Keeping Cats Safe and Happy During Christmas

I'm sure we all know there are things during the festive period we need to be careful with around our cats or that can be stressful for them. A reminder of them sometimes can still be useful!

Things to be aware of: these are only a selection. If you are in any doubt that your pet might have eaten something toxic, please call your vet ASAP who will be able to advise you what to do. If you are asked to go to the vets, take any packaging in with you if you have it (for example a chocolate bar wrapper if your cat has managed to sneak into your Christmas chocolate collection!).
Onions & garlic
Xylitol - found in gums/sweets

Ways of keeping stress levels to a minimum: with so much going on at Christmas time, our feline friends can easily find this overwhelming and stress levels can be higher than usual during this period of time. Here are a few ideas to help keep them feeling calm and settled.

  • Provide places for them to hide/retreat to - even cardboard boxes from gifts can work well!
  • Calming plug-ins/diffusers/sprays for pets can help keep them calm - some work through pheromones whilst others mimic calming agents in the body.
  • Try to keep their daily routines the same, e.g. feeding, playtimes and letting them outside if they don't use a cat flap.
  • If other people are round visiting, make sure they give your cats space. Most cats like being in control of their social interactions so ensuring this is done can help reduce stress.
  • Supplements can be bought which replicate natural processes and responses in the body - great for use in any cats that get stressed by fireworks.

DIY cat treats Ingredients:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
280g of chopped salmon
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 180°c
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until the mixture starts to form a dough
Flour your work surface and roll out the dough evenly with a rolling pin until ¼ inch thick
Cut out treats with a small cookie cutter
Place on an ungreased baking tray
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown
Allow to cool and then get your felines in to do some taste testing

Keeping Your Cat Safe in the Garden by fosterer Gerry Horrox

We own 6 cats of our own, one of which is a Bengal with the reputation of being a notorious escape artist never to be seen again, so we had to do something to protect him. We had recently lost 2 cats which were run over in our quiet close by speeding neighbours and that was an additional reason to secure the garden as we had been confining the cats to the house.

Ten years ago we researched various versions of cat fences of which there were very few in those days, and we finally decided to employ a company who provided bird netting.
We split the garden into 2 sections and erected a fence across it with a gate for access to the lower part and the company came into the top section and built the netting support poles and the fixing brackets round the edge on the fence and on the house wall with tensioned wire joining it all together. They covered it with a huge sheet of netting using hog rings to attach it to the wire round the edges and made an excellent job of it.

We could now let the cats out again and the first thing we found out was they loved looking over into other gardens. They were climbing the fences and hanging from the netting to look over, so I built a number of shelves attached to the fences with ladders for access which caused lots of amusement and solved the problem. There was also interest in the tall poles and as they were quite substantial, I covered them with rope and fitted seats around 7 feet from the ground and these are very popular in the sunny weather.

In 10 years, we have only had one escape and that was the Bengal, through a hole in the corner where the squirrels had decided to eat the netting. As soon as he was recovered, I fitted wire netting around that corner and had no problems since.

It has also allowed us to let crazy foster cats out into the garden after we bring our cats in, which has been useful a number of times.

Most people do not notice the netting and it has the advantage of stopping leaves from the surrounding trees from falling into our garden allowing the wind to blow them back from whence they came.

The pictures should be self-explanatory, showing the shelves and general views including the cat's Wendy house which also acts as a shelf.

Sadly, the company we used closed down a few years ago, but if you are interested in doing something similar, you are quite welcome to come and visit or talk to me. You can contact me at

Bird netting is available on the web and there are various other systems you can look at:

The following Article has been provided by Catwork -

We hope that this article will encourage more people to consider giving a home to a cat who has tested positive for FIV.

TVAW have recently fostered several FIV cats, they all came to us a bit down on their luck, but thankfully have gone on to become loving pets and living normal lives with understanding people

It was back in 1997 that we were introduced to Harry, a very nervous ginger and white stray cat who, we were told, had tested positive for FIV. This was the first we had heard of the virus (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Little did we know at the time, but Harry was to completely change our lives!
Back then, FIV had only been known about for around ten years, and all the information about the virus came from scientific studies where cats were artificially infected in the laboratory with large amounts of a very strong strain of the virus. This process gave the cats little chance to deal with the virus and, understandably, threw up extreme reactions. The results were recorded as "evidence-based" information for what to expect from the virus.
Due to this, there was much fear surrounding FIV cats which led to very many positive testing cats being put to sleep.
With this background we took in Harry with some trepidation, wondering what to expect - long story short, Harry lived a very happy and healthy life with us for the next eight years needing no more than a dental in that time.
Through those years we were asked to take on many more FIV-positive cats who would otherwise have been put to sleep. This was the foundation of the Catwork sanctuary which, over the last 22 years, has cared for well over 100 FIV-positive cats for the rest of their lives -Thanks Harry!
Contrary to expectation, we found that, even cats who came to us in a poor state, soon recovered. With just normal treatment, care and good food; they became fit and healthy, and remained so for years. We did not find any of the scare stories about FIV to be what we experienced with our FIV-positive cats.
Through our experience of caring for these cats, we have learned that those early studies are completely unrepresentative of what actually happens to naturally infected FIV-positive cats in normal life. The evidence of real experience was overturning the old laboratory evidence.
Over the years, general attitudes towards FIV have changed. Learning from the experience of FIV-positive cats being allowed to live out their natural lives, rescue groups began to realise that having FIV was not a death sentence, but just a bit of an inconvenience. Homing of FIV cats has grown enormously since the early days.
Sadly, there are still some vets and rescues who have not yet accepted the realities of the virus, so we felt we needed to provide more real-life evidence of the true effects of FIV. We also wanted to be sure that our personal experience was not unusual, so we set up a study in 2014 to record the experience of many individual owners/carers of FIV-positive cats across the world. We wanted to hear their experiences in their own words.
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, we named the study the "1,000 FIV cats project", not being sure how many we would really get to respond - suffice it to say that, as I write (July 2019) we have over 950 FIV-positive cats listed on the project from all over the world, with more still being added. This, together with our own 100+ cats, makes the total well over the 1,000 mark.
We were pleased to see that the experience of others was very similar to our own. The responses of these individuals who care for FIV-positive cats has built into a powerful database of real-life experience; far outweighing the old laboratory-based studies.
The results of this on-going project are available for anyone to see on the website ( but, to summarise the important points:
  • The vast majority of FIV-positive cats live good healthy lives with no discernible illness due to the FIV - completely healthy for over 65% of the recorded time, and other minor ailments cleared up quickly with normal treatment - just like any other cat.
  • There are no illnesses that can be identified as 'common' with FIV+ cats - most frequent are mouth/teeth issues - just like most other cats.
  • Well over 500 (582 as of July 2019) cats on the project have lived in households together with uninfected cats, with not a single reported transmission of the virus.
There are a few things one needs to understand about FIV:
  1. - Although the virus does cause a reduction in some of the immune system's cells, this happens so slowly that most cats live out their full lives before the cells are reduced sufficiently to be a problem for the cat's health. Note - If only the virus had been more accurately named: Feline ImmunoStaysStrongForYears Virus, perhaps then there would have been less misunderstanding of its effect - not serious, but you get the point!
  2. - Most vets don't see many FIV-positive cats, but those they do see are often brought in as strays, in poor condition. When they test positive for FIV, vets often associate their poor condition with being FIV+, whereas in reality, their poor condition is due to their time as a stray with malnutrition and untreated wounds etc. Once given good treatment, they quickly recover from their ailments and continue as healthy cats - still FIV-positive, but showing that the virus was not the cause of their earlier poor condition.
  3. - The virus is realistically only transmitted by serious fights, when the virus in the saliva is actually injected through the skin into contact with the blood stream. The idea that FIV can be transmitted without fighting has no evidence to support it, and it is not experienced with the hundreds of positive cats living happily with uninfected cats - in practice, it just doesn't happen.
  4. - The virus is mainly spread by FIV-positive, un-neutered male stray cats who have to fight to survive, passing on the virus as they do. The majority of cats who test positive for FIV have been the victims of a few aggressive strays; they were just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once a cat is rescued, neutered and provided with a good food supply, it has no reason to fight, and usually becomes a calm, loving pet - many report that their FIV-positive cats are the most affectionate cats they have known!
The outlook for FIV-positive cats living in normal cat-loving homes, with or without other cats, really is positive! - listen to the 1000 cats and their carers recorded on the project - they can't all be wrong!
Please consider giving a home to an FIV-positive cat - they deserve homes just like other cats.
For more detailed information, and links to the project results, visit: (Article provided by Catwork -
Our low cost neutering scheme is open to people on low incomes, particularly pensioners and those in receipt of benefit who would not otherwise be able to afford to have their cat neutered.

If you live in and around the Reading, Maidenhead, Henley-on-Thames or Wokingham area and think that you might qualify for financial help, or if you know of someone who might do so, please contact us on to 07824 064239. The scheme is very straightforward and arrangements can be made very easily. Read more about our scheme
Cats often go missing, but in many cases return home after a few days of adventure. If you cat is missing there are a few things you can do to help try and find them:
  • Microchip your cat and remember to keep your contact details up to date if you move
  • Check thoroughly around your property in case your cat has got stuck or is hiding
  • Let your neighbours know your cat is missing and ask them to check sheds, garages, outbuildings etc
  • Post a photo and short description of your cat on local lost & found Facebook and social media groups
  • Put a photo of your cat and your contact details on a poster or flyer and display in your area
  • Look for them at night when it is quieter and you might be able to hear mewing
  • Ring the local vets in case they have had a cat handed into them
  • Register your lost pet with TVAW - email
The mother's purr is crucial to survival as kittens are born deaf and blind, but are able to feel vibrations. It is the vibrations of the mother's purr that leads the kittens to her body for nursing and warmth. At the age of 2 weeks kittens start to purr and this starts the communication with their mother and siblings. It is a means of letting their mother know that all is well, she in turn purrs to let her kittens know that she is also content and relaxed. Kittens press and flex their paws, which is known as kneading, to stimulate milk flow and they typically purr at the same time. This behaviour is often carried on into their adult lives, and is associated with them feeling safe and content.

Cats however purr for a variety of reasons and not all of them mean contentment. They may use purring for self-soothing, when they are nervous, unsure, sick, in pain (such as when in labour) or even when close to death. Although the true cause in unknown, it is believed that it may be a means of calming themselves or even promoting healing.

Scientists have known for a while now that vibrations at specific frequency levels can promote healing. Remarkably, a cat's purr vibrates at this level, so it could be that purring during resting is a form of physical therapy to keep the cat's bones strong and promote healing. Amazing!