Sunday, 1 October 2017

Learn something new every day

I have attended two cat-related courses recently, the first was the Cat Weekend run by International Cat Care on 16th September.  
There was a great variety of talks attended by veterinary professionals, charity staff and volunteers, cat owners and others. 

Schedule of talks
(Click to enlarge)

Topics explored basic aspects of what makes a cat a cat to more specific health conditions.  I picked up a copy of The Trainable Cat written by Sarah Ellis who works for iCatCare and was attending the weekend, a recommended read for anyone wanting to explore and improve the bond with your cat! 

Keep an eye on the iCatCare website and social media accounts for details about the event for 2018.

Source: International Cat Care Facebook page @icatcare
Source: International Cat Care
Facebook page @icatcare

The talk given by Sarah Endersby about a stress-free vet visit was particularly interesting as going to the vets is often stressful for both cats and owners. 

Being coerced into an unfamiliar carrier, then carried outside to the unfamiliar car, enduring a noisy car journey, being carried into the veterinary practice smelling of other cats, dogs and cleaning chemicals, waiting among other animals and clients in a potentially busy reception and entering a scary examination room all contribute to increasing levels of stress and that's before the vet has even looked at them!  

The iCatCare YouTube channel has fantastic videos on how to start at the beginning and train cats to use the carrier in a positive way.  This, with the use of Feliway and helping the cat to feel more secure by keeping the carrier covered, can help to reduce stress levels.  And finally, choose a Cat Friendly Clinic where there are protocols in place to provide the best care for your cat.

Arriving in Shrewsbury
On Sunday 24th September I attended a Volunteer Information Day in Shrewsbury, with branch coordinator Leanne Curtin, entitled "Feline Wellbeing - a good life?" which discussed assessment of welfare and quality of life, detecting signs of pain and making end-of-life decisions.  Volunteers and staff attended from Colwyn, Wrexham, Newtown, and Stoke and Newcastle areas.

Staff and volunteers are responsible for upholding the Five Welfare Needs for all cats we care for:
  • Suitable environment
  • Suitable diet including fresh water
  • Exhibition of normal behaviour patterns
  • Housing with, or apart from, other animals
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
We can achieve this by considering a tier system of aspects of cat care - providing for basic physical functions, personal safety and secure access to resources, a predictable and stable environment and then social and environmental stimulation.  The fulfilment of the needs will determine whether the cat experiences just a life worth living or a good life, where we promote comfort, provide interest and improve confidence. 

Cats Protection now offers an online course to the public to allow all cat owners to understand their cats better and to offer a cat friendly environment in the home.  The course is entitled "Understanding Feline Origins" (soon to be renamed "Understanding Cats Needs") and can be accessed here Understanding Feline Origins Course

Monday, 21 August 2017

Eglwysbach Show

Leanne (Branch Coordinator) and Janet
(Fundraising Team Leader)
Our lovely blue and yellow CP marquee made its debut at Eglwysbach show on the 12th August. 

We had information and fundraising leaflets, cat related gifts to sell and items from our charity shop located on Madoc Street in Llandudno. 

We also ran a game to scan a teddy for a microchip to win a prize.  Cats Protection promotes microchipping as the best form of permanent identification for your cats and all our foster cats are microchipped as part of the care we provide.  

I also represented Cats Protection with our canine mascot Frank in the fun dog show sponsored by Murphy & Co Veterinary Practice by doing a "demonstration" of the obstacle course.  Not sure we have a career in it though (see below for an excerpt)!

Needless to say we and Frank were all pretty tired by the end of the day, think his face says it all! 

Thanks to everyone who stopped by at our stand to support us, chat about cats and ask about volunteering and we hope you all enjoyed the day!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Summer again

Summer is hear again and our Cats Protection branch is still as busy as ever!

Earlier this summer two North Wales RSPCA branches and our Cats Protection Colwyn & District Branch came together to fund vital surgery for a homeless tortoiseshell kitten found in Prestatyn.  A member of the public discovered beautiful Blaze with a badly-damaged leg that had to be amputated to save her, costing £600.  Because the kitten had no known owner, Clwyd and Colwyn & Aberconwy RSPCA branches contributed a combined £300 and Cats Protection Colwyn & District donated the remaining balance of £300. Lucky Blaze recovered very well and is now enjoying 3-legged life with her foster carer who chose to adopt her follow her rehabilitation. 

Mary Keenan with her cat statue
Longstanding volunteer Mary Keenan has now retired from her positions as branch coordinator and secretary after many years dedicated service.  Mary continues to fulfil vital roles in fostering and the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) of feral cats and has been an invaluable volunteer for our branch.  Mary and also Dorothy Dolan (who has volunteered for the branch for around 30 years!) received recognition of their dedication to the branch by the presentation of bronze cat statues as a symbol of gratitude from Cats Protection. Dorothy acts as fosterer, TNR volunteer and website/social media volunteer.  We now welcome Leanne Curtin as our new branch coordinator who is already getting stuck into the role and we are in the process of recruiting a new secretary to join the committee.

Dorothy receiving her cat from 
Regional Development Manager Rob Hall

All other branch volunteers have also received pin badges as recognition of their dedication to and support of our Colwyn branch. There are different badges for 1, 5 and 10 years service and a number of volunteers have quite the collection already!

Our volunteers will be at Eglwysbach show on Saturday 12th August with games and freebies for the kids (or adults?), advice about adoption and cat ownership and information about the ongoing neutering scheme happening all across Wales.  

The show will be held at Cae Henblas in the middle of the village from 9:30am with plenty of stands, cows, sheep, horses with a fun dog show in the afternoon.  We look forward to seeing some of you there! 

We are always looking to recruit more volunteers to join our team, particularly in fostering (indoors and outdoors), TNR and fundraising.  If you are interested in finding out more about these roles please see the Volunteering section of our website.  You can play a vital role in improving the lives of cats in North Wales by giving a little time to volunteering.  

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

National Black Cat Day - Beauty is more than fur deep

Well it's come round again! National Black Cat day on 27th October aims to raise awareness of the high proportion of black and black-and-white cats that are often overlooked in rescue centres. 

International Cat Care's campaign picture

 According to Cats Protection statistics black and black-and-white cats take, on average, 22% longer to find a home than cats of other colours.  This is not good news when we consider that black and black-and-white cats made up 45% of the total cats coming into CP care in 2015. We see this disppointing fact playing out in our own branch...

For example, beautiful black and white sisters Sian and Ceri have been ready and waiting for their new home since July this year. They have received very little interest and are living out their kittenhood in a foster pen, which is not a very exciting experience.  They have watched a number of others be adopted before them, being overlooked in favour of bolder and more colourful kittens. If you are interested in adopting one or both of this sweet young pair please call us on 0345 647 2185 and leave your details.


Molly is a very friendly young cat with a lovely personality and beautiful markings. She was found with three fresh new kittens in a pub in Rhyl.  Her kittens have now all been homed and Molly is ready to meet her new family.  She is socialised with young children but we are unsure about dogs.  To adopt this delightful little lady please call 0345 647 2185 and leave your details.  

Tweet #BlackCatDay to raise awareness and dispel the myths surrounding black cats and prove that monochrome moggies make just as good pets (or often even better) than those of other colours. 


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Summer Update

Goldie's 8 little terrors
Our fosterers are very busy with kittens at the moment, with Mary our coordinator having 13 kittens in her care right now!  As cute as little kittens are they do create a lot of work for both the fosterers and the mother cats.  Most of our pregnant/mother cats come to us as strays and are often still kittens themselves, being able to come into heat from just 4 months of age.  If the kittens are not handled and cared for by 10-12 weeks old they will become feral and will have to live as outdoor "wild" cats.  Neutering both male and female cats as early as possible is the only way to combat the problem of stray unneutered cats and unwanted litters. 

Six months was often the preferred age for neutering but now more and more vets are neutering both females and males from four months of age or even earlier in some cases.  Cats Protection hold an Early Neutering Register, which is now called the Kitten Neutering Database.  Veterinary practices can sign up to this database and state the age limits they are willing to neuter at.  

Cats Protection and the RSPCA Cymru have teamed up to offer a Wales-wide neutering scheme, which allows eligible people to have their cat neutered and microchipped for just £5.  To find out if you are eligible and which local vets are taking part you can either call the national Cats Protection helpline 03000 12 12 12 (option 2) or check the details and map on our Colwyn and District website.  

Our kittens will be available for adoption once they have started their vaccinations.  Our adoption fee is £50 per cat or kitten and this includes initial vaccinations, vet health check, flea and worm treatments, neutering, 4-5 weeks free insurance and a microchip.

June is National Microchipping Month, which aims to raise awareness of how important the practice is - only less than a third of all pet cats are microchipped!  As I mentioned above, so many cats come to us as strays and it would be so easy to reunite them with their owners by a scan of their microchip.  Implantation is a quick and simple procedure and is the only permanent method of identification for your cat.  There are always stories popping up of cats being reunited after varying periods of time, the latest cat being Cully, owned by The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, returning to her owner 3 years after going missing and having lived as a stray cat - read the full story here.  There are other stories featured on the national Cats Protection Facebook page, such as Rebecca being reunited with her cat Chloe after 6 years apart - read their story here.  

May was such a hot month!  We all know how cats like to keep warm but there's warm and there's heatstroke...  Cats Protection produced the following two features to advise on keeping cats cool so please take a look, just in case we get another burst of summer before the winter!

And lastly, please have a read of our summer newsletter featured on our website for news about our new volunteers and our outdoor cats working at Bodnant Gardens.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

No Fleas Please
Fleas are the most common type of ectoparasite (parasite that lives on the body) that cats carry.  The cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis, is in fact often the flea found on dogs too.  

I personally discuss fleas and the importance of treatment in both my role as Welfare Officer for Cats Protection and my role as a veterinary nursing assistant and SQP, which means I am a Suitably Qualified Person registered with AMTRA (Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority) trained to advise on parasite treatments.

Why is it important to treat fleas?
Fleas can cause our cats a number of problems including:
  • Irritation, or pruritis - intense itching
  • Anaemia – as fleas feed on blood a heavy infestation can lead to anaemia, particularly in small kittens
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – where the cat is allergic to the flea saliva and the irritation leads to dermatitis
  • Vector-borne disease – the flea acts as a vector to transmit disease such as Mycoplasma (causes anaemia), Bartonella and Rickettsia bacteria
  • Tapeworm – the flea is the intermediate host for the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum – the flea larvae ingest tapeworm eggs in the environment and the cats consume the infected fleas from the environment or through grooming (the tapeworm itself will be discussed in another post)
  • Break of human-pet bond – no-one likes fleas! Fleas can affect an owner's relationship with their cat
Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) International Cat Care
How do fleas reproduce?
As we all know, fleas reproduce rapidly and once they are seen on the animal they may well be fully established both on the pet and in the environment.  In fact, one female flea can lay 40-50 eggs in one day, leading to the generation of a possible 1,000 fleas in 3 weeks!   In order to treat successfully it is important to appreciate the flea lifecycle:
Eggs can hatch in 1-6 days into larvae, which can then pupate in as little as 10-20 days in warm humid conditions.  In unfavourable conditions these pupae can last in the environment for one to two years in carpets, soft furnishings and cracks in floorboards until conditions are improved.  However, conditions are often favourable all year round thanks to centrally heated homes.  The adult fleas then hatch out of the pupae when they sense heat and movement by vibrations - the host animal.  

Fleas have many mammalian hosts in addition to cats and dogs, including rabbits, ferrets and wildlife such as hedgehogs and foxes. 

How do you know if your cat has fleas?
Fleas are easily identified by use of a flea comb - these can be obtained from your local vets or pet store.  The comb can catch both adult fleas - which are very small but clearly visible and mobile - and flea dirt.  The dirt will appear black but if applied to damp paper will turn red, as it is the undigested blood excreted by the fleas.  

Other signs can also include excessive grooming or scratching, areas of hair loss and/or skin irritation, black specks of flea dirt in the coat or on the cat's bedding or seeing live fleas on the cat or in the environment. 

How is best to treat the infestation?
Prevention is always better than cure in the case of fleas.  It takes just a few weeks for an infestation to take hold but it can unfortunately take a few months to eliminate.  For treatment to be successful it is essential to target as many stages of the lifecycle as possible:

  • Treat ALL ANIMALS in the household including dogs and cats – this will be targeting the adult fleas with an insecticide product to kill them
  • Treat the ENVIRONMENT – sprays include an "insect growth regulator" to stop the development of eggs and larvae.  Pupae are indestructible so they must hatch in order to be killed - vacuuming is useful as the vibrations will cause the pupae to emerge into adults to be killed by the insecticide. 
  • Treat FREQUENTLY and CORRECTLY - ensure you follow the advice from your vets about the frequency and correct method of application - some veterinary practices offer appointments for nurses to apply the products.  Cats Protection recommends the use of products from reliable sources, not those you can simply pick up off a supermarket shelf. 
Examples of flea treatments

Saturday, 6 February 2016

It's time to Snip and Chip

"Where did all these cats come from?"
This week has seen the launch of a widespread neutering campaign organised by Cats Protection, with support from RSPCA Cymru.  The Wales Neuter and Chip Campaign is running to help those receiving low income (including students and pensioners) or benefits ensure their cats are neutered and microchipped.  We receive many phonecalls asking for our help to rehome cats when quite often neutering is the answer to their problems - this scheme should hopefully help people to keep their cats and reduce the number of kittens we see coming into foster care.  And guess what? The scheme offers the operation and microchip combined for just £5!!*

Click to enlarge

There are many benefits to neutering, not only preventing kittens but reducing infectious disease, injuries and unwanted behaviours such as spraying and fighting. 

Find out all the details by reading Cats Protection's Neutering Essential GuideNeutering is so important Cats Protection even provide translated versions of this advice - see the Welsh version here

Microchipping is the best method of identification for your cat.  It is permanent and does not put them at risk of collar related injuries - we have a cat in care at the moment who had unfortunately been suffering for a long time with a collar injury as would not allow himself to be caught for treatment.  Our branch volunteers have finally got their hands on "Houdini" and he has had his wound cleaned.  It will be a long road to recovery but he is now safe and receiving lots of TLC. 

Houdini   -    Houdini's collar injury

The microchip registration is completed for you by the vet and all you have to do is keep hold of the database details and ensure you amend the registration whenever you move house or change any contact details, otherwise it can be impossible to trace you.  Find out all you need to know in the Cats Protection Microchipping leaflet.

Find your nearest vet on the main campaign page - the map will update as more vets sign up to the scheme - or ring the main Neutering helpline. This scheme is organised by the National Cat Centre, not the Colwyn and District Branch, so please refer to the main campaign page or the helpline number. 

*£5 Plus any additional costs stipulated by individual vets.