We’re now well into the New Year and already busy helping the many cats and kittens in need within the area – our work barely slows down for any national holiday! So while we’re certainly looking forward to what we hope to achieve in 2019, it’s always good to take note of our achievements for the previous year too. So here is a brief overview of our work last year, before we move on to look at the vital role of fostering for Swansea Cats Protection.
In 2018 a total of 287 cats and kittens were successfully adopted by new owners, all of whom were visited beforehand by one of our volunteers to check that the environment/location was safe and appropriate for a cat. A further 100 plus cats and kittens were rescued by our hardworking volunteers and taken to the Cats Protection Homing Centre in Bridgend. Many, many lost cats and kittens were checked, scanned and eventually reunited with their owners. Countless stray, feral and vulnerable cats were taken in for veterinary care and neutering. All in all a pretty successful year of course, but there is always more we can do if we have the resources.
So as a way of looking forward we thought you’d like to hear from one of our wonderful fosterers who open up their homes and their hearts to cats and kittens who are too old, too young or too frail to cope with life in a cattery pen, however comfortable and caring
A Personal Perspective on Fostering Cats and Kittens
As I write this I have one cat on my lap, one sleeping on the back of the sofa by my head and I can see two more snoozing away under the table. I was always a dog person growing up but since getting to know Swansea Cats Protection I’ve been unable to stop myself from doing what I can for these fascinating and endearing little creatures.
My wife Ruth’s mother helps out at Swansea Cats Protection which involves picking up a cat from the cattery at Kenwood and taking it to the vet for treatment. Occasionally my wife and I tag along to visit the kitties. Almost every time we have been charmed by a furry little monster and decided that we could probably make room for one more.
After we had adopted as many as we felt we could responsibly care for, my wife and I wondered how else we might help. After speaking to a representative from the branch we were told about fostering. This seemed ideal. In short – fostering means that the cat lives with you until a permanent owner is found. If needed, Swansea Cats Protection will pay for its veterinary care and for any food it gobbles up while it’s with you.
Having both spent our lives with cats, and having also adopted a few rather hostile ones, it was suggested by Swansea Cats Protection that we should be assigned three feral kittens. They arrived in a large single cage and we were informed there were two boys (black) and one girl (black and white). They were beautiful little creatures, but incredibly scared and would hiss and spit at any-one who came near them. The three kittens needed their own room because it’s best not to bring them into contact with other cats at first, and of course, they were so scared they would not have enjoyed the advances of our other cats and dogs.
We had to make a few trips to the vet so they could have their injections and be spayed/neutered but Swansea Cats Protection handled all of the bills. Amusingly, during one visit, the vet informed us that all three of the cats were female, but their male names have stuck nonetheless.
We did a surprisingly effective job taming the three kittens. It took many weeks of patient work but eventually they came to sit on our laps and in time became deeply attached to us. But even so we failed miserably as fosterers, because when Swansea Cats Protection called to tell us about their forthcoming homing day, we told them that there was no way we could give up our new friends and that we would keep them. In fact, Tiny Leonard (the smallest of the three) is the one curled up with me now and she brings me so much joy each day, I never regret my decision.
Moving on a few years, two of the stray cats who chose to live with us for a year or so, decided to move back out so we began thinking that perhaps we had some room for a few more furry friends. We realised we could not foster kittens as we’d simply end up keeping the cats, so Ruth suggested that we take on a palliative care cat that was unlikely to be permanently adopted. I agreed and within a few days we were given charge of Leo, a great lion of a cat with huge amber eyes and the gentlest demeanor I think I’ve come across. He was a slow old boy with a heart condition and needed medical attention every day.
I was away so Ruth had to care for him, administering his tablets and relaying his heart rate to the vet. Due to his delicate heart he had to be kept away from the other cats that might chase or frighten him. Ruth would sit with him for hours each day and she very quickly fell in love with him. Two days after my return we were woken up at 5am by his howling. Both of Leo’s back legs were paralysed and he was in great pain. We rushed him to the vet but there was nothing she could do. We stayed with him while the vet put him to sleep and we both cried.
It was a deeply saddening time, but if he had not been with us he wouldn’t have spent the last week of his life with constant companionship. I would not trade my time with Leo and am glad I was able to be there for him.
Not long after Leo died, we fostered another cat who is still with us. He had been in the cattery for many months and it was decided that he needed to be in a real home, as he seemed to have given up on life. He didn’t respond when people entered his pen and his muscles were weakening from lack of activity.
Prior to being taken in by Swansea Cats Protection he had been hit by a car and as a result suffers from weak back legs and mild brain damage. This tends to make him occasionally aggressive, but on the whole he’s a good chap and very affectionate. We have renamed him Sir Bertie Waffles, and day-by-day he seems to be getting less twitchy. He can climb on the bed now and seems rather happy in his new foster home.
Who knows how long we’ll be looking after him.
Fostering cats is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done with my life. It can be upsetting and at times slightly maddening as three of them like to sleep on my head in a huge pile! But there is no question in my mind that making life better for these loving and mysterious creatures is one of the most important things I can do with my time. It’s somewhat of a cliché to say that helping others is the best way to help yourself, but they have enriched my life in countless ways and if you feel up to the challenge, I’m sure they can do the same for you.”
I hope this has given you an insight into to the highs and lows of fostering – as you can see it’s not something to be taken on without thought and consideration.
The overwhelming majority of funds used to enable our work are raised locally through our two charity shops in Brynymor Road and Mumbles, street collections, fundraising fayres and individual donations – we rely on your support and would like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE THANK YOU! We simply couldn’t do it without you.
If reading this has sparked an interest in adopting or fostering one of our lovely cats or kittens, please get in touch. We can be contacted via our Helpline 0345 260 2101 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Please note our Helpline is answered by a messaging service and we will respond as soon as we can, but please be patient and remember that we are all UNPAID VOLUNTEERS trying to do our best for the rescue cats and kittens of Swansea.
CATS LOOKING FOR A LOVING HOME
Pictured right from the top down: This is young Jigsaw, who along with her much-loved brother Bingo, were fostered as tiny kittens and are now ready to be homed together and begin their next adventure! /Meet Bingo who is full of fun!. Along with sister Jigsaw, thet were rescued as kittens from an uncertain fate in a ferel colony. / This is Grace who was bottle-fed by her fosterer after sadly being abandoned by her mother. She is hoping for a quiet, loving home. / Meet Lily, who is a little wary of the world right now – her fosterer is helping her learn to trust again. She’d like a new owner who’d show kindness and consistency.