From Shetland Life, May 1986, No.67
by Christine Henry
At the beginning of this year, the group’s morale was boosted when a lady offered to run a small cat shelter for us on her croft in Walls. Its suitability and plans are under consideration at present – fingers crossed! Once it is built this shelter will provide temporary residence for cats in our care whilst new homes are sought.
One of our busiest members, our hard-working secretary, resigned from her post earlier this year, much to our horror. However, she has assured us of continued support and assistance, and we have been very fortunate in finding Mrs Gardiner to replace her.
Last year our group found homes for all 29 cats and kittens “in care”. Some came from people who were unable to find homes for their cat’s kittens; some had been left at the vet’s office to be “put down”; some were pets their families could no longer keep for various reasons, and others were strays.
Curiously, most of the strays we came across were not genuine strays at all. One in particular, a massive black and white lad, was found straying up north by people in the area, and after some time we were asked if we could help. Not only was he a big softie who loved attention, but he knew how to beg! Because of his size – he was not fat, simply a great big cat – his foster mum named him “Sherman the Tank”. At present he is settling into his new home in Hamnavoe with his name reduced to Sherman.
It is disheartening to find affectionate cats and sometimes kittens becoming strays through no apparent fault of their own. Special efforts are made to ensure they find good, secure homes, especially when their trust in mankind remains intact. Sadly one little stray kitten (called Hope by those who looked after her), was found to be terminally ill when vetted, and was put to sleep.
Between the months of January and March, only adult cats were referred to us. They were a mixture of ordinary moggies, fluffies, Sherman, and one Siamese. Our foster mums, who, like us all, give their time voluntarily, have been of tremendous help to the group. However even they could not accommodate all of the requests for assistance. Many owners were willing to keep their cats while we looked for homes, while others, unfortunately, had to make their own arrangements for their surplus.
The possibility of building a shelter has put pressure on our fund-raising efforts. Last year we raised £969, raising the Shelter Fund to £769. This year’s events began in March with a fascinating film show of life in Shetland in the old days, by Alister Smith. It was held in the Whiteness & Weisdale Hall, and after tea and biscuits at the sale which followed, raised £153. Thanks to all who baked and contributed goods with special thanks to Alister. This was followed by a Bring & Buy/Coffee Morning at the Mossbank Hall on 29th March.
In the pipeline are an auction by Harry Hay in Lerwick – when we have enough items – and a table at the Craft Fair at Mossbank in summer. Alister Smith has rashly promised to give another film show in autumn and we hope to include cat films in the programme. Dates and times will be well advertised when known.
With spring approaching, the kitten season will soon be upon us, presenting once again many unwanted kittens. Should you have an unneutered cat or six-month-old kitten and do not intend to breed, why not consider neutering? Not only should your cat’s health benefit, but by reducing the number of kittens in Shetland, more homes become available to those that are born. Think about it. Also, your cat will cease to be a “problem” and become an enjoyable pet.
Since having cats of my own and seeing those handled by the Cats Protection League, I would never encourage anyone to take a kitten which was to be kept on its own. My first cat, Rascal, a black and white character, was an only cat for the first year of his life. He was a mischievous rascal; we could not weed the garden without being attacked, and he lost a couple of his nine lives in his first year. However, the fun and companionship he received from the kitten which became our second cat was immeasurable. Sadly Rascal died last year and we now have two little brothers who beat each other up around the house and then collapse asleep in a heap. They are very amusing. Two together, close in age, are best. Introducing a kitten to an older, established cat has to be done tactfully and carefully, or fur will fly in earnest.
When asked for a Cats Protection League kitten, I always say, ‘Two are better than one’, and so far those who took two have not regretted it.!
I hope to see you at our fund-raising events, and if you can contribute in any way, don’t hesitate to get in touch.