Can you give a Bluebell Cat a ‘fur-ever’ home?
Date published: 23 August 2017
Bluebell Cat Rescue and Rehoming - Betty
Bluebell Cat Rescue and Rehoming in Littleborough are in urgent need of ‘fur-ever’ homes for their feline occupants, plus donations for vet bills, wood-based cat litter, and food for both kittens and adults.
Although nine cats were rehomed last week, the sanctuary currently has 57 cats and kittens in their care, meaning they are at full capacity, with no space to accept cats for rehoming, or funds to help them into foster care. Their numbers have rapidly increased over the last week, following the trapping of around half a dozen of cats in Milnrow, all believed to originate from one colony who were being fed.
Trustee at Bluebell, Naomi Rhys Thomas, commented: “One box of kitten food pouches costing just £2 will feed a small kitten for nearly a week.
“We’re quite happy to run around, but we need help and donations. If you can’t rehome a cat, please donate or spend some time with us. Two hours a week with the kittens will free up two hours for us so we can do homechecks, vet visits, or trap cats. We can also use that time to advise people as we’re often the first buffer between a person and a vet.
“We need people to stop buying cats and kittens off Facebook and Gumtree because it only encourages breeding.
"We have seen a lot of viruses increase, like cat flu, because people do not realise how important inoculations are.”
In a typical week, Naomi can visit the vets three times, but on a bad week, or after an influx of rescues, this can be as many as five visits. Vet visits alone typically cost around £1,000 - £1,200 per month, with one visit ranging between £15 and over £800 depending on the course of treatment.
She added: “We had one rescue who was brought in with fleas because she was sold as a ‘flea-free’ breed. One cat required over £800 pounds’ worth of treatment across eight months. He’d come from a cat hoarder and had three infections. In those instances, we get the RSPCA involved.”
Bluebell follow full veterinary procedures at the rescue, cleaning each pen between occupants and not cross mixing. In addition, Naomi offers a mobile microchipping service, costing just £5, and Cats Protection operate a national scheme to control the cat population, offering financial assistance to reduce the cost of neutering to as little as just £10, or even for free. Pet cats can be neutered from around four months old, the same age as when a female cat can become pregnant.
She said: “Please neuter your cats and microchip them. Microchipping also helps us when we trap cats. You can’t tell if a female cat has been neutered without waiting a season or by internal examination, but a microchip can provide that information.
“Even one litter of kittens significantly increases the risk of cancer in cats, and it’s much safer to neuter them. A male tom cat can wander for up to five miles when he is not neutered. Cats Protection have a scheme where they give out vouchers for those on benefits so it can cost nothing to have your cat neutered.”
Cats Protection claims, in a period of only five years, a single female cat, producing three litters per year, with an average of four to six kittens per litter, can be responsible for 20,000 descendants.
Female cats that are spayed before their first heat will have a reduced chance of mammary cancer, and will be unable to develop pyometra, which is a serious uterine condition that can cause death. Also, an unwanted pregnancy in an already ill or aging cat can be fatal. Male cats which have been neutered have less chance of being injured in fights over females, or of developing prostate problems.
Unneutered toms tend to be larger and generally more confident than neutered males. They tend to maintain a large territory area, as they will cover a large area looking for females that are coming into season. Because it is so important for toms to maintain a large territory to reproduce, they are also more likely to fight with other cats and leave urine spray marks inside or outside. Wandering toms can also become lost and never return home, or cross too many roads. If not killed outright by a car, they may wander too far for their owner to find them and help with any injuries.
Microchipping can also help provide peace of mind for the owner of a cat that has been killed on the road. If taken to a nearby vet, they can scan for a chip and locate the owner if the details are up to date.
Bluebell also offers advice from how to tell if your cat is dehydrated to the best flea or worm treatment for your cat dependant on age, plus help with both prescriptions and using herbal remedies, such as slippery elm powder for diarrhoea.
Now in the process of becoming a registered charity, Bluebell Cat Rescue and Rehoming was set up in January this year by Naomi, who has given up her high-flying law career to look after the felines full time.
Naomi had rehomed cats previously, having a brother who runs a feral sanctuary, Oakfield. Her mum also helped rescue cats and, after seeing how mentally and physically draining it could be, vowed that would never be her life.
However, all that changed when a ‘little scrap of a cat’ called Betty entered her life on 17 August 2016.
Naomi, who has 11 cats of her own, explained: “She was thin as a rake and covered in fleas. You could feel her ribs like a xylophone. The lovely lady, Vicky, who had found her said she was scrabbling for scraps near a metalworks and she had to pick her up but couldn't find anyone to take her in. She tried all the usual sources and everyone said no.
“I had just lost my beautiful girl Lola the day before and was in pieces. Vicky was sobbing in my hallway so I said I would bring her into my spare room until I could find her a home. She was named Beth after Vicky's mum. She became Betty to us, as she was cheeky like Betty Boo.
“We sorted her fleas and worms and she started to put on weight. We did not know whether she had been neutered or not, so had to wait for a season as we didn't want to risk an exploratory check in her condition.
“I found her a home, but a few days later got a call to pick her up as she was running up and down her home and biting her ankles. 'She is not quite right'.
“She came back to us and the Toby/Betty bond was getting stronger. When I broached homing her, Toby had tears in his eyes: so she stayed.”
After taking care of Betty, Naomi realised she wanted to do more, and in January, Bluebell was officially born.
Naomi added: “I invested and saved full time to do this. It is the best job in the world and better than any trial I have ever won.”
Since they started, Naomi, her husband Toby and friend Irene Leighton have rehomed over 60 cats and kittens, conducting home checks, and rehoming each feline with the full package of neutering, worm and flea treatments, microchipping and a full set of vaccines.
In the coming weeks, Naomi is also opening a non-profit café in Todmorden, aptly named ‘Meow’, where every penny will go into helping their rescues.
If you can help Naomi and the team by rehoming a cat, providing physical donations or simply by volunteering some time, contact Bluebell on firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate via PayPal, select the Friends and Family option and enter the Bluebell email address: email@example.com