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Cats love to scratch any surface they can dig their claws into, whether it’s a scratch post or your table legs.

Obviously, the latter isn’t ideal if you don’t want your furniture decorated with scratch marks, but it’s important not to tell your moggy off for this unintentional attempt at interior design.

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats as it helps them to keep their claws in good condition and mark the area as their territory. Glands between their paw pads leave behind a unique scent that, combined with the visual scratch marks, helps send a message to other cats that this area belongs to them. It’s not much different from us trimming our nails and putting locks on our doors.

To discourage your cat from leaving their mark on your soft furnishings, you need to encourage them to scratch something more suitable instead, such as a scratch post.


A scratch post is an important piece of cat furniture
The purrfect post

For the best chance of making this work, the first thing to do is choose a scratch post that will appeal to your kitty. Here are the main things to look for:

Height – Cats like to combine scratching with a bit of kitty yoga as it’s a great way for them to stretch their muscles. To help them get the most satisfying stretch possible, the post needs to be tall enough for them to be able to fully stretch up on their hind legs and still touch the top of the post with their front paws.

Weight – If they’re going to be leaning their full weight against it for a stretch, the post will need to be sturdy enough to support them without toppling over. Look for one with a wide, heavy base that is appropriate for your cat’s age (eg a kitten scratch post won’t hold up against an adult cat’s weight).

Type – Some cats, particularly mature moggies and those who are ill, can find it difficult to lift their paws up onto a scratch post, so they may prefer to use a scratching mat instead.

Thread – Cats usually like to do to big vertical scratches but this can be difficult on scratch posts with horizontal thread, so vertical thread is preferred.

Remember that if you have more than one cat, they will need to each have their own scratch post plus one extra so there is always one free when they need it.


Scratch posts with vertical thread are ideal
Location, location, location

Once you have a suitable scratch post, you need to put it somewhere where your cat will use it. Most cats like to scratch just after they’ve woken up, so next to their preferred snoozing spot is ideal. They also like to scratch near to their typical entrance or exit point to the house, eg the cat flap, so you could put it there instead. Even better, get several scratch posts and put them in different locations around your home so they always have one nearby.

Stopping unwanted scratching

If your cat has already found a particular piece of furniture or carpet they like to scratch, the presence of a new scratch post, no matter how perfect it is, is unlikely to deter them on its own. To encourage them to use their new post, first cover the area they are currently scratching with a protective cover and put their new post next to it.

You could also apply pheromone spray such as Feliway Classic to the scratched area to discourage them (just remember to check that the spray can be applied to the particular surface without damaging it further by carrying out a small test in a discreet area). Applying catnip or a pheromone product called FeliScratch by Feliway to the new scratch post is another way you can make it more appealing.

Once your cat is comfortable using their new scratch post, you can then move it to one of the locations mentioned earlier so they are more likely to continue using it, and remove the protective cover from the original scratch spot.

If you have any problems training your cat, take a look at our advice on the Cats Protection website or contact a qualified behaviourist.

See also:
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
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Grace, a young seven-month-old tabby kitten was reported to our helpline by a concerned cat lover as she was very thin, apparently pregnant and seemingly homeless, visiting their garden regularly.

Cats Protection’s dedicated Northampton team investigated immediately, and after an unsuccessful search for Grace’s owner she was taken in to their care. When getting checked over by the vet it was confirmed she only had about a week to go before she would be giving birth – she was rescued just in time.


After the arrival of her kittens, Grace became very ill with mastitis and had to be rushed to the veterinary hospital where she was put on a drip and given medication. Her temperature peaked at 40.9 degrees Celsius and the team were incredibly worried about her, fearing the worst.

While the team were concerned about Grace they were also hand rearing her kittens to make sure they continued to thrive while Grace was so poorly and unable to look after them. Had Grace given birth in the finder's garden it is highly likely that she and her kittens would all have tragically died.


After two days and nights at the vets, Grace was discharged with a follow up visit arranged for two days later. Despite the immediate treatment, Grace had a particularly severe bout of mastitis and even the vets had not seen such an extreme case.

Throughout all of this Grace was a model patient and thoroughly adored by all of the veterinary team. In typical cat fashion she made no fuss at all when they had to flush her wounds on a daily basis and re-dress the wounds on her tummy caused by the infected mammary glands.

Grace had such a hard start to life as a young cat but happily she has made a full recovery thanks to our dedicated veterinary team. Shortly after her recovery Grace was spayed and a lovely young family were set on giving her a new home.
 
Can you help us to care for cats like Grace? Visit www.cats.org.uk/support-us to find out how you can support our vital work.
 
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Evie was suffering terribly with cat flu when she was found by a dog walker. Her eyes were incredibly swollen and she was in a very bad way.


Cats Protection’s Downham Market team went to get Evie right away, easily catching her due to how sick she was. They made sure she was immediately seen by a vet to get her cat flu treated and stop her suffering.

They searched high and low for Evie’s owner but sadly no one came forward. After a month of treatment, including daily eye drops and lots of care, Evie’s cat flu cleared up.

Evie was so much happier, like a completely new cat. After her recovery Evie was neutered and ready to look for a new home. It didn’t take long for someone to see her gentle, loving nature.

She’s settled in well, making the bathroom sink her preferred place for a quick nap.


Can you help us to care for cats like Evie? Visit www.cats.org.uk/support-us to find out how you can support our vital work.
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A very generous gift in a will left to Cats Protection’s Horsham & District Branch has allowed the charity to open its first shop in the town.

The charity shop, which was officially opened on 16 June this year, will help secure the volunteer-run branch’s future and ensure it can help more cats in the area by generating extra funds.

The Cats Protection Horsham team outside the new shop
All profits from the shop go directly towards the branch’s work for cats including paying veterinary bills and providing them with warmth and food until they’re adopted to loving new homes.

As well as providing these much needed funds, Anna Portnoi, Branch Coordinator for the Horsham & District Branch, has said that the shop will also be a focal point for all branch activity and since opening has already created a buzz within the town and among its supporters.

The gift that has made the shop possible was left in the will of a local cat lover and keen supporter. Jan Tudhope, Horsham & District Branch Treasurer says: “Legacies are not only transformative for the branch but a lasting testament to the donor’s love of cats… their memory is very much alive.”

The new Horsham shop is just one of the ways in which gifts in wills help us to carry out our work. Without the kindness of people who remember Cats Protection in their wills we would not be the charity we are today. From finding forever homes for unwanted cats and kittens to inspiring the cat owners of tomorrow, these special gifts fund almost half of everything we do.

This week is ‘Remember a Charity in your Will Week’ – what better time to consider helping cats in this special way? Cats Protection can even help you with the cost of writing a will through our current free wills offer.

If you would like to find out more about leaving a gift to Cats Protection and our free will offer, please visit www.cats.org.uk/giftsinwills You can also email giftinwills@cats.org.uk or call us on 01825 741 271.
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Cats Protection’s Gateshead & Newcastle Branch is urging cat owners to neuter their pets after assisting with the traumatic births of two litters of kittens within 24 hours.


Pregnant cat Polly and her own pregnant mum Molly arrived in the branch’s care in July and soon gave birth to a litter each in quick succession, having 12 kittens in total.

Tragically, one of the kittens was stillborn and another had to be put to sleep at just a day old. Volunteers noticed it had a problem with its back legs and the vet advised that there was no other option.



Mum Polly also received veterinary treatment as she was struggling with the shock of motherhood – not surprising as she was only six months old herself. Days later, the volunteers took her back to the vet as she appeared to be unwell and were given the devastating news that she had lymphoma and had to be put to sleep.


Polly’s mum, Molly, took over the care of her daughter’s kittens as well as caring for her own. The poor cat had already had a litter earlier in the year, and then had 10 kittens to care for at once. Thankfully the volunteers were on hand to help out with bottle feeds.

 
Welfare Officer Barbara Featherstone said: “It is absolutely heart breaking that two cats have endured difficult births when they are just kittens themselves.

“There’s a myth that female cats need ‘just one litter’ before being spayed but this simply isn’t true. We would urge cat owners to neuter their pets from four months old to avoid a similar situation happening again.


“There are unfortunately thousands of unwanted cats and kittens in the UK and neutering is the only effective way to reduce this growing number.”

Although the kittens are undeniably adorable, their arrival put a huge strain on the branch as it meant that their fosterers were at full capacity and unable to take on any other cats in need.

“Kittens are cute but they are also hard work and their care takes time, effort and money,” said Barbara.


With 10 hungry mouths to feed and vet bills to pay, the branch is appealing for donations to help towards the cost of caring for the kittens until they can be rehomed.

If you are able to donate, please visit the branch’s Just Giving page.

When they reach eight weeks old, the kittens and Molly will be neutered and put up for adoption. If you would like to give them a home, please email fundraising@gateshead.cats.org.uk  


For more information about neutering, visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering

If you need financial assistance for neutering your cat, Cats Protection may be able to help through the charity’s means-tested neutering scheme. Contact our national neutering team on 03000 12 12 12 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-1pm) to enquire about a voucher.
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A group of kittens were minutes away from drowning when they were rescued from a watery hole during a torrential downpour in the Hebrides.

The five two-week-old kittens were discovered lying semi-comatose in a hole that was rapidly filling with rainwater in Lingerbay, Isle of Harris.

The kittens were rescued just in time
They were taken to Cats Protection’s Isle of Lewis & Harris Branch where volunteers provided them with round-the-clock care. All five survived and they have been named Drizzle, Droplet, Rain, Ripple and Wave.

Droplet the kitten needed round-the-clock care
Their ordeal began as the Hebrides was hit by downpours in the aftermath of Storm Ernesto. “We were contacted by a gentleman who said he could hear some kittens meowing from somewhere in his garden,” said Karen Cowan, the branch’s coordinator.

“One of our volunteers rushed round and when she arrived she could hear meowing from some undergrowth. Upon pulling it back, she found five muddy and sodden kittens piled on top of each other in a small hole.


Rain the kitten was left soggy and cold
“They were barely moving and the water level was rising rapidly around them. In just a matter of minutes the hole would have submerged.”

The kittens were rushed to the branch where volunteers bottle-fed the kittens and kept them warm using blankets and heat pads.

Drizzle the kitten enjoying a bottle feed
“Thankfully all of the kittens seem to have got over their ordeal as they are very affectionate and friendly,” said Karen.

The branch said that their mum is probably a feral cat who may have run off during the storm.


Branch Coordinator, Karen Cowan with two of the kittens

“There is a large population of feral cats living on the Isle of Lewis and Harris - we have already neutered 36 feral cats in the area in an effort to address this but clearly there are many more unneutered cats out there including the mum of these kittens,” said Karen.

“I’d urge cat owners on the island and in general to neuter their cats because it will reduce the number of unwanted kittens like these five who were born in such horrible and perilous conditions.”

The kittens will be found new homes when they reach nine weeks old.

If you would like to give a cat or kitten a home, please visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat
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When hairdresser Lucy Preston started chatting to the owner of the shop next door in Frome, Somerset, she didn’t realise that they had something very unusual in common.

Lucy had been talking to Truly Sopel, the owner of the fashion shop of the same name, on her lunch breaks from Ramshack Barbers, but it wasn’t until she looked at Truly’s Instagram account that she noticed someone familiar – a handsome ginger-and-white cat called Bono.

Lucy spotted Bono on Truly's Instagram page
Truly had posted lots of photos of her 15-year-old moggy, and Lucy recognised him as the same cat that used to belong to her partner Ryan Greenwood and mother-in-law Nicola Greenwood.

Nicola had cared for Bono since he was a kitten but nine years later had to give him up to Cats Protection’s Midsomer Norton & Radstock Branch because a change in her living circumstances meant she could no longer look after him.

Truly & Bono (left) with Lucy
He was then adopted by Truly, who he has been living with for the past six years. “He looked magnificent on the Cats Protection website,” said Truly. “Seeing him in all his fluffy glory, I simply had to adopt him. I kept his original name as he purrs when you call him.”

Bono's photo on the Cats Protection website
Lucy said: "We all miss Bono so much, I couldn't believe it when I saw his fluffy face on Truly's Instagram page. When I told my mother-in-law, she cried with joy.”

Truly added: "I've always wondered about his past and now I can find out. I'm hoping Mrs Greenwood will bring over some Bono kitten photos when she pops over for a cat cuddle and cup of tea soon.”

Fluffy Bono is lucky to have had two loving owners
If you would like to find your own feline friend, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat  
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Losing your beloved cat can be just as devastating as the loss of any other friend or family member.

Your feline friend is a constant source of comfort, joy and unconditional love, someone that gets you out of bed in the morning, welcomes you home after a hard day and is always there to listen to your worries and problems.

Not having that faithful companion around anymore, whether that’s because they have gone missing, passed away or you have had to make the difficult decision to give them up or have them put to sleep, can leave a big hole in your home and your heart.


Sadly, the loss of a pet isn’t always seen in society as a significant loss and others can struggle to show understanding and compassion for those grieving for an animal.

This can sometimes make you feel like you are unable to express your sadness and cause you to feel alone, but it’s important to allow yourself to grieve.

Here are some important things to remember when going through the emotional pain of saying goodbye…

1. There is no ‘normal’ way to grieve

Grief is a very personal process and everyone experiences it differently. You may feel sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, denial, shame, despair, confusion, tiredness or even experience physical sickness and pain, but all of these are completely natural.

2. There is no set time limit for grief

You might find that your grief subsides after a few weeks or months, or it could last for a year or more, but the intense feelings will eventually pass. Be patient and allow yourself to feel the sadness and pain. Only you will know when you’re ready to move on.

3. Look after yourself

It can be difficult to stay healthy and active when you’re grieving, but looking after yourself will help you to cope. Try to keep up your daily routine, eat healthily, and get plenty of sleep. Also avoid things that could ‘numb’ the pain, such as alcohol, as this will only make you feel worse when the numbness wears off.

4. Talking about it helps

Sharing how you feel with someone who understands how important your cat was to you can help you process your grief and cope with painful emotions. You could talk to a friend, family member or one of Cats Protection’s trained volunteer listeners who can provide emotional and practical support during this very difficult time. Our free and confidential Paws to Listen helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm on 0800 024 94 94. If your grief becomes complex or prolonged, you might find that speaking to a counsellor will help. Talk to your GP about finding a suitable counsellor for you.

You can find more advice and support in coping with the loss of your cat on the Cats Protection website where you can also pay a special tribute to your beloved feline friend on our Memory Wall.

For advice on how to support a friend or family member who is grieving for a cat, take a look at our tips here.



 
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When a friend or family member is heartbroken from the loss of their beloved cat it can be difficult to know how to help them through it.

For most cat owners, their moggy is a best friend and part of the family, so when they’re gone it can leave a massive hole in their life.

Whether their cat is missing, has passed away or they have had to give them up, it’s completely normal for them to grieve but it can be difficult for others to understand their feelings.


Sadly, the loss of a pet isn’t always seen in society as a significant loss and this can make people feel like they can’t express their emotions and cause them to feel alone.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with the loss of their feline friend, here are some ways that you can support them in their time of need…

1. Let them know that what they are feeling is normal

Grieving is a very personal process and everyone experiences it differently. They may feel sad or angry, blame themselves or others or even express guilt for the way they feel. They could also become more dependent on others, or withdraw and feel unable to relate. Whatever they are feeling, let them know that it is completely natural and give them the time and space to process their emotions.

2. Listen to them

The best way to provide support to someone who is grieving is to encourage them to talk to you and actively listen to what they have to say. Showing you understand will help them feel less isolated and let them know it’s ok to feel whatever they’re feeling. You could also recommend that they give Cats Protection’s Paws to Listen helpline a call. We have a team of trained volunteer listeners who can provide emotional and practical support for grieving cat owners. They are available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm on 0800 024 94 94.

3. Put yourself in their shoes

Try to see the situation from their perspective to understand what they might be feeling. This can be difficult, particularly if you have never experienced the loss of a pet yourself, but having empathy will help you to be more compassionate and encourage them to share their feelings.

4. Don’t try to ‘fix’ it

When a loved one is in pain, it’s only natural to want to fix it but this isn’t always the best thing for them. They need to be able to fully experience their emotions so that they can move through them and deal with their grief. Avoid trying to suggest things that might ‘cheer them up’ or saying that they could get another cat. You might mean well, but it won’t be very helpful for them in that moment. Often just being there for them is enough, you don’t need to say a word.

5. Don’t show judgement

Try not to seem shocked or surprised by what they say or the feelings they show, and avoid implying what they should or should not be feeling. Everyone handles grief differently and they need to know that whatever they are feeling is normal and healthy.

6. Avoid using clichés

It might feel natural to say statements such as “I’m sure you’ll feel better soon” or “You’ll be ok” but even though you mean well, they’re not very helpful to hear. Just listen, acknowledge their feelings and be there to hand them a tissue or give them a hug if they need it.

For more advice and support for coping with the loss of a cat, visit the Cats Protection website.

If you are struggling with the loss of a cat, take a look at our tips for coping with your grief.



 
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Today is GCSE results day with students finally getting their hard-earned grades. If you’re already thinking about your next step and applying to your chosen universities, there is plenty of time to get ahead of the game. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience, with the commitment and skills involved bound to make your application stand out from the crowd.

One of our valued volunteers, Henry, is just one of the young people devoting their time to Cats Protection. As a Cat Care Volunteer at the Cornwall Adoption Centre while studying at the University of Exeter, he explains why spending time with the cats is just one of the many reasons to volunteer.


 What made you decide to volunteer with Cats Protection?

I found starting university very stressful and needed an escape, something I could do to help relax and unwind and something that was rewarding too. I saw a video on Facebook of one of my flatmates petting a beautiful black cat – she had just begun volunteering with Cats Protection as the Cornwall Adoption Centre is only 15 minutes away from campus.
I immediately applied to be a Cat Care Volunteer. Helping with the morning cleaning at the centre, as well as spending the afternoon socialising with the cats helped to relieve a lot of stress. There was a positive shift in my overall mood and alertness as a result.

What does being a Cat Care Volunteer involve?

The main part of my role is the morning cleaning duties at the centre. Working with the Cat Care Assistants and other volunteers, I make sure the centre is clean to limit spread of diseases and provide a comfortable environment for the cats in our care. A usual day begins at 8am, where I’ll check the rota to see where I’ll be working and who I’ll be working with. Then the three main duties: feeding the cats, cleaning the front of the pens and cleaning the back of the pens, are shared among the team. Closely monitoring the behaviour, food intake, water intake and toileting habits of the cats is just as important, to ensure they are as healthy and happy as possible.

What course did you apply for at university? How do you think your volunteering skills helped with this?

I applied for History and Politics at the University of Exeter. I only discovered the true extent of my passion for animal care and animal welfare after starting university, which is why I am not studying a course more related to my volunteering role. Without university I would not have found my volunteering role, and would not have discovered just how rewarding I find being part of volunteering projects. Not only does volunteering help benefit and strengthen your university application, but university also provides a huge array of new, exciting, and exclusive volunteering opportunities.

How do you balance volunteering with your university course?

Balancing life at university is always tough at first; it just takes a little bit of time and practice. I found the easiest way for me to balance the two was to devote one day a week to my volunteering role, and the other six to my course. I found this to be a fair and enjoyable balance, although I did occasionally devote a little more time to my volunteering role when my university workload was lighter than usual, or if I was becoming too stressed and needed more time to unwind. I would encourage anyone who is trying to balance volunteering and a university course to experiment with different ratios of the two, and just see what feels the most comfortable. For me, university is not just about studying; it is about making the most of the opportunities that I’m given and pursuing whatever I am passionate about.

What is your favourite part about volunteering with Cats Protection?

It is almost too difficult to choose! I do enjoy the cleaning, because I like the structure and routine of it each week. And I definitely love socialising with all of the lovely cats and kittens that spend time in our care. But I would have to say that my favourite part of volunteering is the atmosphere; everyone, staff and volunteers alike, is so lovely and kind. Everyone shares the same passion and empathy for cats, and many other animals too. I quite often find myself bonding with my colleagues over the love of certain cats in the centre, and there are always plenty of interesting and funny stories about what the cats have been getting up to!

What are you looking to do after university? Do you have a specific career in mind?

Before I came to university I didn’t know what I wanted to do once I had graduated. I briefly considered further study but didn’t feel that it was right for me. Since volunteering with Cats Protection, I have become very interested in animal care and the charity and volunteering sector. I want to find something that I find as enjoyable and rewarding as the role I currently do and I think that being a Cat Care Assistant could be just that. But I know that I may not be fully qualified for a role that is very hands-on in animal care, so a role in the behind-the-scenes of the charity might be a more realistic career ambition.


There are a number of volunteer roles available with Cats Protection across the country – from Cat Care Volunteers to Social Media Volunteers, Publicity Volunteers and even roles in our local charity shops. If you want to find out more about volunteering with Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/find-an-opportunity

For more information on Cats Protection’s Duke of Edinburgh programme (suitable for those aged 14-24), visit www.cats.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/ways-to-volunteer/dofecp
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