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I think the picture above sums up our summer, a mixture of lots of clouds and rain with sudden days of sun struggling to show itself, in fact - life has been a bit like that too with a mixture of good things happening and sad losses too.
In June we had our usual stall at the Caterham Carnival and in spite of a sudden downpour, it raised an impressive £336. As always, my grateful thanks to everyone who donated items and supported it and the wonderful team who run the stall and put in an astonishing amount of effort to make our stalls the success they are.
Our patron Peter Egan popped in with a much appreciated gift of food and treats, kindly donated from another Rescue that couldn’t make use of it. Here is Peter at the helm of the wheelbarrow with some of the goodies. Then we went up the field so he could meet our dogs and as you can see, he had a fascinating conversation with Kismet who doesn’t usually take to new people, but the dogs recognised a genuine animal lover.
Many thanks to the Rotary Club of Caterham Harestone who approached us after we were advocated as a local good cause by long time friends and supporters of ours.
I was delighted to accept their very kind donation to pay for our Christmas newsletter, what a practical and much appreciated way of helping. Here I am being presented with the cheque from their Club President Graham Woodcock, with Gershwin and Tootsie being happier getting in the picture than me !
I know this newsletter is later in the year than usual but to explain a little about one aspect of life running the Sanctuary without Jacky. When there were two of us, we shared the active jobs and the paperwork although gradually as Jacky’s health worsened, she did more paperwork and I did the on my feet jobs, now I do both.
The animals always take precedence obviously, and just as I thought I was able to catch up on office work before Easter after I’d been working at getting the newsletter done, my Purdey dog ( 16yrs ) was taken ill. After 10 days ( and nights ) nursing care and vet visits when she tried to get better, she decided it was time to let go, and she died ( in my arms ) in the early morning hours. As you can appreciate, I didn’t get much done that day other than basic care & cuddles for everyone else. However I do love receiving your letters and news but am not very prompt with my replies and apologise if you’ve been affected by late correspondence, e-mails, thanks or news about sponsored pets.
Life over the years has always been make do and mend through necessity of course but thanks to your continued donations and support, as well as sad losses of supporters who have kindly left a legacy for our Sanctuary to be able to continue, I have been able to start getting all sorts of work and improvements made around the Sanctuary.
This is both exciting and exhausting, planning and organising the future jobs that need tackling while normal life has to continue. You’ll read about the cat pen on pages 4 - 5 and the next newsletter will have an update on the cat run which is currently being worked on. Thank you everyone for making a difference with your support.
Various rescue organisations worked together when I was asked about the possibility of providing a retirement home for an elderly cat who had found herself in need. The RSPCA stepped up to pay for the initial vet treatment, while Cats Protection then needed to find her a safe place to go and paid for her further vet visit, and Chaldon accepted her. I named her Thyme as she had been about for a long time but sadly, her heath issues were not a straightforward tooth problem but aggressive cancer, so Thyme had a lovely couple of days of a soft bed and soft food over the weekend before seeing our vet on Monday to see what the problem was, and the decision to end her suffering had to be taken. She only touched my life for a short time but had wriggled her way deep into my heart.
Another co-operation was with Animal Protection Trust who had a feral cat I offered to help. I went to collect Tiddles as he was then called, but by the time he’d done the wall of death, swinging around the pen to avoid being caught, he was re-named Tarzan ! Thankfully our very patient vet was a star and squeezed Tarzan in to be castrated immediately instead of having to further stress him a couple of days later. He’s only just arrived here so early days for settling in.
The four hens that arrived earlier this year have settled in very well, and the older girls we thought had retired from egg laying. However one morning I went in with their breakfast to find only three hens, no sign of Bob. There are not many places to hide - or so I thought. I searched high and low while the other three hens followed me wondering what I was doing. I found Bob who for nearly a fortnight had been using a hidden corner as there were 13 eggs in there. The hiding place was blocked and Bob happily took to using the proper nest box for egg laying.
However another morning when I went in, Nanette wasn’t about and sadly she had died overnight. There was nothing apparently wrong with her the day before but her sister had done the same in their previous home.
Hector came to us ten years ago as a semi wild cat with an attitude but became a bed loving lad although he always remained wary and ready to run if he thought it was flea treatment time. As his health deteriorated, I had to accept there was little I could do about treating him stress free, other than keeping him on a diet that he enjoyed.
Another one I have the same difficulty with is Merlin ( dog ) who now has heart failure. It’s supposed to be cats that are hard to dose with tablets but Merlin is an expert on spitting out his medicines, so reluctantly, I’ve also had to accept that like Hector, he may not live as long without them - but he’s happier not being stressed. Merlin is still with us and enjoying a quiet lifestyle while Hector succumbed and left us recently - in a nod to your early life Hector, I hope you have a fish pond where ever you are now.
What an exciting event happened early April. A new cat pen arrived, thanks to a legacy, donations and fundraisers efforts. Without everyone’s support, this transformation would not have been possible.
The old cat pen came into being after Sprite (right) and Spirit arrived eleven years ago. They had been rescued as feral kittens on the streets, but the advice given to the rescuer was to put them back on the streets ( unneutered ) or put them down, obviously neither acceptable solutions. So they travelled down to us from the Midlands and were soon adapting to being somewhere safe. They weren’t ready for spaying ( and freedom ) but needed more space to be kittens and so the idea of a pen from my bedroom was born so they could be indoors or out as they chose.
As usual here, this was a bodge and make do affair made of what we had available which was wood and wire aviary panels. Sprite & Spirit thoroughly enjoyed using it and progressed to having their freedom ( after spaying ) and for a while that is how the pen continued to be used - for new residents to take the next step to integration in the family after their settling in time. Over the years, the pen and attached run had grown in usefulness as some of the new arrivals decided to be perfectly happy in there, and either refused to come out or kept going back in, so the pen grew to having both a transient population and a permanent one. There was a cat flap through my bedroom wall and later a second, smaller ferret pop hole ( photo left ) was added when Fifi ferret arrived on our doorstep, as part of the cat pen was also adapted into outside space for her and her friend Java.
With the deterioration of the now rotting structure, and accepting that not all cats want to be free range, it was therefore necessary to provide them with the best alternative that is suitable. I hadn’t expected to look at purpose intended solutions and it wasn’t until funds were raised plus finding the firm Peticular Pens that I made progress with plans and my imagination took flight at what might just be achievable.
There was a lot of planning and coordinated effort for the actual event of course with Andrew & Suzy ( thank you both ) being invaluable in the preparations as the cats had to be moved out of the old pen for it to be dismantled and the base prepared for the new one. It was an interesting three days watching the transformation, but the best result of course was seeing the cats benefiting from their new cat pen.
These photos show the same corner of the house.
Before After Inside, ready for use
Exploring Settling in Approving comment
So we now have a cat conservatory, a thing of beauty in my eyes, seeing the cats enjoying their new space and loving the views they have over the land, regardless of what the weather is doing.
To me it represents so much more than ‘just’ a cat pen but an accumulation of all your support over the years to be in this position. Thank you.
One early morning I was pottering around while the dogs were still in bed and I heard a gentle low muttering from a dog. I went to see what was the matter expecting it to be someone asking to go out and found big ‘brave’ Max sitting in his bed waiting to be saved - from Emily dog who was apparently in love and whispering sweet nothings in his ear. I did laugh while rescuing Max from such ‘danger’ but what a good lad to so nicely ask for help.
Another time Emily asked Max for a game and he responded enthusiastically and so gently interacted with her when he could so easily have knocked her over with his exuberance - he’s not known for respecting personal boundaries but was a perfect gentleman with her. However, when it’s his mate Phoenix or new friend Maple, he is his usual livewire lunatic of a bouncing bomb !
Let me introduce Emily who was a stray, and all those involved in her rescue and our vet, didn’t know if we could help her or not but thankfully we gave her a chance. Our concern was if she could have a decent quality of life because of her multiple health issues. She has probably had a road accident that caused serious injury to her hips, and surgery was not an option as her pelvis would probably crumble. She was struggling to walk and was very thin as she laid at the side of a road, waiting to die.
Emily has been a frequent visitor to the vets, from the initial x-rays, to removal of her painful blind eye that had glaucoma, to in due course, being spayed. After all that was sorted, she has now added being hypothyroid so is on daily tablets and regular blood tests - and not forgetting the chiropractor trips too which also help her so much.
To see her now as she trots across our field, out of pain and wagging her tail and loving life, is an absolute joy. It’s a pleasure to welcome her to the family here and to sort out physical rather than mental issues for a change. She is a wonderful gentle soul and with your ongoing support, we’ve made a difference for Emily.
Poem not mine but sentiments most definitely are.
I AM RESCUED
You didn’t care how I looked or if I’m a pedigree or not.
You showed me I am not despicable or worthless and that I am loved.
You brought back the sparkle in my eye and the shine of my coat.
You restored my spirit so my tail can wag again.
You took a chance on me to see what I can become.
You gave me a place to call home and a family to call my own.
A few years ago a little cat arrived, one of our surgery specials who was taken to be put down as she’d pee’d on the owner’s bed - as cats may do if there is something upsetting them, either physical or mental. She had a severe issue with hands and it took a long time for her to want to be stroked - goodness knows what had happened in her past to make her like that.
Jetta now shares my bed and asks to be stroked but it was a delight when she felt able to start playing with me rather than on her own. I’m very careful to not use my hands as play things with cats as that is how they learn the wrong way to approach hands and humans get hurt. But - one day Jetta was rolling around on my bed and I carefully sneaked my hand under the bed cover and wiggled a finger or two, and she leapt on it with delight. This has grown into a regular event, always with me keeping my hand covered so the wriggling has nothing to do with hands. This has really helped her confidence and I laughed when she suddenly did a ferret impression one day ! Ferrets are very agile and very amusing when they play, doing something called pronking where they leap straight up in the air while twisting and turning, similar to lambs having a mad gambol. During games with Jetta, she now often does this - what a difference from the little girl who arrived scared of her own shadow.
Taxi collie has taught Zora to dig which I could have done without in all the mud, but I’ll admit to standing at the window watching with a big grin on my face the first time I saw Zora joining in with normal doggy fun & games.
Another day whilst looking out the kitchen window I spotted Mason cat freeze in hunting mode. I could see a little bird a good distance away so I watched and waited, ready to intervene if needed. It is fascinating to watch predators although only when I know the outcome is safe for the prey. I don’t watch the no doubt wonderful wildlife programmes with hunting scenes - I know it happens and is necessary for survival but that doesn’t mean I want to see it.
So Mason crept along in slow motion, complete concentration as he inched his way forward but before he got within striking distance, there was a sudden explosion of Sparkle cat erupting out of the nearby long grasses. She had been completely hidden from view but thankfully, it wasn’t the bird ( who had flown up to a nearby tree) that she was after but a game with her mate Mason - who had gone up in the air in surprise when she ambushed him and then they went haring off together as they are good friends.
Mason’s brother Wilson is doing very well on his chemotherapy and is now on monthly treatments, as always with thanks to you all for donating towards his treatment.
A while ago it came to my attention that I don’t say much about our sponsorship scheme but we set it up years ago and the furry family has changed since then and I’ve not kept it updated. I love the friends we’ve made over the years who support us in this way, often transferring sponsorship to a new pet as the years go by. And apart from the friends we make, the ongoing financial support is invaluable of course. So one of my must do jobs is to update our sponsor scheme and I aim to have new pets details in the next newsletter, ready for Christmas - there’s a gift idea instead of socks and smellies for your hard to buy for people !
We’re still collecting used postage stamps and thank you for those as well as if you send new unused stamps too. Also for anonymous donations that arrive too - hope you read the newsletters to hear me say thank you.
Our next stall is on 29th August Bank Holiday Monday 2 - 5 pm at the Chaldon Village Fete. We look forward to seeing you there at St.Peter & St.Paul School.
And to end with a smile, a couple of pictures found on the internet, with thanks to whoever the original ( unknown ) owners are of these wonderful photos.
Purrs and woofs of thanks
Liz & the Furries
Saving one pets life won’t change the world...but it will make a world of difference to that one pet.
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