In August 2022, we received a call from one of our inspectors about a family of stray cats that he was trying to catch inside of an abandoned building. Little did we know that the family of stray cats was a family of eleven!
On 24 August 2022, Inspector Dan managed to capture the mother and her nine tiny kittens. Maleficent – our beautiful mother – and her two litters – semi-feral trio Sugar, Butter, Flour (thank you, ‘Waitress’) and Maleficent’s three week old litter of Taylor Pawkins, Morris, Frodo, Pandora, Poppy and Tyson – named by our wonderful supporters in a ‘Name the Kittens’ fundraiser. The day this gorgeous family were caught, they were brought to one of our catteries to be given lots of care and attention, and extra warmth for the tiny litter. Maleficent and her 4 week old kittens (Taylor Pawkins, Morris, Frodo, Pandora, Poppy and Tyson) were housed in a pen together, as Maleficent was still feeding her babies, and Sugar, Butter and Flour were placed in a separate pen.
Sugar, Butter and Flour were very wild indeed. They would hiss at you and scratch as they were just so unbelievably scared. In all honesty, it is very much a possibility these babies had never seen a human before in their life – and it was all a very big change for them. On the other hand, whilst the younger litter of kittens were scared, they were still so young and didn’t really know what to do or how to respond. Maleficent loved her kittens and she made sure they were safe, well fed and protected. She was also a very affectionate cat and loved a good stroke and a fuss even though she had been living without a home for so long. Unfortunately, one week after being brought in, our tiny runt of the litter, Tyson, stopped feeding from his mummy, and grew increasingly weak. He wasn’t gaining weight like his brothers and sisters, and he was unable to latch on to Maleficent. Our wonderful team at the cattery worked over the call of duty and attempted to hand-rear little Tyson to get his strength up, but little Tyson had no fight left, and on veterinary advice, little Tyson was put into his forever sleep.
One week later, Inspector Dan got back in touch to say he had managed to catch the remaining older kitten – named (somewhat on ‘theme’) Pie. Pie was placed with her siblings Sugar, Butter and Flour and all of them cuddled together and protected each other from the ‘scary humans’.
As the kittens got bigger and learned more and more about their new environment, they started to play with lots of different cat toys and use the scratch towers. They were adorable. They liked the attention they were receiving, and started to realise these humans weren’t so scary after all. In the next pen, our ‘Waitress’ trio – and Pie – were making slow steps – but steps nonetheless – to realising that humans could be trusted. Sugar in fact started to progress at speed – eating out of staff’s hands and receiving strokes – all while hissing! Flour started to do this too – with thanks to the Lickilicks on offer!
Then the panic button was pressed. Maleficent tested positive for FIV. As is the case with all branch cats, if we do not know their history, or if they have been straying, we test for FIV. FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus) is a viral infection that affects cats. It causes affected animals to have a weaker immune system in comparison with non-FIV positive cats. Given Maleficent had tested positive, there was a huge possibility her kittens would test positive too. If a cat has FIV, they would be unable to be rehomed to a house with another cat and would also have to stay indoors due to the risk of infection through cat bites. Both of Maleficent’s litters were tested for FIV, and our little Butter, who was slowly warming up to human interaction, tested positive. The branch weren’t ready to give up though, and had firmed up space in a wonderful foster home where she could move to where she could learn to live in a home environment to prepare her for her future life – but it wasn’t meant to be. Our gorgeous Butter passed away in the night two days later. We were devastated to lose her.
With the kittens all passing their FIV test and testing negative, we were able to start to rehome all of our younger kittens. Frodo and Pandora were the first pair to go to their new home, followed quickly by Poppy. It took a little longer to find Taylor Pawkins and Morris a home but they have now moved in to their new family and are doing amazingly well! Flour is currently advertised on our website to take up a new role as ‘Rat Inspection Officer’ (a farm cat) as despite being able to receive the odd stroke, he is quite a feisty boy. Sugar has also made huge steps forward and is now reserved ready to go to her new home in a couple of weeks.
After a little while, Maleficent and Pie, found their own forever homes where they have both settled in perfectly and are both very happy with their new family.