Thursday, June 2, 2011

Open your mind to possibility...

So many rescued cats and kittens are waiting right now for that special someone to give them a home, a bed, food, love. They can't help the way they look or whether they have only three legs or one eye or what colour they are or their age or sex. All they know is they are stuck in a cage, pen or chalet for days, weeks, months on end... waiting...waiting...waiting for the day someone comes along and gives them what they want most; to snooze on a soft bed, to eat tasty food and treats of chicken or fish, to cuddle on a couch, play with a toy or hunt in the fields, to enjoy belly rubs and headbutts. This is what every cat wants regardless of its appearance.

“We want a kitten.”
“I don't want an older cat.”
“We want a friendly cat”
“I don't like black cats.”
“We don't want a female cat.”
“I'd love a longhaired cat.”

I hear all of the above or variations on a regular basis. And it makes me want to scream. Why do people have to be so fussy when there are SO MANY cats and kittens in desperate need of homes right now.

I sometimes think the public must think we BREED cats to order. We don't. We RESCUE them. WE don't notice what age, colour or sex a cat is, or what kind of personality it has or whether it has long or short hair for that matter. WE're too busy noticing the jutting bones, the skeletal body, the dirty fur, the smell, the sick eyes, the wheezing chest, the neglect, the disease or the fact it's “owner” is making it very clear they no longer want anything to do with the cat ever again.

We rescue cats because they need to be removed from dire situations, from starvation, from danger, from people who should never have a cat in the first place. We rescue them because they are unwanted, unloved, forgotten. Because they need help.

Can you imagine if we, the rescuers, were as fussy as the public? “Oh, let's not rescue black cats, older cats, shorthaired cats.” It's a preposterous thought.

When contacting us to home a cat or kitten, PLEASE realise you are not making a lifestyle choice, you are not choosing a car or curtains, you are giving a rescued animal a new home, a second chance.

You are SAVING an animals LIFE. So does it REALLY matter then what they look like? Remember if you home a cat from us, it frees up space for us to take another. So, in effect, you are saving TWO lives. If you look at our Facebook page, you'll see we need space for many many cats.

So, PLEASE see beyond an animals appearance. Instead look into their eyes, see the suffering they've been through, listen to the gentle purr, hear the quiet meow, reach out a comforting hand, touch the soft fur and open your heart to love....whatever age or colour it is, or whatever number of legs it has, you'll be richly rewarded.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An important Spay Week message.

It's Spay Week 2011! This video is funny but has a very important message! Spay and neuter your cats.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why male cats should be neutered

Although people can understand the logic behind spaying female cats (to stop them producing unwanted litters), they sometimes fail to grasp the importance of neutering male cats. They often feel, misguidedly, that male cats are not causing many problems but in fact apart from the obvious reason to neuter them (to prevent them fathering hundreds of kittens every year!), there are many other positive reasons to do so.

Unneutered tom cats can live miserable lives shortened by disease or death. Many toms rescued by animal welfare organisations are battle scarred from viscous fights with other toms over females. They frequently have gaping wounds, weeping abscesses, bits of ears and tails missing, eyes gouged out. It’s truly sad to see the state of some of them. Neutered male cats have no reason to fight and rarely sustain such injuries. In fact, neutering a male cat can double its life expectancy from 7 to 14 years.

Saddest of all is that an unneutered male cat is 80% more likely to contract FIV than a neutered male, there is no cure and no vaccine to prevent it.

There are other reasons why male cats should be neutered. Unneutered toms have a strong desire to wander in search of females to breed with, which places them in danger of being killed on the road or becoming lost and unable to find their way back home thus ending up living as strays trying to survive in a sometimes hostile world. Many people dislike tom cats, owned or stray, in their neighbourhood because of the smell they can leave on property, in sheds, on cars, patio doors and if they get into a house, they can spray furniture, worktops, toys, clothes, anything. People will sometimes deploy various cruel methods to get rid of them including poison and the tom cat can have a very painful death. Is that how people want their beloved male cat to end up?

Once a male cat is neutered, there is no spraying and no smell, they are more pleasant to have around, people are more tolerant of them.

Another reason why owners should neuter their male cats is to free up precious space in rescues taken up by lost tom cats, for other more needy animals. Rescues can spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to find new homes for stray toms who already have a home somewhere which, if they had been neutered, they might not have left in the first place.

These are the many reasons why male cats should be neutered. Neutering means no smell, no spraying, no wandering, no fighting, so less likely to become lost, contract FIV, get killed on the road or die from poisoning, starvation or infection. Most important of all, neutered males are not adding to the feline over population crisis already in Ireland. They can enjoy a longer healthier life. That's a lot of good reasons to neuter male cats!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cat of the day

What a gorgeous photo of a gorgeous cat! This is Lucy and she is looking for a new home.
She is a very friendly cat and would love a home where she is part of the family and loved and spoiled, what cat wouldn't! She quite likes to potter about outside so access to outside would be great. Lucy is spayed, about 3-4 years old, in New Ross and waiting for your call! How can you resist? Click here for contact details.

Cat of the day

This gorgeous big ginger lovebug needs a new home. Look at that face, how could anyone resist? He currently lives in Naas in Kildare but I'm sure would be happy to travel to a good home anywhere in Ireland. He is very sweet and loves attention. Here's his story:

Hi! I have just moved to Naas and I have recently adopted 3 beautiful cats from the Kildare Animal Foundation. This very big sweet male cat has been coming to my back door daily and I won't let him go hungry so I feed him morning and evening meals, he does not sleep at our house but hangs around most of the day, and leaves in the late afternoon. We felt sorry for him and constructed him a little shelter for napping which he loves, he is very sweet and loves attention but the reason why I am writing is because he seems to get into fights quite regularly (he has many cuts around his head) and I am worried for my cats as I would like to start letting them outside to play in the garden and i am worried he might be aggressive. One of my cats is male. He seems to have been neutered then released. Please share. Click here for contact details.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cat of the day

This gorgeous girl is in Roscrea, and she is happy to be an indoor cat. Can you give her a home?

Her name is Tiffy and she is a very affectionate cat, very talkative and loves company. She would be an ideal companion and would make an ideal indoor cat as she is very clean and doesn't seem to have any wish to go outside. Sensible girl, lots of dangers out there. She is wormed, neutered and is approx 2-3 years old.
Click here for more information.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cat of the day

What an absolute stunner! This is the gorgeous Henry and he wants a home to call his own. He's in Roscommon.
He was handed to a local rescue as a stray. Every endeavour was made to find his owner with no luck so now efforts are being made to find him a new home. This boy has everything - looks, personality, easy going temperament and most importantly his health. He is neutered, vaccinated etc. so now all he needs is a new owner to love him, awwww. :) Click here for more info.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cat of the day

Look at that sad little face. This girl has been through so much, all she wants is a new home, is it too much to ask?
Here is her story. Her family moved away in November last year..... and left her behind. She sheltered in a shed with broken windows and filled with junk and lived there throughout last years freezing winter. Do you remember how cold it was? The neighbours who fed her said her pawprints were in the snow everyday looking for someone to take her in. She is so happy now to be rescued. Her name is Beyonce because she is a survivor! She is very affectionate and loving and gives lots of kisses. An ideal home for her would be one where she could eventually, after a few months of settling in, have access to a garden; she is longing to play outside.

She is two year old, vaccinated & spayed and presently in Dublin.
For more information about Beyonce, please contact Cats Aid on (01) 668 3529.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why some cats bite

Fantastic blog on why some cats bite for no obvious reason, it explains a lot. Princess who was rescued last year was a severe biter when she first arrived at Mayo Cat Rescue. She regularly bit my hands and arms, often drawing blood. One evening she launched herself at my leg as I walked by her, again drawing blood. I soon learnt to back off. She just doesn't like to be fussed much at all so she is left more or less in peace now. One or two pets on the head from us and that's it. More than that and her tail starts switching. She is telling us "beware!". Some cats just don't like too much petting and attention, others of course thrive on it. I also believe she was kept indoors in her previous home. Since she's discovered the great outdoors she is even more relaxed and calmer. :)

Cat of the day

Look at this little man, isn't he just beyond cute? A real trooper in Laois who'll be looking for a home in a few weeks. Here's his story.

Oscar is being hand reared since his mother abandoned him in a garden on 25th April when he was only 2 days old. He has made amazing progress against the odds and his eyes are now fully open. He purrs and loves his tummy rubbed and is getting more alert each day. He's a real little trooper! Click here for contact details.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Spay Week silence

With less than two weeks to go to arguably the most important week in the Irish animal rescue calendar, Spay Week Ireland 2011, all is quiet. What should be one of the most exciting and anticipated grassroots events of the year, with animal rescues across Ireland working flat out to promote and publicise it at local level, there is not a word being said about it on Facebook, forums, websites or Twitter. Why?

Why is there no air of expectation, no sense of anticipation, no announcements of plans, no discussion of ideas? Perhaps behind the scenes people are working on posters, leaflets, press releases, videos, tabling events, awareness days, but if so, there is nothing to suggest it. Here is an event which should be uniting our voices as one and see us all working in a dedicated and determined way to do all we can to get the spay/neuter message out there in the public arena but that doesn't seem to be happening.

Spay Week is an extremely important week for cats and dogs in Ireland. It could and would save lives. It's an event which would have a direct impact on reducing the number of cats and dogs having unwanted litters now and in the future. It could also have a direct impact on our rescue work, reducing our work load in the future.

Spaying/neutering is the only way to decrease the number of dogs going into the pounds. It's the only way to offer feral cats any quality of life and stem their breeding. It's the best way to stop the pages of Donedeal, Buy & Sell, etc being filled with unwanted cats, dogs, pups and kittens. Spaying/neutering is the best way to stop unwanted animals being drowned, dumped, starved, poisoned. It is the only way that anything is going to change in the future. For the animals and for us. We can talk all we like about what the public should be doing, i.e. spaying/neutering their pets, but if we the rescuers are ignoring the event on the calendar which promotes and publicises it, what is that saying? What message is that giving the public? That spaying/neutering isn't really that important after all?

We are never going to stem the tide of unwanted and abandoned cats and dogs any other way including rescue and rehoming. Rescue and rehoming is essential for the individual animal, often a matter of life and death, but we must also look at the bigger picture. We must start saving lives through prevention, tackling the problem at source. We must start planning for a better time for the animals and for ourselves. Spay Week is the perfect opportunity to do it.

It must also be asked why are we not actively helping people financially with the cost of spaying/neutering their pets for that week at least? Can we not stretch to issuing a few discount vouchers for one week out of the whole year? Are we seriously saying we don't have the funds for that purpose? What better way could we spend our funds than on helping to stem the flow of animals in the future? We all get grants at the end of the year, can we not put aside some of that money for that very purpose?

Do we really care, stress or worry about the number of unwanted kittens and pups that will be born this year, many of whom will die because there are no homes for them? We can complain bitterly (and let's be honest, we do) about what's going on in the pounds and streets of this country regarding stray and unwanted dogs and cats, about what the public are or are not doing, but for one week of the year, when we, the animal rescue community, have a real opportunity to do something, to change things for the better, why aren't we doing it? Why aren't we grabbing it with both hands and shouting it from the rooftops?

Spay Week Ireland 2011 is less than two weeks away. It should be huge, it should be massive. For the animals sake and our own. It can be, it's still not too late.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who rescues the rescuers?

If I posted up tomorrow here on this blog or on Facebook or wherever that I was overwhelmed, things were not going well at the rescue, funds were low, I was in over my head, I felt I really needed help, it would be interesting to see just how many people in the animal rescue community would step up to the plate and offer genuine help and support. I'd like to think many would, but I wonder.

Who rescues the rescuers? In the light of recent events, it's a question that needs to be asked. What happened in Cork is wrong on so many levels, yet it's a good opportunity to take a look at the world of animal rescue and see how things can and do go wrong so easily from the best of intentions.

Running a private animal rescue in Ireland is extremely rewarding but also immensely challenging. Looking in from the outside, it must look wonderful and very appealing to some people. Devoting your time and energy to taking in the waifs and strays, nursing them back to health and finding them new forever homes where they will be loved and cherished. But it is much more than that. Running an animal rescue is also about fundraising, marketing, public relations, people skills, communication skills, creativity and computer knowledge. If you're lucky you'll find wonderful volunteers who will help with all of the above free of charge, if not, you have to do it yourself.

Animal rescue is also about endless cleaning of pee, poop, vomit, snot and hairballs. It's about having a basic understanding of the animal you are rescuing and some knowledge of disease and infection control.

I believe most of us start out with the very best intentions. Unfortunately there is no manual to tell you what to expect when you set up a private animal rescue, so it can come as a shock when your phone starts ringing non-stop with calls from the public requesting help with unwanted, stray and abandoned animals. You find you are being stopped in the street, cornered in the supermarket, and once the address of the rescue gets out into the public domain, you will regularly come home or wake up to find boxes of kittens outside your door or dogs tied to your gate. There will be no courtesy phone call from the owner to apologise for leaving them or to offer a donation or give any background history as to their health, personality, or spay status. You are on your own.

You find you are being threatened and emotionally blackmailed if you say you don't have room/funds for more animals. "If you don't take these f***king cats/dogs, I'll starve/drown/dump them," is something you'll hear on a regular basis. With some callers, it's just an idle threat, with others, it's deadly serious. Emotionally it takes its toll. Saying No is difficult as you are acutely aware that in some instances you are the only hope these animals have to stay alive, but say no you must. You must know your limitations, what you can do and more importantly, what you can't do. You will be abused for it. "Aren't you the rescue?" "Isn't that your job?" "You're always out collecting money but when we need help, you can't do anything." The public mistakenly believe or care less that the rescue has endless money, endless time, tons of volunteers and acres of space when in truth you could never have enough of all four.

Couple this with seeing animals suffering the most appalling neglect and abuse on a regular basis. This too has an effect on your emotions. You wouldn't be human if it didn't. Shock, sadness, anger, frustration and outrage are emotions you experience on a regular basis and have to learn to live with and find ways to process and cope with in an effort to continue. Some days are filled with tears of joy but others are filled with tears of sadness.

Throw into this mix the less than complimentary comments from other rescues about what you're doing, what you're not doing, what you should be doing and how you should be doing it and is it any wonder some crack under the pressure.

Under such pressure, it's easy to cave in, make a wrong decision, take a rash chance and suddenly it's all unravelling before your eyes. It can happen so easily. "What's one or two more cats?" you think as you juggle animals in your minds eye. You've two cats going to their new home tomorrow, so yes you'll take those five being threatened with starvation. So you take them in but the home for the two cats falls through, then a fosterer has an emergency and can no longer foster that mum and 6 kittens for you and you have to take them back. Meanwhile someone dumps another mum and litter of kittens at your door. Suddenly you are overwhelmed and out of your depth. You appeal for help but none is forthcoming. You flash urgent messages on Facebook and animal forums begging for foster homes but everyone else is up to their eyes also. That fundraiser you planned didn't bring in as much funds as you'd hoped, some of the volunteers didn't show up. Now, some of the animals are getting sick and you can't afford the vets bills. You feel sick with worry and stress, getting out of bed in the morning is getting harder and harder.

Who do you turn too?

All of us who work in animal rescue in Ireland have so much in common, our experiences are the same. Talking to each other should be an avenue of support and understanding, but is it? We should be able to lift the phone and talk to someone in the same field who will listen, understand and not pass judgement, but can we? Or will we be met with criticism, derision or taunts of "told you so."

If we feel a fellow animal rescuer is in difficulties and needs support, is a heart to heart with a cup of tea at the kitchen table too much to ask or expect? Is rolling up our sleeves and lending a hand beyond our capabilities? After all, we are all in the same boat.

If a bit more compassion and support for our fellow rescuers were two things to come out of what happened in Cork, then at least something good would have been salvaged from that tragic situation.