By Leanne – Kays Hill Animal Sanctuary
The first time I saw Doc he was ferocious, hissing, spitting, growling. He wanted to kill everything and everyone who got in his way. He wasn’t alone. There were also 21 kittens of about 3-4 weeks old, there were 4 queens, mothers to the kittens; we called them Tulip, Iris, Jasmine and Rose. There were 4 half grown kittens, one already in kitten herself. These were about 6-7 months old. We called them Briar, Violet, Buttercup and Petal.
After a few days Petal had her 3 kittens. The other tom we called Willow. These cats had been kept purely for money making purposes. They had not been loved, handled or cared about, other than they seemed reasonably well fed. I suppose they had to be kept in decent conditions to carry and produce healthy enough kittens to sell.
None of them even had a name, they were not important enough for that. We knew we had our work cut out, these were not going to be easy cats (or kittens) to re-home. Whenever we tried to handle any of the adults or even the half grown kittens we came away with many bites and scratches. It wasn’t their fault. They were terrified. Their previous home may not have been very good but it was all they had ever known.
The tiny kittens were not easy but they were easier. We had everyone handling them as much as possible. Of course, all the cats had to be de-fleaed and wormed. That was fun!! But we all persevered and soon the tiny kittens were enjoying the handling, all except Henry. As tiny as he was he was a nightmare to try and handle, a real little tiger.
He was 6 months old before anyone took him and within weeks his attitude had changed and he loved his new mam. What a relief. Two of the mothers of the kittens, Tulip and Iris, started to come round and allow us to handle them and by this time we were starting to think about how we were going to re-home all of them. One of the volunteers suggested a ‘kitten’ day. We would advertise an open day for people to come along and take a look at all our cats, old and young. The day was a great success, names were taken, suitable homes were found for all of the kittens (bar Henry of course).
At the time we also had another three litters of kittens in and they too were found homes through our ‘kitten‘ day. Tulip and Iris were rehomed together by a family who could not choose between the two, so took both. Within a week or so almost all of the kittens we had, had been re-homed or had homes to go to. We were delighted. Unfortunately a week or two later little Rose, a beautiful, longhaired, tortoiseshell took ill and had to be PTS. It was very sad, she began bleeding internally and the vet couldn’t do anything to save her.
Happily jasmine was soon found a lovely home too. This left only Doc and Willow. Now, these two were a serious problem, they hated everyone, who could blame them? We worked long and hard, just talking to them while cleaning, feeding, etc., but not touching at first. It took months, but one day Doc let me stroke him, very gently, and then he backed away. I was thrilled. These things make you more determined.
It wasn’t long before everyone but Kevin had been able to make a bit of a fuss of him. The two boys hated Kevin with a passion!! If he went anywhere near the growls grew so much louder, he just kept away from them until eventually even he could at least walk up to them, if not actually touch them. We needed homes for the boys ASAP. They had now been with us for about a year. It had taken all this time just to have a breakthrough with them. We were desperate for homes for them, but as soon as anyone else approached either of them, they reacted aggressively. Of course no-one wanted such vicious cats. The truth was they were no longer vicious, but they were still scared of strangers but as much as we tried to explain their history and why they acted the way they did, people only saw ’savage’ cats. It was upsetting for us, if only the boys could understand we were all only trying to help them. It was starting to look like they would never be re-homed.
One day a family turned up looking for a cat, straight away they spotted Doc, they said he was beautiful. He is!! I took a deep breath and told them Doc’s story, everything. OK, they said, can we have a proper look at him, I could hardly believe my ears, I opened his pen door and they stroked and fussed Doc and, unbelievably, he responded to them with purrs and a look of total happiness. I could have cried.
They wanted to give him a chance and of course so did we. On the understanding that they might have to bring him back, off Doc went to his new home. Two weeks later someone came along and fell for Willow, he is now known as Elvis! We have just had these photos emailed from Docs family. I think you’ll agree that he looks very content. Docs story illustrates even the most aggressive cats can be brought on and found loving homes, it just might take a while.