I went to the Cat’s Protection rehoming centre recently.
It is a good charity and very well run with a welcoming, unpressured, enviroment for visitors.
It is a single floor brick building which seems to have been purpose built for housing the charity and cattery.
You walk in and on the left behind the door there are a few trinkets, card, toys and snacks for cats sold in aid of the charity. On the right is the reception desk and the offices for doing the paperwork. A few metres on the left is a blue door with two windows of safety glass and a thick yellow vertical bar leading to the cats for rehoming.
There are two corridors through this door. The second runs off to the right at the end of the first one and has a similar door to bar the cats escaping should they somehow find a way to escape their cell.
Each corridor has about 8 ‘cells’ in which cats are kept and a venilation system silently keeping air flowing and the temperature constant. Paper work is hung above each one with a photo and a short first person written account of the cat to entice the reader into selection. Some have paperwork taped to the window detailing the observations by the staff about the cat’s mood, eating habits and any other issues. Some even have ‘good girl/boy’ written on them if they are doing better. A few, the most needy, have rosettes attached to their windows with titles like ‘lonely heart’, ‘little star’, ‘overlooked’, ‘golden oldie’ (for those over 9 years old it seemed) and on one something akin to ‘a pair is best’. The last one admittedly had been placed on the window of a daughter separated from her mother. The first day I was told they could go separately though they had come in together but then the second day this was on the window for the daughter so perhaps it was a rogue agent…
Above each cell are a folded piece of A4 with a photo and a brief ‘personal account’ of the cat written in the first person. Many came in because of new babies in their families, some had been here before but their owners got too old to care for them, the one I selected had been wandering the streets. In an odd way you could tell which staff member had written which account as certain ones were long and ended with ‘with purrs and kisses xxx’ while others were very matter of fact being only three or so lines.
Of course there are larger catteries elsewhere on the site but these display cells are where they put the cats ready to be rehomed.
Each cell has full length double window doors secured with a rotatable stop tab at the top to bar the windows from opening. It seems a bit old fashioned but it works. The cat that constantly battered the window couldn’t open its door even with the tab out of place so perhaps it is only a secondary security lock. The first cell on the left in the second corridor on both occasions had two cats sat inside it. On the first day they looked very sad and no doubt uncomfortable sharing such an intimate space together. On the second day they were very alert. I do not think the two cats came in together but perhaps they had become very lonely isolated by themselves and so this was pairing up worked.
In the cells are the following: a blue plastic bowl filled with dry cat food, a blanket to lay on, one of those climbing things to sit on top of or hide beneath. Each has a litter tray filled either with grey clay litter or wood pellets. I do not know why there is this differentiation.
At the rear of each cell is a cat door leading to a wooden shed like extensionm running the length of the building, for them to rest away from visitors. Most sit in the cell where it is warmer this time of year though.
The corridor is sterile. At the corner is a number of printed off A4 scaled photos of the staff and others in fancy dress costumes from promotional events. On the corner is the room in which they wash the cat’s litter
The staff move around with blue plastic bags on their shoes and latex gloves to handle the cats. Blue polo shirts and cotton jumpers are worn. Usually they wear blue jeans and trainers but that is just a casual thing.
The first visit is during the afternoon on the weekend. The ‘busy’ period. There are a number of people there in their small groups crowded around each of the cells. Some cats act out due to the commotion. Some sleep. The staff passed back and forth some helping visitors and taking cats out to be handled while others just need to get from one side of the building to the other.
You don’t hear the cats cry. Most have become institutionalised. They know it’s not going to work if they cry out. It reminds me of the Children’s charity adverts on television tell the viewer that children don’t cry out because they have learnt no one will come. There it is abuse. Here it is a matter of conserving energy. The ones that have been here before know the score. If they are not sleeping then they tap at the window gently, make full intense eye contact, the works. They are Puss In Boots from Shrek incarnate.
A small girl taps on the glass of one cat and reminds me of Verruca Salt from the Roald Dahl story. ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy I want this one’. ‘Don’t open that door dear’. She doesn’t stop the girl. She just lets her keep going. Every generation says the younger ones are spoilt and ‘don’t know they are born’. No its more a case of certain families do not instil in their children the etiquette of proper decorum in public and private life. These children then go on to be successful as they are not as restrained in their conduct and take the chances others don’t. Or they make sure to make others be aware of how discontented they are with their lives without doing anything about it. In any case spoilt rotten.
We did not select a cat the first time. It seemed inappropriate to just drop in and expect to do so. We returned the next day and having checked the website discovered that some I had viewed previously had been reserved.
The second day it is mid-morning and the staff are busy behind closed doors though occasionally they move through the corridor. One cat that had already been reserved on my second visit began to bang its paws against the glass. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. On and on it goes and no one turns up to stop it. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. It’s propped upon its hind legs slamming its paw pads on the glass as hard as it can. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. One cat across the way looks at it. But what can be done? They’re in for the long stretch and this one’s not seen The Shawshank Redemption.
A pair of old women come in. They look for what seems to be only minutes. A staff member appears out of nowhere and is helping them. We were here for over 45 minutes and besides stepping around us we were not acknowledged while looking. ‘For which one of you is it?’ ‘Me it’ll be coming home with.’ 10 minutes later a member of staff finally comes to us as we are by the door and about to leave. Maybe they left us alone as we were pacing back and forth discussing the matter previously. We couldn’t handle the cat due to health issues. We didn’t reserve it until later once home though we were asked if we wanted to do so there and then.
There had been 3 I liked but in the end I just took the one that on the day made the best impression. That impression been formed by three things:
1) Not remaining asleep during the hour and a half we have walked those two corridors repeatedly.
2) Making a noise so I knew what it sounded like.
3) Being observant but neither overly active nor lethargic.
Also full circular eyes while attractive are not something I am used to in animals or humans (well obviously in humans but you know what I mean – ‘wide eyed’). A look of quiet distane, hooded, half open eyes is default for me and often it will appeal to me more than the desperate, wanton attention, fully open eyes demand with their suggestion of bewilderment in the face of stimuli as if to say ‘look see through these windows and find my soul beared to thee’. LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME! They demand without first earning affection.
The cats all seem very sedate and for the most part content. The new comers are, of course, very timid and wide eyed. One I saw was sat ‘hiding’ on top of its toy bunker with its golden eyes peeping over the edge of the bedding. Another would peer through the cat flap only once making an appearance. Most on the second day were sound asleep. At one point one cat had to be moved to another cell and as expected hissed and screamed at being handled. This cat however was stated to be feisty so it is the exception not the rule.
The cat home seems to be very well run. The staff are well informed, friendly and sincere. Although the staff were very busy the second time we visited I assume it was just the time of each day when they have to all be attending to behind the scenes work and cannot afford to spare anyone ‘front of house’. Certainly when speaking about the cats they seem truly enthusiastic and at least one is a dedicated cat owner himself.
When we reserved the cat they took our contact details and were back to us asking the relevant questions and arranging pick up, etc., the next day after the cat had been seen by the veterinarian (who goes there every Tuesday). They ask the questions to ensure the home is suitable for the cat and if need be would arrange a home visit. In our case apparently this was not necessary. They do ask for £50 per cat adopted but this is in fact very cheap as the cats, depending on how long they have been there, either have their first injections or the full course so you are in fact saving money in such a case. You are also asked if you would consider a further donation on top of this which I think is fair.
The information provided above each cat is concise and clear with separate colour coded symbols to indicate each of the areas people may wish to know about: Gender; Age (approx.); Breed; Colour; Can live with cats; Can live with dog; Can live with a family; Can live with mature family; Indoor only cat; Access to outside.
They visit the home if there are children, other animals or anything they think may affect the cat. This is good. Cats are solitary but need others to survive. All animals both social and solitary at some point must interact with others.
So now I need to think of a name for this stray who is now homed… that is the next challenge once the paperwork is completed.
I liked the place. It was a very laid back feel but they were definitely busy and doing their very best to ensure the cats were well cared for and not needlessly stressed by their current circumstances which could easily happen especially with the younger ones or those whose first, and hopefully only time ever here, before finding their ‘forever home’ which the staff truly wish happens with each adoption.
Editting… I just cannot do it…. Delayed updates result… Will be more updates in due course a few days from now.