Tag Archives: cat rescue

Aurora Is Looking for a Loving Home

Aurora is looking for a loving home…

Aurora is a gorgeous and very affectionate 11 year old cat who is looking for her “furever” home. For 5 years before coming into CCN’s care she lived confined in a small place with a large number of other cats who would often bully her. In the 15 months she has spent in foster care, she has turned into a very affectionate and chatty cat. She loves rubs and to be brushed, and she loves some company. She is still a little nervous with strangers but also quite inquisitive. She is looking for a quiet indoor-only home with no other pets and no young children. She will be shy when first moving in her new home and you will need to give her time to get used to you, but every step forward is so rewarding and she really deserves to find a home where she can be loved! You can see more photos of Aurora here and read the story of her rehabilitation here.

Aurora is spayed, fully vaccinated, microchipped and has tested negative to FIV and FeLV. She had a recent health-check and apart for some arthritis for which she is being treated, she is healthy. She suffered from gingivitis when she first came into our care, but had a few teeth extracted and was successfully treated. To enquire about adopting Aurora, please read our adoption procedure and text 086 1583501.

After a few years being involved in animal welfare, I have come to see rescue as a three-phase process. Phase 1 is the actual rescue. It can be quite impressive or dramatic or it can be just picking up a kitten on the side of the road. You will often hear people say that they have rescued a kitten and then handed him/her to a rescue; in those cases, they often forget about the long process that is about to happen after. Phase 2 is possibly the most challenging. It is the long process of rehabilitation. At times it can be quite straight forward if the animal is friendly and healthy, but at other times, it might involve many vet visits and a lot of emotional and time investment on the part of the fosterer to rehabilitate the animal and get it ready for rehoming. Phase 3 is the rehoming phase. You need to find the right home for the animal, one where they will live a happy life. The new family will then finish the rescue process by welcoming the animal in their home, helping them to settle, give them time to adapt and do what they can to reduce the stress due to their change of environment. Although it may seem quite easy, in some cases it does take some effort and the new family needs to be patient and understanding of their new pet’s needs. Once the animal has settled, then you can consider the rescue as being successful. When Dawn and Aurora came into my care over a year ago, I was fully aware it would take time to rehabilitate these two female cats who came from a hoarding background. They were so nervous at the beginning! I remember Sinead shaking her head saying I definitely liked a challenge, well I do! Dawn’s slow-blinking kept encouraging me! Both suffered from Gingivitis and were treated for it. Once they were free from that pain, they began to make progress, taking a treat out of my hand, looking at me instead of going in hiding and finally we reached the stage when they would welcome me at the door with their chattering at dinner time and asked for rubs. Every little step forward was such a victory that it would bring tears in my eyes. A year later, Dawn found a home, a loving family who understand that it will take time before she fully settles with them. They have understood that they are part of her rescue and have taken up that challenge (quite successfully considering the latest updates). Now, it is time for Aurora to find her new home.

Help Aurora to find a home by printing this poster (Aurora) and placing on local notice boards (in Cork and surrounding counties).

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To the Unnamed Kittens, Killed on the Roads

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Finding dead kittens on the road is unfortunately a too familiar sight. Each time though, my throat tightens.
This little man wasn’t dead though. The woman who found him said he was trying to crawl, but could not use his back legs. How many people passed and saw him without stopping?
She picked him up and brought him to her shed before ringing Breda, who rushed to him despite being expected at work. Annie and Breda found the kitten where the woman had told them he would be. He was cold, so they wrapped him in a towel and Annie held him close to her on the way to my house. Annie may only be 6 years old, but she knows the realities of life. She handed me the kitten with a serene dignity.
I held him and touched his back legs. There was no response; he didn’t seem to feel anything on the rump either. I didn’t have any hope for him and just wanted to stop his pain. His breathing started to become worse and I guessed I wouldn’t even have time to bring him to the vet on-call in Youghal to end his suffering kindly. I believe this is the most distressing, feeling helpless. His breathing slowed down and then he gave a final, very soft sigh. I was holding him in my arms, close to my heart. This is probably the only consolation, that he didn’t die alone, on the side of the road.
I wrapped him up in a white sheet and buried him in the garden, next to the fern plant. I don’t believe in heaven, don’t believe in the rainbow bridge, but I believe in giving them some dignity when they live this planet we all share.
Sleep tight little man x

Miss Marple, the Old Lady Surrounded by Mystery

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Last Tuesday, we received a call about a sick cat in Midleton. She was very thin and dehydrated. We brought her to Sinead at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic and an examination revealed that she was already neutered and very old. Ads were posted on the internet, posters were placed, leaflets were distributed, and Miss Marple, as I named her because she was an old lady surrounded by so much mystery, took up residence in my study.

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Although the caller thought the cat had been dumped, I was convinced someone was looking for her and decided to keep looking….
Well, Miss Marple’s real name is in fact Lucky (very appropriate) and she is 19 years old. She had been missing for a month and her owners thought she had gone away to die, until today, when their son saw one of my posters. Twenty minutes later, the tears were rolling and Lucky was in the arms of her mammy While in our care, Lucky was microchipped, so if she ever goes missing again, she can be quickly reunited with her family.

Moral of the story? Don’t give up looking for your missing cat and never assume too much when you have found a cat. So many cats are not reunited with their owners because people assume they have been dumped…

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Rescuing Feral Cats

Feral cat keeping her distance from humans

Feral cat keeping her distance from humans

Very often we receive enquiries from the public asking us help to “rescue some feral cats”.  This is also a phrase quite often used by animal welfare organisations.  What do they mean by “rescuing feral cats”?  Most of the time, what prompts their demand is the fact that the cats do not live according to their standards.  They are concerned because the cats do not have the same comfortable lives as their own pet cats.  However, we are talking here about feral cats, not domestic cats.  Feral cats do not need rescuing, they need their lives to be improved and this can be done by having them neutered and offering them care (a better diet, suitable shelter and medical treatment when needed).

Feral cats are different from domestic cats.  The majority of them are born outside and may be the descendants of many generations of feral cats who have learnt to survive in their environment.  Cats are clever and know where they can be safe, find food and shelter.  They have learnt to avoid the daily dangers their environment throws at them.  For instance, urban feral cats will tend to hide during the day or find safe gardens where they feel protected; rarely will they run in the middle of the traffic.  Farm cats will find a safe place to hide their kittens from the fox or the resident dog.  In fact feral cats have more chances of survival in their own environment than elsewhere.  Their lives can be greatly improved by having them neutered and by making small changes in their environment, for instance by placing warm shelters in a safe location.

Mother and surrogate mother protecting the kittens while they are eating.

Mother and surrogate mother protecting the kittens while they are eating.

However, rescuing feral cats may be more detrimental to the cats than beneficial.  What happens once the cat has been “rescued”.  More than likely, it will be placed in foster care in a cage or room with the aim of socialising them.  A cat who has lived free in an outdoor environment will obviously be extremely distressed by such a situation.  To increase their stress, they will be forced to interact with a human they have never seen before, so that they can become tame.  Feral cats have learnt to be wary of humans in order to protect themselves.  Although they may trust their carer, as this is the person giving them food, other humans will be seen as potential danger.  Attempting to tame a feral cat is therefore seen by the cat as a form of aggression.  You will often hear from “rescuer” that the cat is doing fine but that s/he is nervous, in fact the cat is probably terrified by the interaction forced upon them.  I am not claiming that a feral cat can never become tame, or at least friendlier, what I am saying is that this is not usually achieved by removing them from their environment and forcing them to become socialised.  Many people involved in animal welfare would be opposed to keeping wild animals behind bars in zoo, so why do the same to feral cats?  What may happened then is that the cat starts to lose its spirit.  It is as if they have lost their will to live.  Some may interpret the fact that a feral cat stops hissing as a sign of becoming tame.  In fact, hissing is a healthy reaction in a feral cat as it shows that the cat is protecting himself.

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Feral cat crouched down after a few days in confinement.

What happens when people try to rescue feral cats is that they are trying to fulfil their aptitude at taming them, but often ignore the welfare of the cat in the equation.  Of course, their intentions are good, but this is not necessarily the best route to take.  With kitten season being in full swing, appeals for foster homes for pregnant feral mothers or mothers and their kittens are not a rare occurrence.  These appeals come out of a genuine desire to raise the kittens in a safer place; a desire which is in itself quite understandable.  However, the mother is often forgotten about.  The kittens may be socialised, but what about the stress the mother has to endure during this long period of time?  First of all, she may reject her kittens because of the stress of confinement.  Then, what happens to her once her kittens have been rehomed?  It is impossible to return her to her colony after this length of time as she will not belong to it anymore.  Her nervousness will make her unrehomable as who would want to adopt a nervous cat when there are already so many friendly cats not able to find homes.  Instead of trying to rescue this feral mother, would it not be better to spay her or try to improve the conditions in which she has had her kittens by assisting and educating the carer?

We all have our own experiences when it comes to cats and each of them is different because each cat is different.  However, it is not because feral cats can occasionally be socialised that the lives of so many feral cats should be jeopardised in the expectancy that another socialisation might be successful.  More successes would be achieved if people adopted a more rational approach to dealing with feral cats and took into consideration the actual welfare of the cat instead of their emotional instinct of saving cats according to their own standards rather than those of the cats.

Colony of feral cats living happily.  The cat at the front was only 3 months old when she was neutered.

Colony of feral cats living happily. The cat at the front was only 3 months old when she was neutered.

Ike & Tina

We stood in the old barn in a state of shock. Cats. More cats. And yet more cats and kittens, everywhere. The farmer had assured us he had two white cats. We counted eight while standing there in the middle of this huge colony. At the rear of the barn was a wall of giant, circular, hay bales. Climbing down this vertical wall of hay was a black and white cat. As he descended we could see heads sticking out of gaps in the bales. There was adults and yet more kittens hiding in there. This wasn’t a colony but a megacity of cats and kittens.

It was the first TNR for Community Cats Network in West Cork. We possessed the grand total of one, spring operated, trap, and a collection of kitten and Queen cages in which to hold captured cats. This job was going to require considerably more equipment than we possessed. It was the sheer number of cats and kittens that shocked us. Every evening when milking was over the farmer carried two pails of milk down from the milking shed and poured the warm,frothy liquid, into a pair of giant tins. Then he threw a couple of handfuls of cat kibble into a few bowls that lay scattered around the floor of the barn. The cats erupted from everywhere, anxious to get a share of the meager nourishment before their companions ate it all. The adults, unencumbered by young, were the first to reach the bowls. The nursing mothers who had made nests for themselves and their young in the hay were the next to reach the food. Finally, the younger kittens arrived, fighting amongst the melee of older cats to snatch a morsel for themselves.

It was the white mother that attracted my attention as she descended the wall of hay bales. In her mouth, swinging from side to side, was a tiny, white kitten, maybe six or seven days old. The mother was obviously frantic to reach the food before it was gone and quickly clambered down the bales and ran across the barn with the kitten still dangling from her mouth. As she approached the food she spotted us standing there and hesitated. She dropped her kitten into a nearby pile of hay and approached the food on the side away from us. When the food was gone and it only took a few minutes for every last drop of milk, every morsel of kibble, to vanish, the mass of felines disappeared back into the shadows of the barn. Only one or two hopefuls still nosed around the empty bowls and dishes seeking an overlooked scrap of food. And there, atop the pile of hay, was the little white kitten. We went over to investigate.

It was obvious that the little one was is some serious trouble. The white fur around its eyes was yellow with discharge from cat flu. It appeared undernourished and weak as it lay there on the hay, mewling and crying for its mother who was nowhere to be seen. We had to make a decision and make it fast. There were many kittens in this colony. There were also many cats, a considerable number of which appeared to need some serious veterinary assistance. CCN was a new organization, so new that we hadn’t existed the previous week. We had, to put it euphemistically, limited resources. And that’s a nice way of saying ‘broke’. What to do?

We went for the kittens first; running around the barn, chasing the little furry bodies into piles of hay and then dragging the hissing, spitting, bundles of fury, back out, and placing them into our ragtag collection of cages. Within the space of a few minutes we had 10-11 little ones rounded up and on their way off the farm. In the car with us, wrapped up in a Puffa Jacket for warmth, was the little white kitten. Upon our arrival home we dispersed the kittens into our various cat houses where they immediately made themselves at home. The piled up bowls of cat food were a considerable help in settling the little guys down. The white kitten, however, was an entirely different problem. We quickly established the fact that she was a female and we called her ‘Murray’.  But Murray was too young for solid food and needed to be bottle fed. This in itself presented further problems. Bottle fed kittens are difficult to feed. Murray needed to be stimulated in order to urinate and defecate following each feed. She had to fed every three hours. Her weight needed to be recorded to ensure she was gaining weight. Her cat flu presented us with a quandary because she was too young for heavy medication. Any medication would only be a symptomatic treatment anyway as cat flu is viral. In short, we urgently needed a foster mother.

Help came from the most unlikely quarter. In the middle of the farm TNR, Maggie began another one in the back garden of a house in Macroom. Thus the beautiful but psychotic ‘Lily’ and her babies came into our lives. Maggie had just trapped Lily when ‘Little Miss Psycho’ decided that now was a good time to give birth. Lily promptly delivered 9 babies in the cage and had to be rushed straight to our specialist, ‘Mother and Baby’ compound, a large, plushly furnished house, enclosed within a huge cage that came complete with an outdoor, feline activity centre. Four of Lily’s brood died the first night. A litter of nine kittens was too much for her. But it was a silver linings moment for Murray whom we tentatively introduced to Lily. For a few, horror frozen, seconds, we watched as Murray nuzzled and grizzled her way along Lily’s flank, seeking a teet. Then Lily raised her head and pushed Murray into position. Murray latched on and began to suckle. Lily shot us a malevolent look and settled back down to feed her, now, six kittens.

That first summer,the summer CCN began,was notable for two things. The absolutely lousy weather and kittens. We had seventeen fosterers….and Lily. Lily was the most loving cat, or so her carer assured us. She was a pet. A doll. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. We would stand outside the Mother and Baby cage watching this paragon of love and gentleness hanging upside down from the cage roof, hissing ,snarling, and spitting at us and we would draw lots as to who would bring the food in to her. Lily hated us with a passion, but she was a superb mother to all her kittens, including the little orphan, Murray.

Lily’s own five kittens were named after ‘Soul’ singers from the 1960’s. Thus we had Ike (Turner), Muddy (Waters), etc. And Murray. When Lily’s brood had been weaned, we neutered Lily and returned her to her carer. Lily spat, hissed, snarled, bit the bars of her cage, and tried to swipe us on her way home. We carried Lily’s cage into her carer’s house on the end of a forty foot pole and deposited ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ on the kitchen floor. We then retreated to a safe position behind the dresser. Lily’s carer opened the cage and this sweet, doting, loving creature, emerged, and twined herself around her carer’s legs. We emerged from our safe zone to examine this miraculous transformation and were met with hissing, spitting, snarling, etc.

We began to rehome the ‘Soul’ family. Otis went. Martha went. Poor Muddy was killed on the road. And Ike and Murray went to live in Cork city with Sarah. CCN moved on. More TNR’s were conducted. We moved along through various farms in West Cork and began to experience cases of cruelty and neglect. There were many cats and kittens to deal with. Each TNR made different demands on us. The workload grew exponentially as CCN became more professional in its approach. The human cost of dealing with sick and dying cats, indifferent or unpleasant humans, began to take its toll on us. The optimism and idealism of the early days began to be replaced with a certain weariness. Trapping cats was just the beginning. Then came the transportation. The feeding. The aftercare. The systems of care. Getting bedding for the ferals. Providing  safe and hygienic bedding. Getting cat food. Kitty litter. Fundrasing. Keeping accurate records. Providing flea and worm treatments. Chasing people for payment. Getting ripped off by members of the public who equated  ‘Animal Charity’ with ‘Idiots’. Dealing with vets. Trying to provide the most humane and efficient system for dealing with feral cats. 16-18 hour days became the norm while we operated in all weather conditions. Riding the ferry home from Cape Clear in a force 10 gale while trying to keep our caged ferals dry and safe. Fighting between ourselves as we attempted to formulate a code of ethics, and policies and procedures, that placed the welfare of ferals first.

In the midst of all this we would occasionally see posts on Facebook from Sarah. She had renamed Murray as Tina and now was Mom to Ike and Tina, as well as her family of neutered ferals. Sarah kept us updated as to the progress of her cats. When they were sick. When Ike was tormenting Tina. When the two cats were stretched out luxuriously on chairs in front of the fire. The FB posts were little vignettes of cared for, cats lives. Ike and Tina were living the good life. Sarah is a compassionate and responsible cat carer. It is inconceivable for Sarah to be anything else but kind and caring.

We TNR’d a farm down in west cork once upon a time. It was a little hill farm tucked away up a Boreen, away from public gaze. What we immediately noticed upon our arrival was a little, Ginger and White, Kitten, crouched by his mother’s side ,both eyes eaten out by untreated cat flu. The little kitten was slowly starving to death as he was both blind and unable to smell his food due to the build-up of muscus in his nasal passages. He was the first of ten such kittens we collected that night. We brought the kittens home and placed them in two hospital cages. We placed food bowls in front of each kitten and then positioned each kitten in front of the bowls. The kittens could neither see nor smell the food. The little creatures ravished the food and when they finished eating, they began to purr and groom one another. The following morning we took the ten kittens into the vet and held each one as the vet euthanized them.

So you see, Sarah. Those little posts about Ike and Tina are soul food for us. They reassure us that there are humans who care enough to reach out to change lives and make the world a better place. That there are human beings who prove that mankind is not all doomed by indifference and selfishness.  We will leave you with the old Jewish proverb:

‘Save a life and you save the world entire’

Click the link to view the kittens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvkvdXnS4Cc     (Ike is scratching one)

Inspirational Stories Competition – February 2014

This February, we want to hear about your stories!

Have you ever rescued a kitten?   Have you helped some stray and feral cats?  Did you save the life of an injured cat?

Then, we want to hear from you!  Tell us all about your story.

All stories will be published on our Facebook page during the month of February and the public will be able to vote for them by “liking” them.  The three stories with the most likes will be published on our website and win our 2014 calendar (which features our own stories of the cats we have helped); the winning story will also get you a goody bag for you and your feline friend.

To enter the competition, email a photo and the story to fbcommunitycats@gmail.com.  There is no minimum or maximum length for the story, but you can only submit one photo per story.  You are however allowed to submit more than one story.  The competition will close on the 28th of February.

To read all your inspirational stories, click here.

And to get you started, we have a story from one of our volunteers…

Gypsy, the kitten who changed the lives of so many cats

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When I started working in Ballycotton a few years ago, I was delighted to find a family of cats living at the back of the restaurant.  I loved cats and was actually looking to adopt a third one to join my family.  I started to help feeding this feline family in the hope of taming them.  Although I was able to touch them, I was never able to pick one up.  At the time, I knew very little about feral cats.

The following summer, the kittens had grown up and one of them brought her own kittens to the back of the restaurant.  The kittens were a bit friendlier this time, but one kept being bullied and looked quite underweight, so I found him a home where he would be well looked after.  Only a few months later, another tiny kitten was found in the yard, abandoned by her mother.  Another home was found for her.

The following year, as I was coming back from a week holidays, the lads called me to have a look at something in the yard.  They had a big grin on their face.  There was another mother and two very small kittens.  It was a bad winter and I was quite worried for the two little ones.  I called a rescue group for some advice and was told to make sure that the mother could get shelter and had plenty of food.  If the kittens did not cry and seemed fine, then I should leave them with the mother.  The lady added that the mother and her kittens should be trapped and neutered.  This was the first time I ever heard about a cat trap…

When I went back to work the following evening, I first checked on the little feline family, but could only see one of the kittens.  I heard the 2nd one crying all evening.  At the end of my shift, I decided to act.  There was something wrong with the kitten.  One of the patrons helped me and found the kitten in the brambles.  She was covered with dirt; it seemed that her mother had given up on her.

I took the little one home with me.  I cleaned her and kept her warm against my body, trying to give her a bit of mushed up kibbles every so often.  She was barely eating for me and I was not sure she would survive.  As soon as the vet was open, I went over to buy some kitten formula.  Gypsy soon regained her strength.  After a week of bottle-feeding, Gypsy decided she could eat on her own.

Gypsy grew into a beautiful and healthy cat living a happy life in my house.  Life took me a bit away from Ballycotton; however, I could still remember the words I had been told about neutering those cats.  I would love to help them, but how?  I already had to look after my own four cats and, surely, nobody would be willing to pay for the neutering of these cats. Yet, I knew I had to find a way to get it down.  I would regularly discuss this subject with a friend who was a native of Ballycotton and we were thinking that maybe we could organise something to raise the money needed.

It took time, but I eventually started to organise something.  In the mid-time, I had met people who could help me with the trapping and a fantastic vet, Sinead, who was willing to support the project by offering discounted rates in order to help her local feral cats.  I had also discovered by then that there were many more cats in Ballycotton than the few living at the back of the restaurant.  My idea to raise the funds was to appeal to the community.  I thus prepared some documentation and donation sheets that I went to distribute around the pubs and the shop in Ballycotton.

When I walked into the shop and asked the woman behind the counter if she could help me, her face lightened up and I thought she was going to hug me.  I had heard of Breda, who was often rehoming kittens.  In fact, Breda had been doing the same thing as I had, but for many more years; she had been helping the kittens of Ballycotton by finding them homes.  When I came to her with my idea, she was really enthusiastic and gave a new impetus to the project by organising a coffee morning, which was a great success.  Enough funds were raised to carry this project out.

I had never used a trap before, but I had the best cat trapper with me: Maggie, and her husband Jim, taught me all the tricks of cat trapping.  In one week, we made a significant start to our project by trapping and neutering over 20 cats; the community was really supportive and even the kids helped us with the trapping.  Breda kept getting information about where the cats were and the project kept going.  It is still going now as the cats in the village are closely monitored and any newcomer is immediately neutered.

The TNR project of Ballycotton is the inspiration behind Community Cats Network.  If we could do it in Ballycotton, we could do it elsewhere.  Thanks to little Gypsy, hundreds of cats have been helped by being neutered.  Thank you Gypsy for opening my eyes and changing the lives of so many cats!

Em

Snoffy

We were driving home following a long day at work. I was sitting in the passenger seat, part dozing in the warmth of the car, which made a pleasant contrast to the icy conditions outside. All of a sudden Maggie, who has excellent vision, exclaimed: “There’s a kitten on the road”. I started awake and looked around but could see nothing but the lights of cars passing us on the busy road. Maggie insisted she had seen a kitten and turned the car around in the forecourt of a nearby garage and retraced our steps. I could see that a long line of cars had stopped on the road but I couldn’t see what obstruction had caused the blockage. Then, the lead car in the queue swung out over the white line as if avoiding some hazard and drove on followed by the rest of the vehicles. Then I saw a blur of something white as a tiny creature ran across the traffic laden road to the footpath on the opposite side. Maggie pulled our car over to the kerb and shot out the door and returned with a small, very dirty, and very emaciated, black and white kitten. Due to the fact we were on a main road with lots of traffic we unceremoniously bundled the little waif into a jacket, sat it on my lap and resumed our journey home. On the way I tried to examine what I could see of the little kitten. It was extremely bony and shivering with the cold. Its black and white coat was matted with dirt. The kitten’s paws looked like the fingers on a skeleton but what immediately struck me was the creature’s demeanour. This kitten was the most beaten looking thing I had ever seen. It had clearly given up on life and was preparing to die. It lay supine in my arms with an attitude of ‘Do what you will. I don’t care anymore’ and when we arrived home it vomited up a slug. And I mean your common, garden variety, slug! One of those slimy creatures that slithers all over your prize Begonias and eats them. Just how starving must a cat be that it is willing to devour a slug?

Snoffy didn't stay long in the cage...

We brought the kitten into the warmth and light of our kitchen and sat it on the floor while we prepared some food for it. The little kitten just sat there on the floor, not moving, not reacting, while our horde of well fed, house cats, strolled over to investigate this new arrival in their midst. Following a degree of sniffing,
our privileged lot lost interest and wandered off to their favourite perches for the night. Maggie prepared a meal of many delights for the newcomer to see what foods it would eat and we quickly discovered it would eat anything and everything that was put in front of it. Then Maggie began the process of evaluation. The kitten’s first need following food was to be cleaned. We discovered our kitten was, in fact, a she, during the cleaning process, and that her nose ran incessantly. On account of the nasal discharge that reminded me of a small snoffly kid, we named her ‘Snoffy’ and so she remains to this day. Snoffy’s paws were in an appalling state, her pads were torn and ripped, each individual digit resembled nothing more than a piece of torn string, and she had great difficulty in walking. Her black and white fur was covered in dirt and riddled with large, adult fleas, and smelt of engine oil. Her bones stuck out through her skin and you could trace her entire skeleton simply by running your fingers along the outline of her body. Following food and cleaning, Snoffy was given a warm bed for the night and settled down to sleep.

Snoffy's paws

The following day we brought her to our vet, a man we both knew and respected for a long time, for her required vax, and worm/flea treatment. Maggie lifted Snoffy out of her cage in the vet’s surgery and put her on the examination table.

I have known our vet for a very long time and have always regarded him as a jovial, easy going man, who is quick to laugh and gentle with animals. When he looked at Snoffy my first impulse was to dive under the table and stay there. I have rarely seen such anger, frustration, and contempt, all mingled on a human being’s face before. The vet softly examined our little foundling while vocally expounding on the B******S, W****S, D********S, and W*****S, who had treated a little kitten like this. Snoffy was within hours of dying from starvation and dehydration. She was riddled with both internal and external parasites. Her coat was covered in dirt and sores. She had a constant runny nose and cat flu, plus a serious respiratory infection that required some serious medication to
shift it. We left the vet laden down with advice and medication and brought Snoffy back to her new home. Here Maggie sprang into action and Snoffy (or Snoffs for short) was put under a supervised regime of diet, medication and grooming. For three, long, months, Snoffy was medicated. Her coat was cleaned on a daily basis. Her battered feet received the best pedicures Maggie could offer. Her kitty litter was inspected to ensure all parasites had left her system (this job I gladly left to Maggie) and slowly her general health began to improve. What most concerned us however was her abject demeanour. Snoffy ate what was put in front of her. She stoically endured the medication and the grooming but she never showed any playfulness one would normally associate with a kitten. The greatest hurt Snoffy suffered was the crushing of her spirit by the hands of some callous human who had neither the wit nor grace to properly care for a kitten.

Look at her mouth

The day after Snoffy’s discovery, Maggie returned to the site and, on an impulse, looked over the low wall that bordered the road, only to find the body of one kitten lying in a stream and another little waif dead on the bank. These three kittens had been placed in a paper bag and hurled over the wall into the stream and left there to die. How long those babies had struggled to escape that bag God only knows. One drowned in the stream. One made it to the bank and died there, probably exhausted by the struggle to leave the water. And the third, Snoffy, fought her way out of the bag, made it through the water, and then had to struggle up a wall until she made it to the road. Here all strength left her and she sat in the middle of the road and waited for whatever was to happen to her next. It was then that karma smiled upon Snoffy because Maggie came along and spotted her.

We had Snoffy for about four months when on impulse I bought a silly cat toy. It was a mouse on the end of a long string that was attached to a handle. I brought it home and was dangling it in front of my overfed, over indulged cats, (who looked at me as if I was simple in the head. What! chase that thing?) when Snoffy suddenly burst out from under a kitchen chair, grabbed it in her mouth, and began to play with it. It was the breakthrough we had waited such a long time for. Snoffy was behaving like an ordinary kitten for the first time in her short life. From that moment on, Snoffy started to become something other than an ordinary kitten. Her early experiences left her with a permanent respiratory condition and she needed to have all her teeth removed due to pyrrhea (or periodontitis). Snoffy has periods when she becomes extremely sensitive to light and gets confused with perspectives and shapes. She sneezes and can hurl boogers across a room, just the thing when we have guests.

But it is when some little stray, bedraggled cat or kitten, is brought home that Snoffy’s specialness comes out. Every feline that comes in our door is met and mothered by Snoffy. When Li’l Red and his four sisters were rescued and brought home it was Snoffy who was waiting for them. She marshalled all five, frightened, kittens onto the cat bed and began to groom each and every one. She taught her charges how to bum ham from the humans and where to find the warmest beds in the house. She plays with all the kittens even though she is a young adult cat now. Unlike the other cats she has never hissed at, or raised a paw to, any cat that has been brought home. Snoffy has grown into a very loving, kind hearted, little cat, and little she is as she is half the size of any other cat her age. Snoffs will never grow any bigger; her wretched start in life has ensured that, but she is a colossus when it comes to extending a welcoming, loving paw, to all the waifs that cross our doorstep.

Snoffy babysitting

Snoffy is my girl. When things get bad for Snoffy she sleeps on my pillow, her furry little body wrapped around the top of my head. She sits on the kitchen counter top and silently meows at me to fetch her ham from the fridge. Sometimes she just looks at me and I dutifully trot to the fridge to fetch bacon products for her. Snoffy is my princess and we have an understanding; she commands, I obey.

Snoffy is a rescue cat who has touched the hearts of all those who have met her. Friends who call to our house. The vets that have treated her. And most of all the frightened kittens and cats that have been rescued off the streets and mean back alleys of this county. Snoffy, the cat who lived, has now become Snoffy, the cat that loves.