Fluffy aka Teddy
A tale of two kitties.
Bernard and Fluffy were two kitties who lived on different sides of the same street. Bernard is a feral cat, born to the streets and seemingly destined to a life of misery and heartache, a constant struggle for food and shelter being his main reason for waking up every day. Just another unwanted cat on the streets of South Yorkshire… or so you’d think.
But Bernard is not your average feral. Bernard is a cat who has been recognised for being the marvellous little creature that nature designed so perfectly – Bernard is a working cat. The wonderful company where Bernard was born has taken him completely into their hearts. In exchange for managing the rat and mouse population, Bernard has his very own cat flap, receives daily food and care and has been neutered, vaccinated, wormed, flea’d and even micro chipped to the business. But perhaps most importantly, Bernard is respected and Bernard is loved.
So near and yet so far, on the other side of the road, we have Fluffy. Another feral born to the streets, Fluffy has lived his life quite contently in an alleyway at the side of a company on Dannemora Drive, Tinsley. Friends Of Ferals provided Fluffy with a small shelter and fed him daily. Fluffy never asked for anything, he just quietly got on with the ‘paw’ life had dealt him. He didn’t have a business to love and look after him, but Fluffy had Friends Of Ferals, and we would always make sure that Fluffy was comfortable and well cared for.
Friends Of Ferals are used to seeing the best and the worst of humanity played out through the lives of our feral kitties. We’ve seen love and respect, such as the kind Bernard knows, and we’ve seen abuse and neglect. Yet nothing had prepared us for the simple callousness and heartbreak we encountered when visiting Fluffy. The cat is nature’s most ingenious rat and mouse repellent. Why would you use chemicals and harmful nasties to repel them when the presence of this beautiful little animal would do the same job? Yet this company felt the need to take Fluffy’s only worldly possessions and throw them over razor wire fencing to make room for rat poison containers, destroying his whole world – for storage of an item that did the same job Fluffy would do for free.
This little cat didn’t have much but his shelter, blankets and his food bowls and they were his whole world. So the sight of little Fluffy searching for them, the complete sadness and confusion in those beautiful, haunting eyes is something we will never forget. It seems such a little thing, but to Fluffy, his whole world had imploded and he just didn’t know what to do.
Luckily for Fluffy, Friends Of Ferals couldn’t stand to see him to remain in a place that could treat him that way. Sam and Kim, two caring new friends to whom we owe a special thank you, provided generous donations for Fluffy to be treated, neutered, blood tested and micro-chipped and together with dedicated trapper Annie, they successfully trapped this lovely boy.
Once in wonderful Jo’s foster care, Fluffy’s previous life revealed itself to us. He has experienced hunger and poor nutrition along with exposure to the elements and fight injuries. He sought shelter within the base of a flimsy wet divan bed that has been illegally fly tipped. He has diced with fatal injury by crossing a nearby four lane highway. He has endured the impatience and scourge of people who considered him worthless as demonstrated by that local business who didn’t even seem to consider him a sentient being with needs as simple of shelter and food. Yet despite all this, it quickly became clear that this street cat had a loving and gentle disposition and just needed time to learn to trust again. Fluffy’s sad past will now be replaced by a very bright future. His microchip just awaited a final name and an address to make him ‘whole’.
After three months with Jo, Fluffy, now known as Teddy, has found that magical name and address to go onto his microchip – he is now officially a member of his very own family. This lovely boy never need worry again, Julia and her family saw what a special boy he is and couldn’t wait to give him the very things that he saw Bernard receiving a whole other lifetime ago – love, comfort and respect. Even though these two cats are no longer neighbours, Bernard and Fluffy are now very much on the ‘same side’ of the street. And to all you Friends Of Ferals out there, from the donators to the adopters, the trappers to those who hit the share button, we couldn’t have done it without you. So from Teddy and from all of us, our ‘thank yous’ are so heartfelt, we can’t even put them into words, so I hope these pictures can speak a thousand of them.
Grenoside Stable Kittens
A famous proverb states that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Well, sometimes the same can be said in animal rescue. The small rescues of South Yorkshire often knit together in order to help the animals in need and one such rescue who works tirelessly alongside Friends of Ferals is Rotherham Rescue Rangers. In the same week that the lovely Grenoside Stables approached Friends of Ferals with an offer of ‘feral accommodation’, Rotherham Rescue Rangers also reached out for assistance to place three little feral kittens who needed a safe haven to call their own. Another ‘lone rescue ranger’ in his own right is Alan Hood, and along with his self designed and custom built cat run, the three kittens were secured in the stables where their new owners could earn their trust and teach them that only good things like warmth, shelter and plenty of food were to come to them from now on.
Once released, the kittens quickly established themselves and became an integral part of the team there. When Friends of Ferals had occasion to return to the stables, they were greeted with the sight of Tabby sitting contently on a chair by the side of the wood burning stove, her body gratefully accepting the kind of heat little ferals can’t find in the wild. Her fellow feral, the little black dot, came rushing across the barn to greet them – a wonderful gesture towards those who helped them to secure the new life they were thriving in. The third kitten was off working, keeping the barns and stables pest free no doubt, more than earning her keep. It may take a village to raise a child, but it can also take a huge team effort in order to save a kitten – or three!
When we say that cats and kittens are living on the edge, Maggie never thought for one moment a family would actually be doing this on a rooftop.
A changing world and climate can illuminate just how desperate and how wonderful feral cats really are. People often only see the hunger and dirt associated with street cats, but they often miss the resourcefulness of the mothers that will go to any lengths to protect their babies. One such mother was a lovely little thing, old beyond her years, thin and dirty and anxious, she would cross one of the busiest roads in Rotherham and scale a 12 foot wall, just to bring bits of rats and pigeons to her beloved little family. Unfortunately for us, it is just this kind of ingenuity and strength that can lead to some difficult and dangerous situations when it comes to their rescue and no situations spring to mind more so that what became known as ‘The Rooftop Saga’.
We first became aware of this little family when a dentist called David reported to us that a feral cat had given birth to two kittens on top of a roof and was there anything we could do to help? Knowing how dangerous it could be, we decided we couldn’t allow them to continue living in such a place, but little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for! This little family instigated and maintained certain tricks and illusions that were worthy of a magic show slot in Las Vegas. They proved so illusive that our only option was to buy a battery operated CCTV to try and locate their hideout and learn their routines if we were ever going to stand a chance of catching them.
Thanks to the magic of CCTV, we discovered mum Flossy was visiting babies Minty and Peg on the roof at 10pm and 2am (their names were a nod to David the dentist who found and sought help for them.) No matter how many times we visited that roof hoping to find the little family sat waiting in the trap, the kittens had cottoned on and were staying under the tarpaulin by the air conditioning unit and only coming out to play when we had gone!
No matter what we tried, nothing seemed to work. This family were quickly becoming the Houdinis of the feral world by producing more than one disappearing trick. One day the trap door was down, the food inside was gone, but the trap… empty! At this point we had been trying to catch the little magicians for four long weeks and seemed no closer to figuring out their illusions. Every night trappers were waiting from dusk to dawn in the cold and dark but these kittens always seemed just one step ahead.
This time they were caught and kept and transported to the wonderful Sheffield Cats Shelter where the matter of socialisation and treatment could begin. There was still one kitten, Peg, left on the roof, under the air conditioning unit, but it would only be a matter of time before hunger took over. And the ending? Well, our little magicians have ceased needing to use their disappearing tricks as they all now have lives that are worth sticking around for. Minty was the first to be adopted by Holly and looked every inch the pampered feline we all knew he’d grow to be.
Then there was mum Flossy. Flossy was described by the locals as being so vicious that she wouldn’t even go near the trap, never mind be adopted. However, once her kittens no longer needed her to be their protector in the dangerous world that the streets are to ferals, Flossy allowed herself to become reliant on others for a change and became the cat that only Friends of Ferals and The Sheffield Cats Shelter knew she really was.
And finally Peg, the one that got away? Well, she didn’t get away. She was caught and kept by Sue and is now as happy as her brother and her mum.
None of this would have been possible without David, who reported the family on the roof in the first place and who had no fear of climbing the ladders with Joanne Gardner to help them.
Salinger and Moses
Cheryl Redfearn, supporter of Friends of Ferals says, “These are my cats, Salinger and Moses. Salinger was in the stomach of a rescued, pregnant feral, so thankfully, Salinger never had to know the daily struggle of being a feral on the streets of South Yorkshire. He never had to fight for food or try to shelter from sleet or wind. His body never had to try and heal itself from a broken leg or a serious infection. Salinger is a sensitive soul and every time he comes running in from the garden when a pigeon or a squirrel scares him, I wonder how he would have coped with the realities that ferals face every day.
Sal and Mo Moses was part of a 14 strong colony of ferals rescued from a garden. This time last year, Moses was getting ready to spend his first Christmas on the streets as a kitten, trying to survive the snow, the cold and the hunger. He has serious food allergies which means he has to be kept on a strict diet, a diet not available on the streets. I’ve never known a cat love the warmth from a radiator the way Moses does, his body determined to absorb every last wave of heat. The contented look on his little face the first time he understood what strokes were for still haunts me. I often wonder what he went through out there.
Selby Farm Kittens
I’m sure everyone knows the fairytale of the ‘tortoise and the hare’, but for the ‘tortoiseshell and the black kitten’, slow and steady also wins the race. These two kittens were born and living alone on a piece of urban wasteland, as forgotten as the industry that it once housed. Busy traffic on the nearby roads, lack of sufficient nourishment and the natural predators of defenceless kittens meant their lives were lived day by day, always full of danger and uncertainty. Friends of Ferals believe that all kittens deserve a chance at a happy home and a ‘cats life’ and with these two being so young, they were perfect candidates for domestication. So a trap was set and a place at the wonderful Sheffield Cats Shelter was secured for them. However, not every fairytale has to conclude the same way for it to be a happy ending. Whilst at The Sheffield Cats Shelter, the two kittens became extremely stressed at being kept indoors. Many ferals adapt well to the change in environment, but not these two and so an alternative plan was hatched. These kittens needed a place to live where they would be safe from harm and where they would be allowed to grow at their own pace. A couple of wonderful Friends of Ferals supporters saw the plight of the kittens and contacted us to say that they knew of just such a place; their very own magical kingdom. Now every fairytale needs a Prince Charming and in this tale, his name is Alan Hood. Alan had designed and built a cat pen for feral cats which gives them the room and outdoor environment to keep them stress free whilst allowing them the safety and security to adapt and acclimatise to their new surroundings and their new humans.
The transport of the kittens and their pen to the magical kingdom was a military operation that involved many people, the transport aid of outdoors specialist Towsure and many acts of kindness, but eventually it all came together and the kittens arrived at their new home – a farm in Selby, North Yorkshire. The kittens are to live out the rest of their lives at the farm, safe from roads and predators. In exchange for food and shelter, they will patrol the barns and keep them rat and mouse free. After several weeks of living in the run, the cats began to understand the nature of their relationship with the humans that visited them. Their confidence levels grew and they soon became settled enough to be let out and move into their very own shelter to keep them warm and cosy at night.
They now have the run of the farm, food aplenty and even a job to keep them occupied – a job they do very well! It may not have been the ending we envisioned at first, but it is certainly became a fairytale ending and we know that these two will live happily ever after.