Fostering our Feline Friends

For this month’s edition of local magazine, ‘The Rayleigh Review’, I wrote about the inspiring work my local rescue organisation ‘Cats Protection’ are doing. I visited a foster home where volunteer Christine was looking after a mother cat and her kittens. I felt proud of how the local fosterers are dedicating their time and effort to look after these rescue cats that are in need of a loving home. 

Cats Protection article in this month's Rayleigh Review.
Cats Protection article in this month’s Rayleigh Review.

‘A world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of it’s needs.’ This is the vision of the national organisation ‘Cats Protection’. Started in 1984, the branch originally began in Canvey and gradually expanded to cover a much wider area. A separate branch was then set up in Southend, which created Cats Protection Rayleigh, Castle Point and District. This is run entirely by volunteers and in 2014, rescued the impressive number of 324 cats and kittens from the area, as well as providing people with advice and practical assistance for caring for their feline friends. The branch has around fourteen fosterers who care for the cats from their own home. I had the pleasure of visiting one of the fosterers in Rayleigh, Christine, who has been taking in unwanted cats for five years and preparing them to find a loving home.

Christine became a Cats Protection fosterer due to her love of cats, she has three of her own, and explains that it can be difficult when the time comes to finally let them go: ‘It’s always tough when they leave to go to their new home, but Cats Protection carry out several checks to make sure the home will be suitable and a follow up afterwards, so I know they are in safe hands. I have looked after cats come from very different backgrounds, so it can be a very moving experience getting them back up on their feet again.” Christine recalls her most memorable and rewarding cats, Pansy and Ruben, who spent their early years shut away in a dark and dirty garden shed with very little human contact. “Understandably they were very nervous at first,” explains Christine, “but it was so moving when they began to trust me; a very big step for them. They began to feel more relaxed, and enjoyed interacting with people and each other. Just over a year later, they found a lovely new home where they are now very happily settled.”

Pansy and Ruben ready for their new homes.
Pansy and Ruben ready for their new homes.

Unfortunately, due to the high number of cats that are in need of Cats Protection’s services, not every cat is lucky enough to find a happy new home. These cats are likely to remain in long term foster care possibly due to their age, temperament or health issues, but the organisation offers another important way supporters can help. Christine explains, “We have a sponsorship programme which is a great way to get involved; sponsors receive a photo and regular updates, as well as our quarterly branch newsletter. Any amount of sponsorship is most welcome and helps to give these cats the care they deserve. We currently have four cats available for sponsorship.” For more information on the programme please contact Chris via e-mail at: sponsorship@catsrayleigh.org.uk or by telephone on 01268 741332.

So how can we help our own cats and cats around the Rayleigh area? Christine stresses that neutering and microchipping is of the upmost importance to avoid unwanted litters of kittens and invaluable in reuniting lost cats with their owners. “We offer our own ‘snip and chip’ events where owners can come along and book these small but very important procedures for just £10 – owners are asked to pay on the day and then book a date for their cat to be neutered and microchipped.” With the current high rate of cats needing homes, this is a very small thing we can do to help, which will in turn help to lower the number of unwanted cats that are in
need of loving homes.

The most recent family that Christine had been fostering was four-year-old Billie and her three playful kittens, Daisy, Koko and Luna, who came into foster care after their owner was no longer able to keep them. “Thankfully the kittens are all happily settled into new homes and Billie, although she was in no fit state when she arrived, is nearly ready for a new start of her own – she is very affectionate and gentle.”

Billie - at her foster home until she is ready for a new adventure.
Billie – at her foster home until she is ready for a new adventure.
Billie's kittens - now living happily at their new homes.
Billie’s kittens – now living happily at their new homes.

Like Billie, there are many more cats that are currently in need of a new home which can be found on the ‘Adopt a Cat’ section of the Cats Protection website: www.catsrayleigh.org.uk These include such characters as Mildred, Max and Finn, pictured below:

Mildred
Mildred
Max
Max
Finn
Finn

The important work that Cats Protection carry out is truly inspiring, and to do this they rely entirely on donations. To raise much needed funds, they also hold a range of fundraising events such as quizzes, meal nights, boot sales and craft fairs throughout the year, so please keep an eye out. The next rehoming show will be held on Saturday 12th September at Rayleigh Methodist Church Hall, Eastwood Road, Rayleigh.

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