Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Feral cats seeking employment

We have out of work mousers looking for employment opportunities! 

Are you looking for an environmentally friendly rodent-control service for your stables, garden centre, factory, farm or smallholding? Our working cats are just waiting to pounce on the right opportunity! 

We currently have a lot of cats here at the centre that come from an outdoor environment that do not want to be someone's pet. In time they will learn to trust you and want to hang around when feeding etc. These lovely cats do not ask for much, just two meals a day and some shelter to sleep in. In return they will keep your barns, stables and food storage areas free of mice, rats etc.

Some of our cats in our feral garden (2014)

Feral/Working Cats - Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when my cats are sited? 

When your new workers arrive the CP staff member will either set up the feral pen provided or use your existing shelter. We can provide beds/hiding places, food and water bowls, litter trays, litter and some biscuits to get you started. The cats are then put into their new enclosure where they can be left to settle for the rest of the day. Paperwork will all be signed off at this point and donations gratefully accepted. Your cats will then need feeding daily, their water changed and litter trays emptied and replaced. We ask that the cats are then kept in this enclosure for 4 weeks before releasing. 

One of our feral pens once sited
Why do I keep my working cats in a pen?

We advise you keep your new workers in their enclosed environment for 4-5 weeks to allow them to get used to you and to know that they will be fed and cared for. This way when they are released they have no desire to run elsewhere if they have all the resources they could need. It's important to keep their environment as it was when you first let them out for some time so that they know where to return for food. You can then think about other shelters they may favour and feeding locations. It's a good idea to keep the beds they have been using so they can recognise their scents. 
The first 4 weeks is an excellent time for you to get to know the personality of some cats. If you have opted for cats that you are likely to see then you could spend time chatting with the cats this way they recognise familiar voices. 

One of our feral pens

I took on cats to hunt on my land, why do I need to feed them?

Although working cats are used to hunt to keep rodent populations down it's essential they are still fed for them to work efficiently. A hungry mouser is not a happy hunter.

I have just let my cats out of their pen/enclosed environment and I haven't seen them for a few days, now what?

It is normal for feral cats to disappear once let out of their enclosure. This is an important time for them to get to know their surroundings and establish territory. They should return and be seen in a few days but it is important to continue to have food down in their original enclosure for them. Some feral cats may never be seen by their owners but this does not mean they have gone. 

4-5 weeks later, these cats are released - our staff will collect the feral pen

My 2 working cats have settled well and doing a great job, can I keep more than 2?

Yes. As long as you have enough space on the land, separate areas to provide resources and your existing cats are getting along fine then we will happily home more mousers to your property.

If you are interested in one of our feral/semi feral cats or want to know more or to book your home visit today, please contact the centre on 01395 232377. Please note we only home in the Devon/Somerset area (UK). For more information about our adoption centre please visit our website Thank you.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Moo our partially sighted cat is looking for a special home

Our lovely boy Moo came to Axhayes when his owner had to move house and sadly couldn’t take him with her. During his health examination on arrival our vet discovered he has cataracts which has left him with limited vision. We hoping to find him a suitable home for him, where he can settle in and adapt well to his new surroundings. Moo has been described by his previous owner as having a lovely personality; he’s very cuddly and likes to greet you when you come home. He will make a lovely companion for somebody.

We thought we share a few tips with you from our Cats Protection “Cats with disabilities” leaflet, to help cats like Moo adapt in their new home….  
Going outside
We would recommend that you do not let blind cats roam outside, for their own safety. Keep your cat indoors, unless they can have access to a safely-fenced garden or run. Since Moo has some vision, we are hoping to find him a home with a secure enclosed garden, away from main busy roads (in case he did get out of the garden). Make sure your cat is microchipped and you may consider fitting a quick-release collar stating his address and disability in case he escapes.

Finding his bearings

Try to encourage your cat to walk around on his own, as carrying him may cause him to become disorientated. Cats have scent glands on their paws that allow them to leave a trail of scent to follow – this is even more important for blind and partially sighted cats. If you do have to carry him, always put him down somewhere familiar such as his feeding or sleeping area so that he can easily get his bearings. Beware of lifting a blind cat onto raised surfaces as there is a chance he will fall.

To help Moo settle in to his new surroundings, we would recommend slow gradual introductions to each room in the house. This will allow him plenty of time to get use to where everything is. Supervise his excursions around the house until he seems confident. If he becomes disorientated, guide him back to a familiar place by using your voice or by walking with him. We would suggest removing any fragile objects off high surfaces in case he decides to jump up.
Approaching your cat

Talk to your cat as you approach him to avoid startling him. If your cat is blind in one eye, try to approach him from the side he has sight in.

Getting around
As blind cats rely on scent and memory to find their way around, you should avoid moving furniture, food and litter trays. Don’t leave obstacles in unexpected places where your cat could walk into them. If you have stairs, place a barrier across them until your cat knows where they are and learns to use them again. Putting a different textured carpet on the top and bottom steps can help your cat quickly learn when anticipate when they have reached the top or bottom.
Whiskers become more important to blind cats to judge the cat’s proximity to an object.

Moo in his pen

Play and Exercise

Sound is obviously very important to a blind cat so he may enjoy playing with “jingly” toys. It is important to encourage him to exercise as it is part of a cat’s natural behaviour and will help to stop him becoming overweight.

If you can offer Moo a loving forever home and have plenty of time and patience to help him settle in, please contact us on 01395 232377 or via our website at Thank you.


Vaccination is a safe and effective way to keep cats safe from the potentially fatal threat of some infectious diseases.

How does vaccination work?
Vaccination works in a similar way to active immunisation, but it allows the cat to develop immunity without risking illness from natural exposure to a pathogen. When a cat is vaccinated, it is given a modified, safe version of a pathogen so that the animal develops an immune response. After vaccination, if the cat encounters the same pathogen the body recognises it and has a quicker and more effective response to the disease.

What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a suspension of part of a virus or bacteria which triggers an immune response when given to the cat. The micro-organism in the vaccine has been altered in such a way to stop it causing disease. This allows the cat to develop immunity to the disease without suffering from it.

What types of vaccine are there?
Vaccines are classified as either modified live or killed/inactivated depending on how the micro-organism has been altered:
• modified live vaccines – infect animal cells and undergo replication to trigger an immune response. They have been modified so that although they are still living, they don’t cause disease
• killed or inactivated vaccines – these present a killed version of the micro-organism to the body. As they are not live, they usually require addition of an adjuvant – a substance that increases the response to the vaccine

How are vaccines given?
Most feline vaccines in the UK are given by injection, although one type of vaccine can be given via the nose.

Do vaccines protect against all infectious diseases of cats?
Vaccines are usually developed for diseases that are debilitating or life threatening and easily spread. They are not available for all infectious diseases because it can be difficult to produce effective vaccines against some pathogens. Luckily, there are a number of vaccines available to protect your cat from severe infectious diseases that are commonly found in felines.

Feline parvovirus (FPV)
• FPV is also known as feline panleukopenia virus and feline infectious enteritis
• it causes severe disease in cats and especially kittens and is frequently fatal
• initial signs include vomiting, diarrhoea and a high temperature. This progresses to a low temperature, watery diarrhoea with or without blood, dehydration or sudden death
• FPV is extremely hardy, surviving in the environment for months or years. Cats are at risk through contact with other cats or the environment. The virus can also be spread on an owner’s shoes from the ground outside, so even cats kept indoors are at risk. Disease in cats can also be caused by infection with canine parvovirus (CPV) shed by infected dogs

Feline herpes virus (FHV)

• FHV is one of the causes of cat flu and is a very common virus
• it often causes a severe and potentially life-threatening illness
• cats which survive may develop ulcers on the surface of the eyes and develop long-term painful eye conditions. Others may suffer from repeated infections of the nose and sinuses
• once a cat has been infected with FHV, the virus stays within the cat and can cause disease and virus shedding to occur at times of stress

Feline calicivirus (FCV)
• FCV is another common cause of cat flu. FCV changes frequently when it replicates, meaning there are a number of different strains of FCV – each type has a different ability to cause disease
• FCV infection usually causes a slightly milder form of cat flu than FHV. Signs include sneezing, runny nose and eyes, a high temperature and loss of appetite. In kittens it can cause lameness and a high temperature. In both adults and kittens, sometimes the only sign is painful ulcers found on the tongue, roof of the mouth or the nose – leading to dehydration and anorexia. It may be associated with  with feline chronic gingivostomatitis in some cats. In some cases, FCV can cause severe outbreaks of disease with high death rates.

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) 
• FeLV is a virus that causes a fatal disease – it affects the immune system and can also cause vulnerability to other infections, anaemia or tumours
• signs of persistent FeLV infection include recurrent infections with respiratory disease, sore gums or digestive problems. Infected cats can also suffer from a fluctuating high temperature and enlarged lymph nodes
• 80 per cent of cats diagnosed with FeLV die within three and a half years

Chlamydophila felis

• Chlamydophila felis is a bacterium that often causes painful conjunctivitis with discharge and redness of the eyes, but it can also be a cause of cat flu
• kittens are most commonly affected and it is often seen in unvaccinated cats in multi-cat households, breeding establishments or catteries

Bordetella bronchiseptica
• Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that causes flu-like  signs such as sneezing, runny nose and eyes, high temperature and a cough. It may progress to the chest, causing a serious infection and has a relatively high death rate in kittens where pneumonia may develop and sudden death can occur. The same bacteria cause kennel cough in dogs
• those most at risk include unvaccinated cats in multi-cat households, breeding establishments or catteries and those sharing an environment with dogs

• Rabies is a lethal virus which is not currently a problem in  the UK
• cats travelling abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme must have vaccinations against rabies.

What are combined vaccines?

Combined vaccines contain more than one micro-organism to induce immunity against more than one disease. FPV, FHV and FCV vaccines are usually combined – commonly referred to as a ‘flu and enteritis’ vaccine. A combined vaccine may also have a FeLV component and/or a Chlamydophila felis component.

What are core vaccines?
Core vaccines are generally considered to be essential for all cats to protect them against a number of serious diseases that are commonly encountered – these include FPV, FHV and FCV. Non-core vaccines are generally used once the cat’s risk of getting the disease is assessed to decide whether vaccination is essential – these include FeLV, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Chlamydophila felis and rabies.

When should vaccinations start? 

The primary vaccination course should be given to kittens from around eight to nine weeks of age. Timing is important – too early and the antibodies they receive from their mother will interfere with the immune response to the vaccine, preventing it from working properly – too late and kittens will be left susceptible to infection. Unfortunately, the timing of when the antibodies from the mother deplete varies from kitten to kitten. Two vaccines are usually needed – three to four weeks apart – to ensure kittens are not left susceptible to infection. Giving vaccines twice ensures a satisfactory level of immunity. A booster vaccine should also be given one year later to keep immunity levels high.

NB Vaccination against rabies cannot start until 12 weeks of age.

How long does the protection given by vaccination last?

The immune system’s ‘memory’ for micro-organisms declines over time, unless they are encountered with some frequency. 

The amount of time before immunity fades depends on factors including:
• the individual cat
• whether the cat is being regularly exposed to the micro-organism in its environment
• the specific micro-organism

What are booster vaccinations?

Regular booster vaccinations – boosters – are very important. The primary course of vaccination that a cat receives will kick start protective immunity, but booster vaccinations are needed to ensure that it remains at an adequate level. Boosters remind the immune system to react, enabling it to work effectively in the face of infection. If booster vaccinations are not given, the cat will become susceptible to infection because the immune system will gradually ‘forget’ the threat.

How often should booster vaccinations be given?

Your vet can guide you on the vaccination needed for your cat and how often boosters should be given to maintain protection. Remember, the immune system’s memory for micro-organisms declines over time. It’s useful to understand how feline infectious diseases are transmitted and what may pose a risk to your cat. Some infectious diseases are spread through direct contact with other infected cats. If your cat has outdoor access and you live in an area with a high feline population, they may be at greater risk. Indoor cats may appear to be at less risk, but they are not getting natural exposure to bacteria and viruses which act as natural booster reminders to their immune system. If vaccinations are not kept up to date, immunity may wane and indoor cats will not have protection if they do become exposed.
Boarding catteries may have strict vaccination history requirements before they allow your cat to board – check in advance.

There is currently no way of checking if immunity has run out – the only tests available measure antibody levels but cannot anticipate whether there is enough ‘memory’ to kick off an immune response when needed. However, they may be useful to determine immunity to feline parvovirus.

Vaccination risks and adverse reactions

A mild reaction following vaccination is normal as it shows the cat is having an immune response. Your cat may lack energy, have a poor appetite and feel tenderness at the injection site for around 24-48 hours after vaccination. Other side effects that can occur include: a high temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea, lameness or flu-like signs. Often these reactions are due to an infection already in progress at the time of vaccination – the additional challenge of the vaccine on the immune system has allowed the infection to develop. Occasionally, a lump may occur at the site of injection and in very rare cases, cancers may develop in the same spot.

Vaccination of pregnant animals is not generally recommended. A reaction such as a fever may harm the developing foetuses and if using a live vaccine, the pathogen may infect the foetus.

Vaccination failures and severe reactions to vaccines are very rare and the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the risks involved. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) run a surveillance scheme where members of the public and veterinary surgeons in the UK can voluntarily report any suspected adverse reactions (SARs) to veterinary licensed drugs, including vaccines. The number of SARs reported after vaccination are very low in comparison with the thousands of cats suffering from infectious disease.

Should all cats be vaccinated?

Vaccination has greatly reduced the outbreak of life-threatening infectious diseases within the cat population. However, the population has increased and if cats are not vaccinated, widespread oubreaks of disease may occur.

Whether or not a cat is vaccinated against various diseases will depend on their lifestyle and their risk of infection. It is best to discuss your cat’s individual vaccination needs with your vet. Remember, cats entering boarding catteries will usually need to have vaccines up to date.

Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) have a disrupted immune system and may be at greater risk of developing infectious diseases if they are exposed to them. FIV positive cats can be vaccinated to offer some protection, so speak to your vet for advice.
In cases where health problems prevent the cat from being vaccinated, the owner should discuss the options with their vet. If a large number of cats continue to be vaccinated, there will be low levels of disease leading to ‘herd immunity.’ Herd immunity is the resistance of a group of animals to a disease because a large proportion of them are immune. It reduces the chances of a cat coming into contact with an infected animal or its secretions, so that the spread of disease is slowed or stopped.

How can I get my cat vaccinated?

Book an appointment with your vet to discuss and organise vaccination for your cat.


Cats Protection advocates the judicious use of feline vaccination as the most effective way of controlling infectious diseases. All cats and kittens homed from Cats Protection have been vaccinated before adoption – we recommend that their new owners continue to give them regular vaccinations on their vet’s advice, to keep them protected through their lives. (SOURCE: Cats Protection)

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Success Story-Cosmo & Comet

We received a lovely email from the owners of this pair of black cats we rehomed last January. They arrived at the centre from one of the local branches and were only with us for just over a week.Their new family are so happy with them and we wanted to share their story with you.
This is what Tamzin had to say...
We've had our cats for a whole year now! (We took them home on January 23rd 2016). They were originally called Cosmo and Comet, but were re-named Willow and Blue immediately.

Whilst I have always liked cats, I would have never said I was a cat-person, but these two have changed our lives; they have been an absolute blessing and have turned our home into a happier one in so many ways.

We couldn't have asked for better cats - they love each other and us. They love to go out hunting... maybe too much (I'm a bit fed up of wiping off smeared blood off the patio door!), but they also just want to be cuddled up to us or each other when they're inside... when they're not climbing into things they shouldn't be! They also have completely different personalities and complement each other brilliantly!

Anyway, I know you have cats come and go all the time, and these 2 didn't stay with you for long, but I just wanted to let you know that they are happy and healthy and amazingly loved, and we feel VERY grateful that there was a facility like yours that enabled us to find them.
If you have a story you would like to share of the cats or kittens you adopted from us, please email us and send some photos to