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The Community Radio Station covering Central-Southern Dorset, run by volunteers and not-for-profit

Cat-fans with expertise and a little spare time needed for down-on-their-luck felines

Homeless strays, unexpected kittens, abandoned pets and much-loved moggies are just some of the cats that pass through Weymouth Cats Protection’s care, now help is needed to keep up with demand.

Volunteer Gloria Ashwell, who runs the Weymouth branch of the national charity, has noticed an increase in cats being given up for financial reasons over the past year and is expanding the provision for local cats to cope with expected demand.

In the past year 20% of cats who arrived in the branch’s care were given up for financial reasons, a steep rise compared to just 8% in the previous five years.

Gloria says: “We’ve seen that people are really starting to struggle since the cost of living crisis began and not only are people finding it increasingly difficult to cover day-to-day costs but also vet care, so cats are arriving in need of more treatment before they can go to their loving homes. We therefore need help, especially from anyone with cat welfare expertise, which will enable us to support and rehome more local cats.”

Despite the increase in cats being given up because their owners can no longer afford them, stray cats still account for the majority needing new homes via the branch. One recent admission was 15-year-old Jiminy who had been living in the garden of a neighbour for the three years since his owner died, with only a plastic igloo for shelter. The situation for Jiminy was becoming desperate as advanced age, freezing weather and an irregular supply of food were beginning to take their toll on him – he was walking stiffly and rapidly losing weight.

Gloria explains: “We lost no time in making emergency arrangements for Jiminy who was admitted to my care at the end of November and after a vet check and first vaccination was ready to rehome. He was quickly adopted to a perfect home in early December and now he and his owner are very happy. If we had been unable to quickly help, it’s likely Jiminy would have endured many more cold nights outdoors with a high chance of becoming seriously ill.”

To help more cats like Jiminy, Gloria is seeking volunteers to join her and her fellow branch members and is keen to hear from anyone with an interest in helping local felines. People with cat welfare experience or who would like to help with hands-on cat care are especially encouraged to get in touch as she is looking for people to fill the branch’s Cat Welfare Team Leader role as well as fosterers.

Welfare Team Leaders support and nurture the fosterers and need to have a background in cat welfare. They are responsible for ensuring fosterers have the most up-to-date information about Cats Protection policies and procedures as well as keeping the cats’ details up to date.

Fosterers will be caring for cats in their own home until a new owner can be found. No special equipment is needed but cat fosterers do need to have a spare room, or in some cases the charity can provide a custom-built outdoor pen, where their foster cat can enjoy living safely in a home-from-home. It is also vital that fosterers have IT skills and internet access to enable them to keep details of their cat’s stay up to date. The branch takes in cats from all backgrounds and at all ages and the charity provides everything needed to create the cats’ temporary home, from food, toys and litter to vet care.

A behind-the-scenes glimpse at being a fosterer can be found here http://bit.ly/BeingAFosterer

To find out more about both cats and the branch visit www.cats.org.uk/west-dorset or for more details about the current opportunities at the branch visit www.cats.org.uk/support-us/volunteeropportunities alternatively please call 01305 262 737or email Gloria on weymouthcatsprotection@gmail.com

Photo of Jiminy

Jiminy

Photo of Grey tabby

Grey tabby