and indulge your desire for trashy TV with an episode of 'Made in Chelsea'.

But I still wanted a cat.  After watching yet another RSPCA advert that reduced me to tears (I'm so tragically British and pathetic about animals), I resolved to see if there were any other way I could get some animal exposure in my life.  I contacted a nearby branch of Cats Protection, and volunteered as a fosterer, opening up my flat to a homeless feline for a week or so at a time.  I could have a cat to stay as often or as little as I like, whenever my schedule permitted.  Perfect!  Cats Protection would also provide me with all the food and equipment my new lodger would need, so fostering for them would not cost me a penny.  I passed a paperwork test (yes, I was a pro at getting tablets down the gullets of wriggling beasts who did not want their nasty medicine) and a home visit (not too many potential kitty death-traps in my flat).
What do you mean 'Don't get too comfortable?'

And then I got a call asking if I could go a pick up a black and white cat from the vet just up the road.  But my entire family were coming to stay that weekend, I cautioned.  There would be noisy DIY and four people in a confined space.  I was told firmly that he would probably love it.  I headed to the vet, and bore home my first feline lodger.  He quickly settled in, and yes, he loved the attention and the company of an entire family that weekend.  That was the unfortunately-named 'Nutty', cat number one.  He had separation anxiety issues that meant he had to know where I was at all times, including when I was taking a shower and he would determinedly balance on the edge of the bath to keep an eye on me.  Then came 'Thursday', a little black cat, dumped on the doorstep of Cats Protection on a Thursday.  (Alas, no - I don't have any say in what the poor things get called.)  And next appeared 'Thyme', a white and tabby lady, light as a feather but round as a bolster, who liked to stuff herself behind the TV, even when it was turned on.  (Her weightlessness turned out to be a bonus when she revealed herself to be a big fan of sitting on people, whatever they were in the middle of doing.)  Number four was a little tabby called 'Phoebe', crippled by shyness she hid behind the sofa for 48 hours, before emerging as a total sweetheart who adored people.  She adored them so much that if they dared so much as take a nap she would poke them awake to purr ingratiatingly right in their confused, weary face.
Stealth cat

And now there is an enormous monster of a feline, who goes by the un-catlike name of 'Russell' (seriously, why?!), lurking atop the highest cupboard in my kitchen.  Horribly shy, with ears ragged from years of street-fighting, he crouches above the fridge and hisses at me when I rummage for the milk.  (Maybe he's just cross at being lumbered with the name 'Russell'.)  On Wednesday he heads off to his new home, to hiss companionably at his new owner.  He's another lodger casually passing through the Accidental Resthome for Unwanted Felines - a pit-stop between what is often a pretty grim past and a much more hopeful, comfortable future.  But for the time these creatures spend in my care, I fret about their shyness and stress levels, hope they're eating enough and wonder what havoc they're wreaking in my flat while I'm out at work.  And, yes, whilst I worry I may one day turn into a crazy old cat lady, it's nice to have a pal to crash on the sofa with after a long day at work...and it's one less unwanted creature wandering London's streets.  We both win, I and the cats that once nobody wanted.

There is nothing remotely sponsored about this post.  I'm simply an admirer of the work that Cats Protection does.  The organisation's staff work very hard, because they are amazingly dedicated to animal welfare.  If you fancy adopting a cat, or could open up your house for a week or two to abandonned creatures awaiting a new full-time home of their own, or even if you'd rather show you care with a little cash please do get in touch with them.  If you're in London click here, or if you're anywhere else in the UK click here.  Thank you!

18 comments:

  1. I'm going to tell my mum about this, I'm sure that she would love to foster cats! Here in Japan we have something callded 'cat cafes' were you pay a fee, drink coffee and bribe cats over to be fussed :).

    ReplyDelete
  2. So cute, if I owned my own home I'd definitely get involved in this. As it is I have two of my own and spend countless hours fussing the cats of all of my neighbors.. including one that may or may not be a stray, but spends alot of his time in our living room watching our TV and eating our food

    Also, Russell is such an unfortunate name.. x

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a good idea! And a smart one. There must be many people in your situation. Think I might be sorry to see the cats go, mind you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Please do tell your mum, NeonRaine; lots of centres are tiny, but rehome hundreds of cats a year, and it's fosterers that allow them to help so many animals. And wow, those cat cafes sound amazing...!

    It sounds totally cheesy but it's a hugely rewarding thing to do. Watching a tiny, terrified creature grow into a bold, friendly cat is quite wonderful to watch. And once they're bold again, cats have no shame and will move in with anyone, eh Charlotte? (Seen some photos of your two on your blog, and they look lovely!) And, gosh, yes - Russell: is that the least cat-suitable name ever?!

    The only tough part is saying goodbye. It can be quite emotional, Jenny, you're right. But I know they couldn't stay with me forever and that a permanent home with a lovely big garden is what they really need. So it can be sad, but it's really great to get reports back once they've found a new owner and a lovely home. Makes me feel very pleased to have helped get them there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are indeed soooo British! How lovely of you to shelter a cat despite your busy schedule! I am not a pet person at all, I must admit. You would probably have to train me before I can take care of a cat.
    What can I say: you have the job, the flat, the occasional cat...When do you have the husband?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am indeed, I fear! Sorry to disappoint, Muriel, but you'll have to hold off buying that hat you're dying to buy for the Accidental wedding...just me and the odd cat Chez Accidental!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Such a shame, my hat is really lovely! Anyway, as long as you are happy, I can't say anything! Just don't become a bitter old lady who values more pets than humans. A very remote risk, I know, but a very British one too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Am sure you'll find another use for your hat, Muriel! Don't worry, I'm all too aware of the risks of turning into a mad cat lady...I'll do my best not to.

      Delete
  8. Good for you! What a brilliant idea, and those poor little kitties must be so happy to be in a real home rather than a cage in a shelter.

    PS I got my cat from a rescue centre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost all the cats I've ever had have come from rescue centres, Sarah - and I have to say I think they're the best! Hope yours is doing well...

      Delete
  9. I love how you write, you really make me laugh out loud! This is a great initiative of Cats Protection, i think it is nice that you've shared and thus made more people aware of its existence :) your good deed for the day is definitely done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, LouLou - glad to have made you giggle. Shall go and feel smug about my good deed now...

      Delete
  10. Brilliant idea - I've never heard of this before and I'm amazed to see your already impressive throughput of rehabilitated cats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well at least 4 out of the 5 are already in nice new homes, so keep your fingers crossed for #5, Rashbre...and all the little ones who are yet to come!

      Delete
  11. I love this!! Maybe an accidental cat might find an accidental home... xXx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't tempt me...maybe you could find space for a little accidental creature of your own, my dear?!

      Delete
  12. "A house without a cat just doesn't feel quite complete." Spot on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it's just because I was raised in a cat household, or maybe it's just because they make for great company, but yep, give me a furry lodger over a human one any day!

      Delete

Pin It button on image hover