Cat-astrophe strikes for trapped cats

From intrepid moggies and fearless felines the RSPCA is on hand to rescue cats who have got themselves into a tight spot!

It is a well known fact that cats can get themselves stuck… a lot!

Whether scaling a 50ft tree with no escape route, squeezing themselves into tiny gaps, or falling down a hole they can’t get out of, some cats can get themselves into some very tight squeezes. 

They are naturally curious and inquisitive animals but some cats are better than others at navigating the hazards that may pop up along the way.

On average the RSPCA receives a call to its National Control Centre about a cat every three minutes and receives more calls about cats than any other animal.

New figures reveal that since the start of this year the RSPCA has been called to 2,819 trapped cats.

May and June had the most rescues with 606 and 611 respectively.

These figures include cats that have become entangled, ‘trapped up’, ‘trapped down’ or stuck in water.

The largest amount of rescues were cats ‘trapped up’ something with 1,488 in total from January to June.

Rescues can be a tricky business and requires specialist equipment to be able to safely free an animal from a tight spot without injury as well as avoiding a nasty nip or bite in the process.

RSPCA superintendent Tim Minty said: “There is a range of equipment needed for these particular rescues. The animal in itself will be frightened and its behaviour is most likely to be unpredictable because of the situation it’s in and the fact they don’t know the person trying to rescue them.

“Some standard equipment such as bitemaster gloves, eye protection and a grasper and restraining basket can all help with a cat rescue.

“Cats like height and so it’s very possible that our officers will need to reach heights themselves.

“Some of our officers have extendable ladders and nets which can reach to a first floor window and really helps in these situations – but sometimes we do need to ask the fire brigade for help if they are available.”

For more difficult rescues there are also water and rope rescue teams available who use a variety of equipment, for example extendable poles, pulleys, harnesses, and three types of inflatable rescue boats.

Some of the challenges cat’s face can leave some owners understandably concerned or worried about their safety.

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However, for most cats going outside is important for keeping them happy and healthy, explains Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert.

She said: “Unfortunately we can’t always be there to supervise our cats when they are out and about to make sure they are safe but there are some steps we can take.

“Make sure your cat is microchipped and registered with your current contact details. Remember if you’ve moved home or changed your phone number you will need to update your details.

“Microchipping your cat is the most reliable way to identify them and gives you the best chances of being reunited if they become lost. If you decide to put a collar and ID tag on your cat it’s important to ensure the collar is correctly fitted and is a quick release type collar with a snap-safe buckle – other collars can get caught and cause nasty injuries.

“It can be helpful to have a consistent routine with your cat and to feed them their meals around the same time each day. This way your cat will know when to come home for food and can give you a chance to check in with them and make sure they are okay.”

There are also a few things that everyone can do to ensure there are less cat rescues needed.

Alice Potter added: “Cats can fit into small spaces and like hiding and sleeping in warm quiet spots. This means it’s important to always check that there are no cats in your garage, shed or conservatory before you lock it up.

“Likewise it’s important to be cautious with any bins or other places that cats might get in and become stuck.

“If you have any concerns or find a cat in distress, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”
Our pick of the top cat rescues in June:

  1. Albus, the three year old tabby cat, had become tightly stuck between an office building and an external wall in Coleridge Road, Hove, on Thursday (June 1).

The owner of the building called the RSPCA and animal collection officer (ACO) Julie Parsons attended to try and free the cat.

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She said: “Poor Albus was stuck very tightly between two walls with about a four inch gap. No one knew how he managed to fit in there in the first place.

“It took about three hours, working with East Sussex Fire and Rescue to create a huge hole in the wall to free him.

“He was struggling to breathe where he had wedged himself so tightly between the walls so time was of the essence.”

Just when it looked like Albus had used all up of his nine lives, one last tug saw the moggy freed and reunited with his grateful owner.

2. A plucky kitten which had got herself wedged 8ft up a chimney was freed after a four-hour rescue operation between the RSPCA and Merseyside Fire Service.

Lola’s worried owner contacted the RSPCA after hearing the kitten making noises inside the chimney.

She had not long been adopted by her owner and, feeling timid in her new home, sought a place to hide – behind the fireplace.

“From there, she had somehow managed to climb inside the chimney – about 8ft up it,” said RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Matt Brown, who went to rescue Lola from the house in Fairfield Drive, in Liverpool, on Friday (16 June).
3. A vulnerable kitten who used up one of his nine lives after getting stuck 20ft up a huge tree has landed on his feet – after bagging a new home with the firefighter who rescued him!

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It took 90 minutes to get to the little ginger puss who was buried deep inside a very dense tree in Bigby High Road, Brigg.

RSPCA animal collection officer Carol Smith was called to the scene on Tuesday morning (27 June) and requested the help of Humberside Fire & Rescue Service as the kitten was so high up.

She explained: “Due to his age and the height of the tree, I called in a local fire crew to help get to him.

“It took more than 90 minutes to get up to the tree and find him amongst the dense foliage. When they found him he was huddled inside a pigeon nest with some nestlings!”
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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Purrfect cats Ernie, Clive and Zuma looking for fur-ever homes

To mark Cat Rehoming Month we take a look at some moggies looking for their fur-ever homes.

One-eyed Ernie was brought into the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Cattery in Cheshire in April when he was found roaming the streets in Crewe with a ruptured eye. He was taken to a vet by a kind member of the public.

ErnieIt is not known if four-year-old Ernie was abandoned on the streets of Crewe or if he was stray but his days would have been numbered if his eye was left untreated.

Ernie’s eye was removed by vets who contacted the RSPCA and he has been looked after at Stapeley ever since.

Tracey Wood, administrator at the cattery, said: “Ernie was a feisty feline when he came in but he has softened in our care with daily interactions, and he could now be the perfect companion.

“It has not been plain sailing for him, after losing his eye but now he is back to full health and needs an owner who can love his imperfections – one-eye and all!”

Ernie will need to live in an adult-only home and ideally needs to be the only pet.

He will need access to outdoors so he can explore and enjoy all the love and attention he deserves!

Clive is another black and white cat who needs someone to take a chance on him.

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He came into the Burton-on-Trent branch in April when his owner was hospitalised due to ill health.

When he arrived he was very shy and stressed as he was an indoor cat and only ever had contact with one gentleman. Over time he has become much more affectionate.

Unfortunately, due to a grade four erratic heart murmur he needs daily medication and vets have advised this could cost about £20 a month.

Clive needs a dedicated owner who can see past his health problems and give him the best possible home for however many years he may have left.

He will need to be kept indoors to begin with and have access to lots of space and toys to keep him entertained but will hopefully later have the desire to go outside and explore.

Zuma is a four-year-old Bengal male who came into the RSPCA care in February 2016 as part of a large prosecution case. Her previous owner – a Bengal breeder – had more than 60 cats at the Oxfordshire home who were living in poor conditions, many of them ill with cat flu and other illnesses.

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Zuma had been rehomed but has sadly been returned to Millbrook Animal Centre in Woking three times.

The reason is always the same – he wanders too far and has no awareness of cars. Despite rehoming him to rural locations each owner has been concerned about his safety and haven’t managed to make it work.

Zuma will need a home away from roads with plenty of space in the garden to explore but also be safely contained.

There are hundreds of cats in RSPCA centres waiting to be rehomed and each one is as unique and loveable as the next!

Neutering cats and rehoming a rescue moggy could help ease the cat overpopulation crisis.

Summer is the busiest time for the charity when unwanted and abandoned litters come flooding into the animal welfare charity, leaving its centres bursting with cats and kittens.

  • There are 900 adult cats in centres across England and Wales.
  • On average, the RSPCA receives a call to its National Control Centre about a cat every three minutes.
  • Throughout 2016 the charity collected over 30,000 cats from across England and Wales.

If you would like to rehome Ernie, Clive or Zuma, or adopt another pet visit https://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Texts costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

Quirky kitties: investigating your cat’s most curious behaviour!

By the RSPCA’s cat behaviour and welfare expert, Alice Potter.

Many of us share a home with a cat and even consider them to be an important part of the family but do we really understand them?

This blog will try to explain some of our cats’ curious and quirky behaviours, because the more we understand them, the better we can be at making sure our cats are happy and healthy.

Why does my cat… not drink from her water bowl?

Image: wabisabi2015It’s quite common for cats to ignore the water in their bowl and to opt for another source such as the glass of water you keep next to your bed or a running tap.

This isn’t about being fussy, this is actually a very sensible behaviour they are believed to have inherited from their wildcat ancestors. In the wild, cats wouldn’t drink and eat in the same place, because they may contaminate their drinking water with the entrails of their prey.

Instead, they drink away from where they eat, ideally where there’s running water which is more likely to be clean and fresh. This is why your cat may jump up and drink from the tap when you clean your teeth or the glass of water next to your bed – because it’s far away from their food bowl.

Top Tip: Always place your cat’s water bowl away from where they eat, ideally in a separate room. If your cat enjoys running water, consider getting them a pet drinking fountain.

Why does my cat… rub against me when I get home from work?

In part this is a greeting behaviour but there is more to it.

Your cat is depositing scent on you to make you smell more familiar. Cats have a number of different scent glands on their body including on their cheeks, tail and the sides of their mouth. These scent glands  produce pheromones which have a unique smell.

When you get home from work or being out you will have picked up all types of new smells so by rubbing themselves on you, your cat is making you smell more like them, more familiar and more safe.

Top Tip: Familiar smells can help your cat to feel more safe and secure. If you move home, take your cat to boarding, or even just visit the vets, make sure your cat travels with an item that smells of home such as a blanket or worn piece of clothing.

Why does my cat… roll over and show her tummy but not want it to be stroked?

Image: Elle Cayabyab GitlinIt’s easy to assume that if your cat exposes their tummy it’s because they want to have it rubbed but many cat owners who have tried may have had an unpleasant surprise!

When cats expose their tummy it makes them vulnerable, so when they greet us in this way it’s a sign that they feel safe and trusting. However, it isn’t a request for a belly rub.

When your cat rolls over and shows you her tummy it’s best just to acknowledge her with a gentle little head rub.

Why does my cat… love being stroked one minute then seem fed-up the next?

We often think of our cats as being unpredictable or just plain grumpy but with a little more understanding we soon learn that isn’t the case.

As humans, we tend to enjoy more intense and longer social interactions compared to cats who like them to be short and sweet. This means that we can easily overdo it when we are giving our cats a fuss and might miss the subtle signs telling us that they’ve had enough.

Top Tip: As well as only enjoying short social interactions, recent research has also confirmed that cat’s only like to be stroked on particular parts on their body too. When cats groom each other they focus on the head and neck and they prefer these areas when being stroked by people too.

Why does my cat… really love boxes?

Image: Bobbi BowersHiding is a natural behaviour for cats and boxes provide the ultimate opportunity. Research has shown that being able to hide can help cats feel less stressed so it’s important all cats have hidey-holes around the house to retreat to for some time out.

In addition, cats are highly intelligent animals who are naturally motivated to explore. They also have the physique to jump and climb – so why not find out what’s in the box?!

Why does my cat… seem to prefer people who don’t like cats?PR stock image

It’s believed that the body language of people who aren’t keen on cats actually makes cats want to be around them.

In contrast to some cat lovers, people who aren’t so keen tend to give the cat more space, less eye contact and can appear overall as less threatening.

If cats have the choice to approach somebody in their own time rather than have it forced upon them they will likely feel more relaxed and comfortable with the interaction.

We hope we’ve cleared up some of your cat’s more perplexing behaviour! 

Did you know that London currently has a “cat crisis”? Read about it in our recent news story and City Cats report.

Lovecats! How nervous Patch found his purr-fect match

The tale of two star-crossed felines, with special thanks to Sarah Piggott from RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre.

A rough patch

PatchPatch came into our care in May of last year. His owner had far too many cats to care for – they were all under-socialised and very timid. The household then suffered a house fire, which thankfully Patch managed to escape uninjured from.

He was utterly traumatised by his experiences and was one of the most nervous cats Southall Cattery had ever seen. He couldn’t be handled at all and would hide all day.

The day Seraphina came to stay

Seraphina arrived in November, having been rescued from another multi-cat household. She was suffering from a flea allergy and had severe hair loss. However, Seraphina was the complete opposite of Patch – she made herself at home in the cattery from day one and loved everybody she met.

Seraphina would have been snapped up straight away but had to stay at Millbrook for a few weeks for treatment. This turned out to be a serendipitous stroke of luck as during this time, staff noticed that Patch was very, very keen on Seraphina!

Stolen glances and cat-calls!

Patch&SPatch had started sneaking out of his hidey bed to watch Seraphina play in the corridor and would meow as she walked by.

Staff knew they had to introduce the two. Patch’s shyness lifted immediately when he was around Seraphina. He’d headbutt and groom her for attention. But they also noticed it changed his mood towards them – for the first time he wasn’t running away when the cattery staff went near him!

Seraphina was perfectly happy to spend her days in Patch’s pen too – so they moved in together and officially became a pair.

Love at first miaow

With Seraphina by his side, Patch became one hundred times braver than he used to be. He’d come to staff for attention and started to enjoyed having his chin scratched. He became almost unrecognisable from the scaredy-cat he was before.

The pair’s lust for life was noticed by a local woman who fell for the two tabbies when she visited them in early January. Determined to help the two sweethearts land on their feet, she took them home just a couple of weeks later.

In it for the long-haul

Patch_Seraphina_HomeWe were thrilled to receive a recent update:

“Patch and Seraphina are settling in really well so far. Seraphina has been sleeping on our laps and Patch sits nearby, gradually moving closer each day, which is really good to see.

“His confidence is growing each day and it is very sweet to see how devoted they are to eachother!

“I think a lot of Patch’s progress is testament to the patience and understanding of the RSPCA who laid the groundwork…and we are fortunate to be getting the benefit.”

Can you offer a special animal their fur-ever home?

If you can offer a loving home to one (or two!) of the fantastic animals in our care, head to Find a Pet to track down your purr-fect match.