At CHAT we provide a vital rescue service for animals in need. In the areas surrounding our two London clinics - South East and East London we are the primary charity carrying out rescue work with stray, sick, injured or feral cats and kittens. We also respond to requests for assistance from Housing Associations, Council departments, the Police, Social Services, and other charities in situations involving the collection of pets where people have been evicted, died, hospitalised, arrested, sectioned or in other welfare situations. Our skills working with feral cats and kittens are specialised and were originally developed by Celia about 40 years ago at a time when pest control firms were the normal way to deal with feral cats which were considered vermin in those days. Our Sanctuary team are similarly busy with the task of responding to assist cats in need in East Sussex and parts of Kent.
On this page we tell you about some of the rescue cases we have undertaken, stories which illustrate the variety of situations that we are called to rescue animals from.
Feral colonies..... Ford's of Dagenham
Our Canning Town Branch rescue team worked with with Ford's car manufacturing plant in Dagenham to neuter dozens of stray and feral cats that live on the 800 acre site.
Stray cats had been breeding uncontrolled leading to several different colonies of feral cats living at different points on the site.
The cats are well fed and cared for by staff working at the plant, but because the cats had bred rapidly there was concern about their welfare as the numbers continued to increase. By neutering the cats we have prevented the birth of more kittens and have been able to stabilise the population. The staff at Ford's will continue to feed and care for the cats and will contact us for assistance should they ever become unwell or injured.
Our rescue teams routinely respond to trap, neuter and return colonies of feral cats. Feral cats that we neuter and return are "ear-tipped" - the tip of the left ear is clipped whilst they are neutered. This does not cause the cat any distress but is done so that anyone can identify at a distance that the cat is neutered. Ear tipping is a standard practice carried out by animal charities around the world. The cats are also micro chipped and registered to ourselves so that if they are ever picked up again we can locate which colony they belonged to and their feeders details.
Injured cats - attacks by dogs on cats is a problem in many areas...
Attacks by dogs on cats is a problem in London. Irresponsible and inexperienced owners allow their dogs to roam the streets off the lead and when their dogs chase cats they are unable to control them. Many of the dogs do not just chase cats but are catching them causing serious injuries or death. In some cases dogs are jumping front garden gates and attacking cats in their own gardens. Some witnesses have report deliberate attacks where owners have encouraged their dog to attack cats.
Kermit's story: A lady ran into our clinic to tell us that a cat had just been attacked by a dog in the side street and then as he escaped had been run over. We raced to the scene but couldn't find him, we continued an extensive search of the area over the rest of that day and night and distributed over 100 posters in our search for him.
Five days later he was discovered in a garden, he was virtually collapsed suffering with multiple infected bite wounds to his legs and bruising. After initial urgent veterinary treatment Kermit was cared for at our Canning Town veterinary clinic where he required a long course of antibiotic treatment and daily wound cleaning and dressing. We named him "Kermit"
Kermit was very frightened but soon became relaxed and very friendly,
he had clearly once been a pet but no owner came forward to claim him and once he recovered he was rehomed.
We advise that cat owners do not let their pets out on to the street or into communal areas but instead try to encourage them to stay in back gardens.
Abandoned Pets: Cats dumped in the woods...
These cats and kittens were discovered in this cage in woods near Ilford by a dog walker.
They were off the footpath in deep undergrowth and were only discovered by her dog who was barking frantically at the cage. The frantic dog walker had no transport and called a friend who came with a car, between them they managed to get the cage out of the woods and drive to a local P.D.S.A (another charity veterinary clinic). The P.D.S.A are unable to take in animals for rehoming so they called us.
This photo shows the cats just arrived at our clinic. After being neutered, vaccinated and microchipped they all found new homes. Cats being abandoned in baskets, boxes etc is an increasing problem, many are abandoned on our centres doorsteps but others are discovered in parks, by bins, outside shops or just left in the street.
This kitten (right) was discovered in this box on the pavement outside C.H.A.T's Canning Town Veterinary Clinic.
POPPY - an emaciated dog abandoned on the street
This dog was found wandering the streets of East London
She was in an emaciated condition and had clearly been starved. The end of her tail was really sore and we think she had been kept in a small space where her tail had been hitting a wall or hard surface when she wagged it.
Poppy as we named her is such an adorable good natured dog - we just cannot imagine how anyone could be so cruel to her.
After weeks of care Poppy made a full recovery and found a wonderful new home. Poppy's new owner told us: "Poppy is an absolute darling and has such a lovely temperament - so different from the trembling skeletal wreck we took in just a few months ago. She loves to run and run and to play with other dogs but would be happy`on her own so long as she had someone home during the day and had a garden to play in. She loves everything, including cats, but we feel she would be too lively to actually live with cats and small children as she wants to jump up and kiss everything and everybody and is quite a big girl!"
Benson - an abandoned dog
"Benson" was brought into Canning Town Branch by a resident of a block of flats, trembling, shaking with fear - he had been wandering around her flats the previous night howling and whimpering all night.
He only has one eye and cringed when anyone lifted a hand to do anything - we are sure he had been badly treated and is particularly wary of men. He is only 7-8 months old and deserves a second chance in life.
After just 24 hours Benson had perked up and enjoyed a cuddle, he was very lucky to find a wonderful new home with a member of C.H.A.T staff.
Breeding out of control.... Twenty three cats and kittens
We received a call asking us to take in three cats and a litter of kittens because their owner was returning home the following day to the Ukraine as his employment in the U.K had ended.
We attended and found that he had 23 kittens and six adult cats! On arrival in the U.K he had acquired two kittens one of each sex which he had not neutered, they soon produced a litter of kittens and then this year the parents and four of the female 'kittens' had given birth!
None of the cats were vaccinated either and the kittens were suffering with terrible cat flu.
We brought them all into our care where it was a round the clock marathon task nursing the sick kittens back to health. The kittens had severe conjunctivitis and were very congested, after gently bathing their eyes and noses several times a day we would then apply antibiotic eye ointment. They all required courses of antibiotics and the sickest kittens also needed hand feeding and/or syringe feeding because they couldn't smell their food and were not eating enough.
Sadly two kittens were too weak and did not survive, the others made a full recovery and found new homes.
Did you know that if a female cat was to mate every time she came into season, and all her kittens were to survive and breed, then there could be up to 21,000 extra cats in just 7 years.
Cats can live 18- 20 years and dogs almost as long, so it's not surprising that there is a shortage of good homes when so many people let their pets have litters without a thought as to what will become of the kittens or puppies in the long term! Neutering as many cats and dogs as possible is the only humane solution to the pet over population problem.
From one cat to a colony of nineteen......
We received a call to rescue a cat with a broken leg at a freight yard. On arrival we discovered there were 19 other semi-feral cats living there and they were all unneutered.
We have now neutered and returned the colony and are treating the cat with the broken leg. The cats are well fed and welcomed at the site.
One older female cat was friendly and we were told that she was the first cat to turn up at the yard and is the original mother of the colony.
She must have once must have been someone's pet who was abandoned or got lost - if only they had neutered her!
She is middleaged and required treatment for Horners Syndrone which was causing her eye to droop. She has made a full recovery, and has been neutered and has now found a new home.
A Feral Experience.....
The neutering service we offer for pet cats and dogs is helping to reduce the numbers of unwanted pet kittens and puppies being born, but unfortunately, it does not take many irresponsible people to continually create new feral cat colonies on the streets by abandoning their unneutered pet cats. Literally, every street is home to feral and stray cats in the most deprived areas of East London. At night, when driving to sites where we are rescuing cats, we continually see cats crisscrossing the roads. Many are ragged looking tomcats dodging cars or ransacking rubbish bags. Often we arrive to rescue one mother and kittens, only to find many more cats which have not been reported to us but are in urgent need of help
For instance, whilst attending to collect a stray cat having difficulty giving birth on a doorstep, we were beckoned across to help with a mother and five feral 7-week old kittens in a back garden and a tame heavily pregnant cat living in another front garden. At the other end of the street, at the rear of a small food shop, more cats were popping in and out from under a gate.
We returned that night, parked the van, and watched. In the early hours of the morning three scrawny tabby cats came and snatched at the food we put out to tempt them. One had a badly injured eye. A tatty black and white male joined them. He was thin, battle scarred and had an abscess on his cheek. Then a tabby kitten, with a grossly infected eye, ran out to try to get some food. It wasn't brave enough to push between the adults and ran back under the gate. Another feline shape could be seen creeping along in our direction under the cars. Out came an emaciated black cat, fur turning brown, due to his poor condition. He only had one ear. A fourth tabby cat appeared, obviously a female. She was very thin and had patches of fur missing. Another kitten, black and white, appeared from under the gate. This time, both kittens got some food to eat and then darted back.
We left a leaflet for the shopkeeper, and returned the next day to speak to him. He didn't want the cats, and didn't feed them they just scavenged rubbish at the back of his shop. Full as we were, we decided these cats could not be left in this situation. The point of telling you this story is to show that one evenings work, supposedly to collect one cat having kittens on a doorstep, resulted in the Trust taking in 15 cats and kittens.
Appalling Problem ....In some areas, stray cats and kittens are everywhere and, rather like the large urban fox population, very few of them are fed, so their numbers are similarly controlled by disease, starvation and road accidents. However, cats breed even more rapidly than foxes, so the situation is desperate in many areas. The only way to solve this appalling problem is to control the domestic cat population through neutering, and to neuter and return ferals where there is a food source or a feeder. Where there is no identifiable access to food and the cats appear starving, we remove, neuter and rehome them, having restored them to good health.
By humanely reducing the cat and dog population through intensive neutering, we feel that the status of these animals will improve, and they will be seen to be worthy of respect and consideration.
More Abandoned Dogs....
It is not only cats that find themselves on the streets. Dogs are also abandoned by heartless owners.
Some greedy uncaring owners breed their dogs to try and make money by selling puppies.
Bonnie (left) was found scavenging from a bin, she was emaciated and was so weak that her legs were buckling under her. She had clearly recently raised a litter of puppies, her owner may have been able to sell her puppies but not an adult dog in poor condition.
Canning Town Branch nursed Bonnie back to health (as you can see in this photo of her - right) and she found a new home. Bonnie's new owner told us: "She's a loving, affectionate family member, and we wouldn't be without her."
Poppet (left) was found dumped in a box along with some rubbish. An adorable elderly dog, we wonder what had happened that this could have been her fate. Poppet had a mouth full of rotten teeth which our vets soon sorted out and then she was rehomed.
Our London Branches facilities are not really suited for caring for dogs that need new homes for any length of time.
If you could help with fostering a dog whilst a permanent new home is sought please do get in touch.
This emaciated Staffy boy, weighed only 9.2 Kg, when he was left tied to our rear fence on a freezing January night.
He was as cold as ice, trembling and terrified - God knows how long he had been there.
If we had not found him, we don't think he would have survived the night.
We named him "Lucky".
Lucky required small meals every hour or so, because he had been starved and had to fed very carefully over the first few days.
He loved his first comfortable bed - he'd obviously not had a bed before as he had callouses on pressure points where he must have been lying on concrete.
Lucky was fortunate enough to be adopted by the mother of one of our veterinary nurses and made a full recovery.
Suffering strays...... Bagpuss a stray who suffered terribly because his eyelids were rolling inwards.
Bagpuss was a stray and came to us suffering with a condition called 'entropion', this is where the eyelids are rolling in, this means that the cats fur is constantly rubbing the surface of the eyes. This is very painful and can damage the eye's surface as well as causing permanent watery eyes and eye infections.
Our vets have operated to correct his eyelids and Bagpuss is now much more comfortable. In the photo the fur around his eyes is still growing back after being shaved for his operation - soon he will be truly handsome again!
Bagpuss has now found a new home. Many of the strays we rescue have been surviving on the streets with health problems and old untreated injuries.
Tatty was stray when his eye was injured and prolapsed.
Tatty was a shy young cat who was living stray, he suffered an injury to his eye that left his eye prolapsed.
As a nervous stray no one could catch him to take him anywhere for help. We were called and were able to trap Tatty and bring him to our clinic for treatment. His eye could not be saved so it was removed. Tatty was also neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.
After a few weeks Tatty gradually relaxed and became much more friendly and has now found a new home.
Abandoned and stray mother cats and their kittens....
Stray unneutered female cats give birth to their young where ever they can and our rescue workers are kept very busy responding to calls to rescue litters of kittens that have been discovered living in often quite dangerous situations.
The mother cats have often managed to hide their kittens until at 6-8 weeks old the kittens become more adventurous and begin following mum in search of food. At 6-8 weeks old because they have not been handled and socialised by people the kittens are nervous of human contact and are generally known as feral. Our rescue workers are trained and know how to humanely and safely catch feral kittens.
It is also very important to rescue or in the case of older kittens that would be very difficult to tame up to at least neuter and return them as left in an unneutered state they too will be capable of breeding from four months old and a feral cat colony will rapidly grow.
The mother cat pictured left had been shut outside by her owner....
We were called out to a house, where a man had had an operation and the doctor advised him to not have any animals in the house. He therefore promptly put his heavily pregnant cat outside permanently. She gave birth to 5 kittens in the drain at the front of the house.
Kittens rescued from under decking
We received a call about some kittens that were trapped under some garden decking.
Their stray mother had been popping in and out to feed them but had disappeared and the kittens were crying pitifully.
We attended and managed to pinpoint the crying and carefully prise the decking boards up.
Sadly for one kitten we were two late but the other two were still alive.
They were approx 2 weeks old required hand rearing but both survived their ordeal.
Their mother never reappeared, cats are such good mothers that something must have happened to her to prevent her being able to return.
The photo shows (far left) the hollow under the decking that the kittens were in and (right) one tiny and hungry but alive kitten.
Olive and Pip's Story!
We rescued Olive whilst she was giving birth to premature kittens on a pavement - sadly only one of her babies survived - Pip a tiny male kitten.
Pip had a congenital defect where his back legs were splayed - it's known as 'Swimmer' kitten. However it is correctable, the treatment involved keeping Pips back legs tied together with surgical tape to hold them the correct distance apart and to allow his leg muscles to strengthen. Treatment took several weeks but Pip became able to walk normally. Olive and Puip have since been rehomed.
Watch a video clip of Olive and Pip....
This poor cat was after she suffered horrific injuries which were presumably the result of a dog attack.
She was a nervous stray that had been neutered previously and returned to a woman who continued to feed and care for her in her garden and she occasionally ventured indoors.
One afternoon to her horror she found Puss Puss, who had been missing for a few days in her garden with her front legs terribly injured, the terrified cat struggled as best she could into the house and the woman called us to come and help.
On arrival at our Canning Town Veterinary clinic both of Puss Puss's injuries were so awful - effectively one front foot had been torn off and all that remained of the other was one toe and a pad. It seemed as though nothing could be done except to put her to sleep but one of our vets examined her first and decided that she could operate to save Puss Puss's life and give her a decent quality of life.
The foot with one toe had enough pad to form a short but usable front right leg. The remains of her left leg has been amputated to form a short stump.Puss Puss required intensive care but has recovered well and adjusted to living with her disability.
Three months after being rescued Puss Puss found a new indoor only home.
Whiskas and Snowbell's story
Snowbell (standing in photo) is a friendly female cat, she was living stray at the bottom of some flats.
A kind person was feeding her but her life was a made a complete misery by local children who pelted her with stones whenever they saw her.
Whiskas (hiding under Snowbell) had a really hard time. He was 'rescued' by a man from some people who he told us were badly treating him. He took Whiskas back to his home and let him out of the cat basket, Whiskas promptly disappeared under the kitchen sink unit and was there for the next 8 months!
If this wasn't bad enough the house was completely filthy - in an absolutely appalling state. The kitchen was squalid and running alive with *bleep*roaches.
We were asked to rescue Whiskas from under the sink. His skin was covered in sores which are probably due to lying in such unhygienic conditions for so long - this has now completely healed.
Whiskas was very shy but when we sat quietly with him after ten minutes of gentle stroking he would start to relax and even purr.
Whiskas and Snowbell have now found a caring new home.
Injuries caused to cats by shootings with air guns are sadly common.....
This poor cat had been shot in the face three times with an air gun.
Our vets operated to remove the pellets and he is now recovering from his terrible ordeal.
Colin - a stray rescued with terrible injuries caused by a cat collar.....
Cat collars can be very dangerous, the term 'collar wound' refers to the often terrible injuries that are caused when the cat gets a leg, two legs or a jaw through its collar, if not promptly freed from the collar the collar will start to cut into the flesh.
If a cat is stray and does not have an owner to remove the collar, it will continue 'sawing' into the cats flesh, the wound then becomes infected and in the summer months will attract flies and become fly blown.
We frequently rescue cats that have got one leg caught through a collar and have a deep wound under a leg which requires surgery and a relatively lengthy time to heal as it is an area where there is a lot of friction as the cat moves around.
Colin's case is the most shocking 'collar wound' cat that we have ever come across.
We debated whether this was too shocking to share with you, our supporters. It is cases like this that really hit home why our work to help stray cats is so important.
The collar was cut out under anesthetic and Colin was treated with antibiotics until the infection was under control and we were able to close the dreadful wound which encircled his whole body.
Colin's wounds healed very well and Colin found a loving new home.
Multi-cat households..... cats breed very quickly and cat owners can find the situation gets out of hand very quickly....
East London: We received calls from concerned members of the public reporting a large number of hungry cats that had appeared and were trying to get into houses through windows and via cat flaps.
It was not difficult to locate the source of the cats and we visited to offer assistance.
It turned out that the cats owner had got two cats - one male and one female, both unneutered, two years ago. The cats had kittens and then the cats kittens had kittens and he now had 24 cats.
The property was rented and the Housing Association had taken out an injunction against the cats owner banning him from keeping them, so he had put all the cats outside his flat and shut the window.
The hungry cats had little shelter and some were wet through as it had been raining. Many were just waiting patiently, hoping the window would be reopened so they could get back into the flat.
The cats were all very thin and had been without enough food for some time.
The owner explained to us that he had tried to get help and showed us a list of places he had tried. He could not afford to feed or care for them properly and the situation had got out of control.
Most of the cats were quite friendly and we were able to pick them up and put them into cat carrying baskets. A few of the more timid cats had to be trapped. They were all taken brought to our Canning Town clinic where they were all neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas and worms and microchipped.
They were all thin but once provided with regular meals and sufficient food began gaining weight. They are mostly very pretty semi-longhaired cats and although some of their coats appeared rather scrawny initially they soon become beautiful looking cats again.
The cats were transferred to our sanctuary near Hastings (East Sussex) in order to find homes.
South East London: 18 cats and two kittens - rescued after a week without food or water
18 cats and two kittens were rescued after their elderly owner was taken into hospital but her cats were left without food or water for a further week!
The cats owners was hospitalised and the police arrived later in the day and secured the property, several cats ran into the garden but the rest were shut in the house without food or water until seven days later when someone from Social Services went to the house and heard kittens crying.
Lewisham rescue team attended the house with a social worker and it immediately became clear that it was not just a matter of calling the cats and putting them in baskets, the whole house was stacked high with piles of old clothes, heavy boxes, rubbish, and very heavy furniture that the cats could hide behind.
There was cat faeces everywhere - and the cats were completely unapproachable, flying into the piles of rubbish and disappearing.
It took several days to ensure that all the cats were caught and brought safely into our care. They were all rehomed.