The Silent Meow
Not very far away from you - in fact, just around the corner, a little black cat sits crouched beneath a bush: taking what shelter he can from the rain. You've probably seen him if you happened to walk that way. You may have seen him sitting on a window sill, maybe even stopped to stroke him and say hello when he's been sitting on a wall in the sunshine. He never wanders very far, for there's a house in this road that he used to call home. Several months ago, when the weather was much more agreeable to a young cat and there were lots of things to chase and play with and the sun was warm on his back, the little black cat yawned and stretched and sauntered home for his tea, only to find there was nobody there. The house was very quiet and still. The little black cat sniffed the air - no food smells of any kind. He waited patiently by the back door. Only as darkness fell did he begin to cry, hoping somebody would hear his pleas and let him in, willing the light to come on and his owner to appear, tin of cat food in hand. Unknown to the little black cat, his owners had gone for good. Moved away, leaving him behind. Nights turned into days, days to weeks, and still the little cat lived in hope that soon someone would come home and let him in. He moved from garden to garden, bin bag to bin bag in search of food, finding a shed with a broken window in which he could shelter for a while, but never going too far. They might come back tomorrow
Two roads down from yours lives a very different cat indeed. This cat is a Tortoiseshell and she is pregnant. She was only born this April herself, and although hardly out of kittenhood, is about to become a mum. She used to have a home too. She was bought as a present for the children, but she’d only lived there a few weeks when they got that Play Station thing. They didn’t want to play with her anymore and she seemed to always be in trouble with the grownups. Now she is on her own, cold, tired and very, very hungry. She is searching for a place secure enough and snug enough to give birth to her kittens. She knows that wherever she chooses it must be within reach of the lady’s house that puts a saucer of milk out each day. She is more than a little frightened, not only of the birth, but also of the future. What dangers will she have to face? How will she feed her babies when she can hardly feed herself? What will become of her babies? Will any of them ever have a home?
Across the road from the Tortie lives Dad. He’s a large Tabby tom with attitude. This is his patch and everybody knows it. He used to be very popular with the ladies with his sleek coat and rippling muscles. These days he resembles a moth-eaten bag of bones. He’s rather smelly, but that doesn’t bother him. His ears are torn and tatty and he has several scars on his face and an eye that’s permanently half-shut, but that’s ok. It gives him street cred, shows he’s not to be messed with, doesn’t it! He’s held this patch for a long time now and he doesn’t want to lose it. He knows where all the best bins are, and which cat flaps he can sneak through at night where he might find some leftover food before the resident cat chases him out. He usually has time for a quick spray before he leaves. The people round here don’t like him and tend to shout and throw things when they see him, so that he has learnt to keep out of their way. Lately though, life seems harder than usual. His skin itches, his ears hurt, his bones ache and there’s this sore that he got when fighting the ginger from the next street a couple of weeks ago. It just won’t heal up no matter how much he licks it. It seems to smell now too. He doesn’t like the night much anymore. He might have to defend his territory and he feels so tired. One day soon, he’s going to lose
Were you aware of the old lady that was rushed off to hospital six months ago, who lived in the road that backs onto yours? She never returned. There was no one left to mourn her except for Poppy, her 13-year-old black and white cat. The council came along and boarded up the house. At least she had lived there long enough to know the kindly neighbours a few doors away who provided a rough shelter for her in their garden and put out a bowl of food each day, but who unfortunately couldn’t take her in because of the old man’s emphysema. He isn’t allowed pets of any kind. Although she is quite lucky to have kind people to feed her each day, she misses her mum and her home. She misses curling up to sleep on her bed each night, or sitting on her mum’s lap in the evenings, snug and warm and purring as her mum strokes her. Poppy isn’t feeling very well. Although she eats all her food up, she’s still so very hungry. Each day her hunger increases, and she needs to relieve herself more often, too. As her weight falls off, she begins to feel her heart pounding in her chest. It races so fast; she finds it hard to relax. Poppy knows all is not as it should be, but all she can do is eat as much as she can and take each day as it comes
There can’t possibly be any more strays near you that you don’t already know about, can there? Well, you wouldn’t know yet about the two brothers who were dumped in your road in the early hours of the morning, unwanted now there’s a new baby in the house. No one has seen them yet. They’re still in shock, huddled together where they can’t be seen, so very scared and confused, terrified to venture out into this unknown world. You see, they’ve never been outside before. Their home was on the seventh floor of a block of flats
The little black cat, the pregnant Tortoiseshell. Dad and Poppy have all come to the attention of concerned people who called the Cats Protection Help line (the brothers have yet to be discovered). Unfortunately the branch doesn’t have all the help it needs to come to the aid of every cat reported quickly, but the volunteers do their best and help as many as they can as soon as they can. Foster spaces are always in short supply and a cat may have a long wait for one to become available. The little black cat, for instance, is on the waiting list for a space, but he is healthy and young, and not as immediately in need as the pregnant Tortoiseshell. She needs a space as soon as possible. Hopefully one will be found for her before she gives birth. Dad will not come in to be fostered, but he will be taken to the vets. As he is not a friendly cat he will need to be caught in one of the special cat traps used for these situations. Poor old Dad will have to wait a while, as there are fewer volunteers to do trapping than anything else, and those that do are stretched to their limits – trying to cope with their ever-increasing list of ferals, sick, long-term strays, nervous cats and garden-born kittens that cannot be just picked up and popped into a normal cat carrier
Little Poppy is already on the waiting list for a foster space, but wasn’t a priority when first reported, as she was being well fed and the caller failed to mention her condition. However, when the caller rang again to see if Poppy would be collected soon, she told the Help line volunteer how thin Poppy was getting despite the amount of food she ate. The Help line volunteer then realised Poppy was possibly hyperthyroid (a condition common these days in older cats) and would need checking by a volunteer, and taking to the vets as soon as possible. From the vets she would need to come straight in to CP care
The volunteer operating the Help line that day searches her list of people who have offered to do cat checking and transport. Most of them can only manage evenings and weekends and she really needs to find someone who is available in the morning or afternoon, so that Poppy can be collected and taken to the vet during surgery hours. She can find no one in Poppy’s area, but eventually finds a volunteer who lives several miles away who offers to do it
Now to find Poppy a foster space. Our branch is an active one. We do all we can to help the many cats made known to us every day, and we have a wonderful hardworking team who raise funds to get all the veterinary treatment these cats needs. However, with all the raised funds in the world, the cats can’t be helped without the people to do it. This group desperately needs more volunteers that are active. Foster spaces are needed, cat checkers and transporters are needed, trappers are needed. Wherever you are in our area, you could be of great help
So if you feel you could give space in your home to foster a cat like the little black cat, or Poppy, or even offer temporary emergency space, or if you want to help Dad and others like him and make sure he gets the veterinary treatment he needs, or if you could collect and take cats like Poppy to the vet or a foster home, then please pick up the ‘phone and make yourself known! If you are unsure about anything, we would be more than happy to answer your questions and tell you all that’s involved. There’s no pressure and no obligation. Any offer of help is greatly appreciated
Many appeals for help have appeared on our site before, and I’m sure many people think we’ve been inundated with offers. Maybe you’ve thought, “I could help with that”, still, they’ve probable got all the help they need by now” NOT SO! Very few people have responded to these appeals in the past, which is incredibly disheartening to those volunteers who need the help, so please, this time don’t just think about it. Do something about it. If you have wanted to go out there and help any one of the cats in this article (and there are many more like them reported every day) then pick up the telephone and offer whatever you can. Any help is better than none!
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist