Anita Hall interviews Deputy Manager Tania Marsh
How did the charity come about?
It was started in 1927 by animal campaigner Jessey Wade and a small group of like-minded people. Back then, cats were seen very differently, and we didn’t have the relationship with them that we have now. They were viewed almost as pests. Jessey wanted to change that and to improve the status of cats. It started on a very small scale in her back garden, and gradually advanced to where we are now, with over 256 branches and 30 adoption centres throughout the UK.
How about the Cat Centre in Chelwood Gate?
We are the largest centre in the Cats Protection organisation, and the only one with a veterinary centre on site. In fact, at the time of build in 2004, we were the largest cattery in Europe. We have 202 pens and seven different wings – two are homing wings and the others are for admissions, maternity and isolation. We typically have around 200 cats and kittens at any one time, with that number fluctuating as cats leave and come in.
What does the charity do?
We rehome cats and kittens, provide information on their health and needs, and campaign on issues such as neutering and micro-chipping. At the time of our 90th anniversary in 2017, Cats Protection had rehomed over 1.5 million cats, and, here at the Cat Centre, we found homes for 1,057 cats and kittens in 2018.
Around 95 per cent of the cats here come from homes where something has happened so that they can no longer keep the cat. Someone might have lost their job, become ill or had to go into care, or to move into rented accommodation where they aren’t allowed pets. There can be all sorts of different reasons, and we are here to help, not judge.
The remaining five per cent are strays. They are often in a bad state of health and may not have been socialised with other animals or people. Our current Cat of the Month, Blackjack (pictured), was a stray – you can see from his ears that he’s had a hard time – and he’s the sweetest boy. He just wants to stay inside and sleep!
How can people get involved?
We don’t get any funding, so we rely entirely on donations and the support of volunteers. We run regular fundraising events, and we welcome volunteers here at the Centre. People can also donate food, cat toys and towels, or sponsor a pen and the cats that go through it. Or they can come along to our shop and café, or enjoy our nature trail. There’s plenty to do on site, even if you don’t want to adopt a cat – and, if you do, it’s much better to come to us than go to a private breeder or dealer. The difference is that we’re doing it for love, while they’re doing it for money…