Anyone who has had the misfortune of speaking to me at any point in the last six months will know that I now have a cat, and I love the cat and I talk about the cat a lot.
She’s called Iris and she’s the best. She’s loud, always hungry and wakes my wife and I up in the mornings by biting my armpit and pulling her hair.
There’s not much else that we know about Iris, except that she’s approximately just over 1 year old and she’s already had a litter of kittens. You see, Iris was a stray cat that was abandoned whilst pregnant, and she was picked up by a team of extraordinary volunteers who run Rescue Kitties, a Facebook group that re-homes stray and feral cats all over Greater Manchester.
The group is currently being run by Amy Lee, who took over in 2019 and immediately got to work with rescuing stray, at risk and feral cats and finding them homes, utilising a dedicated team of volunteers who vet, medicate, chip, feed, stroke and cuddle the cats back to happiness.
The team is actually rather large and Amy Lee is thankful for all of their support over the years; “There’s one person in charge of supplies, trappers who help us with the trickier cats, a donations coordinator, an adoptions and home check team and around 44 foster families” where the cats can stay while being re-homed.
“I also rely heavily on our wonderful veterinary team, without whom we wouldn’t be able to boast of so many near miraculous success stories.”
Last year saw Rescue Kitties re-home around 500 cats, and they’re on course to beat this with around 750 this year. This is, of course both encouraging but also rather concerning – especially with the sheer number of cats that are abandoned or become strays. I asked Amy Lee why she thinks there is such a stigma when it comes to cats, as opposed to dogs, for example.
“I think many people see cats as aloof and they have a reputation for being independent and maybe even a little cold.”
“But like any animal, they all have their own unique personalities, and many, many of our cats have been in the situation where they are cold, hungry and sick on the street, and so are loving and very grateful to find their forever home.”
With hundreds of adoptions every year, there’s certainly going to be lots of stories to tell, lots of horrible situations and plenty of heartbreak too when things don’t work out. There must also be lots of happiness too though, when cats are united with loving owners and find themselves in their forever home – much like Iris ruling the roost in my house right now.
The sheer scope of situations and circumstances is staggering, with Amy finding kittens in a plastic bag in a field, a half-dead cat in a box in a school playground, a cat that broke into someone’s conservatory to get help and many, many more. They’ve found cats in storm drains, pub gardens and even one living in a BMW!
There was also the strange story of the kitten that was seen disappearing under a car bonnet, only for the driver to drive half an hour home to hear a quiet meow from the engine. They were (understandably) terrified at what they might find, but the kitten was actually relatively unscathed.
Re-homing, adopting, rescuing and helping cats must be a very challenging proposition for anyone, and Amy Lee is keen to stress just how these challenges tend to present themselves in a reciprocal way.
“On the one hand it’s the emotional investment – especially with so many cats that arrive with us ill or injured. On the other, it’s always financial worry. We rely entirely on donations from our followers and we are aware that, especially recently, times have been hard for people.”
“You want to help every single cat, but that’s not always possible.”
Finally, I asked Amy Lee what advice she would give to anyone who wanted to adopt a cat and she gave us all the following tips:
- Take time to think about what kind of cat you want and what kind of home you can provide.
- Read the adoption adverts carefully and consider yours and the cat’s needs.
- Check if they’re good with children or if they need outdoor access.
- If they have medical needs, make sure you understand what that means.
- Adopting a cat is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful experience.
The whole process of adopting Iris was simple and easy, yet I always understood that the people I was talking to and meeting with had the welfare of the cat at the forefront of everything they did.
After my initial application for Iris I then had an informal telephone ‘interview’ with one of the re-home team, a chance to ask any questions but also to discuss Iris’ specific needs in detail.
When I went to pick her up at the foster home in Denton, Iris was still a little bit timid and had had a hard few months, but once I got her home she really opened up and has been an absolute beauty ever since.
Deciding to adopt a cat instead of buying a kitten has easily been the best decision we could have made – she seemingly had a pretty shitty first year of her life – and now we’re going to make sure he is happy and has the best time now with us forever.
You can find Rescue Kitties on Facebook below…
And here is their ADOPTION PAGE if you feel that you’re up for the challenge…
Here are some of the most recent cats up for adoption: