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We took Belle & Tyga into rescue a few weeks ago. They were completely silent on the way here and that usually means that they’re either very chilled and confident, or too scared to protest. In their case it was the latter. They came out the carriers with wide eyes and proceeded to hiss and hide.

Initially they wouldn’t even eat. After day or two of being tempted with chicken and every other tasty thing they agreed to end their fast, but would scuttle out of eat when I left the room, disappearing when I came back with fresh water.

Gradually it came to be that Tyga would come out to eat whilst I was there, though Belle would still hide.  Then Tyga came into season.  It was a good opportunity to be more friendly with her .. and do lots of stroking ..  though it also felt a bit exploitative somehow when her behaviour was hormone driven.  However she writhed around like a pole dancer … craving affection … and when her hormones subsided, she remained friendly and affectionate.

tyga pole dance routine

Belle’s hormones didn’t take over, but she did become more confident and would come out to eat whilst I was there, and/or would allow strokes whilst she huddled in her hidey hole.  She then progressed to allowing herself to be tempted closer by treats.  Then started to join in with play time.

There’s something very rewarding about seeing them gradually grow in confidence like this.  It needs patience, but its soooo worth it.

The day finally came for them to be spayed … and not a day too soon, having listened to them howling love songs to a rather embarrassed Mikey in the next room for a couple of weeks.   In terms of being able to get some sleep myself it was wholeheartedly welcome, though I couldn’t help worrying that being at the vets for the day would set them back a bit.

Surprisingly it didn’t knock Tyga’s confidence at all.  It did affect Belle though … but in a positive way.   I don’t know if it was so awful that she was thankful to be home, or whether it was a day of facing her fears and realising she was safe and cared for despite her anxiety…. but she arrived back a changed purrrson.    She came for snuggles, was completely happy coming out for food, wanted to play.

From there they’ve gone from strength to strength. Now both waiting for me at the back of their bedroom door when I go in. Really to purr and snuggle, wanting to play.

Click to view slideshow.

All they need now is a new home with a bit of patience whilst they find their paws.

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After all the cats mentioned in part 1 had gone off to new homes or foster home we were without any rescue cats for a while.

When I say “a while” … it was the while it took to drive from Figgs’ foster home to the house where Tyga & Belle were living but unable to stay.  And then the while it took to get them home and settled into their new room before Mikey arrived.

They’re very different cats with different histories.  One thing they have (had!)  in common however was their unneutered status.  Mikey gently stank his room out with adolescent boy hormones, whilst the girls in their bedroom got all excited and sang him sweet love songs throughout the night.   I mention it because our bedroom is the one in between both of theirs … and most of us ended up downstairs sleeping on the sofa in an effort to escape it.

Tyga & Belle had lived in a home since being small kittens but both were very timid on arrival.

It was a few days until they would dare to come out of hiding when I went into their room, and longer until they’d actually eat whilst I was there.  Tyga then came into season and shamelessly pole danced around the chair legs whilst I watched.  She gained confidence that hasn’t been lost  since her hormones have settled.  Belle remains more wary but can be enticed out to play and to take treats from me.

Click to view slideshow.

Mikey on the other had had been living rough and then camping in someone’s garden for a few months.  He’d spent some time on waiting lists at other rescues, but when kids started to kick him around the lovely people who were caring for him pulled out all the stops and tried rescues further away from them …. and fortunately we had space.

He was clearly also anxious.  Like a frightened dog he tucked his tail between his legs.   When he arrived he cowered close to the lovely people who had brought him to us, wondering what was going to happen next.    Very quickly though he decided it was ok here and was full of love and snuggles.  So much so that it was hard to get any decent photos of him – as he refused to stand far enough away to point the camera at him.

Even attempts at selfies were blurred as he’d head butt the camera.  Bless him.   I was heartbroken to find that when I raised my voice just a little “for goodness sake Michael … we need a decent photo for your adoption ad” …. he slunk away, tail between legs, and crouched under his cat tree.

It produced a good enough photo to get him a lovely new home that he’ll go to this weekend … but it hurt both of us.  Thankfully chicken and dreamies helped to restore him.   When his new family came to meet him he tucked his tail under again and stood close to me ……… but only for a while.  Then he decided they were the best thing .. and delighted in sitting on my lap being fussed by a family of four (soon to become five).   Hopefully he’ll never need to worry like that again.

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8 Lives: Sheffield 8 Cat Rescue by Accidental Fosterer - 2w ago

Most of you will be aware of the adverts saying “a dog is for life … not just for christmas” … the same applies to cats of course.  I’m sure there are still people who get kittens for Christmas but thankfully we didn’t have to deal with anyone looking for a last minute ill-conceived Christmas present this year.  What we DID have was a collection of lovely people who were waiting until all the chaos of the festive period was over before they welcomed a new family member into their homes.

Lily was very quickly reserved …. and delighted to land a purrmanent home that complemented the colour of her jacket purrfectly.

The shy little F twins (Felix & Fritz) were reserved by a lovely young couple to go to their new home after their New Year celebrations.  They came several times to visit, bringing a large stash of chicken bribes.  The residents loved them!  When the little boys went to their new home they were scared and hid for a while, but after a few days started to realised they’d landed on their paws.

We’ve already told you about Merlot finding his furever home with Karis who came to stay over Xmas.

Figgs had a homecheck with a nice family .. but very close to a main road and we had to say no.  Then he had another homecheck  – a lovely couple in a good cat friendly location.  They came to meet him and it went well.  Figgs rolled around showing them his tummy and explained how gorgeous he is, whilst his room mate Mr Tiggs hid under the desk.   We thought the deal was done.  Figgs trundled off to sit on the windowsill, we talked about moving dates.  Just as we were about to leave, Mr Tiggs rushed out from under the desk and threw himself at them, proclaiming undying love.  It was an awkward moment.   A promise had been made to a confident “love anyone at the drop of a hat” Figgs, but a shy Mr Tiggs had sat and weighed it all up, thought about these people and decided he could trust them.

They went away to decide.   I thanked my lucky stars I didn’t have to make that decision.   We learned later that tears had been shed and “Sophie’s Choice” mentioned more than once.    Often where there’s a choice to be made I have a clear idea of which option I’m hoping for.  In this instance I didn’t.  Both cats quite different but either could have been happy in this home.  We weren’t left wondering for long.  A message came back that Mr Tiggs had won the home.   It kind of upholds our theory about shy cats …. they’re harder work, but there’s something very special and precious about winning their trust.

Figgs took it reasonably well … disappointed of course and worrying a bit about being black & white and his chances in the rehoming stakes in view of that, but we reassured him that he’s adorable and the right opportunity would come along.

It did!  Though it happened in the most surprising way!  Our cleaner (a previous 8 Lives adopter) came in the following week and it seems he poured out his sorry tail to her.  We came home from work to a message from the cleaner and the extraordinary sight of Fig hastily packing his bags.  After some discussion we all agreed that Fig would go to stay with said cleaner on a foster care basis … pending the agreement of resident cat and husband    We advised slow and cautious introductions.  However the resident cat invited him to dinner on the first evening (bless him)

and Figgs seems to have been pleased to accept.  It kind of went from there really.

The adoption papers will be signed this weekend

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People who know our rescue will know that we have a pretty firm policy of only rehoming kittens in pairs. It’s less daunting to go with a play mate, and more fun, and more cats find safe loving homes that way. We’ve made a couple of rare exceptions last year for specific reasons. One of them was Karis. She came into rescue on her own, found as a stray at only a few weeks old. We hoped to pair her up with another kitten in rescue and rehome them together.

karis

You may remember over the summer that she struck up a lovely bond with little Sparkle, our disabled kitten. In our dreams we hoped they’d find a new home together. In reality, sadly, Sparkle became more poorly and went to Rainbow Bridge. We’d have tried again to find a buddy to go with Karis had the infamous tummy bug not struck.  On balance it was best for Karis to get away from cross infection and have time to recover. So off she went to a lovely new home who understood about her tummy and loved her none the less. Time went by, her tummy settled and her mummy needed to go abroad for several weeks to visit family. Not wanting to leave Karis all alone during this time we agreed that she would come back here for Xmas/ New Year.

It so happened that we had another single kitten here .. Merlot. He arrived at the end of kitten season and although we tried to find another single kitten to come into rescue and pair up with him .. we failed.

You might guess what we were thinking … especially in the season of goodwill. They met on the day we put the Christmas tree up:

The friendship was a little hesitant at first. Merlot had playmates already with the little F twins, and Karis is a little older and not sure she wanted to play with silly little boys. However Felix & Fritz, although friends with Merlot, could as twins be a little excluding of others and Karis knew a good game when she saw one …. so ….

It was possibly the magic of Christmas Eve, all sitting together watching for Santa that cast its spell on them and soon after they were playing happily together.

Happily Karis had already been told that if there was someone she liked here and they liked her, she could take them home with her, and that’s just what happened.

Here he is on Karis’ kitchen table (which of course is now also his) delighted to find that mummy’s favourite drink has been named after him!

And here he is finding Karis’ tail irresistible as a toy … and learning that on balance its safer to play with the rug.

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I said I was looking forward to missing the cats here whilst away .. and I did!  Oddly enough it put me in mind of people who give up smoking and say part of the problem is just not knowing what to do with their hands if they don’t have a cigarette.   What DO you do if there aren’t any ears to scratch or toys to wave? and when you don’t have to protect your food / drink / keyboard / pen from being messed around with?

 Jess our cat sitter was really good at keeping in touch.  I think she pitched it just about right.  If there’s too little communication its easy to worry what’s happening, too much communication and it doesn’t feel like a break.   I loved that each message started with “all is well” or some variation on that theme, so I could enjoy reading the message without worrying.  There were a few messages just checking out the best way to do something which gave the reassurance that things were getting done and she was thinking about and caring about what she was doing.   Most messages were just day to day sort of updates about what the cats were up to.  I loved them!  They were so obviously from someone who was taking her time with the cats and making a point of getting to know them.  About Honey grooming Flipper, and Flipper barging in on a snuggle session with Honey.   About Henderson and methods for giving him his thyroid tablets.   About Amber and her wariness of strangers, and of course the crazy kittens and their antics.

We heard about who had been sick … its strange what you miss when you’re away from home.   And who had stolen a packet of treats and ripped the plastic packet all over the floor (no mystery who that was … Flipper!).   Jango had staged a battle with his usual opening tactic … sitting on the stairs and not allowing anyone past.  Well done for managing that one Jess!  it takes a brave and gentle soul to diffuse that situation.

Jango spoiling for a fight

What made me giggle was the little Fs.  Much as I’d tried to plan things around the holiday it was only after I’d booked Felix & Fritz in for their first vaccination that I realised their second would be due while I was away.   Aunty Jenny volunteered to come over and take them for that.   They were very timid at that point so I wondered how she’d manage with catching them.  I logged into kitty cam at some point and their bed was on the floor and the cat carrier gone.   It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the scuffle in the scenario.

Well done aunty Jenny! Not the easiest task to have delegated to you x Delighted to arrive home to find little Fs had grown in confidence and although still a bit hand shy now love it when they’re stroked and purr like little helicopters (ok ok helicopters don’t purr .. you know what I mean!)

Sadly (and perhaps just a little happily) the day came to return home. Another long long flight in the direction of multiple breakfasts, a stressy drive home over the snake in quite thick fog and we were back! Jet lagged and exhausted we prepared ourselves for the mess that would await us. …… and ……….. well …. it wasn’t there! No dirty dishes in the sink, no grubby litter trays … not even the ever present carpet of cat litter on the floor.  Just a collection of happy cats waiting for cuddles and to help unpack.

Click to view slideshow.

I’ve always been fortunate to have cats who are pleased to see me come home rather than ones who sulk that I’ve been away. Not sure who I thought would be first on my lap for a cuddle (I kind of hoped it would be Jango no no no I didn’t say that …. I don’t have favourites) but wasn’t quite expecting it to be Flipper. She makes out she’s big and tough most of the time. Rufus thought about fighting her for first place but then opted to exchanging scents with his penfriend Mr T on the suitcase. Honey and Henderson piled on for hugs. Amber waved shyly from a distance. Jango firmly planted himself on top of the case and announced that the human would not be going anyway again for a long time.

Very grateful to Jess for caring for them and keeping them in order and for not running away with Raffles or Henderson who both fell in love with her. Once we were safely home and she’d had chance to get over the shock of them all she posted on her 3 Strings page about having cared for the 10 cats in our household. A lovely post about getting to know their different purrsonalities and the joy of caring for kittens. But also something that made me think:

So that’s been 208 litter trays de-lumped; 130 bowls of water changed, and 130 packets of cat food opened, 26 tablets administered and 1 litter tray washed out due to a ‘pebble-dashing’ incident…. Phew!

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I’m sure I’m not the only person who has complicated feelings about holidays.   On a superficial level of course we think of them as whole heartedly positive; they’re the cure for feeling tired, fed up, stressed, and conjure images of sunshine, relaxation and fun.   They also occasion chasing around tying ends up at work, preparation and packing, airport car parking options and a mild obsession regarding the whereabouts of one’s passport.   We stockpiled so much cat food it will keep us going until Xmas, sent poor Jess our cat sitter so many notes she must have rued the day she met us, and labelled half the house showing where there was spare bedding, litter trays, medication, batteries for the cat flap.

Rufus helping to pack

On balance we concluded that we were looking forward to missing the felines for a while. A break from cleaning litter trays, vet runs, medication, playing silly kitten games (yes .. really … you can have enough of this)

Finally the day came. Did the short hop from Manchester to Zurich and got reassuring message from Jess saying she there for first visit. Then the long joint aching flight to Singapore. Arrived shattered and all movied-out … there’s time to watch at least 5 films. So lovely to be met by my friend at the other end and go home with her. Her feline residents are the purrfect hosts. Mr T met me at the door and checked over my luggage.

Ms F meanwhile was putting the final furry touches to my bed

Ms F

Oddly enough I don’t think we saw any other cats during the time in Singapore, though spotted several once in Bangkok. These guys were hanging out near the flower market and looked like they’d dropped lucky with finding someone to care for them.

While these has opted for a more spiritual life at Wat Pho.

However a rather more earthly drama seemed to unfold as what I assume to be mum assertively discussed the lack of child support payments from dad and explained in very plain language that there would be no more children until he’d got his act together.

The photo I was disappointed to miss was the puss who moments ago walked along this row of Buddhas and stopped to sharpen his claws on one of the pedestals. No disrespect intended towards the Buddha …. I just love the way cats have no sense of what is significant to us and do their own thing regardless.

These guys demonstrated another way of getting by, living close to a small street market. There were several more cats hanging around. No one seemed to making a great fuss of them, but no one pushing them away either.

It made me go to google to try to find out more about cats in Thailand and what the situation is with rescue there.  I was interested to read a comment that said that whilst in many countries the stray cats and dogs would be rounded up and if not claimed or adopted would be euthanased, the Buddhist culture in Thailand forbids killing of any living creature, so they’re left to roam and breed.    It’s between a rock and a hard place I guess.   Sobering to think that however tough rescue is here it’s nothing compared to what rescues in some other countries face.

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We love our little Rufus to bits … of course we do.   Hand reared from just over a week old  and recently had his first birthday.  He’s just a little spoiled, very much loved and a serious pain in the hind quarters.  Typical teenager … wearing his ears according to the latest fashion which he thinks is cool …….. the rest of us just glance and smirk.

Obviously he’s still just a kitten and wants to play but he’s  been a nightmare with the more nervous resident adults.  Poor Amber our semi feral just hides away/stays outside, but I have some very distressing mental images of old Uncle Henderson cowering in front of him.   No photographic images … standing photographing an old man being mugged rather than running to his aid just isn’t acceptable.

When little Karis was at her worst with her tummy bug and had to be in a crate to stop spread of infection he was a little horror! Sticking his hands through the bars to steal the digestive support food that he’d previously point blank refused to eat when he’d got an upset tum.

rufus stealing karis food - YouTube

Thankfully people like Flipper will turn on him and put him in his place, and the normally mild mannered Honey has found it in herself to swear loudly at him.  Honey’s disapproval of the way I’ve brought him up is very evident some nights when he’s being a brat.

Now the nights are drawing in and its getting colder its a less acceptable option to sit down the bottom of the garden to avoid him, so for Amber and Hendo’s sake, after a few ‘incidents’ we put him in the ‘time out’ crate for a little while the other night.

Ru having time out

It’s not an awful space …there’s a comfy bed, litter tray, water, food and toys. The serious revenge though was when Flipper did exactly what he’d done to Karis and stole his food through the bars.

It meant that for once Henderson could settle himself on the back of the sofa and not worry about being ambushed.

Hendo safe & settled

Serious followers of our blog may be wondering where the other purrmanent resident is in this story. Really serious followers will know that the only place Jango would be is IN BED. Somehow he appears to have cut a line between being bullied and slapping Rufus around the head. Perhaps Jag has beaten him up whilst I’ve not been watching .. but my theory is that Ru sees his Uncle Jag as a role model and has simply agreed to lay down and sleep.

Ru learning to do mega sleeps

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