By Pat Kingsnorth – Ark on the Edge – animal sanctuary
One June morning in 2000 I was rung by the RSPCA and the call enlightened me in the world of breeding. They had been alerted to a breeder and had found 7 pedigree DLH (domestic long hair) Persians kept in cages for breeding purposes. Cages were not very big just enough for cat and some kittens. What they found was the females never been brushed and in a dreadful state.
The call was to ask if I could take one and keep her until after the court hearing. I hadn’t been up in the north very long but they had heard of the work I did and I was recommended.
The cat that came to me was the female white Persian Bonnie, one eye was blue and the other orange. She had been neutered by the RSPCA and because of her disgusting state had had to be shaved leaving just hair on head and tail the rest of her body was raw red from skin problems.
For 10 years Bonnie had not known anything other than the cage. The only time she had contact with another adult cat was the male for mating and then the kittens till 6-8 weeks old. She then was mated up again and off again in the never ending loop.
She didn’t know what it was like to be loved and cared for and she could only be described as a bitch. Within minutes of meeting the other cats she would launch herself at them and sink her teeth into them. So she had to be kept separate. With people she was very wary, so obvious that she had not been treated too well. I needed to attend to her skin and reassure her that I wasn’t going to hurt her.
The idea was for me to have her until after the court hearing and then the RSPCA would find her a home. Well, once you get an animal safe, they say its for life – and so she was. The breeder was heavily fined and banned from keeping animals and when contacted by the RSPCA they were told by me that’s fine I will keep her, and so she stayed.
With a background like hers it was very hard work gaining trust and reassurance. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was getting her to be with the other 12 cats I had at the time and that was a real issue.
As my ever growing rescued animals increased in size and needed more space we had to move and we rented a Raby farm which is now Ark on the Edge. The problem about what to do with Bonnie had worried me for weeks but I need not have worried. Putting all cats into carriers and transporting them to new house it was then a case of just letting them out and hoping for the best.
Nothing surprised me more than Bonnie walking out and finding the nearest cat bed and settling down with any cat that wanted to share with her. Unbelievable!
From that day on we never had any issues, she was one of the group and would happily lay with anyone of the others.
This year at the grand age of 23 she had had all bar one tooth removed and no other issues. She had become incontinent but I could cope with that.
I had to shave her hair regularly as she had always hated being brushed, not surprising from the way her life had started, and she had to have regular baths to keep her clean and disease free. She wore a small dog fleece coat and even had people buying her one. She joined us here in the centre for the last few months of her life and I think she really enjoyed the company.
She had been a little unwell and during one of our regular vet visits I had contemplated having her put to sleep. The vet arrived to see one 23 year old playing in the yard on a sunny day with a piece of straw. She checked Bonnie over and said there was no real reason to put her to sleep for her age she was healthy, so she lived on another 4 months after that.
Bonnie would be in the centre during the day and come with me in the house on the evening spending her time on my lap. Despite her start in life she lived till 23 years old and died quietly on my lap a few weeks ago.
Really drives home the horrible life some of these animals for breeding must have and I am sure that there must be thousands out there still in bad conditions.
We need to home in on this awful state and stop all this unnecessary breeding. There’s plenty of animals needing to be rescued without breeding anymore.
Bonnie was one of the lucky ones there will be plenty more not so lucky, once there useful days of breeding are over what happens to them!!
First picture shows her eyes, second few weeks before she died drying in the sunshine after a batch, third having a walk after a bath and last what she looked like after being with me for a while. Beautiful cat in the end so affectionate. RIP Bonnie wish you were the last to face such a bad start in life but know you won’t be.