As I write this, the wonderful Swansea Cats Protection (SCP) volunteers are desperately searching for a poor little terrified cat who became lost in a supermarket car park. They’ve been there since yesterday, are sleep deprived and anxious, but determined to find the cat and return her to her distraught owners. While we wait for news, the rest of us offer words of support, encouragement and back-up. Although much of our work is quite solitary, we work as a team of volunteers and know we can wholly rely on each other. There is a strong thread of support and back-up which runs through the group of volunteers, whatever our role or responsibility.
We’ve just had news too that Mandy, one of our tireless and utterly devoted fosterers, spent last night pacing her house hoping upon hope that her tiny month-old foster kitten Bounty will be ok after she found him ill and unresponsive. He’ll spend another night in the vet whilst we all wait for good news. We don’t give up easily on the cats in our care.
When I first became a volunteer for SCP, I worked in our Brynymor Road charity shop where the energy and passion for helping cats is clearly evident. Every item sorted, steamed and sold helps cats – the link between what goes in the till and how we spend the money is direct and transparent…it pays vet bills, it buys food for cats, it saves lives.
We’re all volunteers
Because we volunteer under the banner of a national animal welfare organisation it gives the impression that we are actually paid members of staff. But in fact, we are all volunteers at SCP. From the hours-long wait for cats to go in traps, to ensuring the paperwork is detailed and correct, to inputting on databases, to balancing the books, to hand feeding tiny kittens throughout the night and to gently stroking the furry head of a sad puss who’s been overlooked for adoption yet again (PLEASE think about adopting or fostering one of our long-stay cats like beautiful Jules and Jimbob, see our website for further info). Everything we do is done in our own time around our jobs and our lives. Incredibly the two indefatigable branch co-ordinators have spent over 20 years of their lives helping the rescue cats and kittens of Swansea! That’s quite astonishing isn’t it? And do you know what? They don’t want to be mentioned here by name because they don’t do it for recognition or praise, they do it for the animals. There must be something pretty good in doing this work though…despite the long hours, the utter heartbreak and sadness, the frustration and the myriad challenges we face every day, it definitely has its rewards. If our wonderful volunteers bring the frightened lost cat home safe today and tiny Bounty the kitten recovers, the rewards will sustain the volunteers through the difficult times, because sadly we have too many of those. But the successes restore us, energise and sustain us.
Never a dull moment
And this is just today. And these are just two examples of our work today. Alongside this is the daily work we do. Today we will respond to calls to our helpline which can arrive at any time and bring a huge variety of requests for help from the general public. From wanting to adopt a cat (we absolutely love those!), to people wanting their cats neutered via our wonderful £5 scheme (please see our website for details), finding stray cats, abandoned cats, injured cats, dead cats, pregnant cats and kittens, kittens, kittens in gardens, in garages, in bushes. We scan cats for microchips, we reunite cats with their owners. But it’s impossible here to cover the huge variety of requests we receive each week but believe me nothing surprises us anymore! Today our tiny team of volunteers will drive miles to help people help cats, to take cats to the vet, to look after cats in our care and help support numerous feral colonies across the city and beyond. We will climb walls to rescue cats, we’ll scramble under bushes and fences to find kittens, we’ll empty litter trays, we’ll wash up food bowls. We’ll spend hours and hours trying to trap stray cats, poorly cats, battered and bruised Tom cats who need to be neutered, terrified young female cats who just can’t go through yet another pregnancy…and if no success today, we’ll come back again and again until we do! We will comfort and soothe distressed or poorly cats, we’ll play with cats, we’ll knit blankets, we’ll collect donations today and tomorrow we will do it all again. Phew! And phew again!
The good, the bad and the lovely!
We meet some wonderful people through our work – I’ve been blown away by the kindness and generosity of people towards cats and kittens. The trouble they take to care for abandoned cats, for strays and feral cats…not to mention the expense.
As volunteers we do all we can with the limited resources we have to support these wonderful members of the public…our food collection bins are emptied, and the food distributed to them for the cats they care for. Our volunteers source materials to make shelters for cats who have no home, so they can feel safe and dry and take rest.
One such wonderful person is Carol who for years has cared for and fed, a small ‘family‘ of cats in her lovely garden. The cats are adored and cared for on their own terms and when sadly, Carol had to say goodbye to her dear old boy just recently, it was with a very heavy heart. He’d arrived one day and never left, bringing a few new family members along with him! No owner could ever be found. This beautiful boy lived as he died knowing love and kindness from Carol – he wasn’t ‘just a stray’, he was her boy and he will be missed.
Unfortunately, we also come across some really horrible people too: no apologies for saying it so bluntly! If we’re lucky we may not have to come face to face with them, but we still have to deal with the aftermath of their actions: their cruelty, their thoughtlessness and indifference to the lives of animals. Yes, we get angry and sad and at times wonder if we can face it all. But if we give up, if we walk away, who will be there for the animals? So, we cry, we sob, we shout, we swear (surely not?) we find support and we carry on.
Finding homes for felines
A big part of our role of course is to find safe, loving homes for the cats in our care and we take a lot of time and trouble doing this, which is just as it should be. The immense joy of hearing that one of the cats has been homed is huge! We invest so much in the rescue and care of the cats and kittens, it’s not surprising we feel a surge of emotion when they are adopted. Some are homed relatively quickly whilst others such as darling Pandacat, lovely Louis and gor-geous Jasper are still waiting. Won’t someone give them a second look? Won’t someone say…‘you’re the cat for me!’? Or maybe foster a ‘hard to home’ cat like Jules and Jimbob, Paddy and Pamela? We would provide support, resources and guidance all the way. Something to think about perhaps? Hope so!
As a Swansea Cats Protection volunteer every day is different, but in other ways it’s the same…different cats, different location, different people calling on our help – but the same magnificent response from our truly incredible volunteers.
If you’re interested in adopting or fostering one of our rescue cats or kittens please get in touch. IMPORTANT: we are keen to match the right cat to the right home, based on our knowledge of the cat and the information you provide. However, due to the high number of applications we’re sorry to be unable to respond to unsuccessful applicants. Please remember we are ALL UNPAID VOLUNTEERS trying to do our best for the rescue cats and kittens of Swansea.
We can be contacted via our Helpline 0345 2602 101 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.
To meet them you wouldn’t know that beautiful Jules and Jimbob suffered years of neglect. Since being in our care they’ve grown in confidence and blossomed into such handsome cats. They are super-fluffy Turkish Angoras, so their new owner would need to ensure they’re groomed regularly…. they like to keep themselves neat and clean! They’re partially-sighted but this doesn’t stop them having fun – they love to play and climb on their cat tower. These gorgeous cats need to be homed together and as Jimbob is FIV positive, should also be the only cats in the household. Because of this and their limited sight they’d need a safe, secure home environment. They are such a joy and deserve to find a loving home.
Beautiful Bella is ready for adoption
Bella is a super-friendly, affectionate cat. Her owner has sadly passed away. She is a very active cat, even though she is 8 years old and has proved to be a bit of a hunter who loves the great outdoors. Lovely Bella is a free spirit and needs a safe place to explore and enjoy.