I’ve had a secret I’ve not told you all – a little project I didn’t want to tell anyone about until it was successfully completed. It’s taken a little longer than planned but, as it is such a cold and wet day, I feel now is as good a time as any to reveal all.
The picture illustrating this blog post is of a cat, now known as Mr T. However, for some time last year he was known as Mr Testicles.
He came to my attention because a neighbour was feeding him in her front garden. Other cats were also feeding and I could see he was uncomfortable in their presence. He was slim, a bit grubby and had huge testicles dangling almost to his stifles. He looked like life was a bit of a battle, and my heart went out to him.
Charity begins at home
I didn’t always see him, but I was getting worried; it was heading towards autumn and from what I could see he was living in a hedge or hiding under cars, hence his grubby appearance.
A Facebook post led me to his feeder. However, the lady couldn’t keep him because she was allergic to cats. She also thought others were feeding him. So, with her approval, I agreed to take over feeding him and try to befriend him with a view to getting him a safe home – without those testicles.
Little did I know how hard this would be…
I knew I’d need a trap to get him. He didn’t want to be near humans, although he would eat slices of ham from me if I threw them away from me and looked away as he ate.
So I started feeding him (Whiskas fish flavour was a favourite) at 6pm every night to get him into a routine. Then I started trying to source a trap.
I cannot express the frustration in dealing with major and local charities in trying to get a cat trap. So I don’t ramble on, I’ll put the issues in a list:
- Charity 1 (national charity) – wasted my time by coming to see me but not bringing the trap they promised. They then told me it was not convenient that I was feeding the cat after 5pm as they only work until 5pm.
- Charity 2 (national charity) – spoke on the phone and said they would call back. They didn’t. I called again, only to have the oddest conversation with such a rude person, so I actually hung up on them. I was told I couldn’t have a trap as they had seen cats set on fire in traps in front gardens. Then, despite saying I couldn’t have a trap, I had four different people contact me about them.
- Charity 3 (small charity) – left three messages and no one got back to me.
- Charity 4 (national charity) – advised me to use charity 2.
So, despite living in London where there are numerous feral cat schemes, I could not access a cat trap. I was really disappointed. I always support animal charities and speak positivity about them, and I have even worked for one of the organisations mentioned above. It was an eye-opening experience to be a member of the public trying to get help.
I also had to deal with other people trying to “help” by feeding him. I put up posters, put fliers through doors and posted on local Facebook groups (which spread to Twitter), but still people insisted on feeding him; disrupting his routine and reducing my chances of catching him. After the false start with the trap I had lost valuable time. Having others interfere now was risking his safety.
Why do people think if they’ve fed a cat once, it’s theirs, yet won’t take on the responsibility of caring for them? Chip, neuter, FIV test to start. Then lifelong care.
In the end I contacted my friend Niall Lester, who runs an brilliant charity in Kent called New Hope Animal Rescue. They’re on Facebook and Twitter and do amazing work (please think about checking out their work and supporting them). He loaned me a trap and six weeks later Mr Testicles was on his way to the vets to become Mr T.
Niall also helped by finding him a new home. We tried to befriend him but he really wasn’t having any of it.
As I sit here with the rain battering against the window and my pets curled up sleeping in a lovely warm home, I think of Mr T. He’s now being grumpy in a horse sanctuary. Safe, warm places to sleep. Human contact only if he wants it, yet fed and cared for.
He really has landed on his paws.