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Newsletter Issue 25 Summer & Autumn 2023

30 November 2023

Special thanks to the following businesses for having our CP collection boxes on their premises: -

Woolacombe Waffle Hut has collected to date £1,220.97

Taw Service Station, Barnstaple has collected £1,211.14

Other collection boxes counted in August: -

The Original Factory Shop £53.56 & Market Vets £66.80, both in South Molton

Spar shop, Boutport Street £52.95. 

St John's Garden Centre, Ashford £38.14

Creature Comforts, High Street, Barnstaple £79.72 

Bickington Post Office £74.11.

The branch also received some very generous funeral donations and we would like to thank the relatives for thinking of us at a very difficult time. 

 £10 chip and snip image with cat face

Cats Protection £10 neutering scheme

You are able to get your cat neutered and microchipped at one of our participating vets for £10 if you receive means-tested benefits or have a household annual income of less than £25,000 before tax.                                                             

Please contact the vet directly to book an appointment and let them know you can use the Cats Protection £10 neutering scheme.

Anyone wanting farm and feral cats neutered should still contact Barnstaple and District branch (tel. 0345 371 4203) for a voucher rather than go directly to the veterinary practice.

Neutering of feral cats is of vital importance to avoid more feral kittens in branch care.  The speed at which cats can reproduce means that 'just a few cats' can turn into serious over-population in a matter of months.

three small feral kittens

Never beforehas there been such a large number of cats and kittens needing to be fostered by the branch.  During the last few months, we have been inundated with numerous unwanted cats and kittens - pregnant cats, mother cats with new born kittens, strays, and a few orphaned or abandoned kittens.

On two occasions, abandoned kittens were found and handed to vets by members of the public.  Cats Protection came to the rescue, collecting the tiny kittens and handing them over to branch weaner, Sue.  The first two were only about three days old and needed round the clock care, bottle feeding every 2 hours.   The second arrivals, also needed to be bottle fed for a couple of weeks.  Fortunately, the benefit of hand-rearing kittens is that they are so happy and confident being handled, and make super friendly family pets. 

 Pepper semi-feral black kitten looking at camera

Pepper the semi feral rescued kitten


Pepper came into branch care in the summer, very nervous at first, but within a few days was greeting her fosterer with a chirrup.  Soon she didn’t mind being picked up and was always purring!   She got to enjoy being stroked, and finally at 11 weeks old became socialised enough to be fit for homing and could be advertised.  

She was later adopted by a wonderful family who continued to work on giving her confidence and gaining her trust.

Her happy owner kindly posted updates on Facebook: -

“She is now a very happy and contented little bundle of fun, she's settled beautifully and is no longer known as 'Pepper', she's called Mini ha ha!”.

“She is truly adorable! So playful and happy! She's making the whole family smile”

Feral and semi feral kittens do make the most loyal and affectionate cats. It’s definitely worth the extra hard work for the first few weeks.

 Peggy black and white feral kitten Panther black feral kitten

Panther, Peggy and Pandora were born on a farm as a litter of 6 kittens to a feral mum. Unfortunately, they didn’t get handled in the vital 2 -8 weeks old period, so were not confident with humans.  

Whilst their three siblings, easier to socialise, were already settled in loving new homes, these three were still very skittish at 17 weeks old.  

All three kittens were very playful and curious, and liked to be near you, but were not so confident when you reached out to them. They could be stroked when relaxed and would happily take food from your hand.

They had come on in leaps and bounds since first arriving and became more confident being handled every day.  Eventually, they could be stroked when you could catch them!  

They were advertised as looking for homes where there was already an easy-going cat or where they would have people to spend lots of time with them so that they could gain their confidence and trust of humans.  All have now found loving homes.


Feral kittens Bumble, Buddy and Buzz

These kittens don’t look too happy in this photo, but they had just returned from being neutered!  Although glaring at their fosterer here, they did soon become socialised enough to enjoy being petted and were fit to home as household pets.

Re-named Denzel, Pumpkin and Bobby, all are now happily settled in their new homes. Fosterer Sarah was particularly sad to see them go, saying “I will miss little Buddy so much - I could hold him like a baby and he was very special!”


three feral kittens



One of the cats relinquished from a multiple cat household turned out to be particularly aggressive. Spitfire came into the branch at the beginning of October with three dependent kittens.  She proved to be the best mother at protecting her tiny litter, hissing and thumping fosterer Helen if she got anywhere near them. The kittens all looked very active and well fed, so, having no concerns, Helen left well alone to avoid getting a ripped hand or arm.

As Spitfire was such a nasty cat to deal with, Helen hoped that it wouldn’t imprint on the kittens.

After six weeks in her pen, Helen was mightily relieved when Spitfire was persuaded into a carrier, thankfully hands free, ready for rehoming as a feral cat.  Now spayed, she has gone to a suitable home where she can hiss and spit to her heart’s content!   

Her beautiful kittens, Sophie, Sandy and Sammie, were passed on to expert feral kitten tamer, Sarah, who soon worked her magic getting them to purr.  They received plenty of socialisation and cuddles and now, renamed Tabitha, George and Pepper, have gone to loving new homes in the country.


We put our cats' needs first to make sure we match them with the right home.

In September, the branch responded to a call for help from a pregnant owner unable to cope with a mother cat and five new born kittens.  Fosterer Kathryn took in Daisy and her tiny kittens (four white, one black). 

White cats can be hearing impaired, so it was essential to stress that they would not be able to go outside unless found a rural home or one with a cat proof garden!

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Homing officer, Sarah, all of the kittens were carefully matched to suitable homes.  Casper, Bear, Jack, Dotty and black Betty are all now settled into their safe loving homes.


My volunteer role within the branch - by Welfare Officer, Kay

Before moving to Devon, I lived in Hampshire and after taking voluntary redundancy from my job of 25 years, I volunteered for my nearest branch of Cats Protection at their Adoption Centre in Haslemere, Surrey.

After a year of volunteering, I was offered a part-time job as a Cat Care Assistant, where I got to be much more involved in the care and administration of cats in the Centre, and actually get paid for it!  Just over a year later, my husband was made redundant, so we decided to up sticks and relocate to Devon to start afresh.  We moved to this area in November 2007 and the following year I joined the Barnstaple Branch as a volunteer.

I initially started just doing direct homings, and then took on the role of Welfare Officer soon after.  In 2010 I started fostering cats in (existing) pens at a friend’s property a few miles away, travelling there twice daily to look after them.  After 2 years, I had a double pen erected in my own garden.  To date, I have fostered 638 cats and kittens, with a good number of those being feral kittens! 

Apart from my role as a fosterer, I am kept busy with my Welfare Officer role.  I am responsible for ordering all the supplies our branch needs – cat food, litter, disinfectants, microchips, flea and worm treatments, baskets, traps etc.  I need to ensure that all cats in our care receive the correct treatments and vet visits and that our computer system is maintained.

I also liaise with our Head Office when we have any issues with cat behaviour, medical conditions, issues with our national database or registration of microchips.  In addition, I help to setup new fosterers and guide them through the ins and outs of fostering.  I also collect some donated goods from members of the public, and sometimes transport cats to our Adoption centre in Exeter.  Then there is the occasional call out to scan or trap a stray cat.  

 Empty feral cat trap image

The following story describes a recent trapping experience: -

Frankie, the neighbourhood bully

One of the cats needing a new home was Frankie, a large and handsome five-year-old tabby.  A much-loved pet since kittenhood, he always wanted to be the top cat in the home and this also included most of the cats in the rest of the street!   He loved his human family and the dog he shared his home with, but didn’t like any other cats in his life.  In claiming his territory, his size and strength caused a few problems with his neighbours, ending with his family deciding he'd be happier elsewhere.  Ideally, he needed a quiet rural area with space to play and hunt, and enough distance from other cats to avoid disputes. He loved to go out exploring, but once back home was a very friendly cat who enjoyed human company.  


Thankfully, Frankie was found a suitable home with the freedom and space he needs away from other cats.  He is much happier now, as are the cats in his previous neighbourhood! 

Sophie's Story by joint fosterers Carol and Nick

Sophie black cat lying down looking at camera

Strays come in all shapes and sizes but one thing is usually the same and that is that their past history is a mystery and so as a fosterer you have to have an open mind and expect anything!  We had just rehomed our previous foster cat and within hours got a call from Sarah asking if we could collect a little stray cat that had been taken into one of the local vets by a member of the general public.  So once our pen had been cleaned we rushed out and collected her.


She was a pitiful sight, estimated at being only six months old, she had been either lost or abandoned for quite some time as she was very emaciated as well as having bald patches from her poor general health.  I have to say that I was quite shocked when I saw her, as she reminded me of the strays that you sometimes see in foreign countries who are just skin and bone.  Her back legs were weak as a lot her muscle had been lost due to long term lack of food.  


The vet told me that they had also noticed that she had clubbed feet but seemed ok using them!  She was not microchipped or spayed so had probably not seen a vet before.  So, for the first two weeks, like with all strays in our care, we tried our hardest to find the possible owner by going through our normal channels and waiting in the hope that someone would come forward.


Sadly, no one claimed her and so it was now time to get her in tip top condition before we could find her a lovely new home.  She had to be given small amounts of food on a regular basis, so we started at six tiny meals a day and then progressed to four normal sized meals. Thankfully, she loved her food and so, apart from her digestive system having to get used to regular food, this was the easy part of the job.


She was a typical young adolescent cat who just wanted cuddles and play in equal amounts.  She did have a habit of using her teeth and claws in play and thought human hands were a great toy to chew, so this was another work in progress.  With three play sessions a day she gradually learnt the right behaviour and to treat human skin with a bit of respect and instead stick to using her favourite toys.



She was easy to care for, if not a little hyperactive, so it was relatively easy to check her deformed feet.  Clubbed feet in cats can be very variable but thankfully, although all four were affected, we found she could use them as normal as most just had a couple of her toes fused together. 


While she was having her operation to be spayed, the vet also did a thorough examination of her paws and all seemed well, so no treatment was needed on them.  She was not in pain and could jump and run just like any other cat, she just had special looking paws which added to her mischievous but sweet nature.

After she had gained sufficient weight she was put on our website and we really hoped that someone would want her and not be put off by her deformity. We had nothing to worry about because, as usual, the kind people of North Devon came forward and we actually ended up having a choice of a potential new home for her, which does not happen often. 


We became very fond of our wonderful little stray. It was so lovely to see her blossom in such a short time and is now happy and settling in to her new home with people who love her and will care for her hopefully for the rest of her life.


Even the dog is happy to share the bed with her!

Dora black cat with one eye

Dora, the one-eyed cat.


 Another cat that we thought may be difficult to find a home for, was Dora, the one-eyed cat.  Fortunately, a wonderful adopter came forward, and Dora went to her new home where she soon settled in and is now ruling the household. 


When fosterer Helen rang to find out how Dora was getting on, the new owner said he adored and loved her already, BUT was allergic to her!  Helen feared that Dora would have to come back, but the owner reassured her that he was on anti-histamines and had bought an air purifier! 


                                           Dora obviously has a wonderful forever home!


Helping cats adapt in their new homes

Many cats we foster come in needing a lot of care and attention before they can be advertised for adoption.  While some need urgent veterinary treatment, others may exhibit behavioural problems which need to be addressed.  This was very much the case with black and white cat, Mouse, fostered by Mike in the summer.  After nine days she was still hiding in her bed and growling.  Mike wasn’t able to get close enough to handle her, and not even the vet could approach to do a health check.

Mike sought advice from the Behaviour Team at head office and they suggested a few changes.  Mouse was encouraged to walk into the carrier on her own and was given a catnip pillow, which she loved.  Staying at a distance, Mike allowed Mouse to approach and nuzzle, only then rubbing her ears.  It was important to stop when sensing that she was wanting more but also getting edgy.

One finger twitch away from a hiss and a growl

At the end of July, Mike managed to get Mouse to down enough calming pill to undergo a vaccination and examination at the vets; thankfully there was only one small hiss and no tantrums.

Mouse continued approaching to be petted and eventually began sitting on Mike’s knee for a few minutes.  Mike made sure his write-up for Mouse accurately described her behaviour while in the pen.  In September, Mouse was finally adopted by an understanding family.  She soon settled in, even following them around when not sat on a lap.  

Everything seemed fine for the first week, but then Mouse suddenly had profuse diarrhoea and multiple bouts of vomiting.  The owner took Mouse to the vets and she was offered an ultrasound and blood tests, but did not get any treatment. As the condition was something that was not noted when in care, Mouse would have been covered by the 4 weeks free Petplan insurance.

Unsure what to do, the concerned owner contacted Mike for advice.  He alerted Branch Co-ordinator, Nikki, and she arranged for the Behaviour Team and a Vet Team Member to ring the owner as soon as possible.   Following discussion, the regional Cats Protection vet advised the owner to postpone blood tests and ultrasound for now, as might not be necessary. At the time of homing, the owner had been advised to feed Mouse Whiskas but did try switching to an organic cat biscuit, so the problem could be dietary in origin.  The CP vet advised the owner to request anti-diarrhoeal meds instead, keep the diet the same and not let the cat outside. 

Over the next few days, guidance continued to be given by the CP vet which the owners said was very helpful.  They persevered with help from Nikki, who received regular progress reports.

Mouse's owner now reports that she has settled in once again and is liking the outside world, so everyone is much happier.

An update on Willow, the tailless cat



Readers may remember how injured stray cat Willow went to live with Bruce in his room while he stayed in a residential nursing home. 


The wonderful care staff even gave Willow her own care plan so all her feline needs were met.


Yet another happy ending: -

Bruce and Willow made it home on 29 August 2023.




An update on Lucky, the rescued kitten


Readers may remember how Lucky was handed a lifeline when she was found cold and wet by the side of the road by a passer-by and was rescued by volunteer fosterer Leisa.  She was in an awful state and it took Leisa several months to nurse her back to health.    

Given that Lucky would need long term, possibly life long, antibiotics to keep her healthy, Leisa feared that she would never find an adopter while in the branch, and might have to be transferred to a Cats Protection adoption centre. 


Determined not to let that happen, Leisa made the magnanimous decision to adopt Lucky herself.  Here she tells us what it has been like welcoming Lucky into the family home: -


“Lucky is the most adorable cat; anyone who ever meets her can tell what a character she is - cheeky, party animal and certainly very sociable.

If there was one thing Lucky was going to have to be, before being adopted by us, it was totally and utterly adaptable - family life is always busy with various people coming and going in our house and our lives.  Thankfully, Lucky absolutely loves everyone and enjoys nothing more than joining in with a whole bunch of soppy teenage boys. 

We visit friends and family quite a bit and, as she needs her medication twice a day, Lucky was just going to have to come with us.  Lucky has now been taken many places in the car in a soft dog crate, which she loves.  She sits in the back of the car snuggled up on her blanket and not a peep out of her for over 4 hours when we visit family in Surrey.  

We let her out of her basket and she has a quick exploration round the house and makes herself at home!  The same with various friends; again, as long as there is lots going on she is more than happy joining in.


Lucky loves music and will come running at the slightest sound.  Shake her bell stick and call her name, she is there in a flash.  

If she hears the printer printing pages she goes running and sits by it waiting for the paper to pop out and, occasionally, she will bounce on it before it has quite finished.  A certain kitchen drawer opening is her favourite sound, as she knows that’s where we keep her medicine and treats!  She seems to hear it a mile off!

Lucky loves water and demands to be let in the bathroom so she can sit outside the shower and catch the water as it drips down the door. When you are finished she will jump straight in and lie down on the wet floor.

Lucky is now allowed outside, although working out how to use the cat flap was quite a challenge, as she was rather scared of the chink noises made as she approached. Endless tubes of Lick-e-Lix calling her through the 40cm long tunnel finally did the trick.  

Lately, Lucky goes scampering outside and comes back in absolutely covered in leaves, twigs, bark, soil, feathers, etc.  Her fluffy tail and underside are completely covered - the contents she has brought in then get scattered around the house as she washes herself or bits just fall off. 

As Lucky needs her antibiotic twice a day, we bought her a little collar with an air tag attached so we could always find her when she goes outside.  We are now finding, however, that she doesn’t really like the outside and would much rather snuggle up on the sofa or anywhere there is a bit of action happening!!



Lucky really is such a wonderful unique cat, full of cheek, who gives us so much love back.” 

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Donations can also be made via our branch website, just click the yellow donate button. Please send postal donations to:

Mrs Chris Mason, Treasurer

Cats Protection Barnstaple & District Branch

2 Campion Drive



EX32 8RB