Archive article re Olympic site cats rescued by CHAT pictures currently being added, PLEASE bear with us
OLYMPIC SITE CATS
2012 OLYMPIC STADIUM CAT RESCUE STRATFORD EAST LONDON
The Trust was contacted on the 9th July 2007 by the London Development Agency to remove four kittens that were trapped in one of the empty units on the Olympic site.
The site was due to be handed over on 10th July to the Olympic Delivery Authority who would not accept the site with cats in the buildings.
We attended the site to rescue the four starving kittens which were living in a pile of pallets stacked inside the building.
Whilst we were there we noticed approximately 15 other cats on the site, two of which appeared to have recently had kittens. They were going in and out of the buildings on site, many of which had open windows. We were told by people from the adjoining unit that the number of cats was approximately 20 to 25.
We offered to rescue the rest of the cats and asked to be given enough time to rescue the remaining cats. While we were there we were approached by various builders and people working on the site who told us that there were many cats roaming all over the Olympic site.
A frantic period of negotiating to try to extend the wholly inadequate time that we were given to complete the rescue then began.
We managed to rescue the first group of cats we saw but were unable to negotiate an extension of time to rescue other cats and were told to leave the site on August 5th.
After we were banished from the site on August 5th we contacted the local M.P. and other influential people were approached to attempt to get us back on site to complete the rescue work.
Whilst negotiations continued our rescue work carried on rescuing a large number of cats from two other areas. Firstly from cold stores destined for imminent demolition within the site. We also continued rescuing cats from the Waterden road which still had functioning bus garages and a chinese supermarket. Although the Waterden Road area was a secure site it was still under the control of the London Development Agency so we were able to access these areas.
Following intensive negotiation we were allowed back on the main site from 19th - 28th October and then banned again.
Further media interest helped us to regain access in the New Year to complete this enormous rescue project.
The rescue of 187 cats from the 2012 Olympic Demolition Site has been the most difficult and stressful rescue mission under the most difficult circumstances that the Trust has ever undertaken.
If you are interested in the full story of this rescue please continue to read on, here follows our website updates covering the rescue from July 2007 until the rescue of the elusive Blackjack in July 2008.
THE OLYMPIC 2012 SITE, STRATFORD, LONDON
Many cats removed from site now desperately needing homes and we urgently need your financial assistance to help fund this huge rescue mission
It is not only local businesses and residents that have lost their property and homes on the Olympic site, a huge tract of land covering approx 800 acres. Numerous cats and kittens are living in and around derelict/vacated buildings and across swathes of wasteland.
There is a 5 point Ecology Action Plan for endangered species, such as some newts, reptiles, birds and insects, but there is apparently no contingency plan for the safe removal of cats.
The area around the building and range of units pictured below was home to 19 cats and kittens. All have now been rescued.
We are so concerned at the scale of the problem. Not only the number of cats that need to be brought to safety - many are wandering, traumatised and disorientated, due to the destruction of their habitat - but the limited time available to us to try to make sure that cats and kittens are not injured or killed in the demolition process.
We urgently need homes for the cats and kittens we have already taken in. Some are nervous rather than feral as they were fed by the previous owners of businesses, but many will need to go to farms, stables and smallholdings. All will be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped and we will give advice and support to introduce them to their new location.
This building, and units to the rear were home to 19 cats and kittens.
All white and black and with similar markings they are clearly one family.
Twenty four hours ago a mother and kittens were sheltering in a hole at the bottom of this wall. They are now safe with us.
This was the loading ramp that the cats normally used as a passageway from one end of these units to the other. Now a place of huge danger, soon to be flattened completely.
The Trust has over the last year, removed many cats which we had previously neutered and returned where they were being fed, but it is impossible over such a vast area to know exactly where groups of cats are living. Despite our best efforts to locate as many cats as possible, many groups of cats only became visible through hunger after the departure of their food source, either via humans or edible factory waste.
The thirteen kittens pictured on the left were rescued from the site together with their mothers from beneath a huge pile of pallets about to be removed for disposal
Just some of the cats and kittens waiting for new homes from the Olympic site are pictured here
They all deserve a chance - can you help?
A DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT
Here is a picture of the 'cold stores' which gives an indication of the appalling conditions in which some of the cats had to try to survive.
A demolition site is a terrifying environment for cats for whom these vacated buildings were home. We have now rescued 24 cats from this part of the Olympic site.
While we were working there the adult cats ran to any surrounding cover (in this case minimal bramble bushes) and at night returned to creep around the scene of devastation.
However mother cats caring for young kittens cannot flee. Mother cats have extremely strong maternal instincts and will not abandon their kittens, they and their kittens remain huddled in the most dangerous areas.
Our rescue team have had to watch the cats and identify lactating cats and then carefully and patiently observe their movements in order to identify where kittens may be concealed.
On the 7th October we finally managed to rescue a black and white female cat who had previously been trapped, neutered and returned to the area by another charity a few years ago. She was very trap-shy and we are so relieved to have finally removed her to safety. The diggers were getting closer everyday to her 'den'.
A black and white cat had her litter of 7 week old kittens hidden under a pile of pallets and rubbish. A tabby cat also had a litter under pallets in the opposite corner of the same yard.
These probably seemed safe places when the cats chose them to give birth and rear their kittens. Fortunately we rescued both mums and their kittens.
PETER & PAULS' OLYMPIC STORY
THIS IS PETER AND PAUL.
This is why for us it's so worthwhile rescuing all these cats.
We have been told but "they are only feral and stray cats", "they are not an endangered species", "they will run away and find somewhere else to live"
We don't agree. Peter and Paul were in an empty warehouse with their three littermates (Bill, Ben and Pippin). Their mum thought they were safe there. She kept coming to one of our feeding points at one of the security gates. Obviously full of milk we could see her entering the site and disappearing to the right between warehouses.
After negotiation and before the ban we were eventually allowed to feed by the warehouse to entice the kittens and the family were rescued.
Their new owner tells us that:
"They are settling in really well, much better than I expected as they were younger than I'd intended taking!
I actually think they are the perfect age for us as they are still quite playful and young enough to adjust to our routines without feeling too much stress.
They are eating and drinking well (one bout of dodgy tummy responded to a half day fast and boiled chicken and rice advised by my vet and they are now on regular kitten food). I've registered them with my local vet and insured them with RSPCA.
They have settled into a routine and have found their favorite sleeping spots. My son Joe is completely besotted and spends hours playing with them in the early evening when they are at their most lively. They have both really come out of their shells and although one is slightly shy they are both coming running for petting and actively seek us both out for affection."
ALL WE ASK IS THAT WE BE ALLOWED TO RESUME OUR RESCUE WORK ON SITE TO BRING THE REMAINING OLYMPIC PARK SITE CATS TO SAFETY.
If you would like to write to the relevant people to request that CHAT is given access to continue rescuing the remaing cats on the Olympic site, Please click here for contact addresses.
We have been offered no payment or donation to help fund this enormous rescue mission and the cost of rescuing, neutering, vaccinating and microchipping the cats and kittens and providing essential veterinary treatment for injuries is a major drain on our finances.
£70,000 was spent by the O.D.A. on moving 150 newts to a new location but not a penny has been offered by them to help with this huge cat rescue project.
Please help by sending a donation, whatever you can afford, to assist with this huge project - there are still many cats on site in terrible danger.
Please do not believe Olympic Delivery Authority (O.D.A) claims that they are working closely with C.H.A.T and that they will notify C.H.A.T if kittens, lactating or pregnant cats are seen.
They are reassuring the public by letter, email, telephone and in their own Newsletter (Issue 3, November 2007), that "The ODA is working closely with the Celia Hammond Trust to capture these cats and move them off the site and into new homes."
THIS IS NOT TRUE AND THE PUBLIC ARE BEING MISLED. WE HAVE ONLY BEEN ALLOWED ON THE MAJOR PART OF THE SITE FROM JULY 10th - AUGUST 5th AND OCTOBER 19th - 28th.
They cannot exclude us from the northern section of the site as there are businesses still in occupation who have invited us to rescue cats from the surrounding area. The majority of cats have come from this area. We have never been allowed to research the remainder of the site to establish numbers and locations of cats.
Being banned from the Olympic site is hardly conducive to a good working relationship and no pregnant or lactating cats have been reported to us by the O.D.A. In fact, they recently prevented us from rescuing a pregnant feral cat.
Out of the 168 cats and kittens that C.H.A.T has already rescued, only 5 cats have been reported to us by the O.D.A.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (O.D.A) has gone back on the agreement brokered at a meeting with C.H.A.T on October 11th and confirmed on October 12th that C.H.A.T would be given night access again to the Olympic site to continue rescue work, with a review of progress in a month.
This agreement was confirmed to Sky News on October 12th by the O.D.A whose spokesperson told the Sky reporter,
"The last business - a salmon company - is about to leave the site, so we have arranged for Celia and her team - accompanied, and with the proper protective equipment to come and see if there are more animals to be taken off site. We look forward to giving them all the assistance we can."
On the night of the 12th October, the Head of External Relations at the O.D.A who had brokered the agreement, went on leave for 2 weeks, and our request to access the site that evening to trap the remaining cats at Formans, the Salmon Processors and the pregnant cat nearby was refused.
The following illustrates our frustration and despair at the unexpected collapse of the agreement:
Friday, 12th Oct - Request for access to trap cats refused. We were told we can start on Monday.
Saturday, 13th Oct - Request for access to trap cats refused.
Sunday, 14th Oct - Request for access to trap cats refused.
Monday, 15th Oct - We were told we can't trap tonight after all, but can start tomorrow.
Tuesday, 16th Oct - Request for access to trap cats refused. Told can definitely start Thursday.
Wednesday, 17th Oct - Request for access to trap cats refused.
Thursday, 18th Oct - Just leaving clinic at 6.00pm to get to Pudding Mill Lane Security Entrance when at 6.30pm we received a phone-call saying plans cancelled - no access to site allowed.,
Friday, 19th Oct - Access finally granted, but too late for the Formans cats, who had disappeared due to the amount of disturbance caused by earth moving machinery and the dismantling of the contents of the building.
The pregnant cat was last seen on 17th October by one of the staff, and has disappeared - whether crushed in the demolition or to have kittens, one does not know.
We were asked on the 19th October by the London Development Agency (responsible for acquiring possession of the Olympic Site) to remove cats from the Travellers' Site at Clays Lane, within the Olympic site before it was handed over to the O.D.A.
We were asked to complete the trapping of this colony of feral cats by Monday, October 22nd. In fact, we had to negotiate some extra days as all the cats were trap-shy, having been trapped, neutered and returned previously by another charity.
From 19th October, we were putting food adjacent to Formans Salmon Processors to try and encourage the cats back so that we could trap them.
We were horrified to be told in an email from the O.D.A, on the 25th October, that we would no longer be given access to either site after Sunday 28th October.
After the 28th October and return from leave of the Head of External relations, C.H.A.T emailed the O.D.A several times to try to find out what had happened to the agreement we had reached on the 12th October, and why things had gone so disastrously wrong
An email was sent to us from the O.D.A on the 14th November, not mentioning our agreement of the 12th October, but saying that they would be happy to discuss access to the Olympic site NEXT YEAR for the next phase of vacant possession. Not a word about the terrible danger that the cats on the site are already in with demolition all around them and no food.
Celia contacted the Head of External Relations on the 14th November to express her frustration and anger. She was told that a few hours were needed to review this.
On the 15th November, The Head of External Relations telephoned Celia to say that she had not been able to contact the Construction Team concerned but would try again the next day.
There was no further word until the 22nd November when C.H.A.T was offered four evenings on site (26th-29th November) to locate the cats, set up feeding stations to encourage them back to safe areas where they could be trapped and to complete the rescue of cats on site - a completely impossible and totally unrealistic proposal. These cats are petrified and have probably dispersed over the site, do the O.D.A think we can go on site and call them and they will come running?
WHY ARE WE BANNED?
The O.D.A has banned the Trust from the major part of the Olympic site on Health and Safety grounds.
This is despite the fact that all our rescue staff have CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Health and Safety qualifications and we have two qualified First Aiders in the team. We are therefore as qualified to work on a construction site as unskilled labourers, and cannot understand why we are not being allowed to complete this rescue project. We submitted Risk Assessments, Method Statements and attended site inductions at Nuttalls, Morrisons and Bovis Lend Lease, the three contractors involved. Our trapping methods do not require us to go into demolition areas, as we encourage cats onto safe feeding sites to be trapped without danger to us or the cats. We operate the traps from our vehicles while parked on the roadways on site, the traps are always close to the vehicles so they can be seen in the dark. The security guards are constantly driving up and down these roadways, so we don't understand how this can be a Health and Safety issue. If it is safe for the guards to drive on the roads, then why not us? Our work is carried out at night so there is no delay to the workings of the site.
It's unfortunate that in the last three weeks of August, the whole of September and October (with the exception of the 19th to the 28th of October) and to date, during which period we were not allowed on the major part of the site to continue trapping, the remaining cats will have dispersed and may have bred.
If we had been allowed to continue our rescue work instead of being banned for the first time on August 5th, then all our rescue work would have been completed weeks ago. What a tragedy that all these unnecessary delays will result in continued suffering for these poor terrified cats.
The O.D.A say that they will notify us if any cats are seen, but that there is no evidence of any more cats. As the site is so incredibly noisy during the day it is not surprising that they haven't seen the cats that we know are there. The cats are hiding during the day venturing out under cover of darkness. We have been told by the O.D.A that all the buildings are inspected for animals before demolition and yet out of the 157 cats that we have rescued only 5 were notified to us by the Olympic authorities. They do not appear to have known that the remaining 152 that we have rescued so far were there, so we do not have any confidence in a system that relies on the O.D.A notifying us of cats that need to be rescued.
C.H.A.T has the backing of the R.S.P.C.A who have written to the O.D.A supporting our request for access and endorsing our capabilities, experience and expertise.
UPDATE: 22nd December >>> VICTORIA & GEORGE'S STORY
They were rescued from Waterden Road, the only part of the Olympic site the ODA cannot stop us from accessing as the bus stations are still in operation and they welcome our efforts to get the cats to safety. George had made his home a week ago in a bus that was out of use and his arrival was reported to us by Alan and Mark from the bus company - he must have taken refuge in the vehicle because of the demolition and devastation elsewhere on the site as he had not been seen before. Alan and Mark have both been very helpful identifying and monitoring movement of cats in the Waterden Road area, most of which we have now brought off site.
Victoria appeared 48 hours ago at a different bus station in the same road, where the many cats we recently rescued had been regularly fed by Larry, one of the bus drivers. She was all alone, terrified and crying pitifully. She was so ravenously hungry that it only took a matter of minutes to get her to enter the trap. Once we got her back to the clinic, we soon realised that she was completely tame and must have originally belonged to someone on the site. She was ear-tipped, so we knew she was neutered. Again, never seen before at that location, she must have been frightened away from her original environment on the site - probably by the huge earth-moving machines that are everywhere on site. We decided to put George and Victoria together as she seemed so distressed and from the moment they saw each other, it was love at first sight - she snuggled up to him, pushed her head under his and started purring and George, who had been almost feral when he came in, instantly became putty in her paws, even allowing us to stroke him.
Although George and Victoria are safe now and will be rehomed together, the heart-breaking thing is that so many other cats are still trapped on the southern part of the site, out of reach of our help, cold, hungry and frightened and struggling to exist in an alien and terribly dangerous world. The ODA repeatedly ignore our numerous requests to go onto the southern part of the Olympic site to rescue them - how long can these poor, traumatised cats survive with no food or shelter? Their avoidable suffering and deaths will stain the London 2012 Olympic Games forever.
END 2007 UPDATE: 168 CATS AND KITTENS ALREADY RESCUED FROM 2012 OLYMPIC PARK DEMOLITION SITE BUT REMAINING CATS DOOMED UNLESS O.D.A. ALLOW C.H.A.T. ACCESS AND ENOUGH TIME TO COMPLETE RESCUE WORK. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE GIVEN C.H.A.T. YOUR SUPPORT REGARDING THE PLIGHT OF THE OLYMPIC CATS. THE CATS NEED YOU MORE THAN EVER NOW THAT THE OLYMPIC DELIVERY AUTHORITY HAS GONE BACK ON THEIR AGREEMENT WITH C.H.A.T AND HAVE SAID THAT ACCESS WILL NOT BE GIVEN UNTIL SOME TIME DURING THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2008. THE O.D.A. REFUSAL TO ALLOW US ON SITE WILL UNDOUBTEDLY RESULT IN THE SUFFERING, STARVATION AND PROBABLE DEATH OF CATS CURRENTLY ON SITE. IT HAS BEEN BITTERLY COLD AND POURING WITH RAIN, INCREASING THEIR MISERY. PUBLIC PRESSURE IS THEIR ONLY HOPE NOW.
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UPDATE: 5th December, 2007
The O.D.A are sending out what appears to be a standard response to members of the public and the media, saying that they have offered C.H.A.T "an extended period of access" on to the site but that we have declined this offer and that we have suggested no alternative dates. This "extended period of access" was only from 26th to the 29th of November from 6pm to midnight. This offer was made to me by the Community Relations Manager, O.D.A, on my mobile in the evening of the 22nd November, while I was trying to catch an injured dog that had been hit by a car. I said that four evenings to complete a rescue project involving cats which had dispersed over the site due to the recent demolition was a completely unrealistic timescale. I asked to be emailed with the O.D.A proposal as I was dealing with an emergency. However I did not receive an email confirming this offer and after C.H.A.T's previous experience of the verbal agreement of October 12th with the O.D.A which was not honoured, I wanted written confirmation of an offer and arrangements. I did not decline access and with regard to the suggestion that we did not offer alternative dates, we have been trying to negotiate access back on to the site since August 5th, with brief access granted from 19th to 28th October. A complete record of correspondence and emails, detailing the whole frustrating and sorry saga, is held by the Trust.
Although we have explained on countless occasions the necessity for setting up feeding stations to encourage the cats back to safe areas adjacent to the roadway for trapping, the granting of four evenings shows a complete lack of understanding of the technique of trapping feral cats. These cats are terrified and will only come out when the site is quiet and under cover of darkness. It requires enormous patience and skill which C.H.A.T's experienced rescue team have. There is no guarantee that, after four evenings on site, the cats would have even discovered the feeding points, let alone that we could have completed trapping them.
As we operate the traps remotely from our vehicles parked on the road side, we have no need to access any other areas as the cats will come to the feeding points. The roads are regularly patrolled by vehicular and pedestrian security guards, so it is difficult to see how we could be in any danger whatsoever.
We feel that the O.D.A offer was a token gesture to diffuse criticism from the public and the media rather than a real attempt to resolve a potentially tragic situation and to suggest that we have not requested alternative access is not true.
UPDATE: 17th January, 2008
On the 15th January a meeting was held between C.H.A.T and the O.D.A. to discuss access to the Olympic site.
The O.D.A. agreed to formalise C.H.A.T's access to the Waterden Road on the Northern part of the site. This is the road that C.H.A.T uses to reach the bus garage at the far end of the road, which is the last company still operating, but which closes on 26th February.
The O.D.A agreed access to the already closed bus garage at the entrance of Waterden road should cats be seen by C.H.A.T or site employees before or during the soft strip prior to demolition.
C.H.A.T has cleared the whole length of the Waterden Road area twice, as new cats are turning up and appear to be those migrating from the Southern part of the site, which now has so much site traffic and heavy earth moving vehicles on it, that any remaining cats will be constantly on the move as this alien environment changes almost daily. We have managed to recover a total of seven cats from just outside the Southern part of the site, by creating strategic feeding points beyond the security gates.
The O.D.A are adamant that C.H.A.T will not have access to the Southern part of the site but we are determined to keep trying to recover any remaining cats trying to survive in this terribly hostile environment.
WE HAVE RECEIVED REPORTS THAT A SMALL NUMBER OF CATS HAVE BEEN SEEN ON THE BOW INDUSTRIAL ESTATE IN THE VICINITY OF THE MAIN CONTRACTORS OFFICE. THIS IS ON THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE SITE AND WE ARE AWAITING A RESPONSE AS TO WHETHER WE WILL BE ALLOWED TO HAVE ACCESS TO RESCUE THEM.
It is in everybody's interests, particularly the cats, to bring this situation to a conclusion. If there is any hope of bringing the remaining cats to safety it must be done very quickly as every day that goes by reduces their chances of survival. With the impending kitten season upon us, those females which do survive will shortly be having kittens and the thought of kittens being born into this environment of demolition, excavation and earthworks is truly appalling.
UPDATE: 3rd February, 2008
The Olympic Delivery Authority have allowed us a period of access on the Southern part of the site at the Nuttalls main site offices on the Bow Industrial Estate from the 1st of Feb to the 10th Feb, from 6.30 p.m until midnight. Good news! Tonight we caught a black and white cat which appears to be pregnant and matches the description of one that was reported to us a few weeks ago (see below). We are not yet sure if there are any other cats here so will be continuing nightly observation and trapping until the 10th. We are grateful to the O.D.A for this concession of access to the Southern part of the site.
It came to our attention that a mother and kittens had been seen recently at the Core Team Offices on the northern part of the site. We negotiated access to these offices and it turned out that the kittens had actually been seen last summer. Access was granted from the 21st January until 27th January and further extended until tonight 3rd February for us to try to trap whatever cats were there. However, the only cat that appeared to be in the immediate vicinity was a pregnant, long haired tabby cat of 7-8 months old, possibly one of the surviving kittens. We trapped her and she is now safe with us. Whilst on site we could hear male cats fighting, presumably over one or more females and by making enquiries we have discovered where this group are located close by. We must now negotiate with the O.D.A for access to rescue them and to have the midnight deadline for trapping removed as most of the cats are nocturnal and are not even seen until the early hours of the morning.
OLYMPIC SUCCESS STORIES
All the cats rescued from the Olympic site have been neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Kittens not old enough to neuter have been homed with a signed adoption agreement to neuter them as soon as they are old enough.
Out of the 186 cats we have taken in, many have, with lots of TLC, been tame enough to place into homes with understanding new owners. The rest are only going to be happy in barns, stables & smallholdings etc where they are fed and have shelter. We still have 34 cats suitable for farms and smallholdings, so anybody willing to help with homing these ferals do please contact us.
Below is a story of one group of ferals that have found a new home at a stables near Dartford.
One of our rehoming team visited to collect the cats relocation pen and was happy to report how well the cats have settled in.
Although a little camera shy, 2 female cats rescued from Formans Salmon Processing factory turned up for breakfast. This black/white female was the most confident and clearly very content in the large haybarn. 2 other cats popped their heads out of the hay and also looked very well. Their new owners inform us that all 6 cats turn up regularly every evening for feeding.
When we consider the awful future the cats on the Olympic site faced, it is so rewarding to see them in their new homes.
Coming Soon pictures of more of the Olympic Cats in their new homes.
UPDATE: 21st February, 2008
179 cats and kittens have now been rescued from the Olympic Park. Another pregnant cat was caught on the Bow Industrial Estate on Thursday 7th February – fortunately she was rescued before she had to try to find somewhere to have her kittens on a demolition site.
The ODA have now given permission for CHAT to have access to one section of the Bow Industrial Estate until the end of February from 6.30pm until 5am., so we are trying to encourage any remaining cats to this area by setting up a feeding station there.
There is 24 hour working on site, 5 days a week, so it is getting harder and harder to locate remaining cats by persuading them to cross areas of intensive earthworks to reach a safe feeding area.
One of the guards and also one of our rescue team have seen a tortoiseshell cat in the vicinity of the security gates at White Post Lane, Hackney within the Southern part of the Olympic site.
It is a No Through Road, is very quiet and the gates are not in use, so hopefully we will be able to negotiate permission to park there to be able to catch her.
Tortoiseshell cats are always female so it is very important to bring her to safety before she has kittens. We will keep you posted with regard to our hope for negotiated access to rescue her.
We now have permission to access the Core Team offices, where cats have been seen, until the end of March, and have a feed site there to try to concentrate the cats into one area.
The bus garage, our last feeding site on the Waterden Road, closes on 23rd February and unfortunately is one of the best places for catching the cats as the drivers have fed cats there for years.
We caught a young female there last night which had not been seen before – we feel sure that cats recently caught at the bus garage are coming there to avoid the intensive site workings and constant heavy construction traffic on the Southern part of the Olympic Park, so hopefully we can negotiate some ongoing access after closure of the garage.
SEVEN MORE CATS RESCUED
Since our last update, we have rescued another seven cats - a pitifully small number when you consider the time and effort that has gone into this, but at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that seven cats that were petrified, cold, hungry and constantly searching for shelter from the elements and continuous heavy site traffic are now warm, fed, comfortable and have a bright future.
Thank you so much to all the people who have supported CHAT in their efforts for the Olympic cats, for writing letters in support of the cats, and for signing the Petition - we are so grateful. Until we tell you we think our work on the Olympic site is finished, please continue to support our petition to enable CHAT to complete this huge rescue project. Please keep checking our website for updates and "happy endings" stories - coming soon.
THE TORTOISESHELL CAT
Unfortunately, although we were granted access to the Bow Industrial Site until 29th February, the tortoiseshell cat that had been seen in the vicinity of White Post Lane on the southern part of the site, only managed to find our food station on the Bow site on 28th Feb - she was seen around 8pm that night but bolted at the noise of one of the huge lorries approaching. Howling gales and lashing rain all night on the 29th Feb meant we were unsuccessful in catching her. We tried without success to negotiate extended access over the weekend of 1st/2nd March to catch her and were unable to obtain permission to trap her in the quiet No Through Road section of White Post Lane. All we can do now is try, by strategically putting food and hoping she will find it, to encourage her to move around 500 yards to an area where it's safe to trap her. The food is being eaten but we have not seen her again. She will be pregnant by now, if she has not had kittens already. What a tragedy.....
One cat in particular has proved, so far, impossible to catch, in spite of all my 40 years experience. A large longhaired black cat we call Blackjack, has been seen just about everywhere on the site, and seems to constantly move around. In the past, whenever I was told he had been seen somewhere, by the time I got to the place he had moved on. He was seen at both bus garages periodically while they were still open, at the Clays Lane ex-travellers site, at the Core Team Offices site, at the back of the Hoo Hing Chinese supermarket, where cats feasted on Chinese delicacies out of the skips before the company closed, and at various points along the Waterden Road. He has always been trap-shy, and we think that he may have been trapped, neutered and returned at some point in his life. We obtained permission a few weeks ago to site a dummy trap in an area he had recently been visiting on the Waterden Road and put food put in it daily to accustom him to walking into it. He appeared to be gaining confidence with food being eaten from a couple of inches inside the trap but, a few days later, we were told to remove the dummy trap - for operational reasons. Blackjack then disappeared. We had to try to find him again - no mean feat on an 800 acre site. Eventually, we were told that he had been seen a few times under a bridge at the Core Team Offices and we concealed a dummy trap there. After about three weeks, food was going from the back of the trap but we didn't know whether it was Blackjack, or one of the numerous foxes, that was eating it. As Blackjack was so elusive the manual trap we normally use was not an option and we had to use an automatic - very much a last resort. On Friday night, 14th March, while we were catching a cat elsewhere on the Olympic site, the automatic trap was set and checked at first light Saturday morning. We had caught a cat, but it was not Blackjack - a terrified tabby stared wide-eyed at us from the trap, possibly a sibling of the pregnant longhaired tabby we had caught there previously. We put the tabby in the van, reset the trap and checked it later. We were horrified to find the trap closed, with all the food inside eaten. That could only mean one of four things - the trap had malfunctioned, the cat had eaten all the food and then somehow managed to open the trap from the inside (extremely unlikely, but not impossible), a fox had gone into the trap and, being bigger than a cat, had managed to back out of the trap as the door closed, or someone had released him from the trap, perhaps thinking we were going to put him to sleep. This was a complete disaster and we were right back to square one with Blackjack. For the next five nights food in the dummy trap was untouched. A little was eaten last night from the entrance of the trap, so we're going tonight to see if we can catch him, but are not hopeful - he has a long memory.
UPDATE: 19th March
Trapping the remaining cats on the Olympic site is now a very slow, laborious and labour-intensive process.
There are very few cats left and their behaviour and appearance at feed sites is erratic, to say the least.
The terrain changes almost daily, due to massive earth moving works. This is very disorientating for the cats and those we have caught recently have been very stressed and traumatised.
Many people have suggested that we should be satisfied with rescuing the 186 cats already caught - why worry about the handful that are left?
We cannot abandon them - we want to know when the Olympic Games take place in 2012 that we have done our utmost to ensure that every single cat and kitten has been rescued from site during the preparation for this momentous event.
UPDATE: 24th March 2008
Sadly, no luck with Blackjack - the food in the trap has been untouched for several days and we fear he may have moved on yet again. We'll continue to put food there, though, in case he returns.
We have had reports that a longhaired black cat has been seen a few times recently in the vicinity of Morrison's main administrative offices in Waterden Road. We're grateful to Morrison Construction and to the ODA for allowing us access to these offices - however, we have now been told that the cat has mostly been seen opposite Morrison's offices in the old bus garage, so we are trying to encourage the cat across the Waterden Road to the offices where we are allowed to have a dummy trap with food in it. This is not as easy as it sounds, as these offices are also the Headquarters of the security firm guarding the site and the guards often park outside with their dogs, which naturally bark a lot.
We are getting very concerned about the deadline of 31st March for completing all work on site. On current form, we have little chance of rescuing Blackjack by that date and are going to try and negotiate enough time on site to get him and any other cats to safety. This week we have a meeting with the ODA, which will also be attended by Dee Doocey, Chair, Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism. At this meeting there will be a complete review of the situation regarding access to areas of the Olympic site.
UPDATE: 30th March
The meeting with the ODA, which we thought was going to be last week, did not take place. Dee Doocey, Chair, Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism, who very kindly has taken an interest in the fate of the Olympic cats, was going to attend but, unfortunately, the date we have been given of Tuesday, April 1st for a meeting is too short notice for her to be able to come. The meeting is the day after our deadline of 31st March when our access on site expires, so it is essential that we can reach some agreement to be able to rescue what we think may be the last cat - the elusive Blackjack. He has not been seen now for several days, but we cannot bear to leave him behind. We will update you on the results of this meeting after Tuesday.
UPDATE: 7th April, 2008
***186 CATS AND KITTENS NOW RESCUED ***
Our meeting with the ODA took place on April 1st and we came away feeling quite positive about the possibility of being given some extended access.
We have had confirmation today that we have been given further access to areas we had requested until 24th April, when we will have a meeting on site to review the situation.
We are grateful to the ODA for this concession - it is a great relief that we have more time to try to track down Blackjack.
There has been no sign of him for several days but food is going sporadically from the dummy traps at the feeding sites and we are still hoping we can get him safely off site.
It really is the proverbial needle in a haystack situation as his behaviour is so erratic.
Please keep checking for updates.
Some happy news from two of the cats rescued from the bus garage on Waterden Road, the photo (above) shows Boycie and James relaxing in their new home.
UPDATE: 1st May
On the 24th April we had a meeting with the O.D.A in which it was agreed that our access would be extended to the 5th May to try to rescue Blackjack as food was sporadically going from the two dummy traps on the two small parts of the site we are allowed to access. Occasionally we knew it was birds that had eaten it because of the way the food was scattered about but we are sure it was not taken by foxes as the paper was not pulled out of the dummy trap as foxes typically will do. We told the O.D.A that we were using a spy cam camera but were having some technical problems with it and they offered to get their own I.T company to rig up a camera trained onto one of the traps. This seemed an excellent idea but we impressed on them that it was so important that the filming should be carried out over a long enough period -say, 7 days- to know whether or not he was coming to the trap. A few weeks ago he was so traumatised and terrified by the onsite workings that it would often be days between sightings at various locations. The camera equipment was installed Monday afternoon the 28th April and since then every evening there has been torrential rain, so trying to catch sight of him in this atrocious weather was extremely unlikely. We have received an email today from the O.D.A saying that the hard drive has been removed today for review tomorrow and that if there are no images of Blackjack then we will be required to finish work and leave the site tomorrow evening. Seventy two hours is absolutely not long enough to know whether he is in the area or not. There has been no response to our request to keep the filming going over the Bank Holiday weekend while it would be quieter on site with more likelihood of Blackjack coming to the trap, nor to our request to review the DVD footage ourselves. We have emailed the O.D.A this evening to ask again for the agreement for access until May 5th to be honoured and await a response from them tomorrow. If we have 7 days continuous filming at the K.I.C.C building with no sign of Blackjack then we will be satisfied that he is no longer in this particular location and we will continue concentrating on our feeding points outside the site in the hope that he can be encouraged off site. This website will be updated tomorrow.
UPDATE: 2nd May
Our appeals for Blackjack fell on deaf ears and today we were notified by the O.D.A that we must pack up our equipment and leave the site tonight.
We are attending an emergency tonight but will update you more fully on this situation over the weekend.
UPDATE: 4th May
Again, an agreement between CHAT and the ODA has not been honoured and Blackjack's chances of survival have been reduced by the O.D.A decision to refuse us access after the 2nd May. At our meeting with the ODA on 24th April, it was agreed that CHAT would have access until and including Bank Holiday Monday, May 5th, to try to rescue the elusive Blackjack - it was also agreed that the ODA would get their IT people to set up a camera to observe comings and goings from the dummy trap which was located approximately 200 yards from where Blackjack was last seen.The camera was necessary because, in spite of many long hours spent at the traps,the food often disapeared during hours we were not allowed on site so we needed 24 hour camera cover to know what was eating the food.
I stressed the importance of recording for a 7 day period - which would have taken us through to the end of the Bank Holiday - to allow for the fact that Blackjack would be terrified by all the workings on site and, if he was still around, might only be brave enough to come to the trap periodically, when he felt it was safe.
The holiday period would have been the best time to record footage as it would have been relatively quiet on site, so we were very upset and angry to receive an email on Friday, 2nd May from the ODA saying that they had viewed the footage over 48 hours, Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th April, there were no images of Blackjack recorded and we would have to remove all our equipment and vacate the site permanently that evening.
There was torrential rain almost non-stop Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and anyone who has any experience at all of trapping/ rescuing feral cats will know that it is virtually impossible to catch cats when it's pouring with rain - so, of course, the atrocious weather meant that no cat was seen in that 48 hour period.
When we collected our equipment on Friday night, the cameras were still in place, trained on the dummy trap, everything was still plugged into the mains and all that was needed was for the equipment to be reset and checked after May 5th - we had already been given permission to be there until then. What possible harm could there have been in doing this?
A cynical person might be tempted to think that, because the ODA refused to monitor the trap over the holiday weekend - the most likely time for Blackjack to be seen as the site would be much quieter than usual - there was no great enthusiasm on their part for him to be seen on camera. If he was seen, we would have needed access to rescue him and they do not want us on site. The beautiful weather, day and night, over the weekend makes it even more frustrating that the cameras were not recording at a time when, if Blackjack was still there, we had the best chance of him coming to the trap.
Being denied access from 2nd May means that we will never know whether Blackjack was still in the vicinity or not.
If he is still there, I can't help him now. Had I been given seven continuous days of monitoring without sight of him, I would have accepted that he was no longer there and would have concentrated on my feeding sites outside the perimeter of the 800 acre site. This we will do of course in any case and will report progress and hopefully some news that he has been sighted outside the site.
UPDATE: 12th May
Our requests to view footage taken at the location of the dummy trap have been ignored - obviously we are not going to be allowed to see this. Such good P.R, don't you think?
One of our rescue staff or volunteers puts food every night in non-operational dummy traps around the outside of the site to encourage whatever is there to exit, and every few days one of us does a 'stakeout' through the night to see what comes. In this way two more cats from an industrial estate very close to the Olympic Park - one of which was pregnant - have been caught but no sighting yet of Blackjack. This amazing cat has survived the whole demolition process over several months and if he is still alive, we feel that sooner or later he will find one of the exit points on site.
UPDATE: 9th June
Although we have been putting food nightly at targeted sites just outside the Olympic Park, there has not been a sighting of Blackjack since our last update and then suddenly, within the space of a few days, we have had two possible leads. It has been reported to us that a group of cats that had originally come from the Olympic site are living behind a building outside the security gates on the western side of the site- this information came second hand and we are trying to contact the original caller for more details.
We also have been told by an employee about a visiting black fluffy male cat at the site of a factory where we are currently trapping two mothers and kittens. The factory, although just outside the Olympic site, is very close to the general area Blackjack used to frequent, so we are daring to hope it might be him - his route to this place would be relatively simple.
We'll post an update when we have more news
BLACKJACK - Safe at last!
UPDATE DECEMBER 08 BLACKJACK HAS A LOVELY NEW HOME - MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW SOON
UPDATE 11th JULY : BLACKJACK IS SAFE!
Just when all hope seemed lost, Blackjack - the 187th and last known cat on the 800 acre Olympic site has finally been rescued.
Since May 2nd, when the Olympic Delivery Authority refused further access to CHAT to try to locate the elusive Blackjack, the Trust has been inundated by calls and emails from concerned animal-lovers around the world, wanting to know if he had been found. We never had any good news for them and were ourselves beginning to doubt that he was still alive.
It was just past 4am and we were waiting to rescue another cat at a factory adjacent to the canal bordering the Olympic Park: when suddenly Blackjack appeared, coming across the canal from the towpath on the other side, making his way to our feed site. We could hardly believe our eyes when he went to the trap and walked around it for what seemed an age.
Eventually, after a nail-biting wait, he couldn't resist the chicken inside it any longer and we caught him. We were ecstatic!
Blackjack is at our Lewisham Clinic and is recovering from his stressful and traumatic experiences over the last few months on the Olympic site, where he spent all his waking moments in constant danger and trying to stay alive on the largest demolition site in Europe. Pictures and an update on his progress will follow soon.
We'd like to thank all the thousands of people who have supported us in our fight to gain access to save the Olympic cats - for writing letters to their MPs and to the ODA, for signing our petition and for giving us encouragement and moral support when it was very much needed.
We are so grateful to you all.
Blackjack - happily settled in a new home!
Here follows an update from Blackjack's new owners as to his progress.
"Hi, We thought it was way past time that we gave you an update on Blackjack.
He's a wonderful personality and lots of fun to have around. He plays a lot and we very much enjoy this as we have laminate flooring so every now and then we see a big black blur sliding past us, brilliant! He also likes company and follows us around the house interacting with sound and occasionally jumping on us to remind us he's there. We now know this means it's playtime, but the sound of a rather large and surprisingly heavy footed mini panther running up behind you still makes us shriek (although now with hilarity rather than terror).
He loves finding the highest point in the room to climb up to and sleep, currently our new 6ft fridge! He's very affectionate, when he wants to be, and is such a big cat that he doesn't tend to fall asleep on us for long as he slips off our laps!
He's also rather contrary/difficult – we have the cat flap in the front door (leading onto a pedestrian area) but he always insists on being let out the back door then walking round.
Some people have suggested that Blackjack should be an Olympic mascot for London 2012 - that was until it was pointed out that a black cat is generally seen as bad luck!
Thanks to all of you for dealing with him and persevering even when he was terrorising your staff, he was definitely worth the effort and is a pleasure to be around.
All our best
Sarah & Andy (& Blackjack)"