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Some staff at Cats Protection resigning over the organisation’s kill policy

CAT NEWS & VIEWS: There appears to be dissent amongst some of the volunteers at the well-known cat rescue organisation, Cats Protection, over their kill policy. It is reported that some of the staff have resigned and some have been sacked because of this. One member of staff, Natalie, says that the charity wants to euthanise cats that have two viruses namely Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and the feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). Both FIV and FeLV cats are adoptable and can live decent lives under proper care.

ZANDT. Cats Protection had apparently told a volunteer, Iain, that a rescue cat, Zandt, had to be returned to where he had been found but Iain rejected that request and adopted the cat instead. As you can see in the photograph he is thriving. Photo: Iain MacIver

She stays that if a feral cat comes into the rescue suffering from either of these viruses they are euthanised immediately without any further testing. Another volunteer, Sue Phillips, supports her accusations. She volunteered at the Atherton and Wigan branch for 21 years but was recently told that she was no longer wanted.

There was a meeting at the branch over a cat called Simba who had FIV. The organisation wanted to put the cat to sleep. The volunteers challenged the decision. Management insisted that FIV cats are to be euthanised. It was a clash of attitude.

Sue Phillips also recalls another cat called Zorro. She agreed to transfer him to an adoption centre. She had put a lot of effort into taking care of Zorro. Within three weeks of being placed at the new adoption centre he had been euthanised. They didn’t discuss it with her. She believes that it was the worst decision of her life to let him go to a new adoption centre and that he should not have been put to sleep.

Zara Oldfield works at the Torbay and Teignbridge branch. She was told on a course run by the charity in January that from April cats with FeLV had to be euthanised together with kittens born of a FeLV mother. Also, FIV cats were assessed for any other issues such as behavioural issues and if they existed these cats were to be euthanised as well. She said that the tests aren’t always accurate but that did not change the policy.

Jackie Goodman worked at the Stockport branch as a coordinator. She was sacked because she had allowed freeroaming cats near the pens. Her manager said that the colony of cats had to go and she refused. Most of them had health issues so it would have been hard to rehome them. She did what she thought was right for the cats. She was told that she was spending too much. It appears that she agrees but she wasn’t deliberately breaking the rules. She was just doing what she thought was right for cat welfare.

Carole Barnes worked at the Stockport branch for 11 years. She was also sacked because she helped another volunteer setup a cat rescue organisation in Stopford. This created a conflict of interest which resulted in her departure. Their rescue is doing well, apparently.

In another example, Kim Leadbitter resigned from the Wharfe Valley branch in North Yorkshire. She had been smuggling cats out of the charity because they were given a death sentence and she disagreed with it. She says that FIV cats should not be given a death sentence. She claims that her branch had plenty of money but that she had to get permission spending anything over £50.

A volunteer at the Harrogate branch said that, “There is a kill policy for FIV cats both domestic and feral. I was told that we were not to take in any more farm kittens as ‘who knows what germs they may bring in'”.

Another volunteer, Naomi Reynolds, at the Wrexham branch resigned after a kitten called Pickford was put to sleep. The kitten had health issues but an adopter had been found who was willing to pay the fee and for treatment. The kitten was still euthanised.

Pickford was dead and so was my belief in cats protection – Naomi

Iain MacIver also had a grief with the charity. He rescued an emaciated and traumatised cat named Zandt (see picture on this page). He adopted the cat rather than carry out the instructions of the charity to release him where he was found. He regarded that instruction as a death sentence for the cat who is now an adorable loving cat companion to Ian but, “no thanks to Cats Protection”.

I will leave it there. There are other examples on the Mirror newspaper website. The general tone of the article is that the attitude of Cats Protection over cats which could be saved and those which could be euthanised differs to that of a significant number of their volunteers upon whom they depend to run the organisation. My impression is that the management may have decided to tighten their purse strings because of budgetary demands. It is always like that. It’s about deciding where to draw the line. Cat welfare costs money. Saving lives costs money and tough decisions have to be made. That is not to defend the charity. I would tend to support the volunteers over the management but I don’t have all the facts.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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