Cats Protection has been making a positive difference to cats' lives for over 80 years, building up a wealth of knowledge about feline welfare. We now have over 250 volunteer-run branches and 29 adoption centres and continue to grow to meet the increasing demands placed upon us.
During the 1920s, cats were not seen as the companion animals they are today. Rather than pets, most were thought of as nothing more than pests.
The business of breeding cats was severely curtailed when, in 1923, an outbreak of rabies restricted the importation of cats. The attention of pedigree breeders and members of cat clubs was diverted to the humble moggy. Concern was expressed at the ignorance of many people regarding the needs of the domestic cat.
So much so that on 16 May, 1927, a meeting of these like-minded people was held at Caxton Hall, London, under the chairmanship of Miss Jessey Wade at which it was resolved… 'that a society be formed to be devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of cats and that its name be The Cats Protection League.'
- The League set out to be an educational body, but it soon became apparent that this would have to be complemented by practical action in order to succeed.
- An early and significant step was taken in 1931, when the embryonic magazine The Cats' Mews Sheet
was founded, with Miss Jessey Wade as the Editor. Its stated aim was to create a medium for suggestions and enquiries; to obtain the co-operation of the other animal societies and to educate the public. The importance of the magazine, which went on sale priced 1d, was that it not only helped The Cats Protection League to become better known, but it also gave a sense of unity to members.
- In 1935 The Cats Protection League received through a legacy gift, Prestbury Lodge, a sizeable house in Slough. This became the first designated Headquarters. The General Secretary Mr Albert Steward took up residence on the first floor, with the rest of the house and garden being used for cat work.
Sheds and later cat houses were added to the garden of Prestbury Lodge to provide space for cat care; and rooms in the main house were adapted for the care of sick and injured animals. Towards the end of the decade (1940), upwards of 200 people called at the headquarters for help each month as well as postal and telephone requests for aid.
- The increased difficulty in funding clinical and rescue work during the war years, led to the introduction of The Tailwavers Scheme. This fundraising appeal was introduced by The Cats Protection League in June, 1940 'to help relieve suffering amongst bombed out and starving cats in the blitzed areas'. Tailwaver is the English translation of the Greek word for cat 'aeluros' literally 'tailwaver'.
Members enrolled their cats as Tailwavers at 5/-pa (25p). The scheme proved popular - 187 cats joined in the first year - and enabled The CPL to continue its work.
- July 1947 saw the purchase of The Cats Protection League's first ambulance, a second-hand van which would replace the car originally donated as a charity vehicle. The new vehicle was painted in the then corporate colours of black and white.
- The Cats Protection League's main aim during this time was to establish Shelters to provide 'a temporary refuge' for cats in need but the financial outlay for this was great. Then, in 1950 it received a legacy specifically for that purpose. A country property in Haslemere, Surrey was chosen.