A few months ago, I was sitting in our conservatory writing, when I saw a new black cat in our garden. We have a black cat, (a rescue named Buffy), and at first, I thought it was her. Then Buffy strolled in through the cat flap, and I realised it wasn’t.
Looking a bit more closely, this new black cat looked a little the worse for wear, and although he had a very round face and didn’t seem to be particularly thin, his (her?) fur looked mangy, and there seemed to be a sort of scar on his left side. ‘He’ (we will call him a ‘he’), was still loitering in our garden when Andy came home, and my husband promptly christened him ‘Fatface’, which may or may not have been a little uncharitable. Fatface had, by now, found some left over cat food that I had put out at the top of the garden for hedgehogs, and was eating it as if it was his first meal for days. Within a few minutes, he and the food were gone.
Over the next few days, I watched Fatface as he would creep into our garden and look around hopefully for any scraps. He seemed to be a highly nervous cat, and I never managed to get nearer to him then 20 feet or so. My heart went out to him and I worried about him looking so hungry, so I started putting food out regularly, so that if he popped into our garden, he would always have snack waiting. The food would always be gone at the end of each day, but as Andy reminded me, it could have been other cats, or even Mr Fox who also occasionally graces our garden.
Weeks went by and I hoped that Fatface would become a little more trusting, I was feeding him daily after all, and let me get closer to him. Occasionally he would turn up when there was no food down, and I would scurry into the house to fetch some, and then try and approach him. He would run, stop, and then turn and look back. I would take a few more steps towards him, and he would run a bit further. I would then put the plate down and retreat to watch him from a safe distance. He would watch me carefully for at least 5 minutes before feeling safe enough to approach the food.
My cats (all three of them) watched these assignations from the conservatory or other parts of the garden, with something close to bored detachment. If Fatface was stealing their Felix and Whiskas, they didn’t look in the least perturbed, and there certainly didn’t seem to be any resolution on their part to drive this newcomer out of their territory.
What is it about rescue animals that tugs on our heart strings so mightily? I can’t bear the thought of animals being neglected, hungry or hurt, and I’ve told Andy a million times that I am just one small lottery win away from starting an injured animal sanctuary. Hedgehogs, horses, cats, dogs and alpacas, I would have the lot! Andy is not keen for some reason, so for the moment, it is just us and our three cats, Lili, Buffy and Dennis, who are technically all rescues. Dennis and Lili were gifted to me by a lovely neighbour when she emigrated, and Buffy was a stray we took in. They have such a wonderful life with us, much better than a lot of children worldwide I suspect, and certainly better than the millions of homeless cats that roam our streets.
According to Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity, there are over 9 million stray cats in the UK, and over 1.5 million feral cats. Last year, the charity launched the first ever ‘cat census’ and encouraged the public to report stray cats so that efforts could be made to keep them ‘safe and warm’, and vet treatment could be allocated where needed.
Cat Protection are also at the forefront of the ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ policy, advocating visiting your local rescue centre, and giving a home to a homeless cat, (or dog, hamster, horse, rabbit etc) rather than buying from a breeder, and I would strongly urge you to consider a rescue animal if you are in the market for a new pet.
By taking in a rescue animal, you are doing a truly marvellous thing – offering to completely change the life of an animal. Effectively, giving them a second chance. It is a myth that rescue animals are often solitary and bad tempered, but some have had a horrible history, and have been abused, abandoned or left to fend for themselves on the streets. This often makes them more loving than shop bought animals!
By taking in a rescue, rather than buying from a breeder, you are caring for an animal that already needs support, instead of bringing another into the world. There are literally hundreds of organisations in the UK trying to rehome unwanted animals, so there will definitely be one near you. The only difficult part will be trying to choose your pet! There are so many desperate for love and affection. They will have been medically checked, sterilised and vaccinated, and you are doing further good by supporting the local shelter who are trying to rehome and care for animals, whilst relying solely on charitable donations.
For example, Blue Cross, a registered animal welfare charity in the UK have a re-homing centre in Hampshire near me. Their tag line is “Pets change lives. We change theirs.” They rehome cats, dogs, horses, gerbils, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and chinchillas, and they provide support for owners who cannot afford vets, as well as providing education in the responsibilities of animal ownership. If you do not have a Blue Cross near you, look online for your nearest shelter.
I still haven’t made much headway with Fatface, though I continue to feed him/her. My long term plan is to gain his trust long enough to take him to a vet. Firstly, to check his overall health, but also to see if he has a chip so we know who he belongs to. If he doesn’t have an owner, maybe Fatface could become part of our family…. Shhhhhh… just don’t tell Andy ❤️
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We had a black Tom who was miserable looking and lived in our pre-renovated garage/shed that had a lot of holes and leaks. When we renovated he moved on, but gave us a dirty look as he departed.
I tried, so hard, to leave him shelter, food, etc but he just won’t come close enough. I couldn’t leave the food out unattended because there are so many raccoons here and they do serious damage to the house. There is also a ground hog with babies…ugh.
The wildlife doesn’t need me (except for the squirrel that I talked about recently…ha) but the feral cats?
Anyway, there was nothing I could do. Sigh.
Ah, but you tried and I’m sure the black tom appreciated it. We don’t have a problem with raccoons in Southampton where I live in the UK, or groundhogs, but we do get foxes in the garden sometimes. i’d be happy to invite them all in… but Andy wont let me. 🙂
Black cats are supposed to be lucky, wether it’s lucky for Fatface or you, remains to be seen. But luck seems to be on his side at the moment, because he walked into your garden and found you. Cats are, in my opinion the most enigmatic of all animals, and I believe they can somehow sense kindness in a person, even though they may not know each other. The ancient Egyptians new a thing or two about cats, even declaring them as Deities, but I somehow can’t but think the cats got the Egyptians to believe they were Gods, so that they could survive. Mogs aren’t stupid!
That’s so true – cats choose you, you don’t choose them!! I think Fatface is hedging his bets at the moment…. I will keep you informed x
I never knew how feral stray cats really were. I mean, so scared of people, not wanting to be touched. There was one who I finally got to pick up, and when the weather was bad I managed to get her into my mud room, and all she did was howl. I guess she’d never experienced having a ceiling and walls. Good luck with fat face. It certainly takes a lot of patience.
It certainly does! Yes I am in for the long haul! ❤️Thanks for reading.
I am so glad to read this across the pond. I have been an animal rescuer all my life, and currently have my limit plus of dogs, a cat, and two big goldfish in an aquarium with two alien catfish. But I also rescue caterpillars, birds when possible, and anything else I find outdoors. Sometimes little earthworms are drowning when it rains very hard here, and I pick them and put them in a safer and more suitable place where they will be ok. I am so glad that I learned you have animal rescue in the U.K. We sure do need more of that everywhere. Thank you kindly for sharing.
Thanks so much Anne. I love the comment about earthworms! I spend my life rescuing spiders, woodlice and bees! I would love a cat sanctuary – I read there is a ranch in California where a woman has rescued thousands of cats! Sounds like heaven! ❤️
Interesting! Cats are very independent creatures!
They certainly are!
I love any pets, (nearly). They have to be fur or the feathered kind. Not spiders for example.
A majority of my life has been cats. The last two I owned in their life times were rescued; n some way. My last one from my local Cats Protection, who looked nervous to start, but the second she was with me, she settled. Only thing she had to learn, was how to play. She didn’t know what it was all about and found it scary. She soon knew the joy of play and you would never have realised. She was very loveable from day one, not wanting to leave my side.
Later after just a few months, I was getting all the love in my face, literally. Her head, in my face, rubbing in my face. So I knew she loved me lots.
She later learnt to have a little time to herself, on her own. I called this ‘cat time.’ But a majority of the time, she was still was with me and this carried on to the last day of her life, when I had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep, which was organised to be done in my home. She had cancer.
The cat I had prior to her was a stray. She was grumpy to start with and nervous. I had to sit on the floor to start with at her level. I just waited until she chose to come to me. When we had a couple of sitting sessions on the floor, I then sat on the settee and encouraged her there.
She was loveable, but was an independent cat too. She liked being outside after she had her meal and come back later in the afternoon and I would then keep her in till the next day.
When I had her, I was still living with my mum. When we moved into our own place, then I then seen a new species trait in her.
I had her some years befy she had to be put to sleep being very unwell and nothing more could be done. But we had some years.
Two other cats prior to these were from people; one who had a litter of kittens and another who obtained a kitten and not long after discovered they was going to be a child in the family.
I certainly recommend rescued cats. I will never forget the love she gave.
What a lovely comment to leave… thank you so much for telling me about your cats, they sound lovely and were lucky to find such a loving home with you.
I’ve got a little closer to Fatface since posting, I can now get within about four feet before he runs. Still feeding him every night in garden. I’m keen to get closer to him and possibly entice him in the house before next winter!
Aren’t cats wonderful?!
Glad Fatface is getting a bit more braver. Cats are wonderful.