Through our Twitter account we came into contact with many great people that are helping cats in need. We did an interview with one of these great organisations, namely Cherwell Cats Protection.
Cherwell Cats Protection (Cherwell CP) is a Cats Protection Branch of the National Cats Protection that is run in the Great Britain. Cherwell CP covers Cherwell, a local government district in Northern Oxfordshire.
Cats Protection is a national organisation that has a lot of members in each region saving and neutering cats.
Cherwell CP covers the towns of Bicester, Banbury, Brackley and the surrounding villages. To give you an idea where this is located in the world, Cherwell is directly North of Oxford and Northwest from London.
Cherwell CP is a cat protection service, similar to that of the RSPCA, just focussed on cats. While the National office has paid personnel, Cherwell CP Branch is entirely voluntarily driven. This model is very similar to our Norwegian animal protection (Dyrebeskyttelsen).
Cherwell CP saves cats in need, give them medical attention, neuter them back to health through foster homes and if possible place them in new forever homes. They are also part of the TNR-program.
I asked the leader of the voluntary cat protection organisation when they started their branch and what motivated them to do so:
“Cherwell branch started in 2006 with 10 founder members who had been approached from Cats Protection head office asking if we would become involved with starting a new branch. We were all subscribers to the charity which is why we were contacted, although none of us knew anything about running a branch for the charity. We had to raise £2,000 ourselves before we were allowed to start forming the branch and we did this in just over two months. The area covered by our branch is approximately 500 square miles.”
It is once again amazing how a couple of volunteers can achieve. I notice this strength as well in our work with the animal protection.
So Cherwell branch is consisting of 10 founder members, which is comparable to what we are working with, but they are not doing the whole thing alone. They still need a bunch of cat lovers that actually want to take care of the many cats they want to save each year.
So I asked them how many volunteers they have and what their role is in their mission:
“Our branch has 40 members many of whom attend our monthly meeting. The branch is comprised of myself who is the coordinator and oversees the running of the branch, I am responsible for recruiting new members and I am also the homing officer. We have a secretary, treasurer, welfare officer who runs the welfare team, neutering officer, and a social media team. As well as the members of the committee we have 12 fosterers. All the above are volunteers.”
“Without our fosterers, we could not exist. They are individual ladies who foster the cats.”
“Every member of the branch ranging from their twenties through to mid-seventies, male and female, all love animals and especially cats. Although we are all very different we have this in common and it results in a warm, happy and hard working group of people who love what they do.”
Amazed with their dedication I wondered how they work and how they house these cats at their foster homes:
Some of the volunteers have dedicated cat pens installed in their gardens (at the branch’s expense). These large pens have an outside run and a closed sleeping area. The pens are heated and have lighting. These do not come cheap at an average overall cost of installation between £4,000 and £5,000.
The other way of fostering is in house and these fosterers have the cats in their own homes as one of the family. The only difference is that the cat is not allowed out, whilst being fostered in case it runs off.
Interested in what exactly Cherwell CP’s goals and mission are, I asked her if she could explain me their objectives and methods.
“The object of the charity is to:
a) Rescue unwanted and stray cats by bringing them into the branch and placing with one of the fosterers.
b) Vet check, neuter, vaccinate, flea, worm and microchip every cat before it is rehomed.
c) Only rehome a cat to a suitable home after a home visit. We will keep a cat as long as necessary until the right person comes along. No cat is euthanased unless there are serious health problems and we are advised by a vet that this is the kindest course of action.
d) We run a neutering programme offering part or full payment of neutering costs to people on benefits and to students. Also in conjunction with local vets we offer occasional special deals on the cost of neutering/spaying your cat which is run as a promotion by the neutering officer.
e) If requested we will visit groups ie.schools, women’s institutes and give a talk on cat welfare and how our charity works.
f) We do a lot of fundraising because although we do receive money from head office we are expected to raise funds as well. We do this with bazaars, fetes, attending local events which allow charity stalls. We promote membership of our branch and encourage people to consider our branch in their will. The only money we receive is from head office, donations, membership and the cost of adopting a cat currently £70 for a kitten and £80 for a cat. There is no government funding or lottery funding.”
Knowing that more and more cats need help all over Europe, I asked Cherwell CP how they are dealing with overpopulation. In Europe and the UK they have started to use the TNR program, which stands for Trap – Neuter – Return. This is a program that makes sure that spreading gets prevented and no new cat colonies settle in area’s where you would otherwise remove many cats.
So I asked what their standpoint is on the TNR program and in which way they apply it to their branch:
“We will bring in and rehome feral kittens under 6 weeks old as they can be tamed and handled, Over that age we neuter and return. All stray cats and feral kittens brought in to us will also have a blood test and if FIV positive will be euthanased. So far this year we have rehomed 182 cats and kittens from our branch. This figure includes over 100 kittens, so even with a very strong neutering programme, we can still be inundated with kittens.”
This sounds very familiar to me, because we also save more kittens than adult cats.
As we are part of our local animal protection, I was interested to hear more about their methods of trapping cats in a humane way and asked how they trap the cats:
“We hire out cat traps and charge £20 which is non-returnable. If someone has reported a stray cat and cannot catch it, we loan out the trap and when the animal is caught we will bring it in to rehome.
I think the cat trap system for non-returnable rent is an excellent way of involving people in the process of catching stray cats. I wondered what they do with the stray cats that are caught through this cat trap rental service:
We also encourage areas with a high feral cat population eg. Farms, industrial sites, and some shopping areas to use our traps and when the feral is caught to take it to a designated vet to be neutered, ear tipped and checked over. If it is healthy it is then returned to the place it came from. The branch will pay for this treatment.
Over the past 11 years, this method has reduced the feral population in certain areas considerably. As always the problem is that another colony will then appear somewhere else. It is a never-ending job.”
I wondered if there was anything exciting to be announced.
“Over the past two years, several young people who are social media savvy have joined us. They have made a tremendous difference to the public’s awareness of us and what we do and it is because of their hard work that our adoption figures have risen considerably.”
Concluding I asked how Cherwell CP would want to better the lives of all the cats that need help.
“Our main aim is to rehome more and more cats and kittens every year and ensure that in our area people know that they can contact us and our branch will be there for them.”
I thank Cherwell CP and Mrs. Pat Murdoch for answering our questions and taking this interview.
You can follow Cherwell CP on their website: cats.org.uk/cherwell