Cat-titude! Give shy cats a chance

Shy cats can often get overlooked but just because they are quieter in the cattery does not mean they won’t make the perfect companion.

A cat can be shy or timid for a number of reasons, they may have been through a trauma, they could still be very young and learning the ropes, or maybe they are just waiting to find that special someone who can bring them out of their shell.

At the RSPCA Southall Cattery there are currently some timid cats who are looking for purr-fect homes.

Aneel Odhwani, animal care assistant at Southall in London, is urging prospective owners to give shy cats a chance.

He said: “All cats personalities’ are very unique, some might be feisty and some might be quieter but they could all make a great companion.

“Unfortunately this is quite a common problem which we see all over the country. People just don’t give shy cats a chance.

“People walk through catteries and don’t notice the timid ones as they pass through because they don’t go up to strangers immediately. The confident cats who stroll up to people are much more likely to catch someone’s eye.

Sindy (6)

“It is such a shame as just because a cat is shy in a cattery doesn’t mean they don’t make loyal, sweet-natured and often playful companions once they have settled in a home and have got to know their owners.

“Some might say that this extra bit of a challenge makes the bond between owner and cat all the more unique.

“The shy cat won’t go up to any old stranger with their love – it would be especially for you.”

Two year old Sindy was hit by a car in February and brought to Harmsworth Animal Hospital as she was unable to walk.

The black and white cat was found under a car by a passer-by in Brent and brought to the RSPCA for treatment.

No owner was ever found and so after a month of treatment she was back on her feet and arrived at Southall in March looking for a new home.

Aneel added: “She has recovered from her ordeal now but Sindy is a very shy cat. She’s not going to be anyone’s lap cat but she does want to make friends.

Besty“She would suit a quieter, adult-only home with a more experienced owner who understands her need to do her own thing.”

Three-year old Betsy is another cat who needs a little patience and lots of space.

She came in to Southall in March from a multi-cat household in London where 10 cats were living in total.

She shies away from the staff at the cattery and would rather be running around a field or out and about.

She would suit a home on a farm where she can have plenty of space to run around and be herself.

ParisnewParis and Andie are two timid foster sisters who are bound to come out of their shell soon.

The three month old kittens were brought in separately in April but have become foster sisters during their time at Southall.

Paris was found as a newborn with her mum in a back garden in London whereas Andie came in at about two weeks old without a mum. The pair have since become thick as thieves.

They are still quite timid but staff are sure they will grow out of this and will benefit from lots of company.

AndieThey will need a home with adults-only or older children who are used to cats. The new owners will also need to be experienced with cats as the pair are flu carriers.

Aneel added: “Shy cats can take some patience but in the end we’re sure it will be worth it.

“Southall Cattery is at full capacity and this isn’t a rare occurrence. We’d love it if more people took a chance on quieter cats and gave them the loving home they deserve.”

To rehome Sindy, Betsy, Paris or Andie, contact Southall Cattery, Hounslow, London on 0300 123 0746, or visit https://www.rspca.org.uk/local/southall-cattery/findapet#onSubmitSetHere

Or visit the national website at 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 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA

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How can you make your cat feel more at home?

RSPCA's South Godstone Animal Centre Supervisor Liz Forbes-Dale gives us a look at the ways we put cats in our care at ease, offering some inspiration for how you might be able to help your own feline companion feel more at home.

Cats arriving at RSPCA centres can be frightened and confused. They may have been in several places before arriving, or they may have only lived in their owner’s home until now.

Click this link for Leona’s (pictured above) adoption page

Cats are often seen as the ultimate control freaks who find any change in their routine and environment very difficult to cope with.

Domestic cats are very similar in their behaviour to their wild ancestors, so some of the measures we take help to allow them to follow their instincts in what is an unnatural environment for a cat.

The cattery at South Godstone has 40 cubicles in total, each with both an indoor pod and outdoor run.

Pictured left: A view of South Godstone cattery’s indoor pods, complete with feline resident.

We often know in advance when new cats are arriving, so we will set up a cattery pod with a number of different things in preparation:

Hidey-holes

Covered beds or cardboard boxes both inside the cubicle and in the outdoor runs give cats the chance to hide away from people if they choose to do so. The beds and boxes are filled with warm comfy bedding, sometimes partially covering the top so the cats can peek out. (Cats mostly prefer to be warmer than cold, so we try to make them as comfortable & warm as possible.)

Click this link for Moana’s (pictured right) adoption page

We try to keep very new cats away from the public viewing areas. Like many catteries that the RSPCA run South Godstone is open for the public to view the animals, and this can be quite upsetting if the cats have just arrived. Cats are often more comfortable with new faces and experiences once they are familiar with and confident in their environment.

Comfy fabrics

Our pods are made from lovely, easy to clean plastic: very hygienic but not very stimulating for the average kitty! Rugs, duvets or mats add another element and texture to their limited environment.

Feline pheromones

Cat laying comfortably in his bed © RSPCAWe spray the bedding with Feliway Classic. This contains an artificial facial pheromone (scent) that cats naturally produce. Normally a cat will rub this around their environment so that it smells familiar and they feel that they have been in this place before.

Large litter trays

Sometimes we have pairs of cats that will need a litter tray each, plus a spare one. Toileting for cats is a time when they will feel vulnerable and, like people, they often do not like to be seen while doing their business. We try to give them some privacy from the other cats alongside them by giving them enough space, and offering covered trays.

Scratching spots

Cats like to scratch for 2 reasons: it helps to maintain the health of their nails, and allows them to scent mark an area using scent glands between the pads on their paws, making it familiar, and leaving a message for other cats. Some cats prefer to scratch vertically & others horizontally, so we offer both scratching posts and carpet tiles.

Boredom busters

Cat playing with toy rope © RSPCAConfinement in the cattery can be very boring for cats and they can become frustrated, so we aim to keep them entertained. When the cats first arrive we do not play with them as it may be overwhelming, but we leave toys in their pods so that they start to become familiar. When they are ready and settled, both the staff and volunteers will engage in play sessions with the cats if they are interested.

Grooming tools

We like to groom all the cats in the cattery. Sometimes the more nervous cats will let us groom them where they wouldn’t let us pet or stroke them. The brushes are left in the cubicles for when the cats are settled enough to allow interactions, leaving the brushes inside also allows the item to become familiar to the cat.

Drinking bowls

We put one water bowl inside the pod and one in the back run.Cats are very sensitive about where they drink, and may prefer this to be away from feeding areas. As space is at a premium inside, we we give them an extra bowl outside. Plastic bowls can taint the taste of the water so we try to use other materials: glass, metal or a ceramic.

Food boredom

Once the cats have settled we consider how we can help to mimic some of the cats wild behaviours. One of the easiest way is by getting them hunting!

Cat Danaerys seeks out biscuits hidden in pyramid toy © RSPCAHunting is a natural behaviour which is not solely linked to hunger. Cats in the wild will go on hunting adventures up to 40 times a day and may catch something 10 to 20 times, so with this in mind it must be very boring to have your dinner served in a bowl! As well as play, we try to use alternative feeding methods which simulate this search for food.

Pictured left: Danaerys tackles a toilet roll pyramid: the rolls are all glued together with biscuits hidden inside, meaning the cats have to seek out the hidden treasures!

We hope a few of these tips and trick from our cattery will come in useful if you’re hoping to welcome a new cat into your household soon, and may even help your existing feline feel more at home!

Still searching for the purrfect pal? Take a look at all the cats in need of new homes on our Find a Pet pages

Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA

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).

Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA