|A cat with vaguely similar colouring to Wes, who is too shy for a photo.|
Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that over the last few days I've been dealing with a stray cat issue. I hadn't wanted to blog about it until it was resolved, and it has been!
Short version: Cat in & out of house for a few days, cat thin, catch cat, vet confirms microchip, cat goes to his proper home. For links & advice see the end of the long version.
Long version: Either last Thursday night or Friday we had a strange cat hang around our house. We didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, so I'll be calling it 'it' until we get to the happy ending! It even came in the house. Naturally it happened at a bank holiday weekend where everywhere was closed. The cat was seen on a windowsill, on a chair, it hid under clothes airers and a bed, it even went in the sitting room (the only places it didn't go was the bathroom). It was quiet, looked very thin, not the best of coats. My cat wasn't bothered by it at all until yesterday, which I'll explain later.
I can't remember which day, but one of them it came in and started eating my cat's biscuits. Me and my family were worried about it, as it didn't seem to have a home, and it's appearance suggested it was a stray. Seeking advice on what to do with a stray cat online isn't the easiest, and somewhere we expected to be understanding wasn't. However, our local Cats Protection have been amazing. They answered my first email within 30 minutes on a weekend. How's that for service?! I guess animals don't stick to working hours. They advised trying to catch it, take it to a vet and see if it's microchipped. I also mentioned it in my area's Facebook page, spoke about it on Twitter, messaged a friend who knows a lot of people where I live and could spread the word. We did all we could.
The first time we caught it, when we had to look up who to contact, we sadly had to let it go. It was heartbreaking knowing it was out in the rain, without food which it clearly both needed and wanted. Cue a few not so great nights of sleep due to worrying about it, and because it came in at 1.30am one night and tried to get at my birds (who are in a cage in my room). Now initially I thought it was Belle, our cat, as I'd looked up how to cope with strays online and read that cats can vent their frustration at an intruder who doesn't go away by acting up.
It was only a day or later I realised that Belle never attacks my birds, she eyes them up, but doesn't go near the cage as she knows she can't really with her slightly dodgy leg. Plus she's had years of me saying no at her. Furthermore, if she did attack them she would do it in the day when they are flying about (still in the cage). She doesn't care for them when they sleep with blankets over the cage.
I think the cat was super hungry, trying to get food, smelled/heard them, and since it probably didn't know what a cage bird was thought 'yummy dinner'.
|Cute cat eating (similar in colouring to Wes (stray cat) & Belle (my cat))|
On the 3rd day I was about to shut my cat out my room, which I didn't want to do as Belle can sleep with me at night, when I realised she might not be the culprit. Before we went on the weekend away earlier in the month she hadn't been sleeping with me for ages. Now she is sleeping with me almost every night, so you can see my dilemma. She can be fickle in where she sleeps at night, so I like her with me as often as she chooses to be with me.
However, since we'd managed to get more advice on what to do (shut the cat flap so the stray can't get in) I agreed to let her stay 1 more night. I'm so glad I did as it turned out not to be her! I apologised lots, and didn't blame the stray one bit. It was extremely hungry and following it's instincts.
The advice from various sources was to keep it out of the house while keeping ours inside for a while by shutting the cat flap and giving her a litter tray, in the hope that it would go away: it didn't.
Cats Protection said to try and catch it and take it to the vet to see if it was microchipped. They also said they'd send paper collars with their details so if someone else found it Cats Protection could be called. Unfortunately they couldn't take it in because they are under refurbishment, so suggested contacting other Cats Protection branches and other charities. A lot of internet searches went on, with one site charging to post a note saying a cat was found. Thankfully there's a free one – links will be at the end of this post.
Catching it was a problem, as if anyone went near it it scarpered. I had managed to get close the first time we caught it by using biscuits, crouching down and edging towards it. I was all for using a can of tuna, but then last night it came in while my family were about. It took a long while to get it through the cat flap. My cat then for the first time ever over this saga hissed at it. Until now Belle had been indifferent, no fluffed up fur, very little growling (just a strange noise one night when it tried to get it). Bless her, she didn't carry on hissing so it came in (she ran away...). Time to get a cat!
Catching it took some doing. All doors got closed to limit the area it could be in. It went upstairs and hid under a bed. I got the cat box, closed the bedroom door, and tried to herd it into the cat box. After 2 failed attempts I called for reinforcements. It led to cat going downstairs, then going back up into the bedroom as the door hadn't been shut. Once it was shut, with a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (it's a very agile cat!) it ran down the stairs straight into the cat box!!!
|Ours is similar to this, only not a cute purple, but grey.|
Success ^o^ I was still nervous that it might be a true stray, but off to the vet we went. I chatted to it all the way there and all the way back. After waiting for 1 person to buy some dog medicine, we were seen straight away by our favourite vet, who has seen all our pets (& helped them be put down). She'd been the one to discover our rescue cat despite allegedly being neutered wasn't. She tried to get the machine to work in the cat box, but it wasn't quite in the right position. The cat came out. There was no bleep. Then there was!
The joy at it having a chipping was incredible, not something easily described. The vet went away to contact the owner, and from the time she took we suspected she was calling them. I was overjoyed when she came back, said it lived close to us so could we take it home. You know the answer! (The owner agreed for us to take it, since we were so close).
I was thrilled to bits to be able see a happy ending for Wes, the 14 year old rescue cat. It turns out he'd been adopted in the autumn, so his parents only had him for a few months before he went missing January 11th 2016. We got him home March 30th. That's a long time for a house cat to be on his own. Poor thing never went near his home, which since it had been the first time he'd been out the house (it was an accidental window left open) he didn't know where home was. Sadder still is that before he got adopted, other people had temporarily adopted him and taken him back because they couldn't cope with the fact he is super shy and nervous, running away if people approach him. His background isn't known, which is the case for so many rescue cats including my own. At least with Belle we knew she was 1 year old. Poor Wes had 14 years of who knew what kind of unpleasant things happening.
His parents were over the moon to see him. He went straight to his favourite places, by the window, which is where his cat bed will be put back. He then legged it upstairs while we chatted and learned more about him. Think it was a huge shock for his parents to get that phone call! They'd previously had a 13 year old cat with arthritis, so weren't used to how agile Wes can be.
I had a lovely sleep last night, without a single worry about Wes. I'm still delighted he is home, can be warm, out of the rain, and good quality food available at all time. It had been a rough week for us all as we worried so much about him on his own.
That's why I generally avoid the news, as I take any missing cat/animal/person very much to heart. However, on speaking with the Cat Protection I asked if I could come volunteer once they are reopen, to help out and play with the cats in their care. They said yes! I'm to get in touch at the end of April, to see if they are ready and will take it from there. I adore my cat, but I feel volunteering to help when I'm well enough is something positive I can do, for the sake of all the strays in the world. The more love they can get the better!
I'm not allowed to bring any cats home, sadly. But being with them will be enough. I'll have to shower & change my clothes straight away on returning so my cat doesn't get annoyed with me, although she hasn't been too miffed when I've been cat sitting in the past. However Belle changes her mood every minute so no knowing what goes on.
I've read so many books about dogs and cats who get lost and are reunited with their owner, but nothing compares to experience it first hand. The worry, the fear, the uncertainty of what to do – there are so many emotions and it is draining. (More so when the cat attacks your birds at 1.30am...) I dread to think how I'd feel if Belle went missing for months on end. I'd never give up hope, but usually missing pets don't come back. The end results is beyond worth it. I can't stop smiling whenever I think of him!
Wes will be kept inside for a while, but in the summer he will be allowed out. At least if he manages to come to us we can take him straight back. And he won't be as thin!!! We left them with the blanket we'd put in the cat box, because it was spare, we'd only have to throw it out and had a bit of his scent which is important as he resettles into his home.
|Agree with this too!|
My cat was happy to be spoilt during the last few days with some tuna, and she's got another treat to try from Wes's owners. I can't quite remember the name of the product, but it's a tube of a yogurt like substance flavoured with chicken with zinc in it. I put a bit a saucer to see if she likes it, and she couldn't get enough of it so much so she ended up with some on her nose! Had to use a tissue to wipe it off as although she sensed something was wrong with her nose she didn't get it off. So it's a hit with my cat! If there are no ill effects (she can be a little prone to being sick) she can have the rest tomorrow with tissues on hand!
Animal Protection Tips and Websites
|I think this pic was connected to Cats Protection but don't quote me on that.|
If you have a dog or cat please get them microchipped. Without looking online I don't know if it's mandatory, but it's certainly essential if they go wandering. Without a microchip Wes would never have been returned home, which is a sad and chilling thought. It costs a small fee to be microchipped, but checking the microchip in the case of a suspected stray cat is provided free of charge from any vet.
A shout out must go to Cats Protection (I'd always known it with a League in the title, so I'm clearly years out of date!) who gave amazing advice with fast response through both email and by telephone. You can find their local branch as well as more info about their and cat care on their website.
They are a brilliant cause to support, as well as a great way to add a new feline to your household! Think about older cats as well as kittens, because they need as much if not more love. Plus they are usually litter trained, plus their temperament is more likely to be known. I'm not saying don't go for cute little balls of fluff, but older pets have a lot going for them and can be overlooked. If I could I'd adopt all the older cats and support them no matter how much time they had left with me. Providing a forever home for a cat is an incredible thing to do, so please think about it when you next get a cat.
Should you encounter a stray contact your local vet, Cats Protection branch, or local animal rescue centre who can give advice on what to do. We left Wes a few days because we didn't know if he was a local cat who fancied some food – our previous cats were known for going to neighbours and stealing prawns, or a genuine stray. I think the advice is slightly different depending on the circumstances.
If you lose your pet or find one which you think may be a stray, head over to the free website Animal Search UK and fill in the appropriate details. They work with Cats Protection.
Any injured animal should be taken straight to a vet.
If you love cats and aren't able to have one or help out at a cat rescue centre, there are many cute cat themed items you can enjoy online and offline!
|practical items like slippers...|
|Super cute cat plushies!|
|There are more! (Maybe I should get an army of the plushie variety...)|